Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Capitol Fax: The Great Chicago Train Wreck

Well this post was better off fresh, but I didn't allow myself a chance to post this yesterday. By now you should know that Mayor Daley has been taking a beating poll wise over the weekend. The Tribune took a poll that showed that 31% wants to see Daley re-elected.

At this point most of us are uncertain that Daley will run for re-election or that anyone else would be willing to step up to the plate and run against him. In addition to that if someone does run against the Mayor, it's not certain that they would be able to beat him either. According to the Capital Fax link (with regards to polling about the Mayor) in 2007 41% wanted to see him re-elected but took 71% of the vote that year.

Either way what brought this to mind was going back to that FOX Chicago story that I had linked to earlier:
Police officers told FOX Chicago on Tuesday that the threat underscores the need to get more uniformed officers on the street. The department is 600 officers short of a full staff of 13,200. Another thousand officers are on sick leave.

Some Chicago aldermen are urging Mayor Daley to use Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds to pay for more police. The TIF fund is flush with half a billion dollars set aside for city projects.

However, Mayor Daley rejects the idea of using TIF funds.

"So when you go off budget, and you say 'we're gonna take money from here, here and here,' how do you replace all that money?" he asked. "How do you come back and create something like this? Affordable housing, retail, how do you create jobs?"
Hmmm, to be sure I hear a lot about this TIF issue. The concern I see is where the money is taken from and where the money is going. More police protection amongst other issues is a good reason to go into TIF funds, but in that quote Daley rejects that idea.

Back to the polling story, on the issue of crime do you think Daley is at all that engaged on that issue?

Either way here's what Rich Miller says about "The Great Chicago Train Wreck":
“The city that works” doesn’t. It’s an old cliche, but it certainly applies.

The middle class is being squeezed hard by high taxes and fees and service that gets worse every day, not better.

Expensive parking meters are springing up all over the city where meters have never been. It’s never cost more to take a bus or a train, yet the service has never been worse. Billions are spent on downtown, while neighborhoods crumble. None of Daley’s big projects were done properly because he wanted them done so fast. Midway’s remake was a disaster, for instance. Millennium Park had so many retrofits that the grass where the general public watches band shell concerts couldn’t be sloped for fear that it would collapse the entire thing. So, nobody can see what’s going on except the swells up front.

The schools still suck. The streets aren’t even close to being safe. Remember Natasha McShane and Stacy Jurich, the women who were beaten half to death in Bucktown? There’s a far different vibe in the city now, and the murders of three police officers in the past two months has gotta have residents on edge. Police cameras are everywhere, but crime is legitimately freaking people out.

Chicago has failed its people. Illinois has failed its largest city. The federal government has failed one of the nation’s greatest cities.

Why doesn’t the city launch an all-out war on the gangs with the state and federal governments? They infest everything now.

Why not try new ideas in the city’s schools? A friend of mine in Kansas City sends her daughters to a fantastic French immersion charter school. She’s the widow of my best friend and we’d all love her to move to Chicago, but there’s nothing even remotely like that school in Chicago’s public system.

Why not take some of that bloated TIF fund and put it towards hiring more cops?

Why raise CTA fares just enough to barely get by but never enough to make the system decent again?

Most importantly, why isn’t the mayor asking why?

It’s time for fresh thought and a complete do-over. Top to bottom. And Daley is far from fresh.
We have a lot of work to do in this city. Unfortunately who do we trust to take care of the various issues of this city? Do we trust Mayor Daley to do this?

Right now Daley is at the plate. And unfortunately there aren't too many people stepping up to the plate currently. Miller is correct however to say that it's definitely time for some fresh thoughts. Who has any?

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