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More Praise for Emanuel's Budget

By Chuck Sudo in News on Oct 24, 2011 3:30PM

Image Credit: misterbuckwheattree
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is receiving kudos for his recently unveiled budget from watchdog groups and out-of-town journalists. But then we suspect this budget would have received the praise anyway because it wasn't crafted with Eye of Newt, Scowl of Daley.

City Inspector General Joseph Ferguson was among the first to congratulate Emanuel for crafting a budget that "for the first time in (his) tenure, we will be able to fill vacancies, many of which have been empty for years."

"The administration's honest approach to budgeting, which includes ending the prior deceptive use of vacancies as a budget-management tool, is welcome," Ferguson said before adding he was disappointed with the Emanuel Administration's continuing lawsuit to limit the IG Office's ability to obtain city documents.

This morning, The Economist weighed in on Emanuel's budget, writing that it's an example of how to slash a budget without raising taxes*. The Economist also spoke to Civic Federation President Laurence Msall, who echoed Ferguson's sentiments on the Emanuel budget while reminding us of a looming pension crisis that could blow the budget to splinters if not tackled soon.

(*The Economist article does make mention of the numerous fees and small tax increases, led by the Hotel tax, that are one of the lynchpins of Emanuel's budget.)

The Economist article could serve as further fuel for Tribune columnist John Kass, who calls the out-of-town praise for Emanuel by the "Rahmantics:" "reporters flying into town, eager to plant big wet kisses on the skinny mayoral behind."

Emanuel's budget also shows he's been a quick study on Chicago politics. The budget leaves two discretionary funds untouched. The two accounts have been used by aldermen to hire relatives, pay political consultants and lease expensive cars. Emanuel is also renewing a multimillion-dollar program that lets council members order up neighborhood improvement projects.

Slashing those budgets could have been tantamount to declaring an all-our war with City Council. 33rd Ward Ald. Dick Mell told the Tribune, "I think that there are a lot of things in the budget that guys might not vote for. But I think he wants to work with the City Council. Maybe that's one of the ways that they (the mayor's office) felt that they could probably get it through the best." Another unnamed alderman said eliminating those accounts could have jeopardized Emanuel's budget.