Hundreds of Chicagoans concerned about the budget

CHICAGO (October 25, 2012) — At the second community hearing in as many weeks, a crowd of two-hundred Chicagoans convened Wednesday night to voice concerns and suggestions regarding the 2013 municipal budget to the City Council’s Progressive Caucus.

At the hearing, held at Wells Community Academy High School on the Near West Side and moderated by WGN Political Analyst Paul Lisnek, members of the Progressive Caucus heard testimony from dozens of Chicagoans, including members of AFSCME Council 31, SEIU Local 1, the Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation and other labor and community groups. 

“We have indications of more privatization, including plans to privatize employee benefits and the water customer service call center, which they claim will save a whole $100,000. But we know from past experience, the cost to the community will be much greater,” said Adrienne Alexander of AFSCME Council 31. “Again, this is eliminating good paying jobs, primarily minorities, in order to give the contract to an out of town firm.”

Kurt Hilgendorf, a 35th Ward resident, testified about the need to create a fairer tax policy in the city. 

“It’s vital to tie revenue generation to those most able to pay,” said Hilgendorf. “We need a graduated tax structure, with higher taxes on the wealthy…It’s the only way to generate the money needed to fully fund schools, libraries, public safety, health services and social services that people in a world-class city deserve.”

Progressive Caucus members Ald. Bob Fioretti (2), Ald. Leslie Hairston (5), Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6), Ald. Toni Foulkes (15), Ald. Rick Munoz (22), Ald. Scott Waguespack (32), Ald. Nicholas Sposato (36) and Ald. John Arena (45) all worked to organize the hearings. Ald. Walter Burnett (27) also joined the Caucus members at Wednesday night’s hearing. 

Progressive Caucus members said they organized the meetings to fill the void left by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who this year has chosen to forgo the budget hearings traditionally held by the Mayor and his cabinet each year. 

“The Progressive Caucus felt strongly that these community budget hearings are vital to the democratic process in Chicago,” said Ald. Scott Waguespack, whose 32nd Ward neighbors the 1st Ward, where Wednesday’s hearing was held. “We are committed to listening to the voices of Chicagoans whose daily lives will be impacted by this budget and taking their concerns into account as we move forward.”

The third and final hearing will be held on Tuesday, October 30 at 6pm at South Shore International High School at 1955 E. 75th St. All of the hearings are open to the public. 

The Caucus will move to enter the testimony received at the hearings into the public record at the October 31 City Council meeting.