2 Replies to “Chicago Cops Slam Mayor Daley Video ( slight edit for time)”

  1. December 2, 2009

    BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter/fspielman@suntimes.com
    Chicago’s 75-year, $1.15 billion parking meter windfall would be nearly drained in just one year to provide token property tax relief and stave off tax increases, thanks to a $6.1 billion 2010 budget approved Wednesday.

    Despite complaints that Chicago’s future was being mortgaged, the City Council voted 38-to-12 to approve Mayor Daley’s plan to drain reserves generated by asset sales to solve the city’s worst budget crisis in modern history.

    Daley’s budget record Mayor Daley loves to pitch a shutout on the budget, winning unanimous support on the most important City Council vote of the year. And he’s done that seven times over the past 20 years. Here’s a look at the vote totals on the budget during the Daley years:
    Budget year Vote
    2010 38-12
    2009 49-1
    2008 37-13
    2007 48-0
    2006 48-1
    2005 47-3
    2004 50-0
    2003 48-0
    2002 50-0
    2001 48-0
    2000 49-0
    1999 48-1
    1998 45-2
    1997 49-1
    1996 49-1
    1995 44-4
    1994 47-0
    1993 33-9
    1992 30-18
    1991 38-9
    1990 38-8

    “We haven’t made 12 months and I guess we’ve reached eternity,” said Ald. Tom Allen (38th), noting that parking meter reserves were billed as a “perpetual replacement fund” when the deal was rammed through a year ago.

    “We have breached our fiduciary duty to taxpayers. You can’t break a contract in 12 months that’s supposed to last for 75 years. It’s unconscionable. It’s irresponsible. It’s disingenuous. …The decision to raid this fundamental asset is mind boggling.”

    Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd) noted that $400 million of the parking meter proceeds were supposed to be salted away in a long-term reserve fund earning interest that would help replace the $20 million in annual parking meter revenues the city lost. “You don’t eat your seed corn,” he said.

    Daley said he has no qualms about raiding reserves he once called untouchable, in part, to dole out $200 grants to hardpressed homeowners.

    In exchange for a combined $3 billion, contractors got the right to pocket Chicago Skyway tolls for the next 99 years and parking meter revenues for the next 75 years. Those reserves will now shrink to just $773 million by Dec. 31, 2010. The $223 million left from the parking meter lease amounts to just eleven years worth of annual meter revenues.

    “Now is the time that we must draw on them. [It’s] not a rainy day. This is a flood in the economy,” he said.

    “You know it in your own company how many people have been laid off…They’re losing their homes, food. They’ve lost their pensions, their health care. This is a very difficult time, not only for Chicago, but for the country. And you have to have a human side of this. You cannot disregard people.”

    Daley loves to pitch a shutout on the budget, the most important Council vote of the year. He’s gotten unanimous votes seven times in 20 years, including five straight between 2000 and 2004.

    Wednesday’s vote did not achieve that lofty standard. Fioretti and Allen were joined by aldermen: Manny Flores (1st), Pat Dowell (3rd), Sandi Jackson (7th), Ricardo Munoz (22nd), Sharon Dixon (24th), Scott Waguespack (32nd), Brendan Reilly (42nd), Vi Daley (43rd), Tom Tunney (44th) and Joe Moore (49th).

    The “no” vote on a Daley budget was Allen’s first in 16 years. Vi Daley is normally a staunch mayoral ally, but she, too, changed sides on grounds that, “Most of the money is coming from the parking meters. That bothered me a lot.”

    The mayor countered by challenging his critics.

    “What taxes and fees would they raise to balance our budget? No one presented a bill to raise a tax or raise a fee. What major city services would they like to cut? No one said that,” he said.

    Finance Committee Chairman Edward M. Burke (14th) agreed that there is “a lot of merit” to complaints about the raid on long-term reserves. But, he said, “Where is there a source of income big enough to fill the [$520 million] hole? There isn’t any. So we are in a hang-on mode. We have to hang on until things get better.”

    That won’t happen anytime soon, warned Ald. Pat O’Connor (40th), the mayor’s floor leader. This spring, taxpayers could face another body blow when an arbitrator rules on the new police contract.

    “Next year, buckle up. I don’t care what happens to the economy between now and then. None of these indicators are gonna get back to a point where we don’t have to make more cuts and have more savings and have more debate on where we’re gonna find the money,” O’Connor said.

    Although tax increases have been avoided, spending cuts have not.

    With the exception of police and fire, city employees will be required to take 24 unpaid furlough days. Tourism funds will be slashed. Library hours will be cut by 20 percent. Venetian Night will bite the dust and another day will be shaved off an already-reduced Jazz Fest—from three days to two.

    The budget includes no funding to continue the citywide switch to suburban-style blue cart recycling that was supposed to be completed by 2011 in all 600,000 households that get city garbage pick-up.

    And some of the 240,000 households that already have blue carts will see less frequent pick-ups: from every other week currently to every three weeks.

    With the Chicago Police Department already operating 2,000 officers-a-day short of authorized strength, the budget uses federal stimulus funds to add just 86 officers, 30 of them for the CTA.

    That’s nowhere near enough hiring to solve a manpower shortage that Police Supt, Jody Weis fears will get dramatically worse when as many as 1,000 more officers retire next year.


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