Al­der­man giv­ing away $20,000 from mayor

Sawyer to do­nate gift from Emanuel to com­mu­nity

Daily Southtown (Sunday) - - News - By John Byrne je­byrne@chicagotri­bune.com Twit­ter @_john­byrne

South Side Ald. Rod­er­ick Sawyer sought to dis­tance him­self Fri­day from out­go­ing Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s part­ing gift of $20,000 to his cam­paign fund, an­nounc­ing that he would dis­trib­ute the money to com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions in­stead of us­ing it to help fund his re-elec­tion run.

Emanuel handed out more than $500,000 in $20,000 in­cre­ments to more than two dozen City Coun­cil al­lies Wed­nes­day, the checks made out to the al­der­men’s po­lit­i­cal cam­paign funds. The mayor told those he in­vited to the down­town break­fast that he ap­pre­ci­ated them help­ing him make tough de­ci­sions for the city, be­fore sur­pris­ing them with the con­tri­bu­tions, Sawyer said.

“The mayor in­vited me, along with a lot of oth­ers, there to say thank you for that in­ter­ac­tion,” Sawyer said at a news con­fer­ence at a Chatham restau­rant. “And un­be­knownst to me, and I think un­be­knownst to every­body there, the mayor pro­ceeded to state ‘As you leave out, we have some­thing for you.’ And there were checks for $20,000.”

Sawyer seems likely to win a thirdterm rep­re­sent­ing the 6th Ward, and noted he doesn’t face as tough a re-elec­tion fight as some of his col­leagueswho also got checks and might want to use the may­oral wind­fall to buy mail­ers or other cam­paign ad­ver­tis­ing to stave off chal­lengers who will try to tie them to Emanuel’s poli­cies.

But he also ac­knowl­edged fi­nan­cial sup­port from Emanuel might not be po­lit­i­cally help­ful to al­der­men in parts of the city where the mayor is deeply un­pop­u­lar.

“It’s a po­lit­i­cal chal­lenge, ob­vi­ously,” he said. “I’m a per­son that’s a stu­dent of pol­i­tics, and I un­der­stand the optics.”

Sawyer, who chairs the City Coun­cil Black Cau­cus, will cut $2,000 checks to each of 10 com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions, groups work­ing on anti-vi­o­lence ini­tia­tives and job train­ing pro­grams in the ward. And he won­dered if other coun­cil mem­bers who got the checks would fol­low his lead.

“It’s no ill in­tent, I think the mayor would be happy I’ve done this with the money, quite hon­estly,” Sawyer said. “Ac­tu­ally ... a lot ofmy col­leagues should fol­low suit, and do some great things with those real boots-on-the-ground or­ga­ni­za­tions in their in­di­vid­ual ar­eas thatwe should re­ally be fund­ing.”

Emanuel has promised “no friend gets left on the field” when he leaves of­fice af­ter this term, pledg­ing to be help­ful to those al­der­men who backed his agenda.

Emanuel is set to give his 2019 bud­get ad­dress nex­tweek.

And while the elec­tionyear spend­ing pack­age prom­ises to be one of the eas­i­est of his two terms af­ter mas­sive tax and fee in­creases in prior years, a may­oral ad­viser told the Tri­bune that he will touch on the sup­port he has got­ten from some mem­bers of the coun­cil in pass­ing po­lit­i­cally dif­fi­cult or­di­nances in the past.

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