Three progressive issues: renegotiating the parking meter deal, hiring 250 more police officers, and taxing transactions at the Merc and the Board of Trade.
No City Council quorum.
An effort to place all three issues on the February ballot failed Monday, when only 11 aldermen showed up for a special City Council meeting to consider the measures. City Clerk Miguel del Valle, a referendum fan, also attended the meeting.
Ald. Edward Burke showed up to preserve his perfect attendance record, but he criticized the referendum idea, saying the parking meter deal is ironclad, the city can’t afford more cops, and only the legislature can approve a tax on financial trades.
"I don’t know that referenda are the best ways to deal with those kinds of issues," Burke said.
Munoz disagreed, saying it was important to "take the temperature" of the public.
"In some cases, some of colleagues were criticizing us for playing games with voters, but when you’re asking voters for their opinion, it’s not playing games," Munoz said. "We’re not telling them this is going to happen. This is an advisory referendum."
The city can’t cancel the parking meter deal, but it can improve the terms, said Munoz, pointing out that rates will be increasing January 1. He would like to see a cap on future rate hikes.
"Deal’s get negotiated all the time," said Munoz, who voted in favor of the parking meter deal, but now says aldermen were "lied" to by the administration. "When you first buy your house, you get a mortgage, and then 15 or 20 years later, when you figure out you need a den, you refinance, and you get a little bit more money. All it is is a renegotiation of the terms."
Munoz also believes the city has the money to hire new police officers.
"In (last year’s) budget, we authorized a certain number of police officers," Munoz said. "Today, we are 900 short. So how can they say that the budget was balanced and we have to slow down hiring of police officers in order to balance next year’s budget? They lied last year. The money’s there. It’s just a matter of priorities."
The financial transactions tax was the brainchild of James Tobin, a Yale professor and Champaign native who won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1981. Tobin was looking for a way to control currency speculation, but his idea has been expanded to a tax on other types of speculation. Munoz believe an "infinitesimal small percentage point" tax would produce enough revenue to preserve social services in Chicago.
Monday was the last day for the City Council to place ballot issues on the February ballot. The deadline for placing them there by petition has not yet arrived. Munoz would not say whether the aldermen would try to organize a petition drive for the referenda.
Munoz does plan to recruit a legislative sponsor for a “Tobin tax” next year, though.
"This is where the referendum helps," he said. "This referendum would tell legislators this is what the public wants."