Fact-Checking Daley

Budget rhetoric no match for reality

By Steve Rhodes
|  Friday, Oct 23, 2009  |  Updated 12:36 PM CDT
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Daley's budget talk is sometimes laughable.

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Times are tough everywhere and the city's budget woes are not entirely Mayor Daley's fault.

But one thing the mayor can - and should - be held wholly accountable for are the public claims he makes about the budget and what he plans to do about it.

On that score, Daley fails miserably.

According to an analysis by the Reader's Mick Dumke, the mayor's budget address this week was riddled with claims that were inaccurate and/or dishonest.

For example, in trying to promote himself as a responsible fiscal steward, Daley said that he had cut more than $2.5 billion in city spending during his 20-year reign. But as Dumke points out, the city's budget has actually grown from $3.3 billion in 1991 (when Daley won his first full-term) to a proposed $6.1 billion next year.

In other words, I might have lost 20 pounds in the last 20 years, but if I've also gained 40 so you might not want to look to me for dieting tips. It's almost like the axiom that quitting smoking is easy because millions of people do it several times a day.

And so it goes, from personnel cuts to corruption-busting to transparency to the dreaded parking meters. On each, Daley didn't quite tell the truth. On some, he was as far away from it as the budget is from being balanced.

(The Chicago Tribune thinks Daley's proposed budget is wrong strategically; its editorial is called "Daley in Denial.")

Finally, there is the secret city budget that no one sees and the mayor doesn't talk about. That would be the TIF budget, equaling about  a sixth of the "regular" budget and stocked with taxpayer money.

It's part of the mayor's equation in private, but not in public.

Just another reason to pay no attention to what the man says, only what he does.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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