Emanuel surrogates ridicule Garcia’s broad-strokes financial plan

SHARE Emanuel surrogates ridicule Garcia’s broad-strokes financial plan

Three of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s most prominent supporters ridiculed mayoral challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia Monday for presenting a financial plan that offers no specific solutions to Chicago’s $20 billion pension crisis, the city ‘s $300 million operating shortfall and the $10 billion unfunded pension liabilities at the Chicago Public Schools.

City Clerk Susana Mendoza, City Treasurer Kurt Summers and U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., said Garcia let voters down — and not just because they said he delivered only broad strokes and failed to pinpoint specific economies or new revenues. He made matters worse by “copying” reforms already implemented by Emanuel.

“Where I come from, that’s called cheating on your homework,” said Mendoza, who serves as co-chairman of Emanuel’s re-election campaign.

Mendoza contrasted Emanuel’s four-year record of “balancing budgets and reaching pension-reform deals with more than 30 labor unions” against Garcia’s decision to punt the city’s desperate need for new revenue to a committee of experts that would report back within 90 days if he wins the April 7 runoff.

“Are you kidding me? My student intern could have put forth a more thorough and responsible budget plan than what the candidate for mayor has given the people of Chicago. . . . Chicago voters should be very worried about a candidate who shows such little regard and respect for taxpayers,” Mendoza told a City Hall news conference.

“With three weeks to go before the election, Chicago voters should send Chuy to after-school detention until he finishes his fiscal homework. The last thing this person needs is a promotion to the office of mayor of one of the largest, most important cities — not only in the country, but also internationally.”

As County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s chief of staff, Summers spearheaded the collaboration between city and county governments that has already saved taxpayers $70 million and identified $70 million more in additional savings.

“It’s not a new idea by Chuy Garcia. It’s the work that Mayor Emanuel has been doing for the last four years. I’ve done it with him,” said Summers, who was appointed to his current job by the mayor.

“It’s time for the people of Chicago to look for leaders who stand and deliver — not provide false hope or misinformation. This lack of direction that we’ve seen, this lack of understanding and intentional ambiguity is not fair to the people of Chicago, and it’s a clear indication that Chuy Garcia is not ready for this job.”

Quigley argued that tax-increment-financing (TIF) has “changed light years” under Emanuel — with reforms that include a TIF surplus policy, a centralized data base and elimination of TIFs that are no longer needed.

The North Side congressman cast doubt on Garcia’s pledge to save as much as $150 million a year by closing out TIFs that are no longer needed and calling a halt to Emanuel’s habit of granting subsidies to “wealthy, connected enterprises that can otherwise afford to fund their own projects.”

Quigley noted that 75 percent of TIF projects are “related to infrastructure,” including schools and parks. Five percent are affordable housing projects in neighborhoods like Chinatown, Albany Park and Back of the Yards. Downtown-only projects account for just five percent, the congressman said.

Garcia’s campaign manager Andrew Sharp responded to Monday’s broadside by referring to the disastrous press conference held by Emanuel’s City Council allies one week ago.

“We are disappointed none of [Emanuel’s surrogates] had the courage to tell the truth to voters of Chicago and deliver the same message the mayor’s surrogate delivered last week. The truth is Mayor Emanuel is planning a post-election property tax increase. Carrie Austin said the truth and they’re trying to change the subject,” Sharp said.

“Commissioner Garcia put out a serious and substantive plan. We do not expect the mayor’s friends to like the plan. The plan will require for the first time that the wealthy and the powerful begin to pay their fair share of the city’s financial burden by eliminating corporate subsidies the mayor has been passing out — our property tax money locked up in the TIFs. We understand that when you come out and say corporations should not get those subsidies, corporations and their allies in power are not gonna be happy.”

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