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Rahm Not Tough Enough To Face Mental Health Advocates

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel has unveiled plans to make Chicago a healthier city by focusing on issues of fitness, disease control, and access to health care. But at least one part of his health care agenda has its critics and they were waiting for Emanuel at one of his public events on Tuesday.

"CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports that those critics prompted the mayor to slip in a side door at his next event.

"For the record, the mayor's office said he always uses the side door for such events, but the real reason was probably avoiding a confrontation with the protestors, or even pictures of him walking past them."

*

"[I]nstead of confronting the protestors who were waiting at the front door of the University Club of Chicago, located at 76 E. Monroe St., on Tuesday morning, Emanuel's SUV pulled up and stopped briefly while the driver conferred briefly with the head of his security detail.

"Other uniformed officers meanwhile blocked off a nearby alley and moments later, the mayor and his party drove down the alley, stopped and entered the building.

"Neither the protesters, not reporters, were allowed inside for the mayor's speech. Access to health care was one of the 12 priorities that made up his Healthy Chicago initiative, which he outlined at a news conference Tuesday morning."

*

"N'dana Carter and Southside Together Organizing for Power organized the protest [Tuesday] after the city released its report on public health, Transforming the Health of our City: Chicago Answers the Call," Megan Cottrell reports. "The mayor did not, however, answer the call of the protesters. I stood outside with them for two hours, waiting for the mayor to show and trying with the rest of the media to best plot out where he might enter - the main entrance, the back alley or even on the other side of the block.

"Shortly after I left, the mayor did arrive, but he didn't talk to Carter or any of the protestors. Matt Ginsberg-Jaekle, an organizer with Southside Together Organizing for Power, said a black SUV pulled up to the entrance, stopped, and as the media prepared to descend, pulled around to the corner. By the time the media and protesters had gotten to the corner, Jaekle said, another SUV pulled up and rushed Rahm inside.

"'It was a decoy car,' Jaekle said. 'We never got to come face-to-face with the mayor.'"

*

"The group was hoping for some answers after they were also stood up earlier this month at a mental health town hall they set up for city health commissioner Bechara Choucair. After confirming his attendance four times, the group said, he backed out just two hours before the event, leaving concerned citizens without answers on what will happen to the city's mental health services.

"Earlier that morning, Emanuel and Choucair both talked about the city's plan to work on health problems like obesity, breast cancer and cancer disparities. Emanuel emphasized that he wanted the city to focus on health goals, not delivery of services."

*

From the Tip Line:

"Commissioner Choucair didn't show up at that community MH meeting at Mercy Friday evening. According to the account I heard, one of the organizers received a text message from him a couple of hours before the meeting, saying (my paraphrase from what a consumer told me) something to the effect that the ground rules had changed."

*

Comment on the Reader's "Father, Husband, Schizophrenic," posted by Jeff Park Mom on August 12, 2011, at 10:09 AM:

"The piece tangentially highlights two critically important public services for individuals with mental illness that are currently under attack. Mr. Mailey clearly relies on the City of Chicago's Woodlawn clinic, which client and community support (and civil disobedience at the Mayor's office during the Olympic Committee visit) narrowly saved from closure three years ago. The City ducked a big community meeting on the clinics last week, leading to speculation that Mayor Rahm may be planning another round of closures.

"Mr. Mailey understandably does not speak so warmly of his time at Tinley Park state hospital, but it is a critical part of the safety net. An attempt to close the hospital five years ago met resistance from consumers and advocates, but also private hospitals in the area which said they had neither the inpatient psych beds nor the desire to serve folks who were so very seriously ill. It's no coincidence that the number of mentally ill inmates in state prisons has increased as the state has closed state mental health hospitals. While Tinley is still open, the recently enacted state budget cut its funding in half, at the same time funding for community services was cut."

*

"Dr. Bechara Choucair is Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

"Appointed by Mayor Richard M. Daley on November 25, 2009, Dr. Choucair is re-shaping the department to meet the public health challenges of the 21st century."

*

A Mental Health Moment: Daley Sits Silently.

*

Choucair on Twitter.

*

Responding to (some) comments at ChicagoBudget.org.

*

In an exhaustive commencement speech he gave in May about the history and state of public health in Chicago, Choucair didn't mention mental health at all.

*

Previously:
* Dear Rahm: Save Our Mental Health Clinics!

* Mental Health vs. Daley

* The 2009 Chicago Psych Olympics

-

Comments welcome.



Permalink

Posted on August 17, 2011


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