Mayor: I’ll Work With Council, But Infrastructure Plan ‘Must Go Forward’
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CHICAGO (CBS) – A day after delaying a City Council vote on his complicated plan to fund public works projects with private money, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he’s listening to complaints from aldermen who were upset with a lack of council oversight in the proposal.
But he also said municipal construction projects “must go forward”
As WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, aldermen have a short timetable to make changes to the mayor’s plan to finance public construction projects with $1.7 billion in private financing, led by five major banks.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports
Facing backlash from aldermen who were upset with a lack of council oversight of the project under Emanuel’s plan, the mayor delayed a vote on his Chicago Infrastructure Trust plan at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.
Emanuel has scheduled a special City Council meeting for Tuesday to vote on the ordinance authorizing the initiative, and the mayor hopes to have the aldermen’s concerns addressed by then.
The mayor said Wednesday he does not plan to change the ordinance before it comes to a vote, but will simply make some alterations by executive order.
“One will be that each project will have a mission statement with financial advisers – what it’s supposed to do, how much it will save, how many jobs it will produce. So each project will have that,” the mayor said after Wednesday’s council meeting.
On Thursday, the mayor said he’s already made 16 changes, in order to give the City Council greater oversight of projects that would be funded through the initiative.
“We have these ideas that we’ve put into the executive order, and I think that will allow us to address concerns, and move this city forward,” Emanuel said.
Ald. Willie Cochran (20th) said aldermen have other questions and concerns.
“I want to make sure that some of those projects are in the community. I don’t want to see all the projects that people are investing in only downtown,” he said. “That could be an issue as we go forward.”
The plan would have five major banks lead an effort to invest $1.7 billion in private financing to upgrade city infrastructure.
A board of five people appointed by the mayor would be empowered to decide how the majority of the money is spent. The City Council would only have oversight when city assets, properties or money are involved. Projects involving public schools, parks, or public transit would be exempt from City Council approval.
That has drawn the ire of several aldermen who plan to vote against the measure as it stands.
Cochran said the mayor’s cooperating so far, but is it enough?
“Let’s see how this works out. Let’s see what we have to amend. And let’s see how important it is to the mayor to listen to us as we move forward,” Cochran said.
He suggested the mayor might be open to more changes to the plan before the City Council votes.
The mayor said he’s willing to listen to the aldermen’s concerns, but he said construction must move forward.
“I will not allow every month to go by, in which we delay, we’re literally wasting taxpayer money, when we could be putting people to work, rather than wasting their money,” Emanuel said.
The mayor and Cochran both attended a news conference announcing a street resurfacing project in the Englewood neighborhood, one of the first road repair projects of the year for the city.