Over the weekend Rahm Emanuel became the latest local politician to propose tapping funds from the city’s tax increment financing districts to help pay for city services.
Emanuel said that if he is elected mayor he would use $25 million in TIF money to pay for 250 new officers that could be dispatched around the city as needed. This, he said, would let the city avoid making the “false choice” of deciding whether to move police districts away from some neighborhoods and into others with more pressing crime problems.
There all kinds of problems with this idea. Mick Dumke at the Chicago News Cooperative points to a legal one:
Under state law, the city is required to spend TIF money in the area where it was generated (or, in some cases, in a nearby area). And currently most TIF funds are designated for use in downtown districts, according to a balance sheet on the city’s website.
(Full story here.)
Yes indeed, that’s a problem. But here’s another one: in a department that is no less than 2,500 sworn officers short 250 is not enough to do anything!
This is the equivalent of someone getting their leg shot off and Rahm wants to offer then a band-aid.
I have an idea about how to solve the police crisis… and TIF reform… details coming soon but here’s a hint. Tom Allen’s idea was a good start. I say we go further. I say we go all the way.
I have sat on this idea for several days now and not having seen anything in the news inline with my thinking. After considering the pro’s and con’s, I’m asking a relatively simple question.
Last week John Kass at the Tribune wrote an interesting piece on how Rahm had been removed from the voter rolls not once, but twice. However both times, Rahm was later able to get reinstated and vote via absentee ballot. For example, back in February of 2010 Rahm’s voter status was changed to “inactive.” However, in the February 2 primary election:
[Emanuel] voted using an absentee ballot listing the Hermitage address even though the Halpin family lived there and they also voted from that address.
The one question no one in the media is asking is, how is this not voter fraud?
In a back-n-forth through the press:
“This is not a personal attack on Mayor Daley,” Chico said.
Daley has done a “tremendous job in this city,” Chico said, but added he would continue to “call it the way I see it.”
(Full story here.)
What?! A “tremendous job?” The city has sold off revenue sources and squandered the funds on bloated government and Friends of the Mayor. Our police force is over 2,500 sworn officers short, crime is up, our schools are failing, taxes are going up, and businesses continue to lay-off hard working taxpayers.
Twenty-one years Mayor Daley has ruled. He’s gotten everything he’s ever wanted. Every issue falls at his feet. No further.
Just got back from Gery Chico’s presentation of his plan to revive CPS. The 15 page plan handout can be found here if you’re interested.
For those just looking for the bullet points:
- As the former head of the Chicago Public Schools Gery knows something about education. Further, as the leader when the schools were really bad, he knows something about education reform
- Need to spend more money, in conjunction with the Chicago Park District, to increase the Mom’s & Tot’s and other programs. The goal being to have every child “Ready by Five.”
- CPS has grown bloated over the years. Middle management in some admin offices has doubled in size. The whole organization needs to “Dismantle and Restructure” in order to be more lean & nimble.
- Each school with open a Parents Academy so they can more fully participate in the educational process of their children.
- A new research-based evaluation system will track teacher performance and make sure that we only have the best teachers available. Recruiting efforts will be doubled to attached the best teachers wherever they may be.
- A two-hour longer school day and 24 more school days will increase the level of learning. Charter schools and school vouchers will also be options.
- Every high school student will be issued a laptop immediately. By the end of 4 years, every grammar school student will have on as well. In order to make sure that student have internet access the city-wide Wi-Fi program must be pushed forward as quickly as possible.
- More police to make schools safe and alternative schools to deal with the disruptive or violent students.
- An increased focus on the arts, sports, and languages.
- Massive infrastructure improvements in both new and existing buildings.
Well then, this certainly seems like a good start. But there are concerns:
- There is no plan to MEASURE SUCCESS OR FAILURE.
— This is key. The problem of CPS is that for years the numbers have been padded and frankly just made-up. What I want to see is the GOAL. The GOAL should be CPS students scoring at the national average on standardized tests in 4 years. That’s how you measure success.
- Union buy-in can be prohibitively expensive.
- The police are already 2,500 people down, finding more to guard the schools takes them off the street to guard the non-students.
- I’m not even sure that “municipal Wi-Fi” is legal. This was a project that got started in many cities but is currently held-up in various lawsuits brought by the likes of Comcast, AT&T, and Time Warner. So city-wide Wi-Fi is not going to happen anytime soon. But we can make free hotspots out of schools, libraries, and other city buildings.
The bottom-line is that Chico presented a plan. It’s light on details and has a few rough spots to smooth over but overall a decent plan.
It’s clear that Chico knows something about education. He may just be the guy able to pull sometime like this off. Definitely something to watch.