Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel cruised through most of his first year in office with high approval ratings from city residents, but his recent move to install speed cameras throughout the city has been met with criticism from Chicagoans and the media alike.
The cameras will monitor speed among city motorists, and those who go past the speed limit will be sent a ticket in the mail. Emanuel's plan called for the cameras to go up near schools and parks, but they would actually blanket more than half of the city.
Emanuel said many times the cameras were about safety -- pointing to an in-house study that reportedly showed red-light cameras reduced nearby fatalities by 60 percent -- but others believe revenue was behind the move. According to analysis done by the Expired Meter, the cameras could bring in more than $100 million annually.
Chicago Tribune reporter David Kidwell sat down with the mayor for a 90-minute interview last week, and the newspaper published the transcript over the weekend. As Kidwell pressed Emanuel on why his office would not release requested emails and documents related to the cameras, the mayor became increasingly frustrated:
... Emanuel repeatedly accused the newspaper of downplaying the safety benefits of cameras by ignoring a city study that he said shows red light cameras have reduced nearby fatalities by 60 percent.
"I've had people call you with it, and you refuse to publish it," he said.
"If the report is wrong you should go analyze that report," Emanuel said.
But his press secretary later said the report could not be provided to the newspaper because key portions were "confidential."
Emanuel went on to defend his office's handing of Freedom of Information Act requests, saying that if he was unable to work without public scrutiny, nothing would get done.
"'I have been in an executive position, and - I mean this insulting so get it right - you haven't," Emanuel told Kidwell. "You have not been in the White House. You have not been in the mayor's office.'"
Emanuel has made statements like that before while working in the White House. He said critics like New York Times columnist Paul Krugman had "never worked in the legislative process," and asked "how many bills" Krugman had passed.
Kidwell did have some success with the mayor, however. Near the end of the interview, Emanuel said he would consider releasing more documents to the Tribune.
This is not the first time Emanuel has had an issue with a local reporter. Over the summer, NBC Chicago reporter Mary Ann Ahern asked where the mayor's children would go to school. He yelled at the reporter before storming out of the interview. When she followed up with him and said she felt bullied, he said, "You are wrong and a bully. I care deeply for my family. I don’t care about you."