The president of one of Chicago’s most respected taxpayer watchdogs on Thursday launched cost-cutting reforms that could revolutionize the city government.
Over the years, the Citizens’ Coalition has repeatedly advocated cutting the 50-strong city council in half, but with the acquiescence of the Chicago mayor and others, who chose the political path of least resistance, the city councilors failed to defend their territories. It was decided to let
The Citizens’ League and current former Inspector General Joe Ferguson also ran into the same wall of opposition when they boldly suggested that aldermen lose their valuable dues menu funds. The program gives each council member her $1.8 million to spend on projects of their choosing.
But the federation’s acting president, Sarah Wetmore, has hitherto been considered politically impossible by the election of Brandon Johnson, the most progressive mayor in Chicago’s history, and by a younger, liberal city council. I believe that many reform opportunities have been created.
“The average size of city councils in the 15 largest U.S. cities is 18. …If other cities can function with smaller, and therefore lower-cost, councils, there is no reason why Chicago can’t do it,” he said. Wetmore told the Sun-Times on Thursday.
Studies dating back to the 1950s show that the larger the council, the more members tend to focus on “small things” and service activities, such as filling holes in the ward, clearing snow, picking up trash, and replacing street lights. It has been demonstrated that there is, Wetmore said.
That should be the mayor’s job, but it’s not. That’s why longtime veteran Tony Laurino (39th) proudly proclaimed himself an “alley alderman.”
The emergence of a 311 system that allows Chicagoans to use an app to request city services should pave the way for a small, policy-focused legislature to act as the mayor’s legislative partner, Wetmore said. Stated.
“Various city council members have said it takes a lot of time to focus on serving voters,” she said.
The Federation’s proposal to combine the elected offices of City Clerk and Treasurer into a mayor-appointed position would require the approval of the council, as would a smaller city council.
But Wetmore said it is possible and has already happened. The Cook County Clerk’s and Deed Recorder’s offices were consolidated as requested by the Union.
“We want policymakers to be held accountable to voters,” she says. “Clerks, treasurers and other positions carry out the policies. They are not successful.”
When Mr. Ferguson proposed transferring control of the menu program to the Chicago Department of Transportation and making project selection part of a multi-year capital plan, the reaction of city councilors was swift and furious.
Yet Wetmore sued again.
“Best practices for how the city uses capital include having a needs-based, multi-year financial plan. It is decentralized and remains underfunded for housing infrastructure.
Yet another politically unstable idea would be to raise the annual garbage collection fee, which has been frozen at $9.50 a month since its inception in 2015, or the actual cost of removing garbage from Chicago’s 600,000 households. In other words, it imposes a volume-based fee to offset .
“You don’t want to set something up and forget it,” says Wetmore. “We need to continually evaluate whether it is the right way to generate revenue for the service we pay for.”
The federation’s list also includes the “privatization” of the Chicago Police Department.
Every Chicago mayor since Richard M. Daley has publicly demonstrated the move of Chicago police officers from clerical jobs to street duty, with little success.
More than 93% of the 14,058 posts budgeted in the 2022 CPD budget were sworn officers, according to a Citizens Union report. This translates to 13.8 sworn officers per civilian.
In other major cities, 22.2% of law enforcement positions are civilians, with 3.5 sworn officers for every civilian employee.
Mr Wetmore said fully “civilizing” the CPD and freeing sworn officers to fight violent crime would be a more comprehensive way to determine how sworn officers are allocated throughout the city. He argued that it should be conducted in conjunction with a comprehensive new investigation.
“There is not enough transparency about how they do it. What data are they using? is necessary. [and] How far are you from that level now? ”
https://chicago.suntimes.com/fran-spielman-show/2023/6/22/23770500/chicago-civic-federation-acting-president-wetmore-city-council-government-reform-garbage-fees Citizens coalition advocating the rebuilding of municipal administration