Mayor Rahm Emanuel is "putting our kids first" by using money collected from scofflaws for new police and parks programs.
Chicago collected $5.2 million since the Council last month allowed the city to dip into the state tax refunds of those who owe money for parking tickets and other fees. It expects another $3.3 million during the rest of the tax season.
Where will the windfall go?
Emanuel said Monday he's directing it toward 20,000 additional summer opportunities for kids and 50 new cadet slots in the June 2012 police academy class.
After School Matters benefits with $2 million spent on its summer apprentice and internship programs. The Park District gets $2.5 million for its warm-weather programs, and $2 million goes to the city’s summer job programs with local businesses.
“By ensuring that those who break the law are held accountable, the taxpayers of Chicago are reaping an $8.5 million dividend that we are reinvesting in keeping our kids safe," Emanuel said in a statement.
He said every debt dollar will either help provide additional resources for kids or to help keep them safe.
Rev. Michael Pfleger stood alongside the mayor in support of the allocation. "These programs help our young people develop their gifts," Pfleger said.
Park District programs include summer day camp, youth soccer, digital audio and video artwork programs. The city’s employment program offers opportunities for young people ages 16 to 24 to gain career exposure and real-world work experience.
“I’m astounded,” said Mike Brockway, the “Parking Geek” from ExpiredMeter.com, of the money collected from deadbeats. “The city works at a glacial pace, but when it comes to getting their money they work very fast.”
As for directing the money collected to pay for more camp programs for children Brockway sees it as a “smart move in public relations."
Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Shields told Ward Room by text the city balanced its budget "on the backs of public safety.”
“Budgeting only 100 officers in 2012 has very little impact on the departments’ ability to fight crime," Shields said. "The hiring of 50 officers cannot offset elimination of 1,300 vacancies during the budget hearing, nor keep up with nearly 1,100 CPD retirements in the last two years."