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RAHMWATCH: Whither the DAILY RAHM? Mayor's press minions subtract Substance from email list of City Hall press releases (again)

For the second time in a year, someone in the Mayor's Press Office at Chicago's City Hall has hit the DELETE button and cut off Substance from the daily (or more than once a day) press releases that come regularly from Chicago to the news media. In addition to an early morning notice that gives the mayor's press schedule for the day, Rahm Emanuel's City Hall media team, the largest and most expensive in history, had also issued regular updates during the day, some times several.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel reading to smiling children in a May 1, 2013 photograph provided at taxpayer expense to Chicago media. And, just to make sure that Chicago and the world get the Rahm story straight, a couple of times a week City Hall just sends the entire story -- complete with photographs and photo captions, all paid for by the taxpayers of Chicago.

The regular press releases from Rahm began in May 2011 and continued through early June 2013 (with one previous interruption). Then, on June 11, 2013, they ended. Abruptly.

Instead of our files on the Daily Rahm, we were left with scraps. Other city agencies actually send out press information and provide press information to reporters, but only the Mayor's Press Office had been providing what amounted to a "24/7" 365 days a year record of just about Rahm's every move and utterance. Every now and then there would be an interruption, like the weeks he dumped his first Press Secretary in December 2011 and then went on a vacation in South America. But usually, the steady drone of RAHM THIS AND RAHM THAT was part of Chicago's background noise.

Substance made it a policy to cover at least one of Rahm's media events every month. Usually, he would schedule at least one event at a school, so that photographers and TV crews could get a picture of him surrounded by smiling children, usually minority children. While Rahm's media team -- often a dozen people -- cleared the rooms of anything or anyone Rahm didn't was to see, the carefully staged events were always all smiles all the time.

The room clearings have become legendary among Chicago teachers. Since many Chicago teachers wear their Chicago Teachers Union tee shirts regularly -- and have been since the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012 -- it became a kind of inside joke when principals would walk up to their best teachers as Rahm's entourage entered the building and ask, "Please. Do this for me. Don't both the mayor..."

By "bother" these principals meant showing anything but adulation for the mayor and his policies regarding the schools. The dwindling number of principals who still haven't unlearned the lessons they were taught in BOSS SCHOOL tried to order teachers not to bother the mayor as the Dog-And-Pony shows unfolded for the cameras.

The June 5, 2013 press release on a city mortgage program was one of the last examples of the DAILY RAHM received by Substance before City Hall again cut off Substance from the mayor's tax-funded self-promotions and self-serving self-adulations.At charter schools, of course, Rahm had it easier, since the teachers, even those who know the truth about the mayor, are "at will" workers and would be fired for messing up the Potemkin Village. At real public schools, Rahm's minions had to work with a bit more finesses. The principals who wanted to keep the respect of their teachers tried the smile and "please..." approach. Some even as late as May 2013 were gruffily trying to play their Donald Trump/Rahm Emanuel roles.

As of July 8, 2013, Substance hadn't received a copy of the Daily RAHM from City Hall for almost a month. City Hall confirmed that Rahm's office has continued issuing press releases since then -- just not for Substance. The Mayor's Press Office suggested that Substance tried to re-release itself, but our question was how we got DELETED in the first place. Substance has been covering Chicago's public schools and politics since Rahm Emanuel was slicing meat and other things at Arby's.

Once a month, Substance staff would consider our favorite issuance from the DAILY RAHM for that month. For May, the unchallenged winner was a mayoral utterance of extreme brevity for Rahm: The official press statement on "Teacher Appreciation Week." On May 7, the Mayor's Press Office issued the following paragraph:

STATEMENT FROM MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL ON TEACHER APPRECIATION WEEK

“This National Teacher Appreciation Week, we take time to honor the incredible teachers we have across this city, who dedicate their lives to supporting our students and providing them with an education that is key to their future success. With the support and guidance from a great teacher, a child’s potential is limitless. But educating our children is not only the responsibility of our teachers. With parents as active partners in our children’s education, there is no limit to what our children can achieve.”

During the month of May, the Mayor's school board voted to close 49 of the city's real public schools on the mayor's orders. Press releases swarmed across the city like cicaidas in Connecticut. The DAILY RAHM carried ten times as many paragraphs about Chicago Farmer's Markets during May 2013 than it did about Teachers Appreciation Week. And not a week went by without the public being reminded about the city's bike routes.

We will report when the Daily RAHM resumes, and if someone in the Mayor's Press Office tells us who hit the DELETE button.



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