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‘No’ to community forums: Emanuel angers Asian Americans

A stern denunciation of Rahm Emanuel – for scheduling a fundraising event with the Korean community in direct conflict with a candidates forum organized by eleven Asian American groups – highlights an ongoing tension between Emanuel’s campaign and community organizations.

For many, the refusal of the possible next mayor to engage organized citizens groups suggests his administration would continue the closed and autocratic style of the current mayor.

Civic organizations ranging from the NAACP to environmental groups, churches, parents, immigrants, housing advocates and neighborhood associations have held mayoral forums featuring all candidates – except Emanuel, who entered the race with seemingly overwhelming financial clout and now leads all polls.

His campaign says he prefers to meet voters one-on-one, but community organizers say this choice – schmoozing over substantive discussion with informed and organized residents – shortchanges badly-needed debate at a critical juncture for the city and evades an important avenue of accountability.

All invited candidates except Emanuel confirmed attendance at Tuesday night’s Pan-Asian Voter Empowerment candidates forum (Tuesday, February 8, 6:30 p.m., St. Augustine College, 1345 W. Argyle).

Instead, Emanuel scheduled a fundraiser with Korean-American supporters at the exact time of the forum, organizers say.

The Asian American Institute expressed “outrage that Rahm Emanuel is using machine political tactics to try to divide the Asian American community.”

“It is unacceptable that the Emanuel campaign would use these tired and divisive tactics to pit us against one another,” said Sik Sohn of the Korean American Resource and Cultural Center.  “Our grassroots effort at educating our community is being thwarted by a small group of donors.

The PAVE campaign is an unprecedented voter education and turnout effort joining groups representing the Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Korean, Pakistani, and Vietnamese American communities.

“There are 60,000 Asian Americans registered in Chicago, and we can make the difference if Emanuel is trying to avoid a runoff,” said Tuyet Le of AAI.

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Category: Asian Americans, elections

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