BGA Speaker Presents at WRPCO Meeting; New Officers Elected

Last night the West Rogers Park Community Organization (WRPCO) held its annual meeting. After the election of new officers, Judy Stevens of the Better Government Association spoke about the state of the City, its current relationship with the State, the budget morass in Springfield, and the ways that local communities can positively impact government.

Judy Stevens assessing the state of the city at WRPCO Annual Meeting 2016.

Judy Stevens assessing the state of the city at WRPCO Annual Meeting 2016.

Ms. Stevens noted that the “uncertainty” produced by the inability of state lawmakers to work together to create a compromise budget is causing “tangible harm” to state residents in the form of higher costs and funding losses.

Unfortunately, it appears that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans will be ready with any plans for new revenue sources or pension deals before the November elections. She reviewed the history of budget bills under Gov. Rauner, noting that both the Governor and Speaker Madigan have each introduced two budget bills, each time with a larger deficit.

Ms. Stevens added that Chicago’s City Council recently passed a bill that would provide more transparency in financial matters like the toxic debt swaps used by the Daley Administration that have cost taxpayers more than $500M. This blog reported on that ordinance in May.  It’s a direct result of the 2015 privatization ordinance, passed with BGA help, that will prevent future debacles like the parking meter deal that has cost the City so dearly. As Ms. Stevens noted, Daley could have received $1B more for the City had anybody bothered to read the fine print in the contract.

How do citizens begin to impact public policy? Ms. Stevens suggests working on local issues by joining and supporting groups and organizations working for neighborhood improvement is a good way to start.

Check out BGA’s Web site here.

WRPCO’s new officers include John Kane – Chair, Andrew Rovlas – Vice Chair, Pamela Stauffer – Secretary, and Irv Loundy – Treasurer. Board members include Daniel Azulay, Jose Abonce, Jane Sullivan, Ahmed Khan, and Hameedulah Khan.

WRPCO’s Facebook page is here.

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WRPCO Annual Meeting

The 2016 Annual Meeting of the West Rogers Park Community Organization will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 15, at Devon Bank, 6445 North Western Avenue. The Guest Speaker is Judy Stevens, Senior Policy Coordinator for the Better Government Association.

Among the topics Ms. Stevens will address are the current state of the relationship between City and State government (read Rahm and Rauner); how the City has fared under Rahm’s leadership, and, most importantly, how citizens can impact government in the digital age–what should we do to get the kind of government we want and need?

Ms. Stevens’ background is quite impressive. She’s worked in Chicago government and in Washington for a major labor union, and she’s written extensively on public policy. In 2014 she testified before the Chicago City Council in support of an ordinance permitting the Office of the Inspector General to monitor the activities of the Public Building Commission, which until then had hired its own inspector general to track millions of dollars in public construction spending. The ordinance passed.

You don’t have to be a WRPCO member to attend, but it’s an organization worth supporting, and new members are always welcome.

 

Poll: Does the City Need 50 Aldermen?

I’ve been wondering if it’s time to have a serious debate about the number of aldermen in Chicago. Given the ongoing budget crisis, do we really need 50 wards? Would administration of city services be improved if we had only 25 wards?  How much would taxpayers save in administrative costs if we had to support only 25 ward offices? What are the trade-offs?

The Better Government Association studied this question in depth and published a provocative report in December 2010. Read its report here.

What do you think?  Poll results will be reported March 10.

[I lost my first poll, about the election, when I tried to move it and another post to another page. Both disappeared. I promise not to do that again.]