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The [Thursday] Papers

The mayor's call for what would appear to be the highest property tax hike in city history is a bit of a mystery.

Times may be tough, but why this now?

From what I can tell, the mayor's proposed budget isn't designed to simply balance the books under tough conditions.

He's also calling for new spending that would, according to Civic Federation President Lawrence Msall, amount to a $700 million increase in the city's operating budget over the last two years.

And for what?

Libraries, apparently.

Now, I'm all for reading. Especially for children, and when it's free. But do we really have to address the apparent shortage of adequate libraries in the city above and beyond everything else?

"It is unclear to us why libraries have become the city's top priority at this time ahead of all other city priorities," Msall said on Wednesday. "In our view, the case has not been made to justify such a huge tax and government spending increase."

That last sentence is key. Daley is proposing not just a tax increase to maintain city services, which might be something we could understand, but a record tax increase to fund new spending.

It's times like these that we should all wish we had a Republican party in Chicago. (Theoretically, at least, given their actual record on spending in Washington.)

Aside from new libraries, the Sun-Times reports, the mayor wants to issue $190 million in bonds for "neighborhood improvements," hire 50 more police officers, install 100 more police surveillance cameras, and add 131,000 more households to his new curbside recycling program.

The biggest hit is the mayor's proposed 15 percent jump in the property tax. That would raise $108 million.

While that's the hardest to swallow, considering that the county and state want more of your money too, the smaller fees and fines Daley is proposing are also aggravating. For example, getting ticketed for parking at an expired meter in your neighborhood would cost you $50 instead of $30. Getting ticketed parking outside diagonal lines (!) would cost you $50 instead of $25. And the mayor now wants $2.50 instead of just $1.25 tacked on to your phone bill every month, and wants eight more cents on a DVD rental (he should double that for David Spade movies).

Why don't you just skip the fines and fees and have us write one check payable to City Hall and be done with it?

It's never been the mayor's style to propose a budget as an opening gambit full of expendables in a negotiation to come. His budget proposals tend to be written in stone. So I'm not sure what's going on here, but maybe he's been too distracted with the Olympics and galavanting around the globe to come at it any other way this time around. (I wonder how much taxpayer time and money has been spent so far on the Olympic effort; as Esther Cepeda writes (third item) this morning, folks just may not be feelin' it anymore.)

I'd also be interested to know if the mayor has done any polling on this (he does more than you think). Maybe David Axelrod has been too busy with Obama to help out.

"Other cities stood still, and look what happened to them," Daley said.

Which cities, Mr. Mayor? What happened? Their public transit fell apart?

On Friday, we're supposed to hear the newest doomsday scenario from the CTA. And then we'll hear more from our Cook County president Todd Stroger and our governor Rod Blagojevich.

Maybe Obama oughta drop out of the presidential race and restore some hope here at home.

COMMENT 10:32 A.M.: Peg Burke writes: I don't know why Daley doesn't just unfurl a huge banner reading FUCK YOU ALL, CHICAGO all over downtown. If he really gave a damn about kids, or homeowners, he'd knock it off with the TIFs. Doing away with TIFs would give the schools money for books (so the kids going to the new libraries might actually be able to read), the neighborhoods enough to "improve", you get the idea. But no, it's more important to give Daley and his mobbed-up buddies a bottomless bucket of cash at the expense of everyone who's not connected.

Corruption Tax
"Also planned is the launch of a controversial new Department of Compliance to oversee city hiring that critics contend will undercut the authority of city Inspector General David Hoffman," the Tribune notes.

So in the midst of this the mayor is creating a new city department that nobody but him and his minions think is necessary given the recent creation of the inspector general's office.

Daley did give Hoffman four new positions - of the 30 or so he requested. We can't afford to staff the inspector general's office, apparently, though we can afford to create a whole new department designed to duplicate Hoffman's work but under firmer control of the mayor.

Olympic Tax
I'm all for organized labor, too (at least theoretically, when it's not mobbed up and/or as corrupt and/or stupid as management, which it usually is). But as the Tribune editorial page points out today, Daley's generous deals with 33 unions as well as the Chicago Teachers Union in order to buy off long-term Olympic-style peace in the village is also costing us.

Home Fires
"The owner of a home with a market value of $225,000 would pay about $100 more a year under the property-tax increase," the Trib notes in an example all the media are using.

A Beachwood reader writes: "I may be ignorant, but where is this $225,000 home in the City of Chicago? If someone lives in a $225,000 'home' in Chicago, I venture that their block is overrun by gang punks and their gangway is filled with discarded used condoms every morning when they wake up."


I think what this is telling me is that the average market value of homes in Chicago is $312,725.

Marathon Madness
I was watching the LaSalle Bank commercial before Chicago Tonight last night thinking they should have pulled it, seeing as how it features a long chain of everyday people handing off a cup of water until the final leg of the relay hands the cup to a runner - presumably participating in the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon. Then the runner is shown not drinking from the cup, but pouring the water over his head!

Paging Carey Pinkowski.

Film Foe Fest
Hallam Foe, written by David Mackenzie and Ed Whitmore, and based on the book by Peter Jinks, succeeds by continually pulling back from the brink of conventional romantic drama," writes our very own Kathryn Ware. "Just as an interjection of humor and lightheartedness leads you to believe things just might be okay, that Hallam isn't such a troubled bloke after all, the film abruptly pulls the rug out, revealing some new facet of Hallam's dark, impulsive nature."

Catch up with this and the rest of the city's best Chicago International Film Festival coverage at Ferdy On Films.

Cubs Post-Mortem
"Cub fans threw back a remarkable 96.78% of the opponent's home runs this year," writes Cubs Answer Man Dave Stern. "That's a great year. The few that weren't thrown back were probably caught by fans busy hurling racial insults at your outfielders."

The Beachwood Tip Line: Throw up a signal.


Posted on October 11, 2007

MUSIC - Spring Awakening Wake-Up Call!
TV - Goodbye, Apu.
POLITICS - The Political Odds.
SPORTS - SportsMonday: Catching Bears Fever.

BOOKS - Gov. Ed Coles.


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