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Chicago budget town hall draws opinions

Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel
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Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke directly to Chicagoans in his first town hall meeting about the budget.

Residents shared ideas and plenty of criticism.

"We have a $637 million budget hole. We have real changes, real reforms. They're going to hit close to home. I don't have a problem with that, but I will look everywhere if it saves money," Emanuel said.

Emanuel offered up tough choices to deal with the budget crisis. His efforts to save money will have consequences for those who depend on city services and jobs.

"I wonder where you got the idea it would be a good idea to privatize health services," said Maria Randazzo, a laid off traffic control aide.

"I don't have insurance. I don't have money to pay my bills. How can you not really answer that? I don't think you understand," said Doris Mosley.

Emanuel repeated a familiar refrain at Monday night's meeting, telling the crowd that he inherited the mess from the Daley administration many

"We have been doing smoke and mirrors on the budget and avoided taking control of our own future as a city. We have to take control. That moment of reckoning is here," Emanuel said.

Besides the budget, the mayor also talked about plans to extend the school day and school year and efforts to keep city neighborhoods safe. Those at the hearing had mixed feelings about the mayor's plans.

"He said some things, and we want to see if he is really going to be accountable to doing the things he said," said Jamie Ferro.

"That's not fair, because we're taxpayers. I mean, they take money out, and it's not fair. I just think that he can do better. It seems like he talked down to us," said one Chicagoan.

The mayor is also planning to make further cuts, announcing plans to reduce compensation for members who sit on city boards and commissions. He says it should save taxpayers more than $300,000 a year.

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