Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Tuesday, May 28

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr

The Mechanics
« Finding More in The Consortium's Findings Transit 2020: An Immodest Proposal For the CTA »

Op-Ed Thu Oct 06 2011

Mayor Emanuel Should Learn from His Predecessor's Mistakes

This Op-Ed was submitted by Celeste Meiffren, Field Director of Illinois PIRG

No one will argue with the fact that Chicago's budget situation is dire--and has been for some time now. But Mayor Daley masked the drastic fiscal situation in Chicago with year after year of short-term budget gimmicks. The hope now is that, as he puts forth his first budget proposal next week, Mayor Emanuel will learn from his predecessor's mistakes, and avoid a lot of the budget shenanigans that Mayor Daley was known for.

Last year, Mayor Daley's solution to Chicago's budget deficit was to raid most of the remaining reserves from the parking meter deal and some TIF funds in order to balance the budget. He did this after years of balancing the budget through short-term budget gimmicks like privatizing the Skyway Tollway and Chicago's system of 36,000 parking meters--angering many Chicagoans and ignoring the long term impacts of these decisions.

A short-term fix like asset privatization is certainly an attractive option for elected officials, not just in Chicago, but across the country. After all, it offers an easy way to get a big up-front wad of cash without raising taxes, laying-off workers or cutting popular city services. But, it's not sustainable and it doesn't address the root causes of our budget problems.

In addition to steering clear of asset privatization and their reserves, Mayor Emanuel should not build privatization savings into the budget if he is proposing privatizing any city services. Savings from privatizing or outsourcing city services should only be applicable to the city budget if and when those contracts are finalized. He should not put anticipated savings in the budget and then force the aldermen to offset them or think up other ideas. That 11th hour politicking helped Mayor Daley move controversial proposals, but ended up badly hurting our budget.

Other recommendations include giving the City Council ample time to review the budget, avoiding last minute stunts, including the public in the process every step of the way and continuing to put the budget online in an easy to use, searchable format.

Finally, Mayor Emanuel should provide a separate TIF budget, so the public can see the money that is being diverted from taxing bodies like schools and parks to TIF districts for economic development projects.

As Mayor Emanuel and the City Council are forced to make difficult budgetary decisions, it is even more important for the public to be able to understand how tax dollars are being spent.

Read more about these issues on Illinois PIRG's Tax and Budget Blog, "Tax Dollars and Sense" and on Twitter.

GB store
GB store


Parents Still Steaming, but About More Than Just Boilers

By Phil Huckelberry / 2 Comments

It's now been 11 days since the carbon monoxide leak which sent over 80 Prussing Elementary School students and staff to the hospital. While officials from Chicago Public Schools have partially answered some questions, and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool has informed that he will be visiting the school to field more questions on Nov. 16, many parents remain irate at the CPS response to date. More...


Substance, Not Style, the Source of Rahm's Woes

By Ramsin Canon / 2 Comments

It's not surprising that some of Mayor Emanuel's sympathizers and supporters are confusing people's substantive disputes with the mayor as the effect of poor marketing on his part. It's exactly this insular worldview that has gotten the mayor in hot... More...

Special Series

Classroom Mechanics Oral History Project
GB store

About Mechanics

Mechanics is the politics section of Gapers Block, reflecting the diversity of viewpoints and beliefs of Chicagoans and Illinoisans. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Mike Ewing,
Mechanics staff inbox:



 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15