With just over two weeks until the election, Rahm Emanuel is fighting off criticism from Chicago's Fraternal Order of Police and other union groups over a television ad about public service.
In the ad, titled "Service," Emanuel says that taxpayers deserve public servants who are working for them and the city--not for personal gain.
"City government is not an employment agency," Emanuel says in the TV spot. "It is delivering a service to the residents and the taxpayers of the city. ... We're going to get them the best price for what they pay for, whether that's protecting a street, cleaning a street, or plowing a street. And that means making sure that everyone that works for the city government knows that they're actually a public servant representing and helping the people that pay them."
Both the FOP and Firefighters Local 2, unions that have already endorsed Emanuel's opponent Gery Chico, publicly ripped the ad.
"On behalf of the firefighters of this city, we find Rahm Emanuel's latest ad attacking city workers including for political gain incredibly insulting," Tom Ryan, president of Firefighters Local 2 told the Capitol Fax blog in a statement. "We dedicate our lives to protecting and serving the citizens of this city. We run into burning buildings. We ride snowmobiles in the middle of blizzards to save lives. We don't Emanuel to remind us that we are 'actually' public servants."
FOP President Mark Donahue said that Emanuel should "know better" than to run such an ad, and asked that it be taken off the air. He also mentioned that the CPD and CFD lost eight people in the line of duty last year, and that "none of these public servants need a lecture from Rahm Emanuel on the meaning of public service."
Emanuel spokesman Ben LaBolt issued a written statement defending the ad:
"Rahm honors the good work of our men and women in uniform and praised the city employees who helped dig us out of this week's blizzard. It's clear that some in Chicago city government have acted on behalf of their own personal gain, rather than in the interest of taxpayers. Rahm believes it's time for that to change in the interest of the taxpayers of the city of Chicago."
The timing of the ad was not particularly flattering for Emanuel. The city's news cycle has been dominated by blizzard coverage: firefighters rescuing stranded motorists, Streets and Sanitation employees working around the clock to clear the streets and CTA employees picking up extra routes.
Emanuel, who was endorsed by AFSCME President Gerald McEntee in September, also faces criticism from the local chapter of the giant labor union for the ad.
"City workers are public servants, not punching bags," AFSCME Council 31 executive director Henry Bayer said in a statement, which also mentioned the city's response to the blizzard. "[City workers] deserve thanks, not a crass commercial that seeks to discredit them."
Do you think the ad is appropriate? Watch it here and let us know in the comments.
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