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Sat Nov 17, 2012, 09:22 PM

Chicago Passes Austerity Budget with Little Debate (But More Than Usual)

from In These Times:

Chicago Passes Austerity Budget with Little Debate (But More Than Usual)
By Kari Lydersen

On Thursday the Chicago City Council passed Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposed 2013 budget, which—although it doesn’t include widespread layoffs and service cuts like last year’s—continues the trend of shrinking the city's government. Union analysts and other critics fear a harsh impact on residents who depend on public agencies for services and jobs.

There was never any doubt the budget would pass: Chicago’s city council has long been known as a rubber-stamp body. The vote was 46-3 with one city councilman absent. What was notable was that three councilmen did vote against the budget and one, Robert Fioretti, spoke in strident terms about how cuts and privatization could hurt regular people. Last year’s budget passed unanimously despite deep job cuts, the closure of six union-staffed mental-health clinics, the privatization of primary-care clinics and other public-service cuts.

“We may not be generating the headlines of the parking meters,” Fioretti said, referring to the debacle in which former Mayor Richard M. Daley leased the city’s meters to a private company, "but we are eliminating middle-class jobs. For what result? What do we say to our constituents who are sold out, to the dedicated employees of mental health centers, to the police officers who are not seeing vacancies filled? ... This helps the city in the long run how?”

Fioretti was one of a handful of city councilmen in the Progressive Caucus who hosted three evening community budget hearings for citizens to voice concerns, since the mayor broke with tradition in declining to hold any official evening community hearings. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.inthesetimes.com/working/entry/14200/chicago_passes_austerity_budget_with_little_debate_but_more_than_usual/

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Reply Chicago Passes Austerity Budget with Little Debate (But More Than Usual) (Original post)
marmar Nov 2012 OP
orpupilofnature57 Nov 2012 #1
mucifer Nov 2012 #2
frazzled Nov 2012 #3

Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 09:24 PM

1. The 1% solution .


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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 09:29 PM

2. That's why I voted for Patricia Van Pelt Watkins and not Rahm.


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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 12:34 AM

3. Austerity? Isn't that a bit overblown?

Under next year’s budget, all but a dozen or so of 275 job reductions would result from attrition. Graffiti scrubbing, weed whacking and tree trimming would be stepped up. More than $9 million more would be funneled into early childhood education, after-school programs and jobs, children’s eye exams and programs to address domestic violence.

... "I enjoyed the fact there are no new taxes, no new fees, yet it hires more police officers, which every citizen of this city knows is needed," Pope said.

The city also has promised to hire enough cops to bring the total of sworn officers in the city up to 12,500 and keep it there. The city now is a few hundred short of that goal.

Ald. James Balcer, 11th, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, endorsed Emanuel's plan for adding police recruits. "Crime has been a number one issue in this city," Balcer said. He touted the mayor's push to include funding for weekend police overtime to add officers.

Yes, it's true Ald. Fioretti opposed (and rightly so) one privatization of a city service (telephone service for the Water Dept. that affects 31 jobs), but it looks like those employees will be relocated:

Fioretti also said he isn’t happy with the mayor’s plans to outsource telephone customer service at the Water Management Department. During budget hearings ,African-American aldermen lambasted the outsourcing plan, saying it would have an unfair impact on black employees.

But opponents backed off after top administration officials assured them that the 31 full-time employees to be laid off would get a shot at other vacant city jobs and said Tokyo-headquartered NTT Data, the company that will take over the operation, plans to hire 30 people in the city.


I live in this city. And we're digging our way out of the financial mess Daley left us, which hit on top of the recession. For the first time since I've been here I'm now seeing streets that aren't downtown getting paved, bridges being rebuilt and repaired, and el tracks and infrastructure vastly upgraded. And new el cars! (I'm the only one who likes them, but they're quiet and clean and shiny and I'm used to seats that face the center, as in New York, so I'm cool with them, especially compared to the rattletraps that have been creaking around on unsafe tracks for years.) If that's what austerity looks like, I'd say it's an improvement over what this city was like before.

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