Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ald. Cappleman Talks About The City Budget

We heard from Ald. Osterman about what he liked and doesn't like about the new city budget; now from Ald. Cappleman:

"I want to thank you for providing your input, which helped me formulate questions before City Council throughout this process.  I was one of 28 aldermen who signed a letter that was given to Mayor Rahm Emanuel to state my concerns about cuts to the libraries, the condo refuse rebate, and the mental health clinics.  That letter served as a catalyst for more serious discussions.

My past career involved working with others to resolve their conflicts and from that I know it's not possible for everyone to be truly satisfied with a given outcome.  However, the reality should be that everyone ends up "losing" a little bit in order to get to a good compromise.  The true reality is that the most serious crisis before us is our skyrocketing budget deficit.  Future generations will be saddled with our lack of action if we don't act now.

I'm not happy with the budget; but I can live with it... for now.  In City Council, I laid out some expectations that I must see for next year:

  • First and foremost, I am placing a demand on clearer performance metrics for each department. Other industries rely on the use of performance metrics to clearly demonstrate how well a department is performing. That's the information we need to assist us with budgeting.
  • Secondly, it was frustrating to hear opposing sides give contradicting facts to make their arguments.  I am advocating for the development of an independent budget office, similar to what New York City has done.  This office would give an objective analysis of the performance and budgeting needs of each department; information that's needed to help me and other aldermen make informed decisions for the future of our city.
  • I'm not satisfied with the proposal to phase out the condo refuse rebate over the next 3 years, but it also disturbs me that there are currently no incentives to recycle.  I want the City to revisit the entire way garbage is handled and consider paying for garbage by the amount produced.  This would also provide the needed incentive for everyone to recycle more and would eliminate the double payment for condo owners.
  • I'm also not satisfied with the library cuts.  I understand that library cuts are happening all over the country, but it's still a lifeline for so many people.  I'm committed to working with other aldermen to do whatever is necessary to continue advocating for our libraries.

This budget was tough, but I promise you, next year's budget will be much tougher due to the pension crisis that has been allowed to fester for too long.  My proposals will help members of City Council become more informed about these critical decisions that affect us all."


  1. I think all of Cappleman's ideas are spot-on, and really, it's maddening that his proposals would be new to the City's processes.

  2. Advocate for the libraries but not a single concern about closing police districts that DIRECTLY affect our safety in Uptown?
    So we're happy about the steady uptick in shootings and gang violence?

    Maybe a few more homicides and beatings for our iPods and iPhones in our million dollar L station will wake up the politicians. By then though, it will be too late for the victims.

  3. Actions speak louder than words. Cutting libraries, laying off librarians, closing health clinics, shutting down fire stations, etc. aren't popular with ordinary Chicagoans. So, of course, Cappleman will try to put some distance between himself and these policies. But he voted for the budget. In fact, the entire City Council unanimously voted for Rahm's cruel austerity budget. I don't really care about what letters he sends to try to save face. I care about whether he's actually willing to stand up to the Mayor (and his Millionaire Club) to fight for our interests. And he's not.

  4. @t - what would you have him do? what budget cuts would you enact to balance our city's finances? I think 'cruel austerity budget' is a little hyperbolic. I am not terribly happy about the garbage thing, and obviously no one wants ANY of their city services cut, and yet cuts must be made. I think Cappleman's idea of enforcing performance metrics is a great first step for finally figuring out where the real waste is. But we don't have 5 years to set up these committees, collect data and enact change management to start saving money. That needs to happen know, and James understands that. Do you?

  5. t, I completely agree. What a bunch of bullshit. Get out and support your local Occupy movement and make the government representative of the PEOPLE, not just the rich!

  6. @Oedipa Regina - well said.

    @Cone - sadly, that's what will happen. I've been saying it all along - until a precious Cubs fan is struck down with a bullet, nothin' is gonna change unless we run these f'ers out of Uptown ourselves.

  7. I am not happy with any of the cuts. But somethings have to go if there is not enough money to pay for it. Increasing taxes is not a great option either, which has been done regardless of what has been said. (city stickers, water increases, paying for trash twice the list is endless) At least City Government is making an attempt to actually balance the budget. Well, that is what they want us to think, time will tell on that one. The City has also made a practice of balancing its operating budget by not paying off the benefits agreed to with its employees. That practice has led to its own coming meltdown. I fear the next 5-10 budgets are not going to be much easier.

  8. I feel that most of all these budget cuts come from wasteful spending and specially on thoses who always have there hands out breaking the government. Occupy movements should be in front of Congress and the White House. Thats the problem. Not the rich that make money the old fasioned way. They work for it and not depend on governemnt to hand it to them.

  9. How about they cut the Alderman from 50 to 25. That would save some money right there.

    Instead of cutting all the services and people that actually do the jobs cuts the bs PR Firm payments from City Hall and all the Management Jobs that pay over 100K.

    They never cut where the most fat is.

  10. Get out and support your local Occupy movement and make the government representative of the PEOPLE

    ... or ... let's get people to start taking their civic responsibility seriously, becoming educated on the issues (not just being single issue voters), demanding better candidates (and more from them once elected), and occupying a voting booth every now and then.

    The government IS representative of the people .. the people who vote, that is. And, according to the Sun Times, that ain't as many people as it could be.

    Can't rightly have folks faulting a system inwhich nearly 60% of them don't get involved.

  11. A - that is exactly what Rahm should do - and hopefully soon.

  12. I am curious as to what his position on the ward remaps is.

    As far as alderman and their salaries, they can keep them. You would have to pay me ALOT of money to take that job!!! I also think 50 aldermen is a fine number.

  13. At first I was for 25 aldermen. BUT ... the fewer there are, the more firmly entrenched they get. With 50, you can occasionally cull the herd by voting out the bad ones. But I don't want a City Council full of clout-heavy aldermen. The big wheels already have too much power, and they're one of 50. Make them one of 25, and they'll be nearly impossible to budge.

    Also -- people complain when the aldermen don't immediately know they have a pothole or a flooded alley. Do you really want your alderman's turf to double? Your waiting list for the day-to-day problems of living in Chicago just doubled, along with the population of your ward.

  14. "But I don't want a City Council full of clout-heavy aldermen. The big wheels already have too much power, and they're one of 50. Make them one of 25, and they'll be nearly impossible to budge."

    I kind of think that the problem with 50 is that you can end up with over 20 years of a corrupt SOB like Daley. With so many alderman, not one of them has sufficient power to fight against a corrupt mayor like Daley. Of course, that cuts both ways. A single corrupt alderman has a much wider reign of terror in a pool of 25.

  15. I have no problem with 50 Alderman, I don't believe getting rid of half of them really saves a ton of money. But I would like to have 50 Alderman who work hard. Like him or hate him Alderman Cappleman can not be accused of working a part time job. The guy is everywhere. People should expect that from their Alderman. If they have an Alderman who continues to say dumb things like "It is only a part time job" I would get myself to the voting both and find someone new. But as Yo said, a whole lot of people don't each time there is an election in this City.

  16. @Yo,

    Occupying a voters booth would be nice if both parties and all the candidates were not wholly-owned subsidiaries of Wall-Street.

    You say....

    "The government IS representative of the people .. the people who vote, that is. And, according to the Sun Times, that ain't as many people as it could be."

    That just is not true. We elect leaders, who in turn, fail to keep any promises they make. Obama, change yada yada. Congress elected to create jobs! Yada yada.

    Until we GET MONEY OUT OF POLITICS, and stop allowing Wall Street and big business to buy our politicians, it WILL NOT MATTER WHO WE VOTE FOR. They are all the same.

    Campaign finance reform is the first step to a representative government for the majority, not just the wealthy elite.

  17. Also they didn't want to vote against Rahm cause of the remapping of the wards.

  18. I wouldn't take "cut the Wards in half" literal - but cutting them by a 1/3 would be a good start.

  19. The elimination of the refuse rebate is just garbage, as it were. How on earth is it fair that condo owners get whacked twice what everyone else does for garbage? If i live in a condo, im already paying for garbage pick up through taxes, plus private hauler, which the rebate offset. Now im still paying the tax, and im going to get jacked on my assessments to cover garbage to the tune of $60 mo, $720 annual. Seriously? In my case, thats like. 13th assessment. Im already just barely hanging on.

    Recycling, oy, enough. Studies have proven it to be not just expensive, but a zero sum gain when run by a municipality due to ovethead (city employes costs, gas, administrative, compliance) so its a lovely though, but a total crock. And is there any possible wau we would evet see refuse as self supporting? BWHAHAHA.... Not with the union rules, they are already barking about the the grifs. How about we just go private, or sell " garbage rights" like we do cable right now. Ok, enough of my garbage rant.

    And yes, I both called and emailed

    I get the suv tax, and the water thing, because suvs are harder on the street, and those institutions pay no taxes to begin with, so water makes some sense.

    The parking garage thing was an ugly slap at me, since im in sales and have to drive from my office in the loop to see clients at a moments notice. And am in fact already paying a $3.00 surcharge. And then theres the tourists...

    But a " letter" James? Seriously? Did you write it on recycled paper?

    And lets be blunt, since we're trash talking here. How is this any different than Helen would haved voted? Helen lived in fear of the mayor's straw man primary candidates, and her, however misguided, management of ward improvements. Unless James really botches it, his base is solid.

    At the end of the day, there was no compromise, was there? Another mayor shoving another budget down the Alderman's throat. All I can say is I hope he at least got dinner first.

  20. We elect leaders

    No. We elect personalities.

    Very rarely do we actually elect a leader.

    You are dead-on right about money in politics.

    Until we change campaign financing and the flush external monetary influence from the political system, everything else is just fluff.

    Still, it doesn't hurt to for everyone to get more involved in the political system, and push for better candidates, etc etc.

  21. TrumanSquareNabr said...
    " ... Do you really want your alderman's turf to double? Your waiting list for the day-to-day problems of living in Chicago just doubled, along with the population of your ward..."

    November 17, 2011 9:20 PM

    There should be NO CHANGE. We're talking about eliminating Aldermen, NOT city employees. The workforce should continue at it's regular pace. Besides, most requests for city services these days are processed through the 311 center, NOT the Alderman's office.

  22. Something I find interesting...(mostly sourced from Wikipedia)

    The city council was increased to 50 Aldermen in 1923 when the city's popultion would have been around 2.8 million; today's population is around 2.8 million. The city's population pinnacle was 1950ish at around 3.6 million.

    When the city council was expanded, the city had been expanding at a relatively rapid pace in both area (through annexation) and density. Since 1950, the city has been contracting in population while annexation has all but stopped. Given the improvement of communication and travel technlogies since 1923, I think a reasonable person would conclude that single person could represent a larger constituency. Given that the population has shrunk 25% since the peak, I don't think it's at all unreasonable to shrink the city council to 35 members. (38 would be closer proportionlly; the extra 3 is for the increased efficiencies and austerity) While it's true that shrinking a budget which represents less than 1% of the total budget by 25% won't solve anything, the symbolic leadership would, I believe, provide significant leverage and good will.

  23. You folks are missing the biggest question here.

    IF we cut the aldermen in half do we do it horizontally or vertically?

    Personally, I would suggest horizontally just above the waist. There's less bone that way.

    Also since it's likely that few of us besides "YO" have any experience cutting human beings in half we might want to practice on former aldermen before moving on to the Fabulous Fifty.

    Now just to be fair we should exempt former 46th Ward alderman from the cutting lest people think we are bloodthirsty and hold a grudge. Can't have that, can we?

    Then the question becomes which former aldermen?

    I see two fair was to do this.

    First, former aldermen who have been convicted of crimes and gone to jail. That leaves us a good number to choose from.

    Second, former aldermen who are collecting a city pension. That would save the taxpayers some money and also leaves us a large number of choices.

    Perhaps we can pick a few from each group just to start out.

    Just throwing that out there.

  24. We need 50 Alderman, there are way more then 25 fat salary/ do-nothing city employees we could pink slip.
    At least Alderman are accountable to a large degree.

    The savings would not be a big as folks think since they would need twice the staff.

    53,000 constituents per council member is plenty enough.

    I'm glad Ald. James signed that letter to da Mayor Rahm, it may have helped a little, especially with the libraries. He is right they are lifelines, mainly for working and single parents. And what better place. The library saved my ass when I was a kid.

    Thank you Chicago!

  25. IP,

    Based on what you said.. suicide is a good option for CITY EMPLOYEES.

  26. Mr, Littleton to you. said...
    "We need 50 Alderman..."



    Someones drinking the bureaucratic Kool Aid!

    NYC, with a population THREE TIMES that of Chicago at well over 8 million people, has only 51 City Council members.

    LA, with a population of ONE THIRD LARGER than Chicago's, at well over 3 million people, has only 15 City Council members (Yes, FIFTEEN!).

    Rounding out the top 10 US cities by population size:

    Houston has 14 city council members.
    Philadelphia has 17 city council members.
    Phoenix has 8 city council members.
    San Antonio has 14 city council members.
    San Diego has 8 city council members.
    Dallas has 14 city council members.
    San Jose has 10 city council members.

    Of course, this doesn't take into consideration our members and elected representatives of county or state government either. Chicago/Cook County/State of Illinois has more layers of bureaucracy (taxing bodies) than any other state in our country. This clearly explains why we Chicagoans pay higher taxes than ANYWHERE in the U S.

    I submit that the only NEED for 50 Aldermen is the need to keep all of their friends and family on the public payroll and to make sure the mayor doesn't try to eliminate THOSE jobs

  27. Oh, and also what we NEED MORE than 50 Aldermen is 50 Federal prosecutors (or 1000) to investigate our government officials and root out all of the graft and corruption.

    They have conveniently insulated themselves from investigation by refusing to allow anyone other than the Federal prosecutors from the Dept. of Justice to do so. And if it was even possible to stop the Feds from looking at them, you can bet they would!

    The police CANNOT investigate them.
    The sheriff CANNOT investigate them.
    The state troopers CANNOT investigate them.
    The Chicago Inspector General CANNOT investigate them.
    ONLY the Department of Justice can investigate them. This is why the Chicago office of the DOJ is the largest in the country.

  28. @ C of S

    Thank you for the informal statistical service.
    I've been to all of those cities you've mentioned...prefer Chicago.

    As I drink my Kool-Aid I am pleased we do not have the issues of a Houston for instance.

    Houston....have you been there?

    They wouldn't know a zoning regulation if it smacked 'em in the head. The most discombobulated excuse for a city I ever seen. But the big business in Texas likes to run things anyway.

    Phoenix is NOT a city but a massive poorly located suburban sprawl.

    LA is LA. Think we have public school issues here.... well go dip your toe in their Jacuzzi.

    The Alderman's office is our interface with city government and a tiny slice of the budget.

    Cutting the Alderman in half may make da Mayor Rahm's easier,but he can handle it.

  29. When you compare the amount of City Council members in Chicago to other cities, there is a great argument for reducing the size. There's one major difference, however. When voters get frustrated with 311 (and who doesn't), they call their alderman to resolve it. I bet if you asked any alderman's office, they would say the bulk of their time is spent on resolving 311 issues. Is the same true for other cities?

    Fix 311 and address constituents' expectations that it's the job of their alderman to resolve their 311 issues. Do that and we wouldn't need so many aldermen.

  30. I usually cut at an angle, honestly.