Wilson vows to reopen some of 50 schools Rahm closed
Mayoral candidate Willie Wilson vowed Friday to reopen at least some of the 50 schools closed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and blamed the “racist” closings for the steady decline in student population.
The Chicago Public Schools have 150,000 more seats than students. Much of that excess capacity is in South and West Side neighborhoods hard hit by a black exodus from the city. Pressure is building for another round of school closings now that a five-year moratorium has expired.
But Wilson said Friday he would do just the opposite if he’s elected mayor. He would reopen some of the 50 schools that Emanuel closed in 2013.
“If I had closed 50 schools in the white community, they would have hung me on State and Madison upside down in 2018 vs. back in slavery,” Wilson told the Chicago Sun-Times.
“If a black man would have closed 50 white schools in a white community, you would have hung me up. You would have nailed me to the cross. It would have been like Abraham Lincoln days if a black man had done that. . . . It was a racist move on the mayor’s part.”
Chris Kennedy once accused Emanuel of engineering a “strategic gentrification plan” to intentionally push African-Americans out and “whiten” Chicago.
On Friday, Wilson agreed with the failed Democratic gubernatorial candidate. As evidence of the plot, he pointed to a disinvestment in black neighborhoods, a city ticketing policy that unfairly targets African-Americans and to Emanuel’s two-year plan to hire 970 additional Chicago police officers.
“They shouldn’t have been hired. . . . You’ve been hiring police officers and police officers and crime has been going up, up, up like Superman. Try something different. Put the money into the community,” Wilson said.
“If you put $8 billion into O’Hare Field, and the Riverwalk will now be going to Chinatown, why can’t we take $1 billion or $2 billion and put it into those communities for jobs and contracts?”
Wilson branded Police Supt. Eddie Johnson as a “yes-man” for Emanuel and said he would dump Johnson if he’s elected mayor.
In fact, Wilson called for dividing the city into four crime-fighting segments, each with its own equally powerful police superintendent: one black, one white, one Hispanic and one Asian-American.
He argued that the job is way too big for one person and that shrinking those responsibilities would help to reduce crime and rebuild shattered public trust in the police.
“If you’ve got one superintendent, you’ve got all these other people they’ve got to talk to. If you’ve got four, they can help divide the city and communicate closer to the community and know more about what’s going on,” Wilson said.
“It’s kind of like hands-on vs. handsway off. One person can’t cover a whole city. Communication is gonna be slack. You may not have time to get to all of the situations. Four can get to situations much closer and better than one.”
Also during Friday’s freewheeling interview, Wilson:
♦ Demanded the appointment of a special prosecutor to determine whether County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who is also running for mayor, covered up sexual harassment allegations against her now-former chief of staff.
♦ Cited three reasons Emanuel needs to be “locked up”: keeping the Laquan McDonald shooting video under wraps; looking the other way while now-convicted and imprisoned Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett lined her pockets in a contract kickback scheme, and doing nothing to stop the sexual abuse of CPS students.
♦ Claimed that Schools CEO Janice Jackson is under Emanuel’s thumb, but he would nevertheless give Jackson a chance to keep her job because she just got there.
♦ Said he’s putting together a slate of aldermanic candidates targeting incumbents who have voted in lockstep for Emanuel’s oppressive tax increases.
♦ Argued that it is the city’s responsibility to replace lead service lines that carry water from the main to individual homes and said he would find a way to pay for it, even though the price tag may approach $2 billion.
♦ Vowed to put 15 percent of the revenue from a Chicago casino and from legalizing recreational marijuana into a “trust fund.” He would use that money to provide property tax relief for struggling homeowners and offer free tuition at the college of their choice to students who can’t otherwise afford to go to college.
Mayoral candidate Willie Wilson said that “if I had closed 50 schools in the white community, they would have hung me.’’