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The [Tuesday] Papers

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to use millions of dollars in unspent property tax rebate money hit a roadblock Tuesday as several aldermen said he should be focusing the cash more directly on anti-violence efforts," the Tribune reports.

"The City Council budget committee did not vote on Emanuel's proposal for the nearly $15 million, and committee Chairman Ald. Carrie Austin said the mayor's intention to earmark part of the money for tree planting was a problem."

But not as big a problem as choosing a punch line to go here!


Our very own Tim Willette suggests #PlantLivesMatter.


"Ald. Raymond Lopez, 15th, who rankled the mayor by introducing his own alternate plan for the money, said he would be willing to compromise on most of his own ideas."

Lopez later arrived home to find the head of a tree in his bed.


"Lopez said the package needs to address the crime besetting many West Side and South Side neighborhoods."

Emanuel said that treelessness was a problem too.


"Ald. Ricardo Munoz, 22nd, said Emanuel's plan would have failed to pass the budget committee 'if he had tried to ram it through' on Tuesday. And Munoz said the mayoral version would have gotten at least 18 'no' votes in the full council. That wouldn't have been enough opposition to defeat Emanuel's plan, but it could have been an embarrassment for the mayor as he tries to show he is prioritizing anti-violence efforts."

Italics mine as I try to show that the Tribune is trying to show that the mayor is trying to show he is prioritizing anti-violence efforts instead of actually prioritizing anti-violence efforts.


"The council dust-up focuses on how to spend money left over from Emanuel's plan to give property tax rebates. Most eligible homeowners didn't bother to take advantage of the program."

This is the part that bothers me. Just send those homeowners a check! It's their money!

Of course, the rebate program was a cynical political ploy. I'm betting most eligible homeowners never knew about the program, regardless of City Hall's informational campaign, or were stymied somehow by the bureaucracy and found the amount due wasn't worth whatever paperwork was involved. Nobody is actively, willingly and gladly turning down free money.

Beyond that, Emanuel almost certainly knew much of the money wouldn't be claimed and thus, he was basically creating a slush fund. The maximum amount due an eligible homeowner was $200, which is nice, but c'mon.

"If history is any guide, the city won't be out that much money," the Tribune reported last July.

"When Mayor Richard M. Daley offered rebates in 2010, more than 160,000 eligible homeowners didn't apply. Only 36,621 got rebates under a plan that cost the city less than $4.5 million."

How convenient!

"The Program was launched on October 1, 2016, and since then, over 11,000 Chicago homeowners have applied for their rebate," the city said at the end of November, when it graciously extended the application program a month, probably to avoid embarrassment at the low participation rate.

"The average rebate amount is $109 with a total of over $1.2 million already scheduled to be provided to homeowners."

And what did homeowners have to do to get the money?

"Residents can apply for a rebate by visiting any one of the over 20 neighborhood locations," the city said at the time.

"Chicago residents should bring a photo ID (Driver's License, State ID, Consulate ID, Passport), their 2015 income tax returns or social security award letter, and the 2015 2nd installment property tax bill."

And then, I guess, stand in line on lunch hour . . .


In January, the Rahm-friendly Tribune editorial board used the phrase "bait-and-switch" to describe the program.

"Emanuel is treating the untapped rebate fund like new money. Look what I found!" the board said.


Back to today's Trib:

"The mayor's proposal calls for the bulk of the unused money to be used to upgrade city park infrastructure, equip all police officers with body cameras by the end of the year, rehab vacant homes and support after-school programs. Smaller amounts would be spent on a new cybersecurity training program at City Colleges, a test program to create crime-fighting intelligence centers, planting 1,000 trees, setting up a small-business incubator on the West Side and creating a call center on the South Side."

How slushy. Maybe spend it all in one place - like on school supplies.

And next time, Mr. Mayor, forget the rebate and just be honest about your tax increase - and how you plan to spend it.


Comment from John Kuczaj:

I found out about the rebate late. Once I saw the paperwork and hand-delivering I needed to do would net me $25, I decided instead to cash the $88.95 check the city sent me as a "settlement" for my claim that potholes blew out two of my tires, $270 actual cost).


"Also Tuesday, the budget committee advanced the mayor's nomination of Edward Siskel to be corporation counsel. Siskel replaces Stephen Patton, who stepped down Feb. 14.

"After the meeting, Siskel refused to say whether the mayor's office is negotiating with the Justice Department on a court-enforceable consent decree to govern Chicago Police Department reforms."

Siskel doesn't even have the job yet and he's already refusing to answer questions.


"Aldermen hit Siskel at the committee meeting over how he will do a better job than his predecessors in providing data that aldermen seek. 'Who is your client?' Munoz asked.

"Siskel said he was committed to provide legal services to both the mayor's office and the City Council, though aldermen said there have been problems in recent years with city lawyers failing to give aldermen information they seek on deals the mayor is working on."

Maybe the answer isn't the mayor or the aldermen, but city residents and taxpayers. We're the corporation!


New on today's Beachwood . . .

Behind Cheerleading's Peculiar Rise To Olympic Sport
Follow the money.

Celebrating Women Of Courage
"The Chicago exhibition features photography, paintings, mixed media, poetry and short films of and by more than 15 courageous artists from across the country who have overcome extreme difficulties in their lives."

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Run The Jewels, George Clinton & P-Funk, The Relationship, MUNA, Lo Moon, Robb Banks, Colony House, Pain of Salvation, District 97, Warbly Jets, and Here Come The Mummies.


A sampling.




Aldermanic wisdom.


The Beachwood Tronc Line: Pop a top.


Posted on February 21, 2017

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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