By Derrick Blakley


(CBS) — There’s a City Hall fight underway over a rare pot of surplus money.

Mayor Emanuel wants to plant trees and upgrade parks. But some aldermen insist that cash must go to fighting crime.

CBS 2’s Political Reporter Derrick Blakley has more.

Rebellious aldermen say Emanuel is out of touch with ordinary Chicagoans who are fed up.

“We’ve had a very significant increase in the number of shootings,” 15th Ward Ald. Raymond Lopez says.

He says his ward was recently the scene of the fatal shooting of a 12-year-old girl.

“This is very urgent for me,” Lopez says.

Chicago Shootings, Killings By Ward by John Dodge on Scribd

Ward-by-ward crime stats compiled by CeaseFire show why. In Lopez’ ward last year, murders more than doubled, from 13 to 29.

The mayor wants to use $15 million in unspent property tax rebate money to fix up parks, buy police body cameras, boost after-school programs and plant trees.

That idea even rankles a staunch Emanuel ally who chairs the Budget Committee.

“I just think that money would be better spent in violence prevention as opposed to trees. So, in that respect, is where I have the difference,” 34th Ward Ald. Carrie Austin says.

On the other hand, Black and Latino aldermen want to expand the city’s summer jobs program year-round, extend mentoring and restore funding for so-called violence interrupters like CeaseFire.

“We want to see our business districts vibrant and active once again, but I can’t do that until we tamp down the violence issue some more,” 6th Ward Ald. Roderick Sawyer says.

And yet the alderman with the biggest violence problem backs the mayor’s approach. Jason Ervin’s 28th Ward had 72 murders last year, the most in the city.


He says the mayor’s plan provides more economic punch.

“We can’t prevent violence without providing jobs, without providing people a sustainable future. That’s what I believe these dollars are doing,” he says.

Emanuel pulled his spending plan for surplus funds because, opponents said, he didn’t have the votes to pass it.

The two sides are negotiating, and a compromise may emerge at Wednesday’s city council meeting.