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The [Tuesday] Papers

"The City Council on Tuesday is expected to approve a groundbreaking change in the way Chicago funds public works, paving the way for five financing giants to spend $1.7 billion on 'transformative' projects in the city," the Sun-Times reports.

This despite the fact that hardly anybody other than Rahm Emanuel and the cowards on the city council thinks the plan - in its current form - is a good idea.

Opposed: The editorial boards of Crain's, the Tribune, and the Sun-Times as well as the Better Government Association, the Grassroots Collaborative and the city's own inspector general.

Don't say you weren't warned.

"What happens if these projects go bust? Where is the funding gonna come from to cover the losses? Every taxpayer ought to be concerned. The city will ultimately be on the hook for all the shortfalls," said Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd).

Ald. John Arena (45th) argued that there are "not enough redundant mechanisms to get independent analysis of projects" by those who don't have a financial interest in making it all sound rosy.

"Let's protect ourselves from those wolves. We know what the finance community is like. These are gonna be lucrative projects for them," Arena said.

"What happens if we're extending the Red Line and the project runs out of money? We can't leave our infrastructure half-finished. So by default, the city is gonna have to come in and finish these projects - whether it's a park, a school, a city building or a CTA line. [It's the] 'Too Big to Fail' model."

Clowns to the left of them, jokers to the right.

But at the meeting, Ald. Joe Moore (49th) opened the debate by talking about the reason why a public-private partnership is so essential.

"Quite simply, Chicago is drowning in debt" with $7.3 billion in liabilities and $13.5 billion when underfunded pension funds, claims and judgments are factored in, Moore said.

Given that choking level of debt, Moore argued that Chicago has two choices without an infusion of private money: Raise property taxes, which he called an "untenable" alternative, or do nothing, which is even worse.

"Cities that fail to invest in their infrastructure are cities in decline," Moore said. ". . . The only thing worse than trying this new approach is doing nothing at all."

Debatable, but that's not the choice. Making the ordinance better is.

Ald. Richard Mell (33rd) predicted that Chicago would blaze a trail that would be followed by other major cities.

That's what they said about the parking meters.

"We're not gonna depend on Springfield and Washington to solve our problems. They're not gonna be able to do it. We're not gonna be spoon-fed by Washington. We're not gonna be spoon-fed by Springfield. It's not available."

If I hear one more alderman recite a talking point from Rahm's media manipulators, I'm going to FOIA their talking points memo.

Ald. Will Burns (4th) noted that the states of California, Washington and Oregon are considering joining forces on an infrastructure trust.

"Why should Chicago be behind the West Coast?" he said.

If California, Washington and Oregon jumped off a cliff . . . I bet they'd make sure taxpayers were better protected than they are under Rahm's plan.

Debate on Tuesday's high-stakes vote was preceded by dueling news conferences in the hallway outside the City Council chambers featuring supporters and opponents of the mayor's plan.

Labor leaders, the unemployed construction workers they represent and businesses that stand to benefit from the gravy train of construction contracts lined up to support the Infrastructure Trust.

When opponents shouted, "No!" and, "Chicago is not for sale," a beefy union member screamed, "Knock it off!"

Joe Healy, assistant business manager of Laborers Union Local 1092, noted that Chicago's February unemployment rate was stuck at nine percent and the jobless rate among construction workers was double that.

"This is a bill that put thousands of our members - thousands of skilled tradespeople - to work," Healy said.

Did all these people major in Missing The Point?

Ald. Pat O'Connor (40th), the mayor's City Council floor leader, sounded like he was reading a script written by the mayor's office when he told the crowd of the 16 changes proposed by aldermen and adopted by Emanuel to strengthen oversight over the Trust.

"If it needs to be changed [even more] - if it needs to be tweaked, we're all gonna be here for another several years. But to delay this - to stop until you have the perfect thing, I'll be greyer and have less hair. So, let's get this thing moving," said O'Connor, whose hair is already white.

That's classic Rahm. Make the choice between a crappy bill and the abstract notion of perfection that no one is demanding - unless you think subjecting public infrastructure projects to the Freedom of Information Act is some airy concept instead of the law of the land.

In the past, O'Connor has acknowledged that user fees would be needed to repay private investors with interest.

But, he said, "We have the toll road. People pay that every day. That is a user fee. People are used to it. The toll roads work. Roads get built. Is this any different? I'm not saying this would be a toll. It could be different type of fee. I don't know. But, we've got three years to worry about it."

First, those tolls were supposed to be temporary. Second, under Rahm's trust user fees would go to private investors, not the city. Taxpayers will no longer be - in effect - paying themselves for public goods, but paying unelected and unaccountable bankers, hedge funds and Wall Street sharpies.

O'Connor noted that it will take three years to complete the $225 million energy retrofit of government buildings that will launch the Trust, giving aldermen plenty of time to "work through the Trust to determine whether [other] projects will work, how they will be paid for and be very selective."

Please. Rahm isn't going to sit around for three years while the city council works "through the Trust."

If they're not being straight with you now - and if they won't answer the simplest questions from aldermen and the press in advance of a vote - what makes anyone think we'll get it straight once the trust starts operating (in secret)?

See also: The Infrastructure Bank Has A New Villain And His Name Is Joe "Proco" Moreno

The Goalie & The Enforcer
How the Coyotes sent the Blackhawks to the golf course.

The Illinois State Fair Wants You To Want Them
Grandstand lineup of faded jukebox heroes.

Pretty Pennies & Coin Nuts
They love money!

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Trustworthy.



Permalink

Posted on April 24, 2012


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock Including Riot Fest Highlights.
TV - The Beachwood vs. Ken Burns.
POLITICS - Rhymefest vs. Obama.
SPORTS - Football Killed Zac Easter.

BOOKS - How Comics Captured Vietnam.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - 100-Year-Old Petrified Uniformities Of The Modern Art World vs. The Moral Grandeur Of Majestic Impressionism.


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