by Ben Joravsky
On Sunday, Mayor Rahm held a press conference to pander to the voters of Chicago by announcing he was taking down 50 red light cameras that he'd previously said we absolutely, positively have to have for our public safety.
He didn't explain how he plans to make up for the money from fines those cameras rake in.
Then, on Monday, a select few of the mayor's aldermanic allies held their own press conference to blast Jesus "Chuy" Garcia for pandering to the public by claiming he could hire 1,000 more cops and maintain pensions without raising property taxes.
"We're four weeks away from electing a new mayor, yet we have received no information whatsoever from Mr. Garcia on how we're gonna pay for these things," thundered Alderman Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward).
Apparently, Mayor Rahm's the only mayoral candidate in Chicago who's allowed to pander to the voters.
Actually, yesterday's aldermanic gathering wasn't so much a press conference as a campaign event staged by the mayor's reelection team.
In this case, the mayor's handlers told the aldermen what to say and how to say it—all stern and parsimonious. Like they're guardians of the public purse.
All was going well until Alderman Carrie Austin (34th)—chair of the budget committee—slipped off script and went on a Tarantino-like riff about how property taxes were going up no matter who won April's mayoral runoff.
At which point, mayoral spokesman Steve Mayberry pretty much cried "Cut!," as if he really were Quentin Tarantino.
'Cause the mayor's official line is that he's going to keep us from becoming Detroit without raising property taxes.
But by then the damage was done, and the papers filled with stories highlighting Austin's comment that Mayor Rahm will be jacking up taxes once he's reelected and no longer has to pretend he gives a shit about what the public wants.
He didn't do much pretending his first three years in office.
After that presser, I wouldn't be surprised if the mayoral reelection team retired to the office for a shot of whiskey.
I feel for them—Steven Spielberg himself couldn't work with this bunch.
For the record, let me tell you what you probably already know. That once this election's over, taxes will be going up and pensions will be cut no matter who wins.
The mayor's goal is to get reelected by continuing to pretend that he can stitch together a budget based on fees, hikes, and gimmicks. With no new property taxes.
And Garcia's goal is to convince you that only he has compassion to make the hard choices without gouging the hell out of everyone who's not fabulously wealthy.
Neither candidate wants to admit he'll be raising taxes, for the obvious reason that candidates who make such admissions very rarely win their elections.
Voters, I guess you can say it's your fault that so few politicians tell you the truth. 'Cause you can't handle the truth!
To quote Jack Nicholson from some other movie.
While I'm handing out advice, let me remind you that the last people you should listen to when it comes to anything about budgets and taxes are the mayor's City Council allies.
These are, by and large, the same characters who have brought you two monumentally horrendous parking meter deals, about $6 billion in TIF taxes, and one unbalanced budget after another.
It was just a few months ago that—without discussion or debate—this group of aldermen gave the mayor the green light to throw upwards of $500 million out the window for his Marriot hotel/DePaul basketball arena deal.
Not a one of them—including Alderman Reilly—bothered to ask for any supporting information from Mayor Rahm for that debacle.
Let's give Chuy credit for one thing.
In less than half a year of campaigning, he's managed to turn the City Council's biggest rubber-stampers into a bunch of reformers. Self-proclaimed, anyway.
For that alone we should elect him mayor.