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Posted by on August 17, 2010 4:10 PM | Permalink
Daley criticized over memo saying police not writing enough tickets
August 17, 2010
BY FRANK MAIN AND FRAN SPIELMAN Staff Reporters
A City Hall memo warning that police ticket writing is down shows Mayor Daley is nickel-and-diming citizens to shore up a $657 million budget deficit, City Clerk David Orr charged today.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Department of Revenue sent police supervisors a memo last week saying the city would “witness a dramatic decrease in annual revenues and not meet 2010 targets” if a slump in the number of parking tickets and vehicle-compliance tickets continues to the end of the year.
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Officials with the Department of Revenue and police department have insisted the memo was not intended to apply pressure to commanders to pick up the pace of writing tickets.
But Orr and several aldermen said the memo sends the wrong message to the public. Orr said he’s been saying for years that City Hall considers parking tickets a revenue-generating tool more than a public-safety tool.
“I don’t think we put the citizens first enough in this town,” he said. “This is one indication of it. . . . There’s been too much pressure [on officers] to write tickets.”
He said the pressure is subtle, such as a supervisor telling officers at roll call that parking tickets are down.
Orr said he understands the need to issue tickets and he understands the role the recession is playing in the city’s budget woes. Corruption, though, also has played a major role in the deficit, he said.
“I totally sympathize with the mayor because of the recession, but I also know how much has been stolen,” he said. “I would like to see City Hall fess up to the millions and millions of dollars that have been stolen over the years.”
When asked if his strong words indicate he’s considering a run for mayor — a position he held temporarily in 1987 after the death of Mayor Harold Washington — Orr said: “No, I’m not thinking about that.”
Top mayoral aides were livid about the Aug. 10 memo, sources said. The memo noted that police ticket-writing dropped nearly 25 percent in July compared to the same month in 2009. It listed five police districts with the least and most tickets.
“The e-mail is backwards, given that the mayor is by no means encouraging police to write more tickets,” mayoral press secretary Jacquelyn Heard wrote in a text message to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Heard accused the Revenue Department of exercising “extremely poor judgment” and said mayoral chief-of-staff Ray Orozco “intends to address the issue.” She refused to say how. Orozco did not return calls.
Chicago aldermen who have been clamoring for more police officers to ease a severe manpower shortage were equally outraged by the tone of the e-mail, sent by Department of Revenue project administrator Vegiovanni Dardovski.
“That memo should never have been sent. It sends the wrong message that it’s all about the money,” said Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), chairman of the City Council’s Police Committee. “That is not the case. It’s not all about writing tickets for revenue purposes. It’s all about crime.”
Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd), who’s mulling a race for mayor against Daley, condemned the brow-beating tone of the memo at a time when a two-year hiring slowdown has left Chicago Police officers outnumbered and residents feeling unsafe.
“Are you planning on balancing the budget on the backs of the Police Department, thereby endangering our citizens? That’s what it looks like,” said Fioretti, who has demanded that Daley hire 1,000 more police officers, which would add $70 million to the city’s record shortfall.
“That’s their only solution? That doesn’t help anybody and it doesn’t help morale among police officers, who would rather be fighting crime in the streets than writing tickets,” Fioretti said.
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August 17, 2010 4:46 PM