Ald. Ricardo Muñoz (22nd) speaks during the Chicago City Council meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Alderman wants to spend $25M to prevent ‘bloody summer’

SHARE Alderman wants to spend $25M to prevent ‘bloody summer’
SHARE Alderman wants to spend $25M to prevent ‘bloody summer’

Warning of a “bloody summer” in Chicago, Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) on Wednesday proposed spending $25 million in excess earnings on the city’s $7 billion investment portfolio on programs to combat gang violence.

City Treasurer Kurt Summers has already proposed using $57 million in earnings generated by the investments made by his office to stop the bloodshed on Chicago streets. But the amount has neither been verified nor appropriated. That’s the City Council’s job.

At Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Munoz proposed an “order” to do just that — but only with $25 million of that money.

“I’m not being greedy,” Munoz said.

If the excess earnings are really as high as the treasurer claims, Munoz wants each of Chicago’s 50 wards to get $500,000 for “violence-prevention, after-school and job-training programs.

Munoz said that’s what should have happened with every penny of the $17 million left over after a property-tax rebate that most Chicago homeowners didn’t bother to claim.

But Mayor Rahm Emanuel had other ideas, prompting Munoz to go another route.

At a time when a 60 percent surge in homicides and shootings has made Chicago a constant target of President Donald Trump, Munoz warned that something needs to be done to stop the bloodshed before the traditional summer surge in street violence.

“The order is named, ‘Safe Summer ’17.’ We need to do this now. Our city is bleeding. . . . It’ll be a bloody summer,” Munoz said. “We need to invest in street intervention. We need to invest in after-school programs. We need to invest in job training. If this money exists, we need to put it on the street immediately.”

Summers said pretty much the same thing when he announced that his office had nearly doubled the $68 million in investment earnings assumed in the mayor’s 2017 budget. The only difference is Summers wanted to sweeten the pot of the $100 million Catalyst Fund aimed at rebuilding long-neglected neighborhoods.

“You can’t police your way out of poverty. The roots of our problems are economic. We can’t solve them without economic solutions,” Summers said.

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