Chicago taxpayers sound off at public forum on city budget

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Mayor Rahm Emanuel got an earful at the first of three public forums about the Chicago budget.

The purpose of Monday night's meeting at Malcolm X College was to give residents a chance to help create ideas about how the city can raise $754 million to balance the budget.

It was also a chance to prepare voters for the possibilities of fees for garbage collection, an e-cigarette tax or a property tax hike, if the city doesn't get help from Springfield.

But the heated crowd of taxpayers wanted more answers.

"Do we want to thank the mayor and all these hand-picked dummies that say they represent us? I don't have a grocery store! I don't have a quality school!" one woman said.

Members of the crowd also wanted to let the mayor know how they felt about closing schools and cutting funding.

"Intentional underfunding of our schools, removing of extracurricular programs - like art, like physical education - does nothing to teach our children. Then you punish us by saying we're underperforming. While we're funneling our children into the criminal justice system, the real criminals sit on the board of education," another woman said.

The meeting lasted nearly two hours. It was Emanuel's first public forum since 2011.

The next public meeting about the city budget will be held on Wednesday at the South Shore Cultural Center. The final meeting is scheduled for Thursday at Wright College.

Mayor Emanuel is expected to present his budget plan on Sept. 22.

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