Mayor Rahm Emanuel scored a publicity coup Monday when the New York Times published his op-ed essay boasting of the CTA’s superiority to New York City’s public transit system.
But Emanuel probably got more publicity than he planned when the New York Daily News took offense and put his picture on Tuesday’s front page with the headline “DUMB TRACK MIND.”
The Daily News noted that New York, with three times the population of Chicago, has fewer than half as many homicides so far this year. A subhead declared: “Rahm touts Chicago trains, but AT LEAST our riders don’t get SHOT on the way home.”
Another headline declared: “MURDER CAPITAL MAYOR HITS SUBWAY.”
Emanuel’s op-ed set the tone from its first sentence: “On Thursday, in the wake of a subway derailment and an epidemic of train delays, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York declared a state of emergency for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the busiest mass transit system in America.” He noted other transit problems in Washington, D.C., and claimed high satisfaction among Chicago’s “L” riders.
Chicago’s system, “unlike the ones in New York and Washington, has not been troubled by systemic failures, breakdowns and delays,” Emanuel wrote.
The Daily News cited a statement by MTA Chairman Joe Lhota noting that New York’s population was rising while Chicago’s was slipping. And in what the Daily News took as a reference to Chicago’s violence problem, Lhota said: “The mayor of Chicago would seem to have enough of his own problems to focus on without trying to save face by capitalizing on someone else’s crisis.”
While there’s no question that Chicago is struggling with a spike in violence, the “murder capital” label is subject to dispute. Chicago has more total slayings than any other major American city, but its per capita homicide rate in 2016 trailed seven other U.S. cities, including St. Louis, Baltimore and Detroit, according to a report early this year by the fivethirtyeight.com website.