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Grading Daley, Again

"It's been three years since the release of the 2007 DGAP Report Card, and in that time Chicagoans have continued to contend with a government that responds primarily to financial and political clout, rather than the issues and concerns of ordinary citizens," the Developing Government Accountability to the People coalition says. "Where residents have expected to be actively engaged in the implementation of equitable policies that benefit all residents in every neighborhood across the entire city, they have instead found themselves in a constant struggle against forces that ultimately exclude their voices from the democratic process."

And how.

Here are excerpts from the mayoral report card the group issued Tuesday.

Subject: Criminal Justice
Grade: D
Excerpt: While there has been some positive movement in the area of criminal justice, the movement has largely been insufficient. We were encouraged by some of Superintendent Jody Weis's initial reform efforts, such as replacing, demoting, or reassigning district commanders, and instituting increased policing of high crime neighborhoods. But Weiss's creation of the Mobile Strike Force, which is seemingly a reformation of the disbanded SOS unit, has tampered with communities' hope that real reform is on the way.

Subject: Economic Development
Grade: D
Excerpt: Chicago's economic reality has been dismal at best over the past few years. And while city residents of every ilk have been grossly impacted by the current crisis, still some communities have been far more severely impacted while receiving the least amount of assistance. Communities became momentarily hopeful by some potential opportunities that were motivated by Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics, yet hopes were quickly dashed once concerns for fiscal accountability and transparency for the bid budget and spending were voiced by City Council members, and certainly hopes were laid to rest once Chicago lost the bid. TIF dollars have been primarily used as incentives for companies to create employment opportunities for Chicago residents. However, these employment opportunities have failed to reach those communities most severely ravaged by unemployment. Furthermore, current measures have failed to insure that companies that have received TIF incentives continue to promote and preserve the number of jobs they agreed to under TIF stipulations.

Subject: Education
Grade: D+
Excerpt: Despite the heated debate over the efficacy of charter schools, the current state of Chicago's education system has been deemed unacceptable by those communities most negatively impacted by current education policies. The extent to which families have lost their ability to choose a school for their children, the extent to which communities have been torn apart due to children being placed at schools outside of their communities, and the practically wholesale severing of school from community through the dissolution of Local Schools Council authority, leaves very little indication that Chicago provides adequate access to education for all of its citizens.

Subject: Environment
Grade: B
Excerpt: s a regional leader in committing to green technologies, Chicago has consistently looked toward both existing and emerging technologies to improve the environmental efficiency of its own operations, setting the example for residents and businesses. The city's foresight in championing sustainable development has driven the growth of a new local industry . . . That said, while the elimination of the Blue Bag program ushered in the more popular Blue Cart program, it has not been implemented across the entire city, with some of Chicago's most blighted neighborhoods still without recycling services. And while many have looked favorably upon Daley's Chicago Climate Action Plan, funding for such a plan remains a question in many people's minds. Furthermore, the plan raises cause for concern, as it in no way provides solutions for the very specific health hazards Chicago's air poses to residents, particularly those living in the communities of Little Village and Pilsen who are at risk for disease or death as a result of the poisonous gases emitted from neighboring coal-powered plants.

Subject: Ethics and Corruption
Grade: D+
Excerpt: This section received a better grade [than 2007's F] primarily because of the significant and positive work of the Inspector General's Office to tackle and curb corruption.

Subject: Housing
Grade: F
Excerpt: While the City espouses a priority on affordable housing, its housing policies still seem to primarily benefit developers. In some cases, affordable housing practices have benefited individuals who have turned the affordable housing opportunities into profit-making ventures, and have done so with impunity. The city has done an appalling job of replacing the scores of public housing units that have been destroyed, leaving thousands of residents and former residents without the housing they were promised. Furthermore, many former public housing residents have been further deemed ineligible for CHA assistance as a result of modification to CHA policy. As CHA's Plan for Transformation comes to an end, there is an impending danger that public housing building will be left semi destroyed and that Chicago residents will be left semi homeless, living in subhuman conditions. Finally, with only two years left in the city's 10-yr plan to end homelessness, there is still no city investment in creating permanent housing for homeless people.

Subject: Transportation
Grade: D
Excerpt: The city continues to provide a lack of adequate public transportation service across the entire city, particularly on the South and West sides, despite its review of several plans - such as the downtown congestion tax - that might provide much-needed revenue to repair and modernize trains, uses, and the transit infrastructure. CTA's most recent cuts only exacerbate the inequities in service provision across the city. Beyond that, the parking meter privatization deal has by far lent the most weight in lowering the city's grade in this area. It was not only the manner in which the deal was railroaded through City Council that residents found most alarming, but also the agreement itself, which former Inspector General David Hoffman reported made far less money for the city than it should have made.

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DGAP not only graded the mayor but offered policy recommendations that, if taken up, would improve his score. You can find those on DGAP's website.

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See also excerpts from the more extensive 2007 report card:
- Grading Daley: Part One
- Grading Daley: Part Two

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on March 17, 2010


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