In the ten months since he sailed into office on an endorsement from President Obama, our pugnacious mayor has proved he’s the city’s alpha male. Exhibit A: the 50–0 vote on his first budget in November, despite its painful cuts and fee hikes. He has fearlessly gone after Democratic sacred cows, including politically explosive issues such as city pension changes, that even the mighty Mike Madigan (No. 4) has refused to touch. He has publicly bullied those who oppose his agenda (take that, teachers!). And he has massaged his D.C. connections to bring both the NATO and G8 summits to Chicago this May. Prior summits have seen massive and violent protests, so hosting them is a ballsy move. If Emanuel can’t control the situation, well, Chicagoans have tossed mayors for less (remember Bilandic and a certain snowstorm?). If all goes as planned, though, the summits will allow this shameless self-promoter to demonstrate that Chicago is a world-class city—and that he’s a world-class mayor.
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Photograph: HEATHER CHARLES/CHICAGO TRIBUNE