(Chicago) I know this is heresy, in the city of broad shoulders. And I may lose a few friends at city council because of this. But why on earth do we have so many aldermen?
Every other city in the country has seven or nine or even eleven council members to represent their community. That seems to work just fine in other major cities. Why does Chicago have 50 elected representatives? Pulling down sizeable salaries with all the requisite staffing and perks that come with being the king or queen of the ward?
You say it's a necessary evil? To make sure the garbage gets picked up on time and new sewer projects get completed? But is it really all that complicated? Is picking up garbage all that difficult to coordinate?
Every other entity on the planet has had to endure job cuts and do more with less. Regardless of the industry or the enterprise, everybody I know is doubling up in the work place ... doing what used to be the work of many people. Why should Chicago city council be any different?
The new mayor has painful decisions to make when he or she takes office. We're looking at a mushrooming $600,000,000 budget deficit that'll probably be a billion-dollar hole by the time Mayor Richard Daley hands over the reigns of power. As his first order of busness, why doesn't the new mayor shrink the size of city council?
O.K., I guess he'll need some help to do that. He'd probably need the aldermen themselves to approve the restructuring (which is why this will probably never work).
Only an uprising by city taxpayers could force such a drastic change. But it's more than the $110,000 salaries with nice perks. Look at the needless duplication in staff. What about the rent aldermen have to pay to lease expensive storefront offices in pricey areas of the city? 50 aldermanic offices. Think of the money taxpayers could save if you reduce the 50-fold bureaucratic layers you see across the city? Don't forget all the committees the 50 aldermen have to staff and commission studies for.
Why not consolidate this tangled mess down to eleven aldermen. You'd save a ton of money and needless legislative gridlock. And you'd send a message that city leaders are ready to shoulder their fair share of the economic burden. Why does everybody else have to down-size and suffer through the lingering effects of the Great Recession? But Chicago's bloated city hall gets a free pass?
Julian Crews - WGN-TV News