Wil­son vows to re­open some of 50 schools Rahm closed

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY FRAN SPIEL­MAN, CITY HALL RE­PORTER fspiel­man@suntimes.com | @fspiel­man

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.

ASH­LEE REZIN/SUN-TIMES

May­oral can­di­date Wil­lie Wil­son said that “if I had closed 50 schools in the white com­mu­nity, they would have hung me.’’

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