Progressive Caucus Receives Public Concerns, Suggestions at Town Hall Meeting

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

Some 75 Chicagoans gathered at Malcolm X College last Thursday evening to voice their concerns and ideas about the proposed 2017 City budget at a town hall meeting convened by the City Council Progressive Reform Caucus. Attendees spoke to aldermen about budgetary concerns including unfunded city pensions, retiree healthcare cuts, community violence, the need for neighborhood economic development, underfunding of childcare and early learning programs, police hiring practices and alternative policing strategies. Weighing heavily in the conversation was the move of funding for crossing guards from the Chicago Police Department budget to the Office of Emergency Management and Communication (OEMC) budget. The crossing guards have been organizing and demanding that they be placed back into the Police Department, arguing that their work to protect children is more closely aligned with the mission and responsibilities of the CPD than OEMC. Others voiced concerns over the imminent total phase-out of subsidized healthcare for City retirees.

“When I retired after working 33 years for the Chicago Public Library, I did so with the understanding that I would receive subsidies for my health care,” said Mary Jones, president of the Chicago-area AFSCME Retirees Subchapter, “Now the City is abandoning City retirees, and we are faced with some very hard choices about how to get by on our modest pensions.” Mother, and childcare specialist April Drayton described the tense realities in the childcare field due to Governor Bruce Rauner’s slashing of childcare and early learning budgets. “Despite having multiple degrees in early childhood education, I make just $11.35 an hour with no benefits, because that’s all the daycare owner can afford to pay me,” said Drayton. “We should be clear whose work is being undervalued and underpaid — the childcare workforce in Chicago is overwhelmingly women, half of us are African-Amercan, and another third of the workforce is Latino.” We really value hearing directly from Chicagoans in this process,” said Progressive Caucus Chair Ald. Scott Waguespack (32). “We heard the voices of our constituents loudly–it is time to start asking the wealthiest among us and the major corporations who call Chicago home to pay more, so that we can fully fund the priorities and needs of our residents.” The Progressive Reform Caucus includes Ald. Leslie Hairston (5); Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6); Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10); Ald. Toni Foulkes (16); Ald. David Moore (17); Ald. Ricardo Muñoz (22); Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29); Ald. Scott Waguespack (32); Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35); Ald. Nick Sposato (38); and Ald. John Arena (45).

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