First Chicago City Council Progressive Caucus Budget Hearing Draws Fired Up Crowd

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local NewsTwo-hundred Chicagoans gathered Monday night to air concerns, frustrations and ideas regarding the 2013 municipal budget at the first of three hearings organized by Chicago’s City Council Progressive Caucus taking place this month.

Progressive Caucus members said they organized the meetings to fill the void left by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has chosen to forgo the budget hearings traditionally held by the Mayor and his cabinet each year.

“We believe the people of this city must be allowed a venue to voice their suggestions and worries about a budget that fundamentally affects each of us,” said Ald. John Arena, who hosted the hearing in his own 45th Ward at the Copernicus Center. “These hearings are a critical part of the democratic process.”

At the first hearing, moderated by Chicago Reader Senior Reporter Mick Dumke, more than 15 Chicagoans, including Chicago Public Schools teachers and parents, firefighters, police officers and other community residents, testified about their concerns on issues from public safety to job creation and economic concerns.

“When will the banks and corporations be asked to pay their fare share? Where is the accountability when it comes to the corporate elite?” asked Amisha Patel, executive director of the Grassroots Collaborative. Patel called for the closure of the LaSalle Central TIF to “put $15 million back into public services every year.”

Progressive Caucus members Ald. Bob Fioretti (2), Ald. Leslie Hairston (5), Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6), Ald. Toni Foulkes (15), Ald. Rick Munoz (22), Ald. Scott Waguespack (32), Ald. Nicholas Sposato (36) and Ald. John Arena (45) all worked to organize the hearings.

The second hearing will take place on Wednesday, October 24 at 6pm at Wells High School at 936 N. Ashland. The third and final hearing will be held on Tuesday, October 30 at 6pm at South Shore International High School at 1955 E. 75th St. All of the hearings are open to the public. The Caucus will move to enter the testimony received at the hearings into the public record at the October 31 City Council meeting.

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