The Business Insider has compiled a list of the cities most likely to go bankrupt, and Chicago is No. 17.
The Insider points out that the budget for 2011 uses up nearly all of the revenue generated by selling a long-term lease on the city's parking meters. That money was supposed to last for decades Thus, we've balanced the budget for 2011 by destroying our finances for many decades out unless we can manage to produce a miracle, and it looks like we will have no other way to meet urgent needs, like funding our essential services, except to raise taxes to confiscatory levels, or build the casino that Daley has so long hankered for. We'll probably have to do both, for there's no guarantee that a casino could generate the revenue
However, the parlous condition of the city's finances seems to be a non-issue not only with the city's sitting aldermen, but with aspirants in the current race as well. Among the candidates for alderman in the 2011 race, only a handful, notably 48th Ward contender Phillip Bernstein, seem cognizant of the city's current desperate situation and propose realistic solutions.
Here in the 49th Ward, Joe Moore's only real opponent, Brian White, seems focused solely on devising more ways to divert tax revenues from city coffers to non-public purposes, namely the rehabilitation of 1500 rental apartments in the area via the 49th Ward RIF (Rental Improvement Fund), which will divert money generated from future property tax increases from city services to Rogers Park landlords, who will receive funds to improve their properties on the condition set aside rental units for low-income tenants. This is only one of many, many major diversions of public funds to private interest.
Will it take a major crisis, like the day the city can no longer afford the gasoline for fire trucks and police cars, to motivate our political leaders to re-order their spending priorities and take steps to reverse the outflow of public funds to non-essential private purposes?