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Picking the right person to be Chicago’s next mayor

Early voting for the Chicago municipal election is underway in all 50 wards. | Sun-Times file photo

There are people anguishing over making the right choice for mayor of Chicago. They don’t want to make a mistake.

Pick the wrong person and you could end up spending $700 million in police-related lawsuit settlements over a period of eight years.

That’s how much Chicago has paid out since 2010.

OPINION

If the voter makes the wrong choice, as many as 50 schools could be shuttered, which was the decision back in 2013. Thousands of children were displaced, but they were promised a better education. Research has shown that wasn’t the case. Hey, sometimes mayors get it wrong, along with the people they pick to run the Chicago Public Schools.

For example, there was Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s former public schools CEO, Barbara Byrd-Bennett. Short on money to run the schools, unable to keep school doors open, she handed out some $23 million in contracts to a former employer in exchange for promises of a kickback.

People went to prison.

School administrators, who were supposed to learn something about teaching children, were taught a lesson in greed.

As for the children, well, their schools are falling apart, and roach-infested. Students in CPS have been sexually abused. Their education has been an underfunded afterthought for decades.

That’s how the city kept property taxes low for homeowners. Voters didn’t complain when the city property tax rate was the lowest in Cook County. That meant less money for classroom instruction, but more money in the pockets of taxpayers.

And, of course, it meant more money for the lawyers and politicians who benefitted from the property tax system in Cook County.

Democratic politicians in Chicago, who controlled the Illinois Legislature, made sure this state relied so heavily on property taxes to support public education that business owners, especially the guys who owned massive buildings in downtown Chicago, could save millions of dollars by getting the right property tax attorneys to file appeals.

The right guys were in House Speaker Mike Madigan’s law firm and those in the law firm of Ald. Ed Burke, 14th.

And Joe Berrios, the former Cook County assessor and former head of the Chicago Democratic Party, was particularly good at making sure no one understood how the property tax system worked.

Chicago’s mayor never made a stink about any of that. Yes, the right mayor can sure have an impact on the lives of people.

If you select the wrong person to lead Chicago, you could end up with hundreds of local residents murdered on the streets of the city, while the person in charge cuts thousands of police officers to save money.

Children can be shot in the head sitting in a car or in front of a TV set.

Pregnant mothers can be gunned down in the streets.

That’s the sort of thing that happens in Chicago all the time. It’s probably not the mayor’s fault.

I mean, some people might blame the mayor if a police officer shoots a fellow 16 or 17 times and the videotape gets buried, but he could always blame his police chief and fire the guy.

It sure isn’t the mayor’s fault if police officers lie about what happened, or if suspects are coerced into making false confessions. Lawyers have made fortunes suing Chicago.

For decades, the city handed out sweetheart contracts to employee unions and never thought of raising the money needed to pay for the pensions of those employees. That sort of thing happens when mayors are distracted by more important things.

There are people anguishing over making the right choice for mayor.

I hope someday they elect someone who cares as much about them.

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com

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