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RAHMWATCH: Fourth of July weekend publicity stunt at a South Side park highlights Rahm's methods of media manipulation and underlines the fact that he is afraid to go to a baseball game

Anyone who wanted a set-piece example of how Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is spending taxpayer dollars to promote himself and his "Emperor of Chicagoland" narrative had a good example on the Sunday of the July 4, 2014 weekend. The mayor who won't dare appear at major Chicago sporting events (since he was booed at a football game at the alma mater where he majored in ballet) made sure that his appearance at Burnside Park on Chicago's far South Side was as insulated from critics and critical questions as possible.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Park District General Superintendent Michael P. Kelly cut the ribbon at Burnside Park on July 6, 2014. The photograph was supplied to all media by the "Mayor's Press Office" at City Hall, and the event was staged at taxpayer expense. During the July 4, 2014 weekend, Chicago's South Side baseball team, the White Sox, won two of three games against the hot Seattle Mariners. But Chicago's mayor is afraid to appear at large uncontrolled events like the July 4 White Sox game (masterfully pitched by Chris Sale and witnessed by more than 30,000) because he is fearful of being booed at any public event he cannot completely control. Chicago's mayor stages several carefully controlled media events every week, replicating the kind of propaganda work that resulted in the CNN show "Chicagoland." Photo courtesy of Chicago's "Mayor's Press Office."All that the public really got from the event, which took place at 3:00 p.m. on July 6, 2014, at Burnside Park, was a lengthy press release (paid for by the taxpayers and distributed by "The Mayor's Press Office") and three photographs showing Rahm with "Rahm's Rainbow" (paid for by the taxpayers and distributed by "The Mayor's Press Office"). "

Rahm's Rainbow is the mandatory photograph showing Chicago's mayor surrounded by smiling African Americans (usually, mostly children) when he is staging a publicity stunt in Chicago's vast ghetto. In other neighborhoods, Rahm is surrounded by African Americans, Latinos, Asisan, and white people (when he is not in the ghetto). But the smiling people in Rahm's Rainbow are always mandatory -- and reporters don't get to ask questions.

The July 6 propaganda events unfolded slowly.

Overnight, July 5 - 6, 2014, Rahm's official publicists told the press that he had nothing scheduled. He had carefully avoided the Major League baseball game on July 4 at Sox Park, in the heart of the city's South Side. On July 5 Rahm was equally in avoidance.

A month before his inauguration, Rahm Emanuel bought himself a cute new White Sox jacket for the chilly April 7, 2011 game at Sox Park. He accepted both the support and the invitation to the baseball game from his predecessor, Richard M. Daley, a lifelong Sox fan. Within a month, Rahm was trashing Daley's memory, bit by bit, first by claiming in June 2011 that the Board of Education (all of whose members had been appointed by Rahm in May 2011) did not have the money to pay for the four percent pay raises contractually promised to all CPS workers in the 2007 - 2012 union contracts. No one knows what happened to Rahm's Sox jacket since his first year in office. Following the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012 Rahm became the first mayor in memory to avoid Sox Park and White Sox games, afraid that he couldn't control the "messaging" when 30,000 people were around and that he might get booed. Then the usual scenario unfolded. Early in the morning of July 6, "The Mayor's Press Office" told the press that Rahm had no public events scheduled for that day.

Some citizens had noted that by that time the mayor had already missed two exciting baseball games at Sox Park and the July 4 fireworks display that followed Chris Sale's victory on Friday over the Mariners. That game was followed by a disheartening loss in 14 innings on July 5. July 4 weekend, when the Sox are in town, has always been a mandatory event for Chicago's mayors, including both Richard Daleys, Jane Byrne, Michael Bilandic, and Harold Washington (who was a native South Sider, but from a different part of the vast South Side from the Daleys). Just about every Chicago mayor since World War II could name that best players for each season as it unfolded, and when the White Sox won the World Series in 2005, the mayor was among the best fans.

Not so since 2011. Even with cue cards it's not clear that Rahm Emanuel could pass a Common Core quiz about the current White Sox, let alone a history that includes Minnie Minoso, Luke Appling and all the way back. (Most Sox fans can even name some of the members of the infamous 1919 World Series team in addition to Joe Jackson).

But maybe the mayor was very busy, since he also missed the Saturday game, which the Sox lost in 14 innings.

And so it came to July 6, 2014, the Sunday of July 4 weekend.

The "Mayor's Press Office" proved busy.

It was only in early afternoon that "The Mayor's Press Office" updated the calendar announcing the Burnside Park event. The press release noted that there would be "No media availability..." (which means that if reporters and TV crews did show up reporters would not be allowed to ask any questions).

The final press release before the event came out at 3:03 p.m. with the mayor's wording of the "news." Afterwards, the press release was updated and three paid-for-by-the-taxpayer photographs were provided to any news organization that wanted to cover the pre-packaged story on the cheap.

Following the event, photographs were attached to the propaganda piece, featuring the mayor, his Park District buddy, Park District General Superintendent Michael P. Kelly, and the "Rainbow" Rahm always surrounds himself with when he can completely control a media staging in the inner city.

Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley began bringing his sons (including Richard M., center above) to White Sox games. The Daley family lived a few blocks from the old Comisky Park and regularly went to see the Sox, even during the challenging years when the home team struggled to field a winner. When the Sox won the American League pennant in 1959, Chicagoans were treated to a loud reminder of how much city government officials loved baseball.HERE IS THE FINAL MAYOR'S PRESS RELEASE SO THAT NEWS MEDIA COULD COVER RAHM'S STORY WITHOUT BOTHERING THE COST OF A REPORTER OR CAMERA CREW...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. July 6, 2014. CONTACT:. Mayor's Press Office. 312.744.3334

press@cityofchicago.org

MAYOR EMANUEL, CHICAGO PARK DISTRICT OPEN BURNSIDE PARK PLAYGROUND... One of 103 playgrounds to be rebuilt or refurbished throughout Chicago's neighborhoods this year as part of Mayor Emanuel's Chicago Plays! Initiative

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Park District General Superintendent Michael P. Kelly, Alderman Michelle Harris and members of the Burnside community today celebrated the opening of a new playground at Burnside Park. The playground is one of the 103 neighborhood playgrounds that will be built or refurbished this year across the City as part of Mayor Emanuel's Chicago Plays! program.

"Chicago is only as strong as its neighborhoods. Park playgrounds provide safe places for kids to play and grow, but they also serve as neighborhood hubs that foster friendships and strengthen communities," said Mayor Emanuel. "Through this program, we're rebuilding Chicago so that every child in every neighborhood is within a 10 minute walk of a park or playground."

The Chicago Plays! playground renovation program was launched last spring by Mayor Emanuel, who announced that Chicago Park District would rebuild, repair and/or refurbish 325 playgrounds in communities across Chicago. Last year, 50 playgrounds were rehabilitated under the program.

"The new playground at Burnside Park gives children and families in the community a safe place to have fun and be active," said Kelly. "We are exciting to continue improving the quality of life in Chicago through this initiative."

The 1919 Chicago White Sox lost the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. The program invests approximately $125,000 in new playground equipment at each park location for a total program cost of $37,500,000, providing a broad investment in capital projects throughout the City. The Park District partnered with Friends of the Park to seek community input to prioritize locations.

Mayor Emanuel's Chicago Plays! program underscores the major announcements the Mayor has previously made regarding parks, including a comprehensive plan to build and improve parks throughout the city.

Burnside Park is also one of many of the Chicago Park District's Night Out in the Parks sites this summer. Upcoming events include EcoArt Studio, a space to create art projects with natural materials, on July 22 and a Movie in the Park featuring 42 on August 27.

The Night Out in the Parks series brings 1,000 events and programs to more than 250 neighborhood parks throughout the City. The Chicago Park District has partnered with more than 50 artists and community organizations to expand and produce this successful initiative.

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For more information about the Chicago Park District's more than 8,100 acres of parkland, more than 580 parks, 26 miles of lakefront, nine museums, two world-class conservatories, 16 historic lagoons, nearly 50 nature areas, thousands of special events, sports and entertaining programs, please visitwww.chicagoparkdistrict.com or contact the Chicago Park District at 312.742.PLAY or 312.747.2001 (TTY). Want to share your talent? Volunteer in the parks by calling, 312.742.PLAY.

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