THE BLOG
02/01/2011 01:15 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Now That the Residency Issue Is Done With...

How about some tougher questions for Rahm?

Some day we may learn the real story of how deep-pockets Rahm Emanuel and his powerful political patrons were able to swing that unanimous state Supreme Court decision putting his name back on the ballot. Writes Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown:

For those of you who think Thursday's outcome was pre-ordained, then you weren't paying close enough attention to the panicked full court press applied since Monday by Emanuel supporters to win the case in the court of public opinion in order to apply pressure to the Supreme Court. It wasn't pretty, and all the justices made clear they didn't like being put in that spot -- nor the inference that they could be improperly influenced.

The good news is that hopefully now, with the where-does-Rahm-really-live issue behind us, Emanuel will finally be facing some tougher questions.

In last Thursday's debate for example, Rahm, along with corporate favorite Gery Chico, got ripped pretty good by opponents Carol Mosely Braun and Miguel del Valle. Most everyone who witnessed the debate (including HuffPost's Will Guzzardi) thought that del Valle came out on top and that both Emanuel and Chico were backpedaling.

NBC Chicago came out with a "scorecard" of the debate: Miguel pulled down an A, Chico got a B, Emanuel scored a C, and Carol Moseley Braun came in last in their estimation with a C-.

What I find both interesting and disturbing has been the virtual silence of the mayoral candidates on the Jon Burge torture/perjury case--until now. The Burge trial may yet become a significant campaign issue, not only because it has divided the city along racial lines (all of Burge's torture victims were black) but because the cash-strapped city, along with the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), continues to pick up the multi-million-dollar tab on Burge's defense.

It is also an issue that could be tied to Chico's candidacy because the FOP has endorsed him, thereby possibly explaining his reluctance to say anything that might be construed as critical. The Burge case also connects in some ways to Mayor Daley himself. The only reason Burge had to be tried for perjury instead of for the torture of more than 100 of his prisoners is because then-States Attorney Daley took no legal action against him, allowing the statute of limitations to run out. So far, throughout the campaign, neither Chico nor Rahm has barely uttered Daley's name, and and reporters have allowed them to dance around any direct criticism of city hall corruption.

Now the police commander convicted of concealing torture of suspects under his watch will continue receiving over $3,000 a month in pension payouts for life after a Police Board vote Thursday morning.

G. Flint Taylor, the Chicago lawyer who has represented Burge's victims, called the decision outrageous. "Clearly he was acting as a cop; the city was defending him as a cop," Taylor is right on. That's why this is a city policy issue and all the candidates should be pressed on it.

On Friday, Miguel del Valle became the first and only major candidate to speak out on the pension decision. He told Guzzardi:

I thought it was a terrible decision, a terrible decision. Awful, awful, awful. I think it sends the wrong message. There are a lot of people who lost their pension -- you've got a governor in jail who lost his pension, a governor of the state of Illinois. For this man to keep his pension after what he did... I think the individuals who voted for that made a big mistake.

Compare Burge's windfall with the thousands of teachers and other public employees who tortured no one, but whose pensions are also being threatened or eliminated due to state budget cuts.

With Burge scheduled to report to prison on March 16 to begin serving his 4 1/2 year sentence, Rev. Jesse Jackson says the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition is filing a lawsuit to block his pension. That should keep the story alive through the elections.

So now, with less than a month remaining until election day, it looks like Rahm Emanuel's easy path to victory may become a little more rocky--especially if reporters start asking him the tough questions.