Afternoon news update | Bleader

Afternoon news update

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The Obama administration has a few things on its plate this week, like trying to slow if not stop the foreclosure crisis, do something about our national credit and banking problems, and maybe even pass a stimulus bill. Meanwhile ...

* The mayor has refused to disclose Chicago's stimulus requests for fear that "the media is going to be ripping it apart," according to the Trib. Maybe he's really afraid he'll be quoted accurately.... Regardless, other areas have eagerly publicized their stimulus hopes--officials in northwest Indiana, for example, are in the middle of a vigorous debate about what they can and should prioritize.  

* Incidentally, lost in the hubbub last week over Daley's feelings about the work ethic of city employees was the fact that he's at least partly to blame for whatever terms they do or don't work under, having locked the city into an "historic" ten-year labor deal so he could make a full-out Olympics push without worrying about messy contract negotiations along the way.

* State rep John Fritchey and the other Democrats vying for Rahm Emanuel's old congressional seat aren't the only people worrying aloud that the mayor's privatization schemes are screwing the taxpayers. The Windy Citizen notes that a petition is circulating on Facebook that calls on the mayor to stop selling city assets.

* Not surprisingly, higher fees at Midway, downtown parking garages, and parking meters across the city aren't the only consequences of the Daley administration's budget decisions: as our good friend the Parking Ticket Geek reports, cutbacks in the city's Department of Administrative Hearings mean it's going to be harder to fight parking violations.

* Chicago isn't the only city struggling to fund police operations at a time crime is rising, as the Washington Post writes. Here, though, the mayor's aldermen are also busy attacking the mayor's police chief for security breaches, including the costly theft of computer equipment from the inside of police headquarters. Rest assured that the mayor is not pleased with this publicity either. Anytime alderman Ike Carothers goes off like that, you can be sure he's had a talk with the big guy first.

* A new program that tries to get reluctant citizens to share crime information with police via text messages is off to a slow start, according to the Medill News Service: "Text-a-Tip, developed by Crime Stoppers, is an anonymous text message tip line aimed at youngsters who might otherwise be afraid to come forward with information.... But only 36 messages have been received since its inception in September." The problem seems to be that it's hard to get people to participate in the program when they don't know it exists.

* The Chicago Housing Authority's ambitious Plan for Transformation is in trouble because middle-and upper-class families just aren't buying in, veteran real estate reporter Thomas Corfman reports. Under the decade-old plan the CHA has been trying to replace crumbling, segregated high-rises with new mixed-income developments. But the new units aren't selling, Corfman reports, so the CHA is now looking to rent more of its units out to lower-income families.

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