Daley takes wish list to Washington

Long lines for seasonal jobs
February 10, 2009 9:50:32 AM PST
As hundreds of people lined up for seasonal jobs in the suburbs, Chicago's Mayor Daley heads to D.C. with a wish list of city projects. The mayor has declined to be specific about what he wants from a stimulus package, and he deviated from that on Monday only to offer up a general wish list - without details or dollar signs.

The list is largely built - but not solely - around infrastructure needs - though the mayor acknowledges the medicine can't be only brick and mortar.

There were a couple snapshots of reality on Monday at a hospital and a zoo.

Jennifer Orozco spent some time waiting for a job interview today. She was not alone.

"I've been filling out applications every day since October," said Orozco.

Jennifer's job with a caterer went away in October, so on Monday she went to the Brookfield Zoo to apply for a summer job. So did roughly a thousand other people - hoping to come up with one of Brookfield's 600 or so hires for summer work - ground crew to tram operators at around eight dollars an hour.

"I have three kids so I need anything I can get right now," said Jennifer Orozco," said Orozco.

"This financial crisis, I've been talking about it for almost a year and a half. It's much more serious than people ever expected," said Mayor Richard Daley.

The mayor is off to Washington to lobby for quick passage of the stimulus package, and he offered up an overview of the type of projects on Chicago's wish list - the reconstruction of 15 miles of public transit lines, updating 200 public schools repaving 150 miles of arterial streets - largely infrastructure needs with more of a blue-collar jobs impact.

"It affects not only blue collar but also white collar which we've never seen before at such extreme unemployment.

There are job-retraining components to the mayor's wish list, but he declined to discuss specifics on Monday since the stimulus package has yet to be passed.

Meanwhile, the lay-offs continue to mount. On Monday, University of Chicago hospitals cut 450 jobs - clerical, some administrative jobs - including the post of VP of external and community affairs, a position once held by First Lady Michelle Obama.

The medical staff is not cut, the hospital saying that patient care won't be hurt, but patients may have to wait longer to get their care.

"One thing we can do is react to this proactively while we're strong and not wait until we're diminished and have to react in say more damaging kind of way," said Dr. James Madara, CEO, University of Chicago Medical Center.

Union leaders are challenging the cuts saying the hospital has not justified them, but the University of Chicago hospitals are moving ahead saying additional job losses will come through attrition as they cut $100 million dollars from their budget.