Last March, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel invited the newly crowned host of “The Tonight Show," Jimmy Fallon, to take a "jump in the lake." The deal was that at a date to be named later, Mayor Emanuel will appear on Fallon's NBC show. Tonight, Mayor Emanuel will make good on that pledge to appear on the show, reported the New York Times.
For Mayor Emanuel, it will be a welcome break from the home front, as opposition to him is growing by the day. In fact, Emanuel's sharpest critic, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis has been quoted as saying by the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky, that even "Bozo the Clown could defeat Emanuel in the upcoming mayoral election."
Of course, Lewis was being facetious about Bozo the Clown, however, a recent weekend edition headline blared: "RAHM ON THE ROPES." The results of a poll revealing that only one out of five Chicago voters think Emanuel's doing a better job of running the city than former Mayor Richard M. Daley.
On top of that, 29 percent of voters would cast a ballot for Emanuel's re-election in February 2015 if he were in a hypothetical race with Lewis, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and aldermen Bob Fioretti and Robert Shaw, the lone contender who has publicly declared his candidacy. According to the survey, Preckwinkle grabbed the 26 percent of the vote followed by Lewis (10 percent), Fioretti (five percent) and Shaw (three percent).
Twenty-seven percent of voters were undecided.
So for Emanuel, the trip to New York is a welcome respite and a chance to tell his side of the story on national television. But Emanuel would most certainly have a higher approval rating outside of Chicago, than from the voters in Chicago, which is a problem.
While in New York, Mayor Emanuel should expect a "surprise" from Fallon as payback Fallon had joked at the time that he agreed to make the plunge before realizing what it actually entailed. A very cold plunge in Chicago's Lake Michigan, that is. In fact, it is called the "polar plunge."
That plunge last March helped to set a fundraising record of more than $1 million with more than 3,000 plungers. Around 2,300 people braved the elements last year. "When Mayor Emanuel announced, we saw a little increase then," she said. "And when Fallon committed, that's when we saw the big increase."
In addition to Emanuel and Fallon, local celebrities and city officials took the polar plunge last March. In addition to Idonije, Chicago Public Library Commissioner Brian Bannon and Chicago Park District Superintendent Mike Kelly also participated in the 14th Annual Chicago Polar Plunge, which benefits the Special Olympics.
During the first citywide Summer of Learning, Emanuel challenged children participating in the “Rahm’s Readers” program that if they read a total of two million books, the mayor, Idonije and Bannon would jump into Lake Michigan.
"I’m proud to have taken the plunge into Lake Michigan today, both to highlight the tremendous accomplishments of Chicago's children who read over two million books last summer and to benefit the Special Olympics, which serves thousands of Chicago athletes every year," said Emanuel. "The polar plunge is a uniquely Chicago event, reminding us each year of the incredible strength and resilience of all the residents of the city of Chicago."
The Rahm’s Readers program is a key part of the citywide Summer of Learning, which keeps students learning and engaged during the summer months when school is not in session. This past summer, Chicago was the first city to pilot a citywide digital badge system across hundreds of organizations and learning opportunities to visually represent and reward students’ achievements. The Summer of Learning has more than 100 local and national organizations offering opportunities to earn badges, with more than 1,000 badge-earning possibilities — across Chicago’s communities and connected to the world online.
The Special Olympics has programs in 170 countries with more than four million athletes participating. Chicago’s Special Olympics chapter is one of the largest in the state of Illinois with over 5,000 athletes. The city of Chicago has long lasting ties with the Special Olympics as the games began in Chicago at Soldier Field back in 1968. Chicago Special Olympics operates in the Chicago Park District and Chicago Public Schools from funds raised by the Special Children’s Charities.
Mayor Emanuel will certainly paint a pretty picture about his administration and the progress he has made. He will bring up the money raised for the Special Olympics and the kids. Without a chance for a rebuttal from CTU President Karen Lewis. Which is the idea, after all.
New York Times - Karen Lewis: Bozo the Clown Could Beat Emanuel in Mayor's Race
Chicago Reader - Why can't Mayor Rahm be more like Karen Lewis?
New York Daily News - Jimmy Fallon takes icy dip in Lake Michigan’s ‘Polar Plunge’
Chicago Tribune - Fallon, Emanuel take the Polar Plunge