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Rahm Emanuel's First Year: Looking Back On The Mayor's Big Moves (PHOTOS)

Posted: Updated: 05/16/2012 6:26 pm


Wednesday marks a year since Rahm Emanuel took office as Chicago's mayor. And what a year it's been.

A poll of 700 Chicago voters conducted by the Chicago Tribune and WGN this month found that Emanuel's been a big hit with the city's white, wealthier voters: 6 out of 10 approve of his job performance compared to 1 in 5 who disapprove. Less than half of African-American voters, 44 percent, said he'd done well, compared to 33 percent who disapproved, and Latino voters were split 49-30 percent between whether he'd been a success or not.

Emanuel has earned criticism by some who say his initiatives, particularly with changes in the school system, marginalize minorities.

In an interview with WGN, Emanuel admitted his administration's weakness has been in reducing gang violence, though crime overall is down 10 percent, according to the news station.

When asked to grade his performance this year, Emanuel gave himself an "incomplete."

"Stronger schools, stable finances so we can create economic opportunity and job creation and a quality of life for our neighborhoods. Those are, I think, the building blocks. we will continue to do those things within those areas that are necessary so we have the greatest city, in the greatest country in the world," Emanuel says in the video interview.

The Tribune/WGN poll found considerably higher rates of mayoral approval than that of, a website offering a Netflix-styled platform for Chicagoans to rate Emanuel's performance based on promises he outlined during his campaign. As of Wednesday afternoon, the mayor's ratings range from an average of 1.2 to 1.6 out of five stars, ranking lowest on crime, TIF reform and "good government" and highest on LGBT issues.

We won't try to grade Mayor Emanuel just yet, but we are taking this opportunity to reflect on all he's accomplished--and failed to accomplish--during his time in office.

Take a tour of Rahm's first year, and its hits and misses:

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  • Rahm's mayoral campaign

    NOVEMBER 2010: Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel<a href="" target="_hplink"> announces his plans to run for mayor of Chicago</a>.

  • Rahm testifies

    DECEMBER 2010: Rahm Emanuel testifies in <a href="" target="_hplink">the residency case challenging his eligibility to run for mayor of Chicago</a>.

  • Celebration mode

    FEBRUARY 2011: <a href="" target="_hplink">Rahm Emanuel wins the mayoral race outright, avoiding a runoff</a> and defeating Carol Moseley Braun, Gery Chico and Miguel de Valle

  • Rahm's swearing-in

    MAY 2011: <a href="" target="_hplink">Emanuel is sworn in as mayor </a>following Richard M. Daley's formal departure.

  • Sharing city data

    SEPTEMBER 2011: As part of a larger campaign promise to increase transparency, the city <a href="" target="_hplink">publishes millions of crime statistics dating to 2001 on a publicly-accessible website</a>. Other city stats would later be released in a series of searchable databases.

  • Restructuring CPD

    SEPTEMBER 2011: Emanuel announces a new crime-fighting initiative that includes <a href="" target="_hplink">reassigning 114 of the city's police officers to beat patrols</a>.

  • Occupation denied

    OCTOBER 2011: After pointing out that <a href="" target="_hplink">he sympathizes with their frustrations but doesn't agree with their solutions</a>, Rahm and the city <a href="" target="_hplink">deny Occupy Chicago representatives' request to use Grant Park as a base camp</a>, putting the city squarely in the sights of future demonstrations.

  • Budget victory

    NOVEMBER 2011: <a href="" target="_hplink">Aldermen vote unanimously to pass Emanuel's $6.3 billion 2012 budget plan</a>, rife with controversial cuts including layoffs, fee hikes and police station and mental health clinic closures.

  • Watchdog Rahm

    DECEMBER 2011: Mayor Emanuel vows to be "the taxpayer watchdog" while overseeing the city's checkbook, <a href="" target="_hplink">refuses to pay a $13.5 million bill from Chicago Parking Meters LLC for revenues lost by disabled parking fraud</a>.

  • Parade: on

    JANUARY 2012: The Department of Transportation approves a permit to resurrect the South Side Irish parade after it was cancelled in 2009. <a href="" target="_hplink">Emanuel says he's confident the alcohol-free affair will be more "respectful" than in previous years</a>.

  • Tourism push

    FEBRUARY 2012: Emanuel announces <a href="" target="_hplink">a plan to attract 50 million visitors to the city each year</a> by 2020. A<a href="" target="_hplink"> terrible city theme song</a> follows.

  • Schools blame Rahm

    FEBRUARY 2012: After months of pushback against Chicago Public Schools' controversial plan to <a href="" target="_hplink">close and 'turnaround'</a> a record number of schools,<a href="" target="_hplink"> protesters bring the fight to Rahm's front yard</a>--and the Mayor is not pleased.

  • Reclaiming the streets

    MARCH 2012: Amid <a href="" target="_hplink">a spike in homicides during the first few months</a> of 2012, Emanuel calls on community members to join forces with police, and issues a message to Chicago's gangs, saying <a href="" target="_hplink">"our streets don't belong to [them]."</a>

  • Cameras greenlit

    APRIL 2012: <a href="" target="_hplink">City Council passes Emanuel's hotly-debated speed camera initiative</a>, which will be a boon for city revenue but raised some concerns over fairness to citizens and the far-reaching scope of the plan.

  • Daley's critique

    MAY 2012: A pet project since he began his campaign, Rahm managed to expand his longer school day plan to many Chicago schools, despite protests from some teachers and parents. Former Mayor Richard M. Daley deals a blow to the administration by <a href="" target="_hplink">coming out against them.</a>

  • Rahm on year 1

    Mayor Emanuel <a href="" target="_hplink">spoke with ABC Chicago last week about his first year in office</a>.


Filed by Lizzie Schiffman  |