One citizen's take on the Dick that makes Chicago tick.


Friday, July 3, 2009


photo via Chicago Tribune: Chicago Aldermen tackle the pressing issue of bathing suit lengths in 1929

Looks like the City Council has been busy. I'm not saying they accomplished anything, but they certainly are keeping themselves busy.

With news that Chicago is grossly overpaying for the transport of dead bodies in the city, some aldermen are wising up:
"I think it’s time to start at zero and justify every single expenditure in the budget,” said 20th Ward alderman Willie Cochran.
Good idea.

The City Council's approval of mandatory furlough days for non-union employees also gave some aldermen the opportunity to voice their displeasure with the city's finances:
Lacking a complete picture of the city’s finances makes voting on budgetary matters difficult, several said.

Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) referenced the Department of Budget and Management’s “evasion” and “lack of preparation” and said departmental staffers failed to provide information about the furlough proposal aldermen had asked for.

Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) said budget staffers had shown an “unwillingness to provide information.”

“We need to start creating our own numbers,” she said. “I do not trust the budget department.”

Ald. Manny Flores (1st) even lashed out against corporation counsel Mara Georges during his statement.

“We can’t have a partnership where there is no trust,” he said, his voice rising.
And then, of course, the City Council finally got around to their due diligence on the parking meter lease. Not that it matters now. Chicago Parking Meters: Aldermen Scrutinize Deal After the Fact
Acknowledging fears of political repercussions, aldermen spent Thursday reviewing their quick decision to approve the now-controversial lease of Chicago's parking meters to a private company.

Council members devoted a four-hour hearing to the issue Thursday after spending a mere two days in December considering and approving Mayor Richard Daley's deal to get $1.15 billion upfront from a firm that will reap revenues for the next 75 years from steep rate hikes at all 36,000 parking spots across the city.

The parking meter system's new operators botched the transition, however, leading to a public outcry. And some aldermen said Thursday that business owners in the city's wards believe higher parking fees are driving away customers.

"It's important that we get this right because it will have a damaging effect on metered retail communities, which are the lifeblood of our neighborhoods," said Ald. Thomas Tunney (44th), who's also a restaurant owner.
Better yet, check out John Kass' take on the aldermen's better late than never approach: Long-Winded Aldermen are Short on Memory:
Chicago aldermen spent hours ripping out their chest hair, one painful yank at a time, to protest Mayor Richard Daley's whopping parking meter rate increase, which they had the foresight to overwhelmingly approve a few months ago by a vote of 40-5.

OK, they didn't actually rip out their chest hairs. But they sure screeched like it.

"Utilization has fallen through the floor! We have nobody using these meters. It's not working. If you're going down Belmont, no one's parking on the street," Ald. Thomas Tunney (44th) cried at a hearing on Thursday. He was one of those who foolishly supported Daley's 2016 Olympic Dreams Hidden Parking Tax Increase.

The aldermen were all yelping the same song: No one's using the meters! They really shouldn't have approved his plan!
Anyone thinking about getting out of this meter deal, think again. From the Reader's Clout City blog:

So how do we get out of this?” Tunney asked the city lawyers and budget officials there to testify.

Their answer: we don’t.

As city attorney Jim McDonald explained, the agreement doesn’t specify any process for “unilateral termination.” “We’d have to negotiate it,” he said. Which means that the tab for tearing the deal up would would almost certainly exceed the $1.157 billion the city got to outsource the meters.

So Chicago Aldermen, what did we learn?
“This is the worst deal I’ve ever seen, but never again—it’s taught us something.”
Which brings me to my next point: Only 11 aldermen have signaled their support for Alderman Manny Flores' ordinance that will cap Chicago taxpayers' liability for the Olympic games at $500 million.

That's 12 aldermen total. We need that number to get up to 26. It better get up to 26. I don't know how the city can even guarantee $500 million when our budget looks the way it looks, with no relief in sight.

For now, you can congratulate these aldermen for having a functioning brain: Bob Fioretti (2nd Ward), Leslie Hairston (5th Ward), Freddrenna Lyle (6th Ward), Sandi Jackson (7th Ward), Willie Cochran (20th Ward), Ricardo Munoz (22nd Ward), Sharon Dixon (24th Ward), Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward), Richard Mell (33rd Ward), Eugene Schulter (47th Ward), Joe Moore (49th Ward).

If you don't see your alderman on this list, call him/her and ask why.

Never again, City Council? Haven't you learned by now?
Prove it.

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