Emanuel to introduce privatization rules to avoid repeat of parking meter debacle

29 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

As Chicagoans die, police pension burden hobbles city’s response.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is finally delivering on his campaign promise to establish rules of the road for privatizing city assets and services to make certain that the parking meter debacle is never repeated. Whether or not cutting the power to the Chief Keef portion of Saturday’s Craze Fest was a direct violation of anyone’s First Amendment rights hinges solely on the contract Hammond and the promoter signed, legal experts say.Controversial rapper Chief Keef took to Twitter on Tuesday to say he’s out for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s job. “Vote for me!!!! … Yall gonna love me in the Office,” the 19-year-old tweeted.Chief Keef, 19, had billed the performance as a “Stop the Killing” benefit concert, meant to raise money for Marvin Carr, a fellow Chicago rapper who died in a shooting this month, and Dillan Harris, a 13-month-old child killed by a vehicle fleeing the scene of that shooting. On its surface, the city’s claim that it was shut down upon the appearance of Chief Keef’s hologram for “safety reasons” is spurious, according to Richard Garnett, law and political science professor for the University of Notre Dame.

And it will be part of a comprehensive approach to the budget.” The mayor, returning from an overseas vacation, also defended his most recent round of City Hall borrowing. The social media posts are all part of the teenage rapper’s beef with Emanuel, whose office canceled a benefit concert that Chief Keef had been due to headline in July out of concerns for public safety, NBC reports. He responded with a promise to introduce a privatization ordinance of his own that would “codify” the process he used to evaluate and ultimately reject privatizing Midway Airport after one of only two bidders left the runway.

The First Amendment does allow for protection against danger, such as someone yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater where there is no fire, but it’s a narrow exception, Garnett said. “The general concern about safety is not enough,” Garnett said Tuesday. “You can’t preemptively cancel something because you ‘think’ there’s going to be danger. Earlier this month, Emanuel borrowed $1.1 billion, including $743 million in taxable debt on which the city will pay an interest rate of nearly 8 percent.

With the nation’s second-largest number of sworn officers, Chicago is struggling to pay an extra $550 million in pension obligations owed to public-safety workers. Chief Keef has been making slight moves to change his notorious image and has attempted a pair of concerts aimed at quelling the gang violence in his native Chicago only to be shut down by police.

At the City Council meeting Wednesday, the mayor plans to introduce an ordinance endorsed by AFSCME and the Better Government Association that will be co-sponsored by Ald. It can be invoked only in situations where (a person) is intending to incite violence immediately, like a speaker telling his audience ‘I want you to go across the street to this store and burn it to the ground,’ for example. “Clearly they weren’t worried about letting others perform, so my conclusion is unless there was a contractual deal, it’s a pretty clear violation, because the justification they offered shows the content doesn’t seem to have been a real concern,” Garnett said. That leaves the city with little financial flexibility as homicides have risen more than 18 percent from last year and shootings 17 percent. “They’re fighting a war on two fronts,” said Richard Ciccarone, president and chief executive officer of Merritt Research Services, which analyzes municipal finance. On Monday, Keef encouraged his Twitter followers to call Emanuel and “tell him to stay the f— off the people’s music,” providing them with a phone number to the city directory. The rapper’s originally planned gig in Chicago was cancelled after local authorities said the performance “posed a significant public safety risk”.

Valparaiso University law school professor and former dean Ivan Bodensteiner agreed whoever made the call to shut down the hologram likely did so preemptively. Emanuel was sworn in for his second term in May after winning a runoff mayoral election with 56 percent of the vote, and the next election is due in 2019.

Much of the borrowing was taxable because governments are not allowed to take advantage of cheaper tax-exempt rates when they borrow long term for short-term expenses. And it’s why officials in Hammond were wrong Saturday night to pull the plug on Chief Keef just one song into his unscheduled holographic “appearance” at the city-run Pavilion at Wolf Lake. Did the contract preclude Chief Keef?” Steve Sersic, attorney for the Hammond Port Authority, which oversees the Wolf Lake Pavilion, described the contract between Craze Fest promoters and the city “as a license agreement that provides the city can revoke the license at any time for any reason, or no reason at all.” The contract also has an addendum that says the promoter must follow safety directives issued by the Hammond police, fire or any other emergency management services. Emanuel plans to spend the borrowed money to cover debt payments due this year, bank fees tied to the city’s sinking credit and penalty payments on old deals.

Chief Keef — the stage name of Keith Cozart, 19 — announced plans for a “Stop the Violence Now” benefit concert for the victims’ families in which he’d appear by hologram from California since he has child support arrest warrants in the Midwest. And Chicago taxpayers ended up getting the short end of the stick — with millions in hidden reimbursement costs — while private investors made a killing. Department of Interior initiative to coordinate youth programs, Emanuel was asked at what point such high-cost borrowing becomes irresponsible when other options, such as raising property taxes, exist. In this context, “speech can be suppressed only if it advocates imminent violent behavior and is deemed likely under the circumstances to lead to such behavior,” he said. The city’s chief financial officer would be required to issue a request for qualifications; identify an independent adviser to evaluate the deal; and notify chairmen of the City Council’s Budget and Finance Committees 90 days before a City Council vote.

The mayor responded by defending the large-scale borrowing as spreading some of the city’s short-term debt out over a longer period of time to deal with a financial morass he inherited from Daley. The city suffered another setback Friday when a state court struck down a pension restructuring for municipal workers and laborers because it would force them to accept reduced benefits. You have to make sure you find every quarter under every pillow, every dime, and you make cuts, reforms and efficiencies,” Emanuel said. “My view is that the taxpayers are the last place you’re going to ask, and they deserve the commitment that you’re going to do all the cutting and all the reforms and all the efficiencies you can to squeeze every little dollar out of the system. And there is a lot of money locked up in an inefficient system.” Also Tuesday, Emanuel addressed a Cook County judge’s decision last week to reject the city’s 2014 effort to reduce city worker pension benefits in exchange for a city guarantee to fund their retirement systems.

Let the kids grow up.” And yes, concert promoters violated the letter of their agreement not to allow a performance by an artist not on their contract. Construction, engineering and demolition contracts would be exempt because those services are viewed as critical to maintaining government operations. The mayor said he still supports the legal argument — that the city is providing a “net benefit” by coupling the end of annual compounded cost-of-living increases and higher employee contributions with a guarantee of full pension funding over time. But the purpose of enforcing that provision under these circumstances was purely to deny a platform to a particular rapper whose material is similar to the material of other artists. Therefore, Hammond flagrantly trampled on Chief Keef’s rights by quickly disabling his hologram and sending fans home early. “No matter what you’ve done or said in the past, you’re allowed to express yourself,” said Ken Falk, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana.

Asked whether the mayor would push for more police officers, Adam Collins, a spokesman, said it “would be premature to discuss specifics.” Illinois’s Democrat-led legislature passed a plan to lower Chicago’s extra payment next year to its police and fire retirement systems to $330 million from $550 million, but Republican Governor Bruce Rauner has yet to sign the measure. The park district had blocked the event based on a previous Nazi rally in Gage Park that “led to a public commotion (that) could have led to a riot or breach of the peace.” But the court concluded that “under none of the constitutionally permissible tests for prior restraints based on violence can the denial of a permit to plaintiff be upheld.” Satisfying as some of you may have found it that Chicago prevented Chief Keef from performing and Hammond nipped his act in the bud, ask yourself this: Do you really want the government deciding who’s a good enough role model to be allowed the freedom to speak? Residents expect their elected officials to be good stewards of city resources; this ordinance introduces very important protections for working families and taxpayers to ensure we meet this expectation.” They blame the proliferation of guns, citing the police recovery of 3,500 illegal firearms this year. “As much as I am an advocate for better gun-control laws and getting these guns off the street, that’s not going to dramatically reduce the violence,” said Ira Acree, a West Side pastor and chairman of Leaders Network, a community development organization. “There must be more interest and focus on reviving the economic engine here.” That revival depends, in part, on Chicago stabilizing its fiscal affairs.

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