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The first of two planned "town hall" meetings on the city's expected $635 million-plus budget shortfall became heated when Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was booed at the crowded Kennedy-King College event Monday.
The meeting, attended by some 700 people, had gotten off to a relatively controlled, civil start until one of the city's dozens of laid-off traffic control aides asked why neither she, nor any of her colleagues, were involved in the decision to cut their jobs, NBC Chicago reports.
In response, Emanuel said that the aides' union leadership was at the table in discussions leading toward that decision, to which some crowd members heckled the mayor and chanted "liar."
"I don’t think you understand how much this is hurting," another audience member yelled, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Despite the moments of vocal criticism, Emanuel maintained that cuts to the city's budget have only just begun, as ABC 7 reports. He also offered up some harsh words concerning how his predecessor, Mayor Daley, dealt with the city's long-looming financial problems.
"We have been doing smoke and mirrors on the budget and avoided taking control of our own future as a city," Emanuel said. "We have to take control. That moment of reckoning is here."
Offering up examples of the "reckoning," Emanuel pointed to City Council members' 10 percent pay cut. Further, he announced Monday that members of five city panels and commissions, including the Chicago Police Board, will also face pay cuts -- a move the mayor says will save the city $314,000, the Sun-Times reports.
And the mayor said he remains open to further suggestions to help solve the city's financial problems, welcoming residents to submit ideas on the city's new Chicagobudget.org website, a project that's already received 1,800 ideas, the most popular of which, to date, including cutting City Council members' salaries and expense accounts, eliminating security details for the current and former city employees that have them and adding city-sponsored vendors to CTA train stations.
The next town hall budget meeting will be held Wednesday at Malcolm X College, 1900 W. Van Buren Ave., beginning at 6 p.m.
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