Morning Spin: City Council to vote on Emanuel's bag tax, new parking meters

Welcome to Clout Street: Morning Spin, our weekday feature to catch you up with what's going on in government and politics from Chicago to Springfield.

Topspin

The Chicago City Council on Wednesday will take up Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s $8.2 billion budget, with only a handful of aldermen at most expected to oppose it.

That’s because aldermen already did the heavy lifting in September, when they approved a new tax on city water and sewer service that will top 30 percent once it’s fully phased in after four years. The $239 million it is expected to raise will be used to help increase contributions to the city’s pension funds for municipal workers.

The budget includes a 7-cent fee for each store-provided disposable bag, adds hundreds of new parking meters and raises parking fees at city airports. It also calls for adding 545 new cops to the Chicago Police Department's ranks next year, spending $36 million over three years to expand teenage mentoring programs, and lending $100 million during that same period to neighborhood businesses and projects through a new Community Catalyst Fund.

Other fee increases include so-called surge pricing to $4 from $2 at 820 parking meters near Wrigley Field starting two hours before a game or event. Plans to do the same at 670 parking meters near Soldier Field were put on hold so that 3rd Ward Ald. Pat Dowell can have further talks with local businesses.

The Emanuel administration plans to add 685 parking meters -- 460 in the Loop and surrounding business district, plus 225 in the neighborhoods — to raise $5.4 million to partly offset the $12 million the city pays each year to Chicago Parking Meters LLC for meters that are out of service. And drivers also would pay to use commercial loading zones with hourly parking rates set at $14 downtown and in two nearby wards. Once fully in place, the administration expects to collect $13 million to $18 million a year.

But the big impact to taxpayers will come in the form of property taxes. As a result of a vote taken last year, city property taxes will go up by $109 million next year, with the revenue going into the pension funds for police and firefighters, and Chicago Public Schools property taxes will increase by $245 million, with most of that money going into the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund. (Hal Dardick)

 

What's on tap

*Mayor Rahm Emanuel will preside over the Chicago City Council meeting. He's scheduled to take reporters' questions afterward.

*Gov. Bruce Rauner will again meet with legislative leaders at the Capitol. That's at 9 a.m. Then he's out at a business event in Springfield at 10:30 a.m.

*The General Assembly continues the fall session. The Senate could take up a Rauner veto of a measure aimed at making voter registration automatic in Illinois. There weren't enough Democrats in town on Tuesday to hold the vote.

 

What we're writing

*Taxpayer-funded business group will pay for Emanuel's Rome trip to see Cupich made cardinal.

*Madigan stays the course despite loss of four House seats: No Rauner agenda items as part of budget talks.

*Rauner-appointed labor board rules administration, AFSCME at impasse.

*Cook County Board approves Preckwinkle's budget, which relies on new soda pop tax money.

*"Fast Eddie" Vrdolyak indicated again, this time on tobacco tax settlement rap.

*SOS Jesse White rolls out new Lincoln-inspired license plate design.

*Illinois' newly elected Democrats get tour of GOP-led Congres they'll be joining.

*Aaron Schock attorneys ask judge to postpone first court date to next month.

*UIC students, who helped get March Trump rally cancelled, rally against his election as president.

 

What we're reading

*As Chicago crime surges, South Loop, other neighborhoods caught in its grip.

*Sen. Dick Durbin faces Senate Democratic leadership election today.

*Which movie franchise will run out of steam first: Star Wars or Harry Potter?

 

From the notebook

*Race issue resurfaces at County Board meeting: Debate over a Cook County budget amendment to take more than $700,000 in funding from Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown and give it to the public defender’s office took a turn into the issue of race Tuesday.

Speaking in opposition, Commissioner Richard Boykin noted that Brown is African-American, triggering a heated response from Commissioner John Fritchey. (A few months ago, the two commissioners clashed when Boykin suggested that Fritchey’s backing of the successful referendum to merge the recorder of deed’s office, held by an African-American, into the clerk’s office was racially motivated.)

On Tuesday, Fritchey called out Boykin on the floor, saying he was “offended” and Boykin should not inject race into the issue, prompting Boykin to respond: “I did not mention his name, but if the shoe fits, wear it.”

Finance Committee Chairman John Daley, D-Chicago, urged commissioners to move on, and Commissioner Larry Suffredin, D-Evanston, said the issue was about providing more money for the public defender to hire investigators. He said the aim of the amendment was to reduce “phenomenal redundancy and waste” in Brown’s office.

Last week, Brown won election to a fifth term despite a federal investigation into her office for the potential "purchasing of jobs and promotions."

Commissioner Peter Silvestri, R-Elmwood Park, who earlier this year abandoned a move to make Brown’s post appointed when faced with racial allegations, decried the further mention of race on Tuesday.

“Unfortunately, this conversation has delved into an unacceptable place,” Silvestri said.

The amendment to take money from Brown’s office failed, with five voting in favor and nine against. (Hal Dardick)

 

Follow the money 

*Track Illinois campaign contributions in real time here and here.

 

Beyond Chicago

*Trump staff shake-up slows presidential transition.

*Speaker Ryan will continue in job despite talk of revolt.

*Obama warns against "crude sort of nationalism" taking root in U.S.

*McCain strikes back on Trump thawing relations with Russia.

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