Money matters focus of mayoral candidates

February 8, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Before taking part in the forum, all of the candidates unveiled ways for the city to save money.

The candidates spoke before several hundred people who work on community development throughout the city -- issues like jobs and housing. But the backdrop for the question-and-answer session was the city's own financial problems.

Money matters were the focus of the mayoral candidates Tuesday. Rahm Emanuel went to a t-shirt factory to talk about reviving the city's economy and replenishing its anemic bank accounts.

"I will order a government-wide spending freeze and to ask every department head to review all operations and produce a plan for their dept within 60 days to cut city spending by at least $75 million," said Emanuel.

Emanuel said he would institute a government spending freeze and streamline operations like garbage removal. But his estimated savings don't come close to filling the nearly half-a-billion dollar city budget hole.

"No new taxes. He wants a tax increase. I don't want any new taxes," said candidate Carol Moseley Braun.

When pressed, though, Braun offered no specifics.

"No new taxes -- read my -- oh, I'm not going to say that, but no new taxes," said Braun.

City Clerk Miguel del Valle is still searching for ways to undo the parking meter deal. He suggested Tuesday the investment bank that did the deal didn't have any registered lobbyists.

"These two men, candidates for mayor, have thrown up their hands or chosen to look the other way rather than do the homework to find a solution," said del Valle.

Del Valle was among the top four candidates answering questions at a neighborhood development forum Tuesday afternoon.

"I really think jobs can be the anchor of these community improvement projects," said candidate Gery Chico. "Because quite frankly if we don't bring our neighborhood economic base back there isn't a whole lot to talk about."

Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins talked transit equity and the need for more money.

"The state does not give us our share of dollars, so that means we'll have to make cuts across the board one way or the other," said Watkins.

The format of the forum was one in which all the candidates appeared back to back to back and weren't all on the stage at the same time. Emanuel has avoided those types of forums, although all of the candidates will debate Wednesday night in a debate mod rated by the Chicago Defender to be held at the DuSable Museum.

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