Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fuss - Budget

You're probably aware of two things: Chicago and Illinois are flat broke; and a new City Budget is being discussed. What you may not know is that budget hearings begin today, and thanks to Ald. Pawar, you can see a schedule of what's happening when. You can also keep up with what's happening here.

All three Uptown aldermen are urging you to contact them about the budget so they can vote accordingly regarding where the axe falls. It's gonna be ugly and it's gonna be rough.  Mayor Daley and the previous City Council voted to borrow, to sell off city assets (parking meters, anyone?), and to TIF us into the position we are now.  Now it's time to pay the piper, and getting this creaky boat to stay afloat is going to take more than bubble gum and baling wire.

In a recent mailing, Ald. Osterman outlined a few of the budget items:

"The Mayor's budget proposal acknowledged the significant financial situation our City is in with a $635 million shortfall; and required that City government live within our means of doing business. ... Today's Budget proposed a number of changes that I want to share with you.  These changes are not set in stone.  They will undergo thorough discussion and debate once the Budget Hearings begin on October 19.  City Council expects to vote on the final budget the first week of December.  The Budget Hearings will give me the chance, as a new Alderman, to review each department with questions, comments, and suggestions.
  • Grid-based Garbage Collection: A grid-based collection system will be implemented throughout the entire City, which will save $20 million in efficiencies with garbage collection. Currently the 48th Ward is on a system similar to grid-based, so I do not anticipate any changes for the residents who are currently served by the City collection system.
  • Cancellation of condo rebate: The proposed budget eliminates the condo refuse rebate. This rebate is intended to subsidize the cost of private waste collection for condo buildings. I am committed to working with my colleagues to restore funding for this important program, which serves our condo owners throughout the 48th Ward.
  • TIF Reform: The Mayor has proposed to utilize 20% of unallocated TIF money in all TIFs throughout the City and return that money to the appropriate taxing bodies. This reform will reallocate $12 million to the City and $30 million back to schools, with the remainder going to other various taxing bodies. I am supportive of this reform and do not think it will have a negative impact locally on our efforts to spur economic development.
  • Loss of library hours: The proposed budget plans to reduce hours at local libraries on Mondays and Fridays. Given that we are in the process of building a brand new Edgewater library, I am concerned about the consequences this change would have on our community and am committed to finding an alternate solution.
  • Police and Fire: The police budget proposes the closing of 3 police stations (none affecting the 48th ward), the elimination of unfilled vacancies, and the hiring of 2 new cadet classes next year. Additionally, the Police and Fire headquarters will be combined together and a number of functions consolidated, including bomb and arson, terrorism, and marine units.
  • Water Rate Increase: The budget proposes to increase the water rate, intending to use those additional funds for capital improvements. I will provide more details about the rate increase amount as I receive them. I will continue working with the SaveMeter program to provide an efficient water meter for every residence in the 48th Ward.
  • Business efficiencies: The consolidation of the business licensing, permitting, and inspection process are included in the new budget. I am a strong supporter of better streamlining this process both for the City and for the business owner.
Among the proposed changes, the Mayor has not proposed any increases in property or other taxes; instead, his approach to the budgetary shortfall includes increased government efficiencies including reformed workers compensation, improved collections of unpaid bills, and a few minor fee increases."

One particular item that UU has received a lot of mail about is the proposed discontinuation of the condo garbage rebate. According to one management company:
Each year your association is entitled to a $75 per unit rebate from the City. As part of your property taxes you pay for trash pickup, but since you live in a condominium building, the City does not pick up your trash and you are required to hire your own scavenger service to remove your garbage.  The City offers the rebate to offset the out-of-pocket expense your association incurs for your scavenger service.  However, Mayor Emanuel is proposing that in 2012 the rebate be discontinued.  So in reality you are paying twice for your garbage to be picked up. In order to keep your garbage rebate, we need you to vocalize to your alderman that you do not want this program discontinued.

If you are for or against any of the many proposed changes, the time to speak up is now, while your alderman is reviewing and voting on where the cuts happen. Don't wait for a couple months and then start bitching and threatening to vote your alderman out in the next election. Right now is the time to make your feelings heard. We urge all UU readers to read the website of your alderman and contact him with your opinions.

Their websites are all listed in the sidebar to the right and their email addresses are clearly set forth on their websites.  We suggest, as Ald. Osterman says in his newsletter, that you put "2012 BUDGET" in your email subject line.


  1. There are a great number of services that property taxes pay for which not all taxpayers directly utilize or benefit from (e.g., schools, hospitals, etc.).

    Additionally, not all condo owners receive the $75/unit annual rebate, it only goes to condo buildings that meet or exceed a certain number of units in the building, so the $1.44 a week/rebate per unit that the city has been quite narrowly beneficial.

    I say suck it up and move on.

  2. You don't have to pay the piper. You have to pay the corrupt banks and Wall Street for the theft of billions of dollars by a small minority who are hoarding all the money you once had in property values.

    They have to pay the piper.

    The language Osterman or whoever wrote the introduction used seems to imply we are "living beyond our means" and we must tighten up and recognize WE have been spending too much.

    That sounds like the kind of dinner table talk you might have heard as a child. And that's why they are using it again. They are appealing to your "inner child" so to speak. Manipulating the emotional buttons that world leaders have become somewhat adept at doing once they grasped how advertising works.

    Ask Rahm who made millions as a banker for Wasserstein Perella.

    Condo owners are asked to pay more to the banks who stole your money, then gambled it away so that they may remain solvent at the expense of your insolvency.

    Rahm is for privatization, pure capitalism, and against welfare of any kind. He's what the whole world is rising up against. And it appears this will become very ugly because Rahm and his ilk will not give in. They want you to give in.

  3. QRBNST.....

    your analogy does not quite fit. I have no problem paying for schools, hospitals, ect that i don't use..but the city doesn't then force me to pay for a private version of the same thing.

    You need to have your trash removed. The city does not pick mine up base on the occupancy of the building i live in. why should i pay to have mine removed by a private company, but pay the same taxes as everyone else? I am not getting the same service or even the same opportunity at service.

    Not to mention that the city taxes haulers to have the dumpters in the alley. Which no doubt get passed down to the people who have to pay to have their trash removed. (

  4. QRBNST... this comes out , for our building which is not very large, of over $5500 a year... we have a number of low income and seniors living here... if we lose this $5500 , that means we have to raise everyones association fee to cover it so we can continue to pay for electricity, insurance, property taxes, etc etc..., by not giving us a rebate and causing us to pay twice for the exact same thing, you are actually adding a regressive tax on those lower income and seniors that have lived in the building for years and years... and you think this is fair?

  5. FYI..another BIG cut is in Graffiti Removal.. I hope everyone that reads this contacts all 3 alderman, but particularly Alderman Cappleman as this is perhaps one of the dumbest cuts of all... not only does graffiti removal help control violence but not allowing gangs to announce their territory, but it would eventually lead to lower property values.. just dumb

  6. BRAVO STU PIDDY for actually addressing the real issue!

    If everyone that has a problem with the state of affairs in this city, state and country stood up and said enough is enough, change would come faster than the Arab Spring.

    The Occupy movement is not a passing fad, nor is it a group of spoiled hipsters asking for free handouts.

    I encourage any and all of you to come on out on Saturday, (Board of Trade, Jackson and Lasalle @6pm.) and march with us.

    You will see, like yourselves, many frustrated teachers, laborers, students, seniors and everyone in between.

    It is time that we stop allowing banks and big business to control our lives and demand that they act morally and pay thier fair share!


  7. I welcome Big Business and Corporations and their greed.

    They're the only ones doing things right in this economy-MAKING MONEY so the world doesn't stop turning

    Capitalism FTW!!!!

  8. Das Kapital

    There are no corporations moving into Uptown so you may be the only one standing there with no one to greet.

    Our government. locally and nationally is a facade, a heat shield for corporations, banks, pharmaceutical, insurance and oil companies.

    These banks and corporations love it when people complain about the government which they hide behind and are dismantling and secretly privatizing.

    Guess who runs the social security administration?
    Lockheed Martin, not the government. Lockheed Martin is a weapons mfg.

    The Pentagon farms out 70 percent of its work. They are 70 percent privatized. Contractors who cost much more than uniformed soldiers are or have been over half the troops in Iraq.

    So Rahm wants to privatize Garbage disposal. It will cost more and there will be less quality.
    He wants to privatize all city departments. ALL your rates will sky rocket.

    Privatization has a long track record of increasing, not decreasing costs.

  9. If people respected what it truly takes to have a properly functioning democratic republic, a lot of these issues would be severely restricted, Stu.

    I hear ya about corporations, though - you should throw a "some" in front of that. Not all corporations are evil.

    Without corporations you wouldn't have the computer that you're using to post, life saving medical aspects or much of anything that many people take for granted.

    And a lot (a LOT) of people wouldn't have jobs.

    A major problem in America is that we keep electing and generally supporting politicians that take corporate money.

    Dick Durbin has taken a significant amount of money from Walmart.

    Barack Obama pulled in more money from Wall Street donors in 2008 than the entire GOP.

    Did you vote for either of those guys?

    If you did, then you're contributing to this problem.

    Corporations work within the confines of the laws and regulations provided to them by legislation (generally speaking).

    Obama, when asked why no Wall Street types have been prosecuted for their nefariousness, replied that they broke no laws.

    Think about that.

    If you want to change corporate behavior, start by not patronizing corporations you find distasteful. No one is holding a gun to anyone's head to get them to purchase from any particular entity.

    Then, stop supporting politicians who are happy to rake in campaign donations from those organizations you find distasteful. And demand better candidates from both of the two major, slobbering parties.

    Then, we need to promote a higher comprehension of voter responsibility.

    The people already have the power to make the types of changes the Occupy movement is wanting. If only they'd open their eyes and use that power for good, rather than continually ignoring their vote, or worse - casting selfish votes.

    There's also something to be said for personal responsibility; but, that concept does conflict with the whole "victimization" argument.

    Corporations love it when people complain about the government because they rightly assume that people are dumb enough to follow identity politics and/or not be diligent enough to vote intelligently.

    Rahm's budget is a victim of some piss poor stewardship of the city, county and state. Why aren't people occupying City Hall, or Springfield?

    That's where the real problems are, and where the most effective solutions can be fostered.

  10. That's where the real problems are, and where the most effective solutions can be fostered.

    All politics isn't local, and there are trillions of reasons why.

  11. The point of this post was Rahm's budget. So, if there are issues with the budget, don't sit in front of the CBOT, go to City Hall where something effective can be done.

    If the city hears the call, then so will the county, then the state and upwards to the Federal level.

    Think globally. Act locally.

    Sound familiar?

    Sub-point being that politicians share equal blame, up and down, for this mess, and yet ... I don't see them targeted.

    And some are very much in need of having their feet held to the fire, like, say ... Chris Dodd and Barney Frank:

    Even worse, the total exposure is unknown because Wall Street successfully lobbied during the Dodd-Frank passage so that no central exchange would exist keeping track of net derivative exposure.

    Again, the banks (in this example) are doing what legislation allows them to do.

    And the legislators allowed the banks to lobby out one of the few things a government should actually be doing.

    Let's not overlook the Durbin amendment that was part of Dodd-Frank, either.

    It's not that I'm ignoring very similar nefariousness on the part of the GOP, but they don't have their fingerprints all over the legislation at hand ... and, it's not like there are any GOP types in this city/county/state who do anything, anyway

    To focus only on the private sector, and demonize only them, serves to treat the symptoms and not the disease.

    Instead, the OWS-types are letting equally abhorrent violators (enabling pols, corrupt union officials) use the movement as a cause-celeb which is only going to harden the opinions of the rest of the 99% y'all are trying to sway.

    One would think that with so many college educated types running about, someone might have figured that out by now.

    Alas ...

    And that will be the downfall of the entire movement.

    Well, that and cold weather.

  12. ...the OWS-types are letting equally abhorrent violators (enabling pols, corrupt union officials) use the movement as a cause-celeb which is only going to harden the opinions of the rest of the 99% y'all are trying to sway.

    "OWS types," whatever that means, aren’t "letting" anyone take control of the movement, and we don’t have to “sway” anyone. People all over the country, no matter their affiliation, continue adding their voices because they know that something has gone dreadfully wrong.

    We’re not stupid. We know the politicians have been bought and paid for, we’re protesting The Ones who did the buying.

    We also know that there are some 99%ers who will probably never add their voices to this movement. They will continue defending the elite who've hijacked our republic for whatever reason --- because they’re afraid to “bite the hand that feeds them,” because they “got theirs, screw you,” because they’re partisan hacks who still think this is just a bunch of dirty hippie left-wingers protesting Republicans (nothing could be further from the truth) or worst of all, because they have a little bread, they’re more concerned about who wins the next round at the “Dancing with the Stars” circus.

    And as regards “acting locally,” I spent months trying to convince neighbors, friends, even colleagues and casual acquaintances not to cast their vote for Tiny Dancer.

    Yet here we are, with a mayor who profited mightily from the very kind of corruption the “OWS types” are protesting. In fact, one might say he's one of the architects. NAFTA anyone?

    Damn right, we should be writing to our aldermen about his proposed budget. I hope everyone who reads UU already has.

    And you're wrong about the cold weather, yo.

  13. we’re protesting The Ones who did the buying.

    One cannot buy unless someone is selling - again ... treating the symptom and not the disease.

    Look, it's not that I don't agree with a few/many of the premises of the OWS movement ("types" was a general term, relax); but, when agreeable polling is south of 40% and dropping, the message is not getting out.

    Might have something to do with the fact that those who aren't lending their voices, joining the protests and/or in full agreement are being chastised and demeaned.

    Or, in another sense: the song ain't bad, the singer is.

    And the drumming sucks.

  14. If you want to talk about treating the symptom and not the disease, yo, let's talk about people who want to close the shelters and SROs in this neighborhood.

    as regards polling numbers for OWS, not sure where you're getting your numbers, yo

    and the drumming is spectacular, you just have to know how to dance.

  15. Shutting SRO's and shelters is a different topic - or, better put, kindling for a us/them argument.

    Staying on topic is a good thing.

    The drumming, and the general 60's era tone to the events is one of the things keeping the independents from getting on board.

    Anyone will tell you that to win, politically, in the US you have to appeal to the moderates/independents.

    Here's my dataset.

    Note the numbers of those not paying too close of attention, as well as the numbers for those who approve of how the protests are being conducted.

  16. Well I am not for all of the debate and trying to sway people's minds. I prefer to 'sway (read: lead) by example'. I am a hard-working, tax-paying citizen of Chicago, who does more for this city than most people I know, and on Sunday morning, I was arrested for practicing my first amendment right to peacefully assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances. Rahm is a 1%er and is already blaming the arrests on Supt. McCarthy. I wish the police would stand up against thier corporate masters and join us, we are fighting for them, and all of you. Long live the movement! People over profits, restore economic justice in this country!

  17. I could not regret voting for this phony phucker any more than I already do.

    Another big business trying to hold the government hostage for $$$$$.

  18. *yawn*

    You weren't arrested for your message. You were arrested because you made it easy to be cast in violation of a city ordinance.

    In so much as can proved, of course.

    An ordinance is passed by the representatives of the people in City Council (yeah, I know how funny it is to say that in Chicago).

    So, in reality, the "corporate masters" of which you speak, are actually the citizens of Chicago who don't see any good reason for anyone to be in a public park after 11:00pm.

    Actually, that ordinance was put in place to curb various crimes and promote public safety (which, I might add, the occupy movements are adversley affecting when the police are busy violating everyone's 1st amendment rights instead of out on the street going after real criminals - oh, and don't forget the cost).

    By selecting Grant Park for this demonstration, the self-fulfilling aspect of the getting arrested prophecy came true.


    Granted, demonstrating in an area that does not automatically threaten an arrest doesn't have the same cache' as setting up an arrest laden photo-opp ... I'll grant you that much.

    Also - if you think Rahm is the problem, why not occupy Daley Plaza?

    Why not occupy the street upon which he lives?

    Again, I don't disagree with some of the root issues at play, here - but y'all are completely undermining the greater good by being so darned clumsy and short-sighted.

    Oh, and leading/swaying by example, in lieu of debate is also a bad route to take as it actually foments a curious level of group think and arrogance which certainly isn't going to gather followers beyond those already within the ranks of the true believers.

    Without the injection of new blood, from a broader base, it's very difficult to effectively extend the shelf life of the movement.

    Remember, there is power in "diversity" - but not just politically expedient diversity we know and love in Chicago - beyond race and into the that of ideology and belief.

    But ... meh.

    *twinkles*, right?


  19. By all means, continue to complain about the "evil" corporations and the "fascist" police...all while ignoring the legions of public sector employees bleeding you dry with their inflated salaries and ridiculous pensions and benefits.


  20. The "base" of Occupy Chicago is far larger then has been reflected in the local and national medis. This was readily observable this past Columbus Day when we all marched together.

    It is easy to get a different impression by the students and others hanging out at LaSalle and Jackson. It is easy tpo dismiss them as "lazy folks with a diffuse message and no jobs"...

    However there a re a lot of people with jobs, education, and a lot of solidarity with the movement.

    I would love to talk inside baseball about the Occupy movement, I have checked it out here and there, one of my brothers is an organizer so I hear a lot.

    Me? I am still just an Uptown local yokel guy and try not to wade in over my head on the BIG issues.

    It may ebb and flow in the cold months ahead but the issues are very real even if those issues are many and diffuse. Occupy is not a sales pitch so why would or should there be a singular and coherent message?

    American culture IS diffuse, and this movement reflects that.

    Stay tuned and strap in may be a bumpy ride.

  21. It won't be a bumpy ride, at all.

    The basic economic/political issues are very real, but in this diffuse culture, you could have the best, most logical point, ever - but if there's no appetizing sizzle to the steak, people will move on.

    If the same style, people and strategy are continued, the movement will smooth out and go *poof*.

    Per Stu's desire for numbers, here's the new poll from CNN. Question 7 is not good, nor are the partisan break downs on page 4.

    Singing to the choir only gets ya so far. Especially during football season.