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The Mayor of Mayors


For now, the mayor is pressing ahead on all fronts. On the morning of April 9, he sat in the Governor’s Room at City Hall, chairing a meeting for the Young Men’s Initiative, an effort largely funded by his foundation and George Soros. First Deputy Mayor Patti Harris was on his left, and around the table sat senior staff including Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, Chief Service Officer Diahann Billings-Burford, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Thomas Farley, and Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda Gibbs.

The mayor listened as staff presented data. The numbers looked good. Felony convictions for teenagers were down by 25 percent since 2002. Rates of male youth re­admitted to jail within one year declined by 23 percent. Chronic absenteeism among high-school students was down. The mayor probed. “Let’s assume you could force every chronically absent kid to show up every day; would the outcome be very different?”

It is meetings like this where the mayor is melding his national and local ambitions. When one presenter mentioned Chicago’s recent gang violence, the mayor spoke up. “The murder rate in Chicago is four times the murder rate here,” he said. “I looked the other day. After two and a half months, we had 75 murders; they had 95. Their population is less than a third of ours.” Emanuel was due to arrive in a few days for the dinner at his foundation. “We have gangs; they have real gangs. I have Rahm Emanuel coming in. I’ll talk to him about it.”

At the one-hour mark, the meeting broke up. The mayor walked across the hall to the bull pen. On the wall in the kitchen, the clock was ticking. He had 631 days, twelve hours, and 55 minutes left. But he’s already on to his new job.

This story appeared in the June, 11, 2012 issue of New York Magazine.


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