The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

'Time Is Of The Essence': Alderman Proposes $25M For Anti-Violence, Jobs Programs Ahead Of 'Bloody' Summer

By Stephen Gossett in News on Mar 30, 2017 8:40PM

Getty Images / Photo: Scott Olson

When the man in charge of the city's investments announced a windfall return on its portfolio earlier this month, he urged the City Council to tap those funds to help stem the city's violence. On Wednesday, a Southwest Side aldermen got the ball rolling to take him up on that offer. Ricardo Muñoz put forth his plan at yesterday's City Council meeting to earmark tens of millions of dollars for anti-violence, job and after-school programs in each of the city's wards.

Ricardo Muñoz, whose 22nd ward includes Lawndale and Little Village, laid out a proposal that would distribute $25 million evenly across the city's districts—$500,000 for each of Chicago's 50 wards.

"Our city is bleeding... It'll be a bloody summer," warned Muñoz at Wednesday's City Council meeting, according to the Sun-Times. He hopes the additional funding will help prevent some of that potential bloodshed.

The $25 million sum is actually less than half of the excess earnings ($57 million in total) that City Treasurer Kurt Summers recommended be used to "fuel economic development and job creation in the most violent neighborhoods in the city." So even if Muñoz's recommendation passes, the city should still have an additional $32 million to allocate toward anti-violence spending.

"What we wanted to do with this $25 million is make sure it goes to the entire city, so that no stone is left unturned when it comes to providing jobs," Muñoz told Chicagoist. "We want to make sure every part of the city is hit."

Muñoz said 46 of 50 aldermen have signed on and he hopes to see the plan approved and money "hit the street as soon as possible."

Treasurer Summers said in a statement on March 15:

“The violence plaguing Chicago neighborhoods is a symptom of a larger economic problem within this City. After a year of more than 700 murders and 4,000 shootings, creating safe and stable communities should be our top priority. If we are serious about having a safer environment for children and families, we need to invest in all neighborhoods. We need to create more economic opportunities in our most challenged communities to provide the safety and stability to shape a better, stronger Chicago."

The plan to move the extra funds comes as Chicago faces another bloody year. The city has seen 131 homicides so far in 2017, according to the Tribune's tracker. Chicago's violent crime has been a topic of persistent (if improperly contextualized) discussion thanks in no small part to President Donald Trump's fixation. "In recent months, Mr. Trump has repeatedly — obsessively, in the view of some — commented on Chicago’s street violence in interviews, debates and off-hour social media outbursts," the New York Times wrote on Wednesday. In his visit with Attorney General Jeff Sessions this month, Supt. Eddie Johnson's federal wish list did reportedly include money for community building, but much of the talk about aid to Chicago—or, for that matter, the threats against aid—from Washington tend to swirl more around law enforcement than investment.