Chicago’s 80-strong, Mayor Rahm Emanuel-fronted delegation to see Archbishop Blase Cupich’s elevation to cardinal in Rome counts the city’s top cop Eddie Johnson among its number.
Including Johnson with the political donors and dignitaries taking the charter flight for the ceremony underlines the importance of the moment — and reflects the personal relationship he shares with Cupich, according to a Johnson spokesman. But it also could end up being bad political optics for the mayor and the superintendent if violence grabs headlines in Chicago while they’re touring St. Peter’s Basilica.
Emanuel has the fight against crime at the forefront of his agenda, trying to overcome the city’s notorious national reputation and repair relations with residents who live in neighborhoods where they don’t feel safe or trust police. Time and again, he has pointed to Johnson’s tireless work as key to that turnaround.
Being out of town at crucial moments has been an issue for Emanuel before. When his school board closed dozens of public schools in 2013, he was vacationing with his family at a ski area in Utah, a fact not lost on his critics.
And when a Chicago police officer shot and killed teenager Quintonio LeGrier and mother of five Bettie Jones on the West Side last December, Emanuel was in Cuba on a family trip. Emails released months later showed the mayor contacting staff from there to keep close tabs on the public fallout from the shootings.
In this case, Johnson’s inclusion in the Rome trip will not compromise the decision-making at CPD, according to department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. The superintendent is checking in via phone regularly with First Deputy Superintendent Kevin Navarro and other department officials, Guglielmi said.
“There won’t be any breakdown,” Guglielmi said. “The department is bigger than any one individual.” (John Byrne)
What’s on tap
*Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Bruce Rauner are in Rome to watch Archbishop Blase Cupich get elevated to cardinal.
*City Treasurer Kurt Summers will be out with 47th Ward Ald. Ameya Pawar to promote holiday shopping at local merchants.
*Kirk gets call from Bibi: Outgoing Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, defeated in his bid for re-election, said he received a call from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Got a nice call today from Israeli PM @Netanyahu. Told him I’ll keep finding ways to strengthen US-Israel alliance after I leave the Senate,” Kirk said on his official Twitter account.
In his losing campaign to Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, Kirk was a prime opponent of the U.S.-led multinational deal to curb Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons. Kirk opposed the deal and warned Iran will still present a danger to Israel. (Rick Pearson)
*Roskam gets win against Boeing: West suburban Republican U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam scored a win Thursday when the House voted 243-174 to approve legislation blocking the Treasury Department from issuing licenses to finance aircraft sales to Iran.
Roskam, of Wheaton, has been a vocal opponent of allowing commercial aircraft sales to Iran, contending the country has a history of using such planes to transport weaponry and troops to assist the Syrian government.
Iran recently agreed to purchase 200 new planes from Boeing and Airbus, prompting Roskam to push for the ban. It also prevents the Export-Import Bank from financing such sale agreements. (Rick Pearson)
*The Sunday Spin: On this week’s show, Chicago Tribune political writer Rick Pearson’s guests are Rebecca Shi, executive director of the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition; Democratic political consultant Tom Bowen; and former Republican state Sen. Matt Murphy of Palatine. The "Sunday Spin" airs from 7 to 9 a.m. on WGN 720-AM.
Follow the money
*Track Illinois campaign contributions in real time here and here.