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Daley's Whirlwind of Damage Control

By Kevin Robinson in News on Oct 15, 2009 2:20PM

Now that Mayor Daley is firmly back on Chicago soil, he's staring down not only a dangerously low popularity rating, but also a city that's on the verge of economic disaster. Impending budget holes, (yet another) CTA Doomsday scenario, unemployment and of course the on going parking meter fiasco. Before any of these crisis, individually or in total, do him in, Mayor Daley is trying his darnedest to to some serious spin. He's already insisted he won't raise property taxes to close the budget gap, likely taking reserve funds to help him do that.

Daley also has big plans to do some job creation with some of the parking meter money. He wants to use $20 million of the meter lease proceeds to fund technology training and temporary city jobs for more than 10,000 laid off professionals. That includes paying professionals $450 a week to do 30 hours of work a week for six months in city, public school and non-profit jobs that benefit Chicago. The plan also calls for Auburn Gresham, Chicago Lawn, Englewood and Pilsen to be declared "digital excellence demonstration communities", flooded with technology to demonstrate the transformative power of the internet. "There are a lot of people unemployed or who [have] lost their jobs -- not just laid off. How do you get 'em back to the work force as quickly as possible?" Daley asked rhetorically. "We want to create a pool . . . so any company looking [for] talent can come to Chicago and they can say, 'I can beat Europe for 10, 15, 20, 30, 50 years because of the talent that is not only presently here and retrained, but also with the school system.' There's more and more talent coming out in technology."

And as far as the CTA is concerned, Daley has a two part plan: demanding more money from the state in lieu of fare increases and ending free rides for seniors. That funding plan involves shifting 2009 capital construction funding to pay for 2010 operations expenses.