The Mental Health Movement added a new wrinkle in their bid to prevent clinic closings.
The coalition of advocates proposed doubling the city’s boat mooring tax at a City Hall press conference today in order to keep open six mental health clinics slated to close in April.
“They have therapy when they get on their boats and sail away, while we are still suffering,” said N’Dana Carter, an organizer at the Mental Health Movement. The City of Chicago's Inspector General, Joe Ferguson, estimated last year that doubling the fee for the mooring or docking of boats can generate the city $1.3 million in added revenue. The city has estimated that closing six of the Department of Public Health’s twelve mental health clinics will save $2 million.
The IG points out that the tax targets – presumably wealthy – boat owners, but that doubling the fee “could make city harbors less attractive and drive boat owners elsewhere.”
The Mental Health Movement proposes a variety of smaller measures – including eliminating three Department of Public Health deputy commissioner positions – to make the $2 million needed to keep the clinics open.
Ald. Willie Cochran (20th) introduced a resolution at today’s monthly City Council meeting for “emergency hearings” regarding the closures. Ald. George Cardenas (12th), chairman of the city’s health committee hasn’t called for hearings, claiming that no aldermem have asked him to hold hearings.
But the Cochran resolution has the support of at least a handful of aldermen, including Nicholas Sposato (36th) and John Arena (45th), who each spoke at the press conference.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced — with no discussion at the City Council meeting — a controversial measure in which automated cameras that currently catch drivers running red lights would also catch speeders.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a law last month authorizing Chicago to use speed cameras.
The “Children’s Safety Zones” ordinance – which was referred to the Committee on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety – will have speed cameras near school zones and parks. The cameras will operate at school zones between 7 am. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and at parks when they are open.
The ordinance ensures that “no more than 20 percent of all eligible safety zones shall be equipped with automated speed enforcement systems.”
Drivers who travel 6 miles per hour to 11 miles per hour (MPH) over the speed limit face $50 fines, and those going more than 11 MPH above the limit face a $100 ticket.
PI has reported that the city’s traffic cameras may benefit contractor Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. more than they do public safety. The Chicago Tribune reported yesterday that Emanuel’s former campaign manager, Greg Goldner, would greatly benefit from further business between the city and Redflex.
The ordinance does not discuss contracting, though the city has promised a competitive procurement process.
Emanuel additionally introduced his “infrastructure trust” at council today, a not fully formed public-private partnership idea, where companies will invest in public works projects. While City Council has yet to approve the trust, Emanuel announced its first chairman: Boeing executive vice president James A. Bell.
Emanuel also proposed a city bike sharing program run by Portland, Oregon-based Alta Bicycle Share Inc.