Chicago’s murder rate been has been skyrocketing this year, leaving many Chicagoans “unpleased,” to say the least, about Rahm Emanuel’s performance as Mayor. But the increasing wave of violence, including 5 murders and 25 shootings alone this past weekend, didn’t stop the mayor from appearing on a new T.V. show. In case you missed it, last week Rahm Emanuel had a cameo in the series premiere of “Chicago Fire,” playing himself, the mayor of Chicago.
His brief performance takes place outside of a city warehouse fire. In the scene, Emanuel exits one of his black Escalades and hustles to greet a firefighter, asking if he is okay.
Emanuel claims he agreed to play the roll of himself in the new NBC series on the condition that NBC would make a donation to the Chicago Fire Department–the Ende, Menzer, Walsh & Quinn Retirees’, Widows’ and Children’s Assistance Fund. How big a donation remains difficult to determine.
His appearance in the show also comes conveniently at a time when he is at odds with the Chicago Firefighters Union over proposed cuts to the department, despite a massive new infrastructure plan, spending as much as $91 million over the next decade on things such as 650 miles of protected bike lanes in Chicago.
The Sun-Times reported on Mayor Emanuel’s cuts to the department back in May, around the same time as the filming of the new series pilot featuring Emanuel.
“The goal here is to challenge the layers of unaffordable provisions of the contract that have accumulated over the years and to look at this to see if there are ways of addressing some of these things that have been tacked on,” the city source said.
Inspector General Joe Ferguson has estimated that Chicago taxpayers could save $57 million-a-year by reducing — from five employees to four — the minimum number of employees required to staff every piece of fire apparatus.
Ferguson has further estimated that the city could save $52 million a year by eliminating the duty availability pay that compensates both police officers and firefighters for being on 24-hour call. For firefighters, the perk costs nearly $14.3 million a year.
The inspector general pegged the annual uniform allowance at anywhere from $1,250 to $1,500 per firefighter, depending on the shift.
The mayor also wants to reduce non-duty lay-up coverage from 12 months over a two-year period to 12 months over a four-year period. Non-duty lay-up coverage is full pay to firefighters recuperating from injuries suffered after being hurt on their days off.
Former union president Bill Kugelman estimated that the mayor’s proposed concessions would take $7,000 a year out of the average firefighters’ pocket.
Emanuel told NBC at the time of the filming, “It’s easier being mayor than playing mayor.” If those words were only true–perhaps Chicagoans could have more confidence in their mayor’s ability to get the job done, and keep them safer in their homes and on the streets, rather than acting like it on a new T.V. show.