On Wednesday, as the city council performed its annual ritual of approving the mayor’s budget, I was wondering how I’d vote, if I were an alderman.
I know that’s an insanely absurd notion because I’d probably never survive a ballot challenge by one of the mayor’s lawyers, much less beat one of his acolytes.
But, still, indulge me for the moment…
On the one hand, I’m not immune to the mayor’s argument that we’ve reached a critical juncture where we have no choice but to finally get around to paying our massive pension obligations.
And, as such, jacking up property taxes by well over $600 million this year alone—let’s not forget the TIF surcharge, people—is the least regressive alternative we have at our immediate disposal.
At least it’s less regressive than creating a garbage fee—to raise $62.7 million.
Or increasing booting fees from $60 to $100.
Or imposing an $1,000 fine for driving without insurance.
Which the mayor also is doing with his budget.
In other words, for all of its awfulness, this budget is better than the alternative of falling further and further into debt. Which just shows how monumentally messed up we really are.
So there’s all of that to consider. On the other hand, consider this:
The mayor farted around for his first four years, trying to force firefighters and cops to accept pension cuts he had to know he’d never get, so now our obligations are higher that they would have been.
Plus, he wasted millions more on scandals like the $20.5 million, no-bid principal-consulting contract his school board awarded to Supes Academy, even though CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett used to work for Supes.
Plus, he’s still keeping us in the dark regarding his role in that scandal by refusing to release crucial emails.
Plus, he continues to pretend that the TIF tax does not exist. So instead of using TIF dollars to pay off our obligations—and minimize the tax hike—he uses them to fortify his slush fund and our taxes go up, up, up.
Plus, instead of leading the charge to create alternative sources of revenue—like the financial transaction tax—he fights like hell against them.
OK, I understand why he’s against the financial trade tax—he depends on the financial community for campaign donations.
But I will never understand his resistance to legalizing and taxing the hell out of marijuana, especially considering that so many people in the city’s power elite probably smoke the stuff.
Plus, every time anyone proposes one of these taxes as a solution, he rips them for being unrealistic on the grounds that they require approval from Springfield. And everyone knows Springfield’s dysfunctional.
Even though his budget plan depends on help from Springfield that Governor Rauner and Speaker Madigan have already said he won’t get. So on top of everything else he’s not being honest in his budget rhetoric even as he claims he’s being brutally honest.
Plus, he ran a shamelessly dishonest re-election campaign, when he hammered former alderman Jesus Garcia, his runoff opponent, for voting for Mayor Washington’s property tax hike back in 1987. Even though Mayor Rahm—once re-elected—turned right around and asked aldermen to do what he blasted Garcia for doing.
Plus, I know there at least 26 aldermen in the council who’d roll over and beg if he told them to. So he doesn’t need my vote to pass his budget. And if he doesn’t need it, I’m definitely not going to give it to him until he gets off his mayoral ass and starts using some of his god-given talent of shameless chutzpah for something more beneficial to society than advancing his political career.
Hold it! I feel a gasket about to bust. So let me do some of those deep-breathing yoga exercises my wife taught me. Oh, where, oh, where’s my medical marijuana when I need it?
In conclusion, I guess you could say I’d be one of the 14 aldermen who voted no, as opposed to the 36 who voted yes.
At the very least, I’ll never vote for Mayor Rahm’s budget until he releases all Supesgate emails. Or until he…
You know, I think I’ll stop before I get all fired up again.
Now you can see why Mayor Rahm would have his lawyers throw me off the ballot.