Rahm Emanuel on the issues in Chicago mayor’s race

SHARE Rahm Emanuel on the issues in Chicago mayor’s race
SHARE Rahm Emanuel on the issues in Chicago mayor’s race

NEW REVENUES: Wants a Chicago casino, with revenues devoted exclusively to pensions; would broaden state sales tax to services and use tax-increment-financing surplus for pensions. Won’t rule out property-tax hike to meet state-mandated $550 million payment due in December to shore up police and fire pensions but calls it a “last resort.”

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PENSION REFORM: Has negotiated reform deals with Municipal Employees, Laborers and Park District employees. Enters police and fire union talks with “fire core principals” — phasing in higher taxpayer contributions; reining in cost-of-living increases for retirees; maintaining current retirement age; “gradually increasing” employee contributions; and exempting retirees with annual annuities of $22,000 or less.

POLICE: Failed to keep promise to hire 1,000 additional officers. Instead added 1,000 “cops on the beat” by disbanding special units and reassigning officers from desk jobs. Balanced first budget by eliminating 1,400-plus police vacancies. Used overtime to tamp down violence — $100.3 million in 2013 and $95 million last year. Plans to retain Supt. Garry McCarthy.

ELECTED SCHOOL BOARD: Dead set against it. Argues that it would politicize and paralyze educational progress made by his hand-picked board. Claims there is “significant elected representation at the local level” through local school councils that approve budgets and principal hiring.

RED-LIGHT CAMERAS: Fired contractor at center of $2 million bribery scandal. Supports red-light cameras for reducing crashes and free police for crime fighting. Eliminated cameras at 25 intersections — on top of 16 previously removed — to put out political fire during campaign. Vowed to install countdown signals at 42 red-light camera intersections.

LUCAS MUSEUM AND OBAMA LIBRARY ON PARK LAND: Offered movie mogul George Lucas 17 acres of free lakefront park. Determined to work to alter futuristic design that’s been roundly ridiculed. Despite ruling by federal judge, does not believe legislative approval is needed. Prime mover behind decision to transfer up to 21 acres in Washington Park or Jackson Park for Obama library.

TIF REFORM: Plans to use TIF surplus to help solve pension crisis. Eliminated 15 tax-increment-financing districts since taking office in 2011. Created online database to track projects. Requires developers seeking TIF subsidies to post online assessment report — including job creation and return on investment — before City Council vote.

CITY COUNCIL REORGANIZATION: Floated cutting City Council in half during 2011 campaign, but dropped idea. Four years ago, threatened to reorganize council and strip Ald. Ed Burke of police bodyguardsand, possibly, Finance Committee chairmanship but ultimately retained Burke and cut bodyguard detail in half, using retired officers. Says Burke can keep post in second term.

WAYS TO ELIMINATE $1 BILLION CPS DEFICIT: Made it worse by allowing school board to balance budget by counting on 14 months of property-tax revenue in 12 months. No specific solution toschool budget crisis. Asked Gov. Bruce Rauner to end double standard that forces Chicago taxpayers to pay twice — for retired city teachers and for pensions of retired teachers outside city.

BANKRUPTCY AN OPTION FOR CITY OR CPS: Determined to avoid it, even though it would free city to do things that otherwise would be difficult or impossible. Says there would be “unintended consequences.” Also concerned bankruptcy would let state lawmakers “off the hook” and allow them to “keep in place two taxations of Chicago taxpayers” for teacher pensions.

CHARTER SCHOOLS: Supports charters to give parents options but vows to hold them more accountable for performance. UNO, one of largest charter operators, was run by Juan Rangel, Emanuel’s former campaign co-chairman. Rangel was forced out after a contracting scandal triggered by a Chicago Sun-Times investigation.

INSPECTOR GENERAL/INDEPENDENT BUDGET OFFICE: Mayor’s City Council floor leader introduced ordinance to empower IG to investigate aldermen and their employees, but it went nowhere amid Council opposition. Independent budget office stalled by internal fight over whether former Ald. Helen Shiller is qualified to run it. Emanuel hasn’t done anything to break stalemate.


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