On Wednesday, after the Chicago Board of Education voted 7-0 to approve a 2.4 percent tax increase, I asked myself, “Why do we even have a school board? It’s just a hand-picked Politburo that rubber stamps the mayor’s educational policy.”
Then I realized. We have a school board so Mayor Rahm Emanuel can blame someone else for raising taxes.
In February, during his first press conference as mayor-elect, Emanuel said “I am not looking at property taxes” to fund the city’s pension system.
On July 29, when discussing the city’s financial situation, Emanuel promised to balance the budget without asking the taxpayers for more money.
“The capital I’ll spend will be political capital to make the tough choices that we have to do for the city,” the mayor said. “The capital I won’t spent is the taxpayers’ dollars and asking them to put more into a system that hasn’t been reformed. This system needs reform. It is calling out for it.”
Less than two weeks later, he endorsed the board’s property tax hike.
“I’m glad they followed the cut-and-invest strategy,” he said. “I think they’ve made the tough choices.”
That’s right, "they" made the tough choice. Of course, the tax hike was necessary to pay for Emanuel’s plan to extend school 90 minutes a day and two weeks a year.
Let’s be honest about this: the school board didn’t raise our taxes. The mayor raised our taxes. The mayor can try to weasel out of this by saying he promised not to raise taxes to balance the city’s budget. But we’ll still be paying more money.
Emanuel learned one important lesson from Daley -- the mayor who got the legislature to let him appoint the school board: always have someone to blame.
Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President, is available on Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!