Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and challenger Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia will both take part in a forum Wednesday night at Chicago State University on the city's South Side.
But Emanuel's decision to participate apparently took some public prodding.
Chicago Mayoral challenger Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia joined the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) on Wednesday in demanding a $15 an hour minimum wage for all Chicago Public Schools (CPS) employees, including subcontracted workers.
Garcia and CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey made the call for a "living wage" for CPS employees at a press conference held ahead of the Chicago Board of Education's monthly meeting.
Safe Passage workers, who guard routes students take while traveling to and from school, are among those who would be impacted if CPS lifted its hourly minimum wage to $15 for all employees.
Sharkey said "there are hundreds, if not thousands, of Safe Passage workers" who currently earn less than $15 an hour.
"I stand with CTU today because what they are pressing for is an increase in the living wage," said Garcia, who is endorsed by the teachers' union in Chicago's mayoral race. "It is essential to have more stable families. They are critical providers of front-line services, caring for our children, ensuring greater community stability. I stand with them because it is good for Chicago and for a more promising Chicago for all workers in the city."
Aldermanic candidates for the 10th Ward, incumbent Ald. John Pope (10th) and public school counselor Susan Sadlowski Garza, traded jabs Tuesday night during a heated debate in the city's South Chicago neighborhood.
Pope, who was first elected alderman of the South Side ward in 1999, garnered 44 percent of the vote in the February 24 municipal election, followed by Garza at 24 percent. The ward includes the Calumet Heights, East Side, Hegwisch, South Chicago and South Deering neighborhoods.
While moderators attempted to limit the amount of personal attacks the candidates directed at each other, Pope nonetheless said the ward "could move backwards" if he were not elected in the April 7 runoff election. Garza said she would "not be a rubberstamp alderman" adding that, "The people in the 10th Ward deserve better than what we've been getting, that's for sure."
Community activists say they have an alternative plan for making Chicago fiscally solvent -- and it doesn't rely on cuts that disproportionately affect low- and middle-income people.
A new report, "Our Kind of Town: A Financial Plan that Puts Chicago's Communities First," targets "predatory financial deals" that cost the city millions of dollars. The paper, crafted by the Refund America Project at the Roosevelt Institute, also suggests a series of progressive taxes could put millions back into the city's coffers.
"What we have is a priorities crisis," said Amisha Patel, executive director of the Grassroots Collaborative at press conference outside the offices of Loop Capital Management. "For decades, budgets in Chicago have been balanced on the backs of working families. In fact, there are a clear set of policy solutions to raise a progressive revenue that our neighborhoods need."
State Rep. Arthur Turner (D-Chicago) called Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposed budget a "doomsday situation" that is compounded by a $1.6 billion shortfall from former Gov. Pat Quinn's underfunded FY2015 budget.
In February, Rauner proposed sweeping cuts to the state's Medicaid program, higher education, mass transit and government pensions to address the state's financial woes. The cuts aimed to combat a $6 billion deficit for fiscal year 2016, which begins in July 1, and the state's $111 billion pension crisis. But critics of Rauner's budget plan say those cuts adversely affect the poor and middle class families.
"It's gonna be tough," said Turner, who held a town hall meeting Monday night to discuss the impact Rauner's proposed cuts could have on the state. More than 30 residents attended the meeting held at Mt. Sinai Community Institute, 2653 W. Ogden Ave.
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