According to a new quarterly report
(PDF) released by Chicago's Inspector General Joseph Ferguson, contract
irregularities at the city’s Office of Emergency Management and
a “significant risk to the city’s emergency preparedness." Ferguson's
investigation, however, was "ultimately frustrated" by the "debilitating combination" of "high turnover, endemic finger-pointing,
poor or non-existent internal controls and missing paperwork."
In his first extended interview with a member of the Chicago press corps, mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel promised "an era of reform" but punted on a number of specific questions Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman put his way. He wouldn't say whether or not if elected he'd extend Police Superintendent Jody Weis' contract leading that department. Asked how an Emanuel administration would boost city revenues, perhaps by supporting a casino in Chicago or by instituting a city income tax, the candidate responded by saying he would "never sit there and talk about a city income tax until you ask some
fundamental questions about the government. That's a ridiculous thing to
do." Emanuel also declined to say whether or not he would have privatized the city's parking meter system. "It's done," he said.
Emanuel and the other candidates who've tossed their hat into the mayoral ring will likely face questions about the meters again, given the controversy that's surrounded Mayor Richard Daley's 75-year, $1.16 billion lease of the system and the possibility of more privatizations of city assets and functions down the road. Perhaps next time, more specific answers will be forthcoming from Emanuel. We do know that while Emanuel was serving as President Barack Obama's chief of staff, he held two meetings with a principal at William Blair, the company the Daley administration chose, without a competitive bid process, to shepherd through the meter privatization. Whether or not Emanuel and the Blair representative talked about the lease during those sessions isn't specifically known.
Hundreds of Hilton Chicago Hotel workers went on strike
this weekend, a protest that is expected to last until Tuesday. Hotel
employees citywide, represented by UNITE-HERE Local 1, have been
working without a contract for over one year. The walkout was prompted
by news that the private equity firm Blackstone Group, which owns the
hotel chain, was only forced to repay to the federal government $142 million of the
$320 million it took in as part of the federal bailout program. "The
bailout money was supposed to protect jobs," said Sherri Steverson, a
Hilton room attendant, "but Hilton is destroying them."
If you're feeling inundated with news about the U.S. Senate race, the gubernatorial campaign, and the upcoming battle for Chicago's open mayoral seat, now may be a good time to click over to Progress Illinois' Aldermanic Tracker to check in on the candidates seeking City Council's 50 slots.
According to the list we've compiled so far, in more than a fifth of the races (11 out of 50) the incumbent presently faces no challenger. Powerful Alds. Ed Burke (14th Ward), Richard Mell (33rd Ward), and Patrick O'Connor (40th Ward) are in this camp. Other wards -- particularly those with open seats -- are drawing a crowded field. Seven candidates are vying for alderman of the 46th Ward, left vacant by longtime councilwoman Helen Shiller's decision not to run, and five candidates are seeking both the 2nd and 43rd Ward open seats. Among the professions of those campaigning for alderman this municipal election cycle: firefighter, police officer, reverend, real estate agent, economist, and even a state representative.
Check out the list. And let us know who we're missing in the comments section or by emailing contact (at) progressillinois.com.
That's the ratio of managers in the City of Chicago's bureaucracy to frontline workers, according to 42nd Ward Ald. Brendan Reilly. In the private sector, Reilly said, the ratio is one manager for every 14 workers. Watch him explain the implications of closing that gap on the city's budget on WTTW's Chicago Tonight:
Here are few reactions from City Hall and beyond to outgoing Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's final budget proposal, wrapped up from around the web:
"It’s kind of like a homeowner that has to sell their dining room set in
order to pay next month’s rent. It doesn’t sound like a good idea. But
if they don’t get next month’s rent, they don’t have a roof." -- Ald. Ed Burke (14th Ward)
“If you put a band-aid on a bullet wound, you’re going to bleed through it." -- Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th Ward)
"We can no longer deny that we are living beyond our means. We must go
beyond the temporary fixes to confront our structural deficit in a
permanent way." -- Mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel
"By spending money generated on the expectation of
future generations’ revenue, the Mayor’s plans could be nothing more than a bad
payday loan that our children will have to pay back." -- Illinois Public Interest Research Group field director Celeste Meiffren
And Wednesday on WTTW's Chicago Tonight, four aldermen -- two sympathetic to the mayor, two who are much more critical -- weighed in. Watch (the full clip is available here):
Hearings about the 2011 budget start next week in City Hall. For ideas about how the city's budgeting process could be improved, be sure to check out story from earlier this week.
Powerful Chicago Ald. Ed Burke (14th Ward) says urban planning positions should be outsourced
in the current budget talks given the collapse of real estate
development in the city. Burke's idea would consolidate six departments
into three, see 42 people laid off, and eliminate 277 positions.
U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez told a group of university students, supporters, and journalists this afternoon that he will not run for Chicago's open mayoral seat. Watch:
A Gutierrez mayoral administration would have marked a return to City Hall for the congressman. Between 1986 to 1992, Gutierrez represented the 26th Ward in City Council before his first successful run for the state's 4th Congressional District. In Washington, Gutierrez is likely to continue pushing for a comprehensive immigration reform bill, though the future of those legislative efforts are dependent on the outcome of the midterm elections. He also sits on the House Judiciary and Financial Services Committee.
Today's announcement further shrinks the number of candidates of Latino descent seeking the mayoralty; only Chicago City Clerk Miguel Del Valle and attorney Gery Chico have entered the race formally. Earlier this week, former alderman Manny Flores threw his support behind Chico's bid, ending his campaign.