The Chicago City Council passed Mayor Rahm Emanuel's controversial Infrastructure Trust, 41 to 7, this afternoon. Before the special council meeting, which was called specifically for a vote on the Trust, both opponents and supporters of the public-private partnership held press conferences to explain their stances on the issue.
Aldermen spoke first during the meeting, citing their concerns with or support for the Trust. During Scott Waguespack's speech, the 32nd Ward alderman said, "From what I hear, people think Chicago is going to fall into the lake - but it's not."
Waguespack is part of a group of six aldermen who proposed some amendments to the Trust today, which were tabled by the council for the time being. Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), who was also part of the amendment group with Waguespack, spoke up against the Trust in its current form during today's meeting, saying she has a problem with the potential for user fees and increased taxes.
In a long speech after the aldermen, Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a sweeping statement, saying that everyone "agreed with the merits" of having an Infrastructure Trust. The mayor also fired back at Waguespack, insisting that the city's infrastructure is crumbling even though it may not be ready to fall into the lake. The mayor also said that "constructive improvements" had been made to the ordinance over the last several weeks; adding that there is a need to address infrastructure problems and no one wants to raise taxes, making the Trust a viable solution.
Meanwhile, opponents are concerned that guaranteed profits to investors and banks may lead to increased taxes and other routes into Chicagoans' pocketbooks, like user fees, anyway. Those leery of the Trust are also worried it could lead to the privatization of what should be public properties.
Check back with Progress Illinois for more on today's special session and the Trust.