WBEZ | Mayor http://www.wbez.org/tags/mayor Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Emanuel wins re-election over Garcia in race for Chicago mayor http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-wins-re-election-over-garcia-race-chicago-mayor-111840 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rahm for hp.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Rahm Emanuel won re-election Tuesday as voters in Chicago&#39;s first mayoral runoff decided that, despite his brusque management style, the former White House chief of staff was best equipped to deal with the many dire challenges facing the nation&#39;s third-largest city.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Map: <a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/elections/2015/runoff-map/" target="_blank">2015 Runoff Election Results</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>Emanuel was forced to campaign furiously across the city to beat Cook County Commissioner Jesus &quot;Chuy&quot; Garcia after failing to capture a majority against four other candidates in a February election. The mayoral runoff was the first since the city changed the way it conducts elections about 20 years ago.</p><p>&quot;To all the voters I want to thank you for putting me through my paces,&quot; Emanuel told supporters Tuesday night. &quot;I will be a better mayor because of that. I will carry your voices, your concerns into ... the mayor&#39;s office.&quot;</p><p>With nearly all voting precincts reporting results, Emanuel had about 56 percent of the vote compared to around 44 percent for Garcia.</p><p>&quot;We didn&#39;t lose today, we tried,&quot; Garcia told supporters gathered at the University of Illinois at Chicago. &quot;We fought hard for what we believed in. You don&#39;t succeed at this or anything else unless you try.&quot;</p><p>The incumbent highlighted tough decisions he&#39;s made since succeeding former Mayor Richard M. Daley in 2011, but admitted that his management approach too often rubbed city residents the wrong way. He portrayed Garcia as too inexperienced to handle the city&#39;s financial crunch.</p><p>Many of those heading to the polls Tuesday said the election should be a signal.</p><p>&quot;Hopefully he (Emanuel) takes heed of the runoff when he should have been a shoo-in,&quot; said Richard Rowe, a 50-year-old, who planned to vote for the incumbent.</p><p>Jesus Fernandez, a 44-year-old window washer who voted for Garcia, had the same view.</p><p>&quot;If he (Garcia) gets close, we might push Rahm to do something,&quot; Fernandez said. &quot;At least we push him a little bit.&quot;</p><p>Emanuel raised far more money than Garcia, plastered the airwaves with ads and had support from his former boss, President Barack Obama, who cast an early ballot for him from Washington.</p><p>The mayor faces huge obstacles in his second term, from fixing the worst-funded pension systems of any big U.S. city to stemming stubborn violence and confronting labor unions that just spent millions trying to defeat him.</p><p>Chicago&#39;s four pension systems are about $20 billion in debt, and the fund for Chicago Public Schools teachers is short about $7 billion of what&#39;s needed to pay benefits as promised.</p><p>If Emanuel can&#39;t work a deal with labor unions or get the Illinois Legislature to approve relief, the city is on the hook for an additional $550 million payment to the retirement accounts, bringing the total payment to about $1 billion. He&#39;s said that would be roughly equal to the annual cost of having 4,300 police officers on the street or raising property taxes by 150 percent.</p><p>Emanuel also must deal with ongoing concerns about crime, one of the areas Garcia hit him on repeatedly during the election. After a spike in homicides early in his first term, the number fell to the lowest level in a half-century though the number of shootings has climbed 12 percent.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;m proud of what we&#39;ve accomplished in these past four years, but I understand the challenges we face will require me to approach them differently and to work in a different fashion,&quot; Emanuel said. &quot;The only way to meet these challenges is to bridge the gaps between the things that divide us and start focusing on the things that unite us and bring us together.&quot;</p><p>Garcia, a former community organizer, alderman and state lawmaker, ran a campaign focused on the city&#39;s neighborhoods, with support from teachers and unions upset with Emanuel. He accused the mayor of being out of touch with voters and blamed him for the fiscal problems, while playing up the mayor&#39;s push to close about 50 schools and a gang violence problem that spiked during Emanuel&#39;s first term.</p><p>He also vowed to end Chicago&#39;s troubled red-light camera system, which some residents believe is discriminatory and focuses more on revenue than safety.</p><p>Election officials said more than 142,300 Chicago voters cast early ballots for the runoff, far outpacing early voting turnout in February and four years ago.</p></p> Tue, 07 Apr 2015 19:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-wins-re-election-over-garcia-race-chicago-mayor-111840 Mayor Byrne remembered as feisty, trailblazer http://www.wbez.org/news/mayor-byrne-remembered-feisty-trailblazer-111114 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/byrne funeral.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago said goodbye Monday to Jane Byrne, its first and only female mayor. Byrne was celebrated for her &ldquo;feisty&rdquo; personality and her &ldquo;trailblazing&rdquo; career in the mayor&rsquo;s office.</p><p>Her funeral was held at the St. Vincent de Paul Church in Lincoln Park - the same parish her parents attended in the late 1890s. Byrne&rsquo;s mother also attended grammar school there. A steady stream of friends, family members, politicos and regular Chicagoans attended her visitation and funeral Monday - including Mayor Rahm Emanuel.</p><p>&ldquo;She led our city in a way that captures the true spirit of Chicago: dogged, determined and dignified,&rdquo; Emanuel said. &ldquo;As the first woman to lead not just our city, but any major American city, Jane Byrne will always have a special place in the history books</p><p>The morning began with a traditional visitation at 9 am sharp. Jane Byrne lay peacefully inside an open casket with the Chicago flag laid delicately on top. The sun snuck in through the ornate stained glass windows of the church and made her blonde hair shine.</p><p>For the most part, the mood was more jovial than somber: Old friends and colleagues greeted each other in more of the manner of a holiday party. Many, like Angel Correa, sported Byrne&rsquo;s old campaign buttons.</p><p>Correa said he campaigned hard for Byrne back in the early 1980s -- even as he clocked hours as a circulation manager at the Chicago Tribune.</p><p>&ldquo;And I&rsquo;ll tell you one thing,&rdquo; he said, while clutching a collage of old pictures of Mayor Byrne. &ldquo;I used to take her literature and actually stuff it in the Tribune papers. If they would have found that out, I probably would [have] got canned!&rdquo;</p><p>Correa later went on to serve as the deputy commissioner of neighborhoods for Mayor Byrne.</p><p>&ldquo;Believe me when I tell you: A very feisty lady, very bossy, but a very, very good, warm person with a good heart.&rdquo;</p><p>That feistiness was a constant theme throughout the funeral mass -- especially in the homily from Monsignor Kenneth Velo.</p><p>&ldquo;I remember walking into her room one day. She was peering out her window to the east, looking toward the lake. She didn&rsquo;t know I was there. I said Jane! She looked back and said &ldquo;you scared the hell out of me! And I said, good!&rdquo;</p><p>Velo spoke both of Byrne&rsquo;s accomplishments and her trials: like her vision for the museum campus, or the death of her first husband soon after the birth of their only child Kathy.</p><p>&ldquo;Was she perfect? Are you? Am I? Did she have faults? Sure. Don&rsquo;t you? Don&rsquo;t I? But she loved the city of Chicago. And she was proud that she was mayor of the city of Chicago,&rdquo; Velo said.</p><p>According to Velo, Byrne also proudly planned this mass.</p><p>Her great-grand nieces read the petitions and prayers, and her only grandson, Willy, read one of her favorite quotes from Senator Robert Kennedy.</p><p>But some of deepest emotion and reflection came from Byrne&rsquo;s daughter, Kathy.</p><p>&ldquo;My mother was dragon slaying, problem solving, 24/7 guardian angel,&rdquo; Byrne said.</p><p>Byrne said she often thinks about how life would have been if her dad had survived - she says her mom would have likely lived as a socialite on the North shore. But instead, Byrne said her mom fought for her independence. Back then, women weren&rsquo;t allowed to have their own credit accounts. When her dad died, Byrne says her mom had to fight tooth and nail at Saks Fifth Avenue to get that credit back -- a hurtful and humiliating experience that came to back to Byrne when she lived in Chicago&rsquo;s housing projects.</p><p>&ldquo;When my mom spoke to the mothers in Cabrini. And she heard how some of the merchants in the area refused their food stamps and called them names, called them worthless [and] did this in front of their children. My mother could share what they felt,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>And Byrne says her mother loved every minute of her time as mayor.</p><p>&ldquo;She was a great lady. And I&rsquo;ll never know anyone like her.&rdquo;</p><p>As Byrne&rsquo;s family carried her casket into the brisk Chicago winds - another fitting - but unplanned - theme appeared: Snow.</p><p>It was a snowfall in 1979 that swept Mayor Byrne into office. So it only seemed fitting that snowflakes fell softly on the Chicago flag that covered her coffin.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></em></p></p> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 06:13:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/mayor-byrne-remembered-feisty-trailblazer-111114 Who was 25-year-old Rahm Emanuel? http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/who-was-25-year-old-rahm-emanuel-108327 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rahm25yo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">As mayor of the city of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s days are anything but repetitive.</p><p dir="ltr">Some days, he crisscrosses the city for press conferences, packing in <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/midterm-emanuel-still-cozy-city-council-107199">phone calls to aldermen</a> and business leaders on the way.</p><p dir="ltr">Other days, he&rsquo;s in meetings at City Hall, talking Wrigley renovations or budget fixes, or maybe even calling President Barack Obama to talk over top issues, and who knows what else.</p><p dir="ltr">He&rsquo;s known to try to squeeze in a <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324564704578626070625333886.html">workout</a> wherever he can, and sometimes, he commutes to work on the <a href="http://redeyechicago.tumblr.com/post/57525285278/our-mayor-really-gets-around">train </a>to mix things up a bit.</p><p>But 25-year-old Emanuel nailed down a pattern and stuck to it.</p><p>The year was 1984. Emanuel lived in Lakeview, near Waveland and Southport, in an old house converted into four apartments. He distinctly remembers his neighbors from that house: Emanuel was a graduate student at Northwestern University then, and would take the L back and forth to class every day.</p><p>As he recalls, there was just one restaurant by the Southport train station: a pizza place that sold pies by the slice.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;d get off the train after school, get dinner, which was a slice of pizza, eat it walking home, and sit down and do my homework,&rdquo; Emanuel said. &ldquo;Is that pathetic?&rdquo;</p><p>Emanuel&rsquo;s two-bedroom apartment was on the second floor of the house. His rent: $330. And that included utilities.</p><p>&ldquo;You couldn&rsquo;t touch a parking space for $330 there today,&rdquo; Emanuel said.</p><p>His classes were at <a href="http://www.northwestern.edu/magazine/spring2012/feature/in-your-face-sidebar/rahms-grad-school-days-at-northwestern.html">Northwestern</a>&rsquo;s School of Speech and Communications, where he studied mass communications and classical rhetorical theory.</p><p>Emanuel squeezed the master&rsquo;s program into nine months.</p><p>&ldquo;It was basically I wanted to do mental gymnastics for a year, &rdquo; Emanuel said. &ldquo;When I had graduated [from undergrad] and started working, I was not done enjoying the life of the mind, so to say.&rdquo;</p><p>The mayor said 25 marked a critical point. He always knew he wanted to go to graduate school, but that year he realized it was now or never.</p><p>When he wasn&rsquo;t debating about Aristotle or Cicero, Emanuel dabbled in political work. He spent some of that year at the Illinois Public Action Council. He was also in the throes of then-Congressman Paul Simon&rsquo;s campaign for a U.S. Senate seat, where he worked alongside people like Lisa Madigan, David Axelrod and Forrest Claypool, to name a few.</p><p>And yes, he was still <a href="http://www.joffrey.org/node/2854">dancing </a>when he was 25 years old. Twice a week.</p><p>Emanuel was a serious dancer in his youth, even earning a scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet. He passed it up to go to Sarah Lawrence. He says once the pressure was off to dance professionally, he wanted to get back to it.</p><p>Dance, Emanuel says, was important for discipline, as well as exercise.</p><p>But come on, besides all that, he must have been doing some socializing and dating as a twenty-something, right?</p><p>Emanuel says he&rsquo;ll keep most of those stories under wraps, but that his 25-year-old self was very much in the mindset of: &ldquo;I&rsquo;m gonna be single for the rest of my life.&rdquo;</p><p>There was one woman he dated that year. Emanuel says the relationship ended when she decided to move to Washington, D.C. for a job, and he wanted to stay in Chicago.</p><p>But amid all the pizza, Aristotle, politics and ballet, Emanuel&rsquo;s sights were already set on Washington.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m going to finish Northwestern,&rdquo; Emanuel said was the goal. &ldquo;And I&rsquo;m going to try and figure out how to one day work for a person who&rsquo;s going to be elected president.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Lauren Chooljian is WBEZ&rsquo;s Morning Producer/Reporter. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda"> </a><a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 07 Aug 2013 16:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/who-was-25-year-old-rahm-emanuel-108327 Former Gary, Indiana Mayor Rudy Clay dies at age 77 http://www.wbez.org/news/former-gary-indiana-mayor-rudy-clay-dies-age-77-107543 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP329880679245.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson is remembering her predecessor, Rudy Clay, as an icon in the community.</p><p>Freeman-Wilson issued a statement following Clay&#39;s death Tuesday saying &quot;his heart for the citizens of Gary, Indiana will be remembered and cherished for years to come.&quot;</p><p>Freeman-Wilson&#39;s office says the cause of death has not been confirmed but Clay had been battling prostate cancer for more than two years. He was 77.</p><p>Clay was appointed mayor by Democratic leaders in 2006 and elected to a four-year term the following year. He was seeking-re-election in 2011 when he dropped the effort because of the cancer.</p><p>She says Clay truly cared about people.</p><p>&ldquo;He cared about their everyday needs as simple as whether they could pay their light and gas bills or whether or not they had places to live and places to shop,&rdquo; she told WBEZ.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 05 Jun 2013 08:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/former-gary-indiana-mayor-rudy-clay-dies-age-77-107543 Mayor Richard M. Daley: An Appraisal http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/mayor-richard-m-daley-appraisal-107250 <p><p><strong>Keith Koeneman</strong> writes about Chicago history, politics and culture. &nbsp;His recently released book on the retired mayor of Chicago, &quot;<em>First Son: The Biography of Richard M. Daley</em>,&quot; was built on unprecedented access to the key players in the long-running Daley administration. The book tells the story of a complicated leader&mdash;sensitive and tough, impatient and persistent&mdash;who as mayor not only ran but also embodied Chicago.</p><div>In <em>First Son: The Biography of Richard M. Daley</em>, Koeneman chronicles the complex and often contradictory life of an American political legend. &nbsp;Through more than 100 interviews, he tells an up-close, insider story of political triumph and personal evolution, highlighting Daley&rsquo;s achievements and mistakes.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Koeneman also demonstrates how Daley&rsquo;s influence expanded beyond his beloved city, especially after protégés Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett, as well as his confidant and brother Bill Daley, became major players under President Obama.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/EC-webstory_17.jpg" style="float: left;" title="" /></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><br /><br />Recorded live Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at Elmhurst College.</p></p> Wed, 08 May 2013 15:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/mayor-richard-m-daley-appraisal-107250 Gary's new mayor makes history--and plans to revitalize the city http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-29/garys-new-mayor-makes-history-and-plans-revitalize-city-94417 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-November/2011-11-29/Democrat Karen Freeman-Wilson is greeted by a shopper at Fresh County Market in Gary, Ind. as she campaigns on election day Tuesday Nov. 8, 2011. (AP PhotoSun-Times Media, Stephanie Dowell).jpg" alt="" /><p><p><a href="http://karenaboutgary.com/Advisory-Task-Force/index.html" target="_blank">Karen Freeman-Wilson</a> won the race for mayor of Gary, Indiana back in November; in the process, she made history. Freeman-Wilson is the state’s first African-American female mayor and Gary’s first female mayor.</p><p>Freeman-Wilson was born and raised in Gary and attended <a href="http://www.law.harvard.edu/index.html" target="_blank">Harvard Law School</a>. Her hometown faces big struggles, from high unemployment to chronic crime, but Freeman-Wilson said she has a plan: It is called Blueprint for Rebuilding Gary.</p><p>Her ambitions include bringing new business to the area, creating jobs and improving the city’s infrastructure. However, her biggest challenge will be getting citizens to have hope in their city.</p><p>Mayor-elect Freeman-Wilson joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> to talk about what she hoped to accomplish and how she planned to do it. She will officially be sworn into office on Dec. 31.</p><p><em>Music Button: Louis Armstrong and the All Stars, "Back Home Again In Indiana", from the album The California Concerts, (Decca)</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 29 Nov 2011 15:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-29/garys-new-mayor-makes-history-and-plans-revitalize-city-94417 Naperville council votes to end red light cameras http://www.wbez.org/story/naperville-council-votes-end-red-light-cameras-93703 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/archives/images/cityroom/cityroom_20100610_akeefe_1238416_Red _large.png" alt="" /><p><p>West suburban Naperville is ending it's red-light camera program. A split vote on Tuesday resulted in the council nixing the red light camera program. They cited statistics that show red light cameras have reduced collisions at some intersections.</p><p>But two of the city's three cameras must be removed during upcoming construction. Council members have debated whether it makes financial sense to keep the last camera.</p><p>Karen DeAngelis is the Director of Finance for the city of Naperville. She said the average net monthly revenue is $65,000 dollars from all three cameras. The average monthly maintenance is $29,000 dollars. DeAngelis said the remaining camera is at the least violated of all intersections, so it may not result in the city making money off of it.</p><p>Councilman Bob Fieseler said that's in part because motorists have become more cautious and there are now fewer violations.</p><p>"Let's take government out of the enforcement business until there's a problem," Fieseler said.</p><p>Fieseler said the question remains as to whether violations will creep back up without the cameras.</p><p>In January, Naperville will go back to catching motorists entirely the old fashioned way with police officers.</p><p>Stopping the camera program will pile an additional $200,000 dollars to the city's $1.9 million dollar shortfall in next year's budget.</p></p> Wed, 02 Nov 2011 19:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/naperville-council-votes-end-red-light-cameras-93703 Assessing Chicago's green credentials during a budget crisis http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-22/assessing-chicagos-green-credentials-during-budget-crisis-92314 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-September/2011-09-22/Chicago River.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Former Mayor Richard M. Daley wanted to make Chicago the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/daleys-green-crusade" target="_blank">greenest city in America</a>. He got a lot of credit for being environmentally friendly but the record turned out to be mixed: more green roofs but still no city-wide recycling. And despite claims that the Chicago River's water quality improved more recently, it became clear that the river still ran dirty. The federal government said it wants the river <a href="http://articles.chicagobreakingnews.com/2011-06-02/news/29614721_1_sewage-overflows-chicago-river-waterways" target="_blank">cleaned up</a> and Mayor Emanuel signaled that he had his eye on it too - he wants it to be a <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/mayor/press_room/press_releases/2011/september_2011/mayor_rahm_emanuelannouncesplanstomakethechicagoriverthecitysnex.html" target="_blank">recreational space for residents</a>. But how central are environmental considerations to Chicago politics? And what happens to sustainability in the face of a budget crisis? To find out, <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> was joined by <a href="http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/hhenderson/" target="_blank">Henry Henderson</a>, director of the <a href="http://www.nrdc.org/" target="_blank">Natural Resources Defense Council's</a> Midwest program.</p><p><em>Music Button: Balkan Beat Box, "Delancy-Stefano Miele Balkan Carnival Remix", from the album Nu Made, (JDub)</em></p></p> Thu, 22 Sep 2011 13:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-22/assessing-chicagos-green-credentials-during-budget-crisis-92314 Area mayors look for opportunities to collaborate with Chicago http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-24/chicago-area-mayors-look-opportunities-collaborate-big-city-90955 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-August/2011-08-24/Rahm - AP.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>From the roar of planes overhead to the earth below the runways, airports have long been a point of contention between Chicago and its neighbors. In 1989, a group of suburban mayors declared all-out war with Chicago over the proposed expansion of O’Hare International Airport. The struggle, contentious or not, inspired former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley to later call for region-wide economic cooperation.</p><p>On Monday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel continued that conversation in a meeting with the <a href="http://www.mayorscaucus.org/" target="_blank">Metropolitan Mayors Caucus</a>. To find out more about their priorities for cooperation with the City of Big Shoulders, <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> was joined by three mayors who attended the meeting: <a href="http://addisonadvantage.org/government/board.shtml" target="_blank">Larry Hartwig</a>, mayor of west suburban <a href="http://addisonadvantage.org/" target="_blank">Addison</a> and the executive coard chair of the <a href="http://www.mayorscaucus.org/">Metropolitan Mayors Caucus</a>;<a href="http://www.tinleypark.org/votp.asp?ctp=government/mayor/welcomemessage.htm" target="_blank"> Ed Zabrocki</a>, mayor of <a href="http://www.tinleypark.org/" target="_blank">Tinley Park</a> and vice-chair of the caucus and Gene Williams, mayor of <a href="http://www.lynwoodil.us/" target="_blank">Lynwood</a> and president of <a href="http://www.ssmma.org/" target="_blank">South Suburban Mayors and Managers</a><strong>.</strong></p><p><em>Music Button: Shawn Lee &amp; Clutchy Hopkins, "Full Moon" from the CD Clutch of the Tiger (Ubiquity)</em></p></p> Wed, 24 Aug 2011 13:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-24/chicago-area-mayors-look-opportunities-collaborate-big-city-90955 Claypool on CTA budget: Springfield mandates and health obligations led to ‘fiscal abyss’ http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-23/claypool-cta-budget-springfield-mandates-and-health-obligations-led-%E2%80%98fis <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-June/2011-06-23/claypool.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel didn’t waste any time putting his picks in some of city’s top positions. Forrest Claypool is an old ally of the mayor’s and a longtime political player. Emanuel tapped him to run the Chicago Transit Authority. Previously, Claypool was a Cook County commissioner and ran the Chicago Park District under former Mayor Richard M. Daley. In 2010, Claypool lost a bid for Cook County Assessor.<br> <br> Claypool has run as and been called a reformer. &nbsp;He has come up against unions in the past, which could become an issue as the CTA confronts a budget deficit. <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> was joined by the CTA president to learn more about what Chicago can expect from bus and rail service.</p><p><strong>WBEZ:</strong> A couple of eyebrows were raised when your appointment was announced. You’re the third head of the CTA that doesn’t come with a background in transportation, with that kind of experience in ground transportation. What do you hope to accomplish on the job? Why did you want to take this?</p><p><strong>CLAYPOOL:</strong> Public transit is one of the most critical things for a great metropolis. The great thing about the great cities like Chicago and New York is the density that generates wealth and energy and activity of people who want to come together and be creative and create commerce. A strong public transit system is the artery and the links that allow people to move to and from quickly and efficiently, for job purposes, for business purposes and to link communities together seamlessly. I don’t think people really fully realize how wealth producing, job producing mass transit is when it’s done right, and how critical it is to the quality of life in the city. So it’s a critical mission and a huge management challenge, which is why I’m grateful to Mayor Emanuel because my career has been as a public manager and I think I’ve had success in the past in a lot of different roles and I think this is a big challenge that I welcome.</p><p><strong>WBEZ:</strong>You said [the CTA] can be an economic driver if it’s done right. You have a reputation as a reformer. That was your track record at the Chicago Parks District. What does reform look like at the CTA? How do you do it right?</p><p><strong>CLAYPOOL:</strong> It’s finally dealing with the economic realities. That’s going to be true at the schools; it’s going to be true at City Hall. The CTA has lived on borrowed time, borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars every year in recent years to balance the budget, borrowing from the future to pay for current expenses. You just can’t continue to do that. We have a big investment challenge in that the infrastructure is in declining health. It is difficult to improve service if you have an infrastructure that needs billions of dollars in repairs. So the first order of business is to right the fiscal ship. The problem has been that the legislature in Springfield has imposed huge new mandates, about $130 million a year in new spending imposed upon us by new legislative fiat for pension and health-care obligations, declining state of federal aid, a whole host of issues that have led us to the fiscal abyss and that’ll be the biggest challenge we have.</p><p><strong>On Budget Deficit</strong></p><p><strong>WBEZ:</strong> You said this is the perfect budget storm. This year, what kind of deficit are you facing?</p><p><strong>Claypool:</strong>We don’t know exactly yet. All I can say is that at this point it will be severe. It will be unprecedented. And it will be a major challenge. That is where most of our effort and focus is right now. But while we’re dealing with that, we want to make sure we can do everything we can from a management perspective to make the system the best it can be for our customers. That is why this week, we launched a major security initiative with Chicago Police Department to put more police officers on the trains, undercover as well as visible, wolf pack patrols, and saturating the system with cameras. I think our safety is our number one issue but also the safety and cleanliness of the system for our customers.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>On CTA Security</strong></p><p><strong>WBEZ:</strong> You got money from Homeland Security to put some 3,000 new cameras -- double what was already there. We did a lot of those kind of security upgrades in the way after September 11th. Is safety still an issue on the CTA? Is terrorism a concern?</p><p><strong>Claypool: </strong>We live in a unique age and I think we have to be very vigilant. Our security and safety people work closely with the all agencies to try to make the system as secure as possible. Safety is the number one priority.</p><p><strong>On Service Cuts</strong></p><p><strong>WBEZ: </strong>In previous years, we’ve seen cuts to service, we’ve seen layoffs. Are those going to happen?</p><p><strong>Claypool: </strong>Again, it’s too early to tell. We’re digging in deep, the budget will be due in late fall. I don’t think people really fully understand that the CTA has been used as a piggybank by politicians in the past. The average fare is actually 98 cents. We were required by law to provide discounted fares for seniors, veterans, law enforcement, students and for everyone else a higher fare. It gives you a sense that for a system of this magnitude, for all its needs, only getting 98 cents for every rider, that is part the issue of the CTA’s fiscal challenges.</p><p><strong>On Fare Hikes</strong></p><p><strong>WBEZ:</strong> The mayor said he doesn’t want to see a fare hike. Is that feasible? Are you going to have to raise fares?</p><p><strong>Claypool:</strong> Again, it’s too early. We don’t have enough facts, enough information about what needs to be done. It is clear there is an appetite for transit, there is a demand that is there and growing. They understand that with gas and parking prices.</p><p><strong>On Union Labor</strong></p><p><strong>WBEZ:</strong> What are you going to be asking union labors for?</p><p><strong>Claypool:</strong> We’re definitely going to be having some very direct conversations. I’ve already had some conversations with our union leader and they know it’s going to be a difficult budget and they should prepare for that.</p><p><strong>WBEZ:</strong>What should they prepare for?</p><p><strong>Claypool:</strong>They should be prepared for that it is not going to be business as usual. It’s not a typical year in which they can expect normal activity.</p><p><strong>WBEZ:</strong> They’ve faced layoffs before. They’re paying more for health care and pension. Is more of that coming?</p><p><strong>Claypool: </strong>Again, the pension and health-care issue should not be a major issue. What happened was the legislature had the CTA pay upfront for all the benefits, which is an additional $130 million burden. And that will grow more than 10 percent of our operating budget.</p><p><strong>WBEZ: </strong>What is the solution?</p><p><strong>Claypool:</strong> Increasing ridership is the solution, but it’s a chicken-and-egg game. The Red Line, our workhorse, is in need of repair. The slow zones are preventing enough trains which do nothing to help increase ridership. If you can improve the system, add more trains, speed the faster trains.</p><p><strong>WBEZ:</strong> What about privatizing like selling station names?</p><p><strong>Claypool:</strong> We’re looking to maximize revenue but it’s not a panacea. It’s not going to solve the budget deficit. Privatizing doesn’t really play into the CTA going forward. Our core mission is the delivery of services. Any sort of lease arrangements make sense if all the money all goes back into the city, not the operating expenses. I’m hoping for reform legislation to allow private investment in rail, especially with the government pulling back.</p><p><em>Music Button: Shawn Lee, "Lucy Lucy", from the CD Sing A Song, (Ubiquity)</em></p></p> Thu, 23 Jun 2011 13:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-23/claypool-cta-budget-springfield-mandates-and-health-obligations-led-%E2%80%98fis