by Don Washington on 2011/11/11
As the Emanuel budget creeps ever closer to reality the question being raised by aldermen and the media is who is going to suffer not what the budget should be about. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again a budget is where you get a sense of a government’s soul and its objectives. I’ve gone on and on about the over a billion dollars lying around the city that is not being touched for reasons that neither Rahm nor any alderman anywhere apparently wants or intends to explain. Other people have lost hair and years off their lives from all the screaming and carrying on about which services Rahm is privatizing or reducing to a size small enough for his campaign investors over at the Civic Federation or For a Better Chicago to drag into a bath tub and drown.
What do you know about the Responsible Budget Ordinance? If you know nothing that’s because our media watchdog is little better than an arthritic toy poodle with a heart condition you probably don’t know that there is an actual alternative to sacrificing programs to keep the homeless from freezing to death, kids from not being thirty-deep in classrooms and privatizing our airports… but you’ve next to nothing about it. I’m up on these things and I know enough to know that there is not a reporter over at the Tribune or the Sun-Times could tell you more than one sentence about it. And if we’re talking Fran Speilman and Hal Dardick they could tell you NOTHING about it. Don’t feel bad for them one of them, Fran is having a fine career as a comedy writer. It’s possible that Hal is a far better reporter than he’s allowed to be but we will never know and I’m digressing.
The Grassroots Collaborative a citywide social justice alliance has decided that least $854 million dollars in TIF funds should be used for what governments usually use tax dollars for… services for its people! It’s not Rahm’s fault that he thinks that money should stay with people who use the bulk of society’s resources to make themselves richer. For the love of God he’s an investment banker with the heart of political hatchet man and the soul of a Libertarian businessman. We’re lucky he’s not auctioning off the rights to use kindergarteners as garment workers in China… and he’s probably got some futures riding on that sort of thing anyway.
You see the good people at the Collaborative are doing something a guy who can’t wait to bring more financial service “jobs” to Chicago can’t do… think about what’s happening to ordinary folks in neighborhoods like mine. Neighborhoods where 33.6 percent of African-American Chicagoans and 23.2 percent of Latinos are in poverty; which means that cuts to public programs such as parks and libraries will hurt them and all low income families a great deal. That’s because we can’t afford to hire private tutors. The Collaborative knows that Public worker lay-offs will disproportionately hurt African-Americans and ADD to the poverty rate but they have a solution.
Here’s where you can read the entire ordinance. We’ll wait for you to finish before getting on with the article. I bet your head is spinning with what you just learned and you are wondering why you don’t know anything about this. Not your fault that our City Hall press corps is not in the business of informing you. That’s one reason why you’re reading this article from a non-journalist who respects Bill Moyers and wishes he didn’t know what the hell is wrong with Fran and Hal. This rag-tag band of rebel aldermen; Waguespack, Arena, Burns, Fioretti, Foulkes, Moore, Moreno, Smith, and Sposato and their 80 community group constituents have like half a snowball’s chance of winning… this time but one day equality and accountability are gonna start counting for something and it has to start somewhere. The Grassroots Collaborative has chosen right here and right now and it’s a good damn start… a budget that meets the needs of flesh and bone people.
It’s pretty obvious that the Emanuel budget, reeking of sulfur and curdling milk at a distance as it goes, is going to pass. I’m not ever sure at this point if the aldermen in the Progressive Caucus, (Jesus in a wrestling cape we have a Progressive Caucus in the Chicago City Council? I’m feeling faint.) are going to do much more than put up ritual/token resistance. If you’ve found yourself thinking that there’s some kind of suspense building toward a budget showdown or something then you have not been paying enough attention to how Chicago has worked for the past 22 years. You might be thinking that now that we have a new Mayor things will be different and you’re probably right.
The old Mayor wanted to protect the contracts of his favorite briefcase carrying thugs and the few public sector strong arms who were climbing the UNO-HDO-MLI chain to becoming a briefcase carrying thug. His budgets were focused on expanding the opportunities Think of him as a mob boss pretending to be businessman and every once in a while some made guy’s gotta do a little time to protect da Boss. That’s what makes this torture thing so interesting. Nobody left to take a bullet for the distinguished Harvard professor who STILL can barely string together a sentence. I say its even money that the Mayor starts wandering around his new neighborhood in his pajamas to avoid doing the full dime when his time comes; if it ever does.
Our new Mayor’s budget reads like the Grinch visiting Whoville BEFORE his heart grew two sizes too large for its frame. He is focused like a laser on disabling as much of the public sector as he possibly can anyway he can get it done and make government into a pass through and partner with the financial sector he actually works for. Think of him as a mob boss who desperately wants to become a super villain. He plans to remake the city into a place the IMF would be proud of. Think of it, enough jobs for the wealthy to turn parts of the city into their playground and enough coercive police power to protect them. Everything is competitive, including schools and if the little mostly brown and black little bastards can’t compete that’s what we’ve got prisons for and if they are private all the more’s the better.
So now you know what the Responsible Budget Ordinance is and you should contact your alderman and give him or her a piece of your mind. Here’s how you can find them. If you find you are all thumbs when it comes to explaining why they should support the ordinance tell them the following:
• Deliver the demand to your Alderman and here’s what could happen:
Ald. Doesn’t Know Demand because he’s reading Fran and Hal and hasn’t a clue.
Ald. since you aren’t up on the ordinance I’m glad to go over it with you. $854 million in TIF money is sitting unallocated, while the City faces a budget deficit over $600 million dollars. This does not even account for the Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Park District, Cook County and other sister agencies that have their own budget deficits. This ordinance can potentially return hundreds of millions of dollars to our city budget, our schools, parks, and our libraries.
Q: Will you support the Responsible Budget Ordinance?
Ald. Won’t Answer Your Demand because they don’t want to piss off Rahm.
The vote on a regressive and harmful budget is going to happen on Wednesday. Chicago’s neighborhoods are currently suffering an economic depression, and every tax dollar allocated to our neighborhoods this year is a dollar that can be spent on preserving critical services for seniors, children, and parents. It would be irresponsible to let these funds sit idle in TIF accounts while we lay off teachers and other workers who have families that depend on them, and communities that benefit from their service.
Q:We need you decide if you are going to protect our community by supporting the Responsible Budget Ordinance. Will you do so?
Ald. Attacks the Demand because he or she loves Rahm and For a Better Chicago or Worse.
This is not the time for disrespectful personal attacks or anger. This is a time for you to lead and for the community to pull together. The ordinance says that all TIF districts that have over $5 million in unallocated dollars (meaning, money just sitting around) gets totaled up, and 50% of that total money gets declared a surplus and returned to the original taxing bodies; our schools and other government services.
Q: At a time when our community is facing greater than 20% unemployment we can’t take any more salary bombs dropped on us. Will you support the Responsible Budget Ordinance?
Ald. Respectfully Knows Something About Your Demand:
We’re glad that you know so much about what would be good for this ward and our shared community.
Q: Because we know you support schools, libraries, gang intervention strategies, parks, and essential city services we are asking you to support the Responsible Budgeting Ordinance.
Remember, what you do today will dictate what tomorrow looks like. Time to make what is right practical. Get off the bench. Let’s start a fight with the Mayor for the soul of the city. Just because he lost his doesn’t give him a right to steal ours.