MEDIA WATCH: 'Safe Passage Working Group' included in media hype from City Hall...Rahm, Barbara Byrd Bennett, staged hype to promote 'Safe Passage' and move into home stretch for massive school closings

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel continued to push his program to close the greatest number of schools in American history with a carefully staged media event on April 30, 2013, featuring his cabinet and the promotion of the controversial "Safe Passage" program. Safe Passage, which is the equivalent of candy striper volunteers in health care, has been a lucrative source of community and religious-based patronage since the Board of Education began cutting back on school security and real public schools several years ago.

Photo provided by City Hall of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's "Cabinet Meeting" to promote "Safe Passage." The photo was included in the media materials provided to the press on April 30, 2013 so that the entire story could be narrated from Emanuel's point of view.A press release issued by City Hall on April 30 included a photograph so that media outlets cold do the entire story without having to ask any questions or get any precise answers. The media event follows hearings at which more than 30,000 people, over a period of more than five months, spoke out against the mayor's plans and that false information that Chicago Public Schools officials have been providing to the public since the push began in November 2012. The push began after Emanuel abruptly purged former schools "Chief Executive Officer" Jean Claude Brizard and replaced Brizard, who had been on the job for 18 months, with Barbara Byrd Bennett. Both Brizard and Byrd Bennett were brought to Chicago from outside the city, with Brizard having been recruited from Rochester New York and Byrd Bennett from Detroit.



Mayor’s Press Office


Mayor Rahm Emanuel called his cabinet together today to discuss the coordinated approach the City will take to fully support the city’s children, families and communities as students transition to welcoming schools this fall. Every City department and agency will work in tandem with the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) as needed to assist with ensuring a smooth and safe transition for students.

“We will not waver in our commitment for our children to have access to a quality education, regardless of where they live,” said Mayor Emanuel. “The children of this city should know that they have the strength and support of the entire city behind them. From every city department to every neighbor and family, we all must play a role in making sure our children are safe and have every opportunity to succeed.”

After a briefing that summarized the enrollment and population decline in neighborhoods and the extensive community engagement that informed the recommendation CPS CEO Byrd-Bennett made to the Board of Education last month, City leaders detailed ways departments will coordinate in order to support the effective implementation of this plan, focusing specifically on Safe Passage at every welcoming school.

CPD will lead a new, specialized Safe Passage Working Group which will include representatives from 16 departments who will specifically work together on securing Safe Passage routes. Once the routes are finalized by CPD and CPS, the Working Group will conduct a survey of every Safe Passage route to note any concerns and suggest any modifications that may be needed before the start of school in the fall. These include: making sure vacant buildings are secure and vacant lots are clear, ensuring street markings, such as street and bus signs, are clear and unobstructed, and confirming appropriate lighting is in place.

The Safe Passage Working Group includes representatives from: CPD, CPS, the Department of Streets and Sanitation, Chicago Department of Transportation, Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Housing Authority, Chicago Parks District, Department of Animal Care and Control, Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, Office of Emergency Management and Communications, Department of Buildings, Chicago Fire Department, 311, Department of Public Health, Chicago Budget Office, and the Department of Family and Support Services.

The press release included a photo. The Emanuel administration even provided the press with the following suggested photo caption. Photo Caption: Mayor Emanuel convenes cabinet to discuss City-wide coordination to support Chicago’s students.


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