Why won't Emanuel talk about Mayor He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named?

He has rookie cops walking foot patrol in Englewood, a political statement, even though squad cars would allow them to cover more ground. He said they run fast enough. He runs with the cadets some mornings.

"Here's the deal," Emanuel said. "I guarantee that when the cadets and I run and we put you on a bike, we'll beat you. Even with your helmet. When those kids see you in those bike shorts, they're gonna run."

Me, a portly columnist, riding a bike in Chicago? Is he nuts? I should have said I'd ride a rickshaw, but only if he pulls it.

When he campaigned for office, he promised transparency. Now he's actively trying to limit the reach of the city inspector general even while pushing for a City Hall-controlled casino.

He rattled off pro-ethics commentary and talking points, facts and figures flying as if the faster he talked, the faster I'd believe he wants transparency. I don't.

Still, he's smart and ruthless, and I respect that. I asked if he still likes his job.

"No, I love this. I want you to understand, I don't like this, I love this," Emanuel said, eyes bright.

Love it? I don't care what he says. Yes, there is power in the job and reach. People line up to kiss mayoral behinds because, for all her modern architecture, Chicago remains a purely medieval political city, one of chieftains and tribes.

But all mayors end up the same: as if dancing on a floating log in the Chicago River, moving their feet, keeping it rolling, hoping to stay dry.

"Yes, we have our challenges, but we have our confidence back that we're up to the task of managing those challenges," Emanuel said. "Nobody anymore, after two years, says, 'Oh, this is too big. We can't do this.' We have our energy back. We're forward looking and we're moving forward."

Keep looking forward, mayor. And don't look over your shoulder. There's a guy back there who won't be named.

jskass@tribune.com

Twitter @John_Kass

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