I spoke with two of the librarians in the group, Annie Ayres and
Tom Stark and a member of the Occupy Chicago contingent, Ronald Schupp. Other protesters were on the Fifth floor, the location of the Mayor's office.
I was glad to see some librarians making noise about this issue. Libraries should not be closed. They provide essential services and are heavily utilized during economic downturns like now. They are well located and scattered throughout the city so they can be used as senior centers, locations for after school programs, and emergency facilities during heat waves, cold spells and other disasters. So folks, tell your Aldermen and the Mayor not to cut the libraries.
What a difference two cycles of aldermanic elections have made in these hearings. Before the 2007 and 2011 elections most of the Alderman were the bobble heads of Mayor Daley. Rarely did anyone ask a pointed question about the budget.
Amazingly, today the proceeding looked and sounded like a legislative body. Even with a few of the Alderwomen wearing Halloween costumes. And one staffer dressed as a bee flitting from Alderman to Alderman delivering documents.
As usual, not all of the Alderman attended the hearing. You’d think understanding the budget would be the most important task of an elected representative in these tough economic times. But only about 25 were in the council chamber at any time. Maybe the rest were in the back listening to the proceedings but I wouldn’t bet the rent on that. Which makes me wonder if Aldermen have to account for their time to anyone in order to get their fulltime salaries.
Many of the Aldermen who were there did ask meaningful questions. And I learned things.
From the Family and Support Services Department (FSS) presentation I learned that one FSS program has provided 1,400 rape-counseling sessions at Chicago Public Schools. I want to find out exactly what that means.
Some Senior Centers will be closed for lack of funding. I wonder if anyone has considered moving the programs into the libraries.
According to its Commissioner, FSS has compiled a “beautiful” report that tracks childhood poverty and its effects. I wonder if I can get a copy of that just by asking.
From the Law Department presentation I learned that some banks owe the City of Chicago 2.8 million bucks.
I learned that the Law Department has found firms to handle four really big cases on a pro bono basis but doesn’t analyze police cases to see if the lawsuits arise from the conduct of a set group of cops.
Tomorrow I’m going to find out what happens to all the questions and answers and when the next version of the budget will be available.