Sep 13, 2010
Richard Daley won’t run for mayor next year, after 21 years in office. The media proclaims him a great big city mayor who has been good for the economic life of the city. Certainly businesses have been quite happy with Daley, who gave them vast subsidies.
But all this has been paid for by a heavy burden on working people. The sales tax at 9.75% is the highest of big cities in the country. The property tax including the city, the county and all the agencies Daley controls, are a heavy burden. An annual city sticker for a car costs $75, there are outrageous fines for minor violations, high water bills and extortionate parking meter fees.
Mayor Daley leads the country in privatizing major city services, including the Skyway expressway, downtown parking lots and Chicago parking meters. The fees for their use shot way up. The money the city received up front is almost all gone, while corporate owners will profit for decades. City workers were laid off and replaced by low-paid workers without benefits, throwing more families into poverty.
Today, the city government claims to have a deficit of hundreds of millions of dollars. But Daley controls the so-called TIF funds, built up out of half of all property taxes collected. These were the source of hundreds of millions of dollars in handouts to businesses of all sorts, yet one billion dollars in cash remains. Despite this, Daley laid off hundreds of city workers and imposed 14 furlough days a year on city workers.
Daley appointees in charge of the public schools, including Arne Duncan, now U.S. Secretary of Education, led the way in promoting charter schools, undermining the public school system. There are vast inequalities in the schools. The poorest ones have broken and missing equipment and overcrowded classrooms, while upper-middle class schools are well-equipped with plenty of teachers.
Apparently Daley thinks there’s no blood left in Chicago, having bled it for years.