Community activists say they have an alternative plan for making Chicago fiscally solvent -- and it doesn't rely on cuts that disproportionately affect low- and middle-income people.
A new report, "Our Kind of Town: A Financial Plan that Puts Chicago's Communities First," targets "predatory financial deals" that cost the city millions of dollars. The paper, crafted by the Refund America Project at the Roosevelt Institute, also suggests a series of progressive taxes could put millions back into the city's coffers.
"What we have is a priorities crisis," said Amisha Patel, executive director of the Grassroots Collaborative at press conference outside the offices of Loop Capital Management. "For decades, budgets in Chicago have been balanced on the backs of working families. In fact, there are a clear set of policy solutions to raise a progressive revenue that our neighborhoods need."
Aldermanic candidates running in Chicago's 33rd Ward sounded off on issues ranging from the minimum wage and charter schools to "political dynasties" and "machine politics" at a Tuesday evening forum sponsored by several Northwest Side neighborhood groups.
In Chicago's 33rd Ward, incumbent Ald. Deb Mell is being challenged by Tim Meegan, a public school teacher at Roosevelt High School, and Annisa Wanat, a non-profit consultant and former Peace Corps volunteer. Mell, the daughter of former Ald. Dick Mell (33rd), was appointed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to fill her father's council seat after he retired in July 2013.
At the packed candidate forum held at Newton Bateman Elementary School, Mell touted a number of accomplishments in her 18 months as alderman, including efforts around affordable housing, cracking down on "absentee" landlords, making the ward office more accessible and voting to raise the minimum wage to $13 by 2019.
Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen Lewis said she is "seriously considering" running for Chicago mayor and will decided whether to challenge Mayor Rahm Emanuel when she has "certain things in place."
"And those things are, primarily, the three things you need to run a campaign," Lewis said at a Tuesday evening discussion about city issues, held on Chicago's far Southwest Side in the 19th Ward. "You've got to have money. You've got to have people, and you've got to have time."
"I want to run things on my timeline," she added at the talk, moderated by journalist Walter Jacobson and hosted by the CTU at the Beverly Woods Banquet Hall, 11532 S. Western Ave.