Mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia went on the attack against Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s policies on Monday, saying his tenure in office is marked by rewarding wealthy donors while espousing “trickledown” policies that have failed middle-class and poor city residents.
Garcia referred to Emanuel as a steppingstone politician who had national aspirations rather than taking care of the city’s finances, struggling schools and community violence.
“A mayor who is not running for national office . . . that would be me,” Garcia said.
Garcia criticized bond rating downgrades under Emanuel as well as large classroom sizes.
“Chicago is becoming a city of the very rich and the very poor with fewer and fewer people in between,” Garcia said to a packed audience before the City Club of Chicago. “We’re becoming a city with glittering buildings surrounded by crumbling neighborhoods. A city with the finest restaurants, surrounded by communities full of people who can’t afford a decent meal. A city with some job growth in a small area downtown, surrounded by a vast area where unemployment rates are 25 to 30 percent. A city with fancy shopping areas surrounded by other areas with boarded-up business districts.”
Garcia hit the mayor on 10,000 shootings since Emanuel took office and accused him of failing to keep his promise to add 1,000 new police officers. Emanuel, in turn, has criticized Garcia’s vow to add 1,000 police officers, saying he doesn’t have a way to pay for the plan. Garcia said he would start by taking half of the overtime budget to devote to new personnel.
“There have been 362 shootings since the beginning of this year,” Garcia said. “The relationship between the city’s inequality and the city’s violence is as plain as day. The vast majority happens between the wonderful little city right outside these walls and the other, much bigger city that’s around it. It’s wrong.It’s unfair, it’s unjust. It’s not in the interest of a single person in this room, and it’s got to change.”
Garcia said Emanuel has taken on a “trickledown” policy.
“Under this mayor, it’s become accelerated. In fact, it’s called the hallmark of his administration. Nearly half of the city’s TIF money, 48 percent to be exact, has gone to an area that stretches roughly from the Gold Coast on the north to McCormick Center to the south, and from the United Center on the west to the lake,” Garcia said.
“In other words, our TIF money goes downtown. These locations contain just 11 percent of Chicago’s population and 5 percent of the geographical area. But they’ve gotten half of the $1.3 billion in TIF money the mayor has passed out since he’s taken office. . . . But plainly, the mayor of Chicago is spending TIF money in the exact opposite way that it’s supposed to be spent after promising not to do it. It’s Robin Hood in the reverse. It’s been going on for years.”
Emanuel’s campaign rebutted Garcia’s points, saying the mayor has worked to improve all areas of the city.
“Under Mayor Emanuel’s leadership, unemployment has fallen by more than a third and 73,000 new jobs have been created in Chicago,” Emanuel campaign spokesman Steve Mayberry said. “His goal is to ensure that growth is shared in neighborhoods across the city — from the new Sprint stores creating 300 jobs, to innovative micro-lending programs for small businesses that are the backbone of our economy or recruiting the new Method factory to Pullman and a new Whole Foods to Englewood. Rahm is investing in economic growth in Chicago’s neighborhoods, and creating new job opportunities for our residents.”
Mayberry also said that under Emanuel, the police department moved officers from behind desks and “out of centralized, specialized units to patrol, so they are patrolling in the same neighborhoods each day and can better interact with the community they serve. Mr. Garcia, on the other hand, has yet to explain how he would pay for hiring 1,000 new officers because he can’t.”
Mayberry also took issue with Garcia’s argument over TIF monies, saying Emanuel has made strides in using the money for neighborhoods.