Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sun-Times: Aldermen create independent budget office

I'm sure it's not necessarily on the radar for many of us, however, we are concerned about the financial picture of this city. Mayor Rahm Emanuel weather you agree or disagree with many of his decisions as da Mayor is certainly on the right track when he started talking about the financial picture at the beginning of his term. Still is it a great step to have such an office created by an ordinance of the Chicago City Council:
The City Council won’t have to take Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s word for it the next time the mayor tries to privatize a city asset, raise taxes, renegotiate the parking meter lease or expand the scope of ticket-spewing surveillance cameras.

Aldermen will have their own $485,000-a-year Office of Financial Analysis to research and assess mayoral initiatives and budgets with six full-time employees.

With Emanuel’s blessing, the City Council voted Wednesday to take what Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) has called “one of the biggest reforms ever” for a City Council that legendary Ald. Paddy Bauler famously said “ain’t ready for reform.”

That may turn out to be an exaggeration — just as many of Emanuel’s bold savings claims turn out to be.

But it’s a big change for a City Council vilified for its lightning-fast approval of former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s lopsided 75-year, $1.15 billion parking meter deal without an independent analysis to determine whether Chicago taxpayers were getting the shaft.

To help bankroll the new office and its six full-time staffers, Emanuel is reducing — from $26,000-a-year to $23,000 — the amount of money allotted to each of the 50 aldermen for hourly or contractual employees.

The $23,000 will be added to the $73,280-a-year aldermanic expense allowance to get around Shakman complaints about contractual employees. But aldermen will have $3,000 a year less overall to spend.

That didn’t sit well with many aldermen, who are often forced to dip into their own pockets or political funds to cover excess expenses.
Another plan was introduced to the city council at the recent session on Wednesday via the Tribune:
And the maneuvering continues. A coalition of mainly African-American and Hispanic aldermen introduced their own plan Wednesday to create a City Council office to keep track of how well city contractors comply with standards for giving work to women- and minority-owned businesses.

Ald. Howard Brookins Jr., 21st, chairman of the black caucus, said the group would be open to having the new position included within the council financial analysis office "as long as there is a separate executive director in that office who's keeping track of the issues with women and minority businesses."
Does anyone think such an office is a good idea?

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