Emanuel budget hearing tightly controlled, until it wasn't

August 30, 2011

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(AP/Spencer Green, file)

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel got several earfuls from residents during a public meeting on the city's budget. The tightly controlled event Monday night unraveled a bit when Emanuel was confronted by a laid-off city employee.

The stated purpose of the meeting was this: find ways to trim the city's estimated $635 million budget deficit. At Kennedy-King College in Englewood, Emanuel did get some money saving ideas.

"Can you stop printing the mayor and elected officials' names on doors, buildings, etc.?" read City Colleges Chancellor Cheryl Hyman, who acted as the moderator of the event.

The mayor replied 'yeah' to that suggestion, but sounded skeptical it would make a dent in the city's financial problems.

Emanuel seemed well on his way to an easy night, and then a woman who claimed to be one of the more than 70 traffic aides laid off this summer complained about her financial problems. That prompted an extended back-and-forth between the mayor and labor union members.

"I'm responsible to the city taxpayers and the city residents," Emanuel said, prompting audience members to yell that they, too, were taxpayers.

"I didn't say you weren't," Emaniel replied. "I didn't say you weren't."

Emanuel is holding another public budget meeting tomorrow in the West Town neighborhood.

Hear much more about Monday night's meeting during WBEZ's Eight Forty-Eight, at 9 a.m.

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