Public Watchdog.org

Horsebleep Citizenship Causes Horsebleep Government

03.17.10

Last May 13th, we asked in a post: Are you “mad as hell” yet?

That was right after our City Council passed a $2 million deficit budget that purported to be “balanced” only because it ate into reserves – i.e., the City’s savings account – to make up for the excess expenses. 

Since then, City government has spent itself into an even deeper hole, with an anticipated shortfall of revenues over expenses of over $3.35 million [pdf]Meanwhile, too many of us seem to still be asleep at the wheel, irresponsibly unaware or unconcerned about the precarious nature of our City’s finances and the danger it presents to our community and our way of life.

Which is a big reason why we’re in this mess.

For years we elected mayors and aldermen whom we counted on to watch out for our interests but who, frankly, did a horsebleep job of it – and then simply refused to accept any accountability (a/k/a “blame”) for that horsebleep job.  The result: $10.9 million of operating fund deficits from 2001/02 through 2008/09 [pdf], punctuated by one year (2006/07) where the City posted an operating fund surplus of $247,305 that ballooned to $6.376 million when the proceeds from the one-time-only sell-off of City property to the Uptown redevelopers that year is counted in.

And that $10.9 million in deficits doesn’t even include the $3.35 deficit expected by year-end 2009/10. 

Have these staggering numbers set off any alarm bells in your sleepy heads, yet?

That kind of mismanagement would get you fired from most well-run enterprises, and it should be a source of regret and embarrassment for its perpetrators.

But can you name even one current or former mayor or alderman during that nine year stretch who has accepted any responsibility whatsoever for the current mess we’re in, or for any of the annual mini-messes leading up to it – except for Mayor Dave Schmidt, who in his “State of the City” address pointedly admitted the error of his ways?

“I personally voted for two unbalanced budgets [as 1st Ward alderman],” Schmidt acknowledged, before promising that “I will not make the same mistake again” and vowing to veto any unbalanced budget passed by the Council.

You sure didn’t hear anything like that from 2nd Ward Ald. (since 1995) Rich DiPietro when he read the Council’s rebuttal to Schmidt’s address.  That’s because the current crop of aldermen – with the exception of Ald. Joe Sweeney (1st Ward), who is facing his first budget vote – have shown themselves to be as shameless about their failures as they are spineless when it comes to making those tough decisions necessary to the community’s best interests.

If you doubt that, you haven’t been attending the recent budget workshops, or watching them on the Melidosian Motionbox.  But you are likely to see further evidence of it this Saturday, when a number of private community groups are expected to come before the Council to whine about the elimination from this year’s draft budget of their customary handouts of taxpayer cash, which totaled $271,000 last year.

It looks like they think they’re entitled to be on the public dole even though the proposed budget, which includes a 5% tax increase, is still $227,000 in the red – and could go $1.1 million into the red if the State of Illinois cuts funding to municipalities by the 30% proposed by Gov. Quinn.

But no matter how horsebleep a job our elected representatives have done in office, they are where they are because we have done a horsebleep job of being responsible, conscientious citizens.  We voted into office too many people who may be likeable when we should have been electing people who were competent and diligent – and then we failed to demand accountability from them.  And in so doing, we have put our entire community at risk.

Forget about being “mad as hell.”  Are we even awake yet?

 

6 comments so far

Pubdog, thanks for another excellent writing.

The only thing is you seem to say if the citizens were totally awake then everything would be better.

I think the only way anything in this town will get better is when we get rid of this current crop of aldermen. All of them have to go.

Anonymous 3/17/10 @ 4:02 PM:

Unless our citizens are awake, they won’t vote at all. And unless they start paying attention, they very well may vote for a new crop just like the current crop.

After all, the voters elected every one of the current aldermen but Sweeney, who Mayor Schmidt appointed to fill his aldermanic vacancy when he became mayor. And the voters elected their predecessors who started us down this road to economic perdition.

It is even worse. It may not even be voting for those like the current crop. It may be not even having a choice. Remember that in some of the wards (3 if I am not mistaken) they did not even have a choice on the ballot.

Off topic question. In the HA today they talk about razing the city owned house on Courtland for a parking lot. Forgive me for being out of the loop, but is this not the house that the Mayor was pushing as an alternative to the new police station. Apparently that is not going to happen??

7:34

Any ward that can’t field at least one good candidate deserves the horse’s ass alderman they get.

Last time around we had a choice between Robert Ryan, Judy Barclay and some other guy whose name I can’t remember.

Say what you will about Judy, a walking gadfly of civic participation, but we wound up with Ryan, who has disappointed.

Continuing with the theme here, however, I’m not lambasting Mr. Ryan but my fellow 5th ward residents.

Why? Well, neighbors, apparently you swallowed hook-line-and-sinker Ryan’s dual proposal: himself for alderman and a nice tax increase for the schools.

It may or may not be incredible that we voted for Ryan. It was absolutely un-frickin’-believeable that we voted to increase our own taxes.

Thanks a lot, neighbors. I’m not happy about that.

Are you all still glad you voted for that tax increase? Huh? Are you?

Idiots.



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