MEDIA WATCH: After helping plague the West Side with charters and closing 49 of Chicago's real public schools, Rahm does publicity stunt in 'Austin community'

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel may have helped destroy the professional careers of hundreds of black people who worked in Chicago's public schools, tried to break the unions, and plagued most of the city's West Side with charter schools even though the communities want real public schools, but on October 5, the mayor staged a publicity stunt in the Austin community to give the city's media photographs of himself surrounded by smiling black people. Less than a mile away from where Rahm stood, Austin High School sits having been turned around from being a general high school for the community into a shell housing, mostly, charter schools with more clout than contribution to the community.

Wearing his trademark blue shoes, Rahm Emanuel poses with his required diversity background during a City Hall Publicity Stunt in the Austin community. City Hall photo provided to the Chicago media at taxpayer expense.A major press release was issued by the Mayor's Press Office to highlight Rahm's publicity stunt. The even was not announced early, because the mayor is constantly worried that his stunts are going to be greeted with angry protesters.

Within two miles of the site of Rahm's carefully orchestrated publicity stun, a dozen closed Chicago public schools sat, with white out over the signs that had once proclaimed that they were named after famous African Americans and black people like Matthew Henson. A mile from the site of Rahm's publicity stunt was the Austin High School building, which was remodeled by Rahm's mayoral predecessor, Richard M. Daley, before the Board of Education turned it over to two small clout-heavy charter schools and a so-called "polytechnic" that only serves a small part of the huge Austin community. As Substance analyst Grady Jordan has noted, Austin is one of the largest areas in the United States without a general high school for the children of its neighborhoods.

Rahm's school closings and his charterization policies have continued the attack on the union jobs of black people in Chicago. But because the City Hall media event was scheduled as quietly as possible, there were no protesters while the mayor, in blue gym shoes, stood with the required background of smiling black and brown children and a handful of adults.



October 5, 2013


Mayors Press Office



Park Features Natural and Artificial Lacrosse, Football, Soccer, T-ball, Softball and Baseball Fields

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Alderman Deborah Graham, Chicago Park District Superintendent Michael Kelly, and members of the Austin community gathered today at the site of a new artificial turf field at Columbus Park to celebrate the ongoing investments being made in the Austin community.

For years, the fields at Columbus Park have flooded every time it rained. This investment will ensure that children, teens and adults in the Austin neighborhood will have state-of-the-art fields for playing a variety of sports, said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Community investments in our parks are essential because they promote active lives for residents. Over the next five years we are totally rebuilding, top-to-bottom, every playground in Chicago. When we are done, every child, regardless of where they live in the city, will be within a ten minute walk of a world-class park or playground.

The Columbus Park Artificial Turf Field is a 7.5 acre area within Columbus Park in the Austin Community located at 500 South Central Avenue. An estimated $2.5 million has been invested in the park which now features new natural and artificial lacrosse, football, soccer, t-ball, softball and baseball fields.

Site improvements to the park include the combination ball fields, new concrete paving, new sports fencing and backstops, extensive drainage, stormwater detention, new sports lighting, a new electrical transformer, drinking fountains, water lines, trees, a lawn and more. A portion of the funding was secured through a $1.1 million Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) program state-financed grant.

The entire Austin community is extremely excited for these new investments, said Alderman Graham (29th Ward). Our newly lit soccer, baseball and football fields will give our children a place to enjoy themselves right in their own community. On behalf of the residents of Austin, I want to thank Mayor Emanuel and Park Superintendent Kelly for their help in making today possible. The Columbus Park Chicago Chargers youth football team is extremely happy, because they will be playing on this field tomorrow and with this celebration, we would also like to wish the Chicago Chargers best of luck in their 2013-2014 season.

The artificial turf field is part of the building a New Chicago program, a comprehensive $7.3 billion infrastructure renewal program put forward by Mayor Emanuel. Last year, the Mayor announced a comprehensive plan to build and improve parks throughout the city, so that every Chicagoan is within a ten minute walk of a park.

The Chicago Park District is responsive to communities needs, and this new turf field will provide the Columbus Park area a neighborhood space to enjoy a variety of sports, said Michael Kelly, Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO.

The Columbus Park Artificial turf project is one of more than 800 projects in each of the citys wards on the Chicago Park Districts current five-year capital improvement plan. More information on the Chicago Park District is available at or at 312-742-PLAY.


Photo Caption - 1: Mayor Emanuel joined Alderman Deborah Graham, Chicago Park District Superintendent Michael Kelly and members of the Austin community today to take part in a ribbon cutting at the site of a new artificial turf field at Columbus Park.

Photo Caption - 2: Mayor Emanuel joined members of the Austin community today to take part in a ribbon cutting of a new artificial turf field at Columbus Park.

Photo Credit: Brooke Collins // City of Chicago

2 Attached Images


October 9, 2013 at 10:53 PM

By: Valerie F. Leonard

Silent Protest

What you don't see in the picture are several prominent community and education activists from Austin who attended the event, but refused to get in the picture because they didn't know where the pictures could end up, like a campaign brochure for the Mayor. They didn't want to be perceived as endorsing or supporting him, particularly after the way he gutted the West Side with school closings and left us to die on the vine.

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