The Chicago Tribune on Monday unveiled a nifty app reporting the salaries of Chicago City Council members since 2008 -- and the results show that many members have been hesitant to pass up their annual "cost-of-living" raises, even amid a struggling economy.
Nineteen aldermen have taken each of the annual raises, while just three -- Brendan Reilly, 42nd; Scott Waguespack, 32nd and Tom Tunney, 44th -- have declined all the raises they've been offered since 2006. The disparity leaves behind the wide current range of annual council pay -- from approximately $104,101 to $114,913, the Tribune reports.
One freshman alderman, Ald. Ameya Pawar, 47th, accepted only $60,000 in pay over the course of his first year in office, working 55 unpaid days in order to lower his pay to the salary he campaigned on.
As Chicagoist points out, only Pawar's pay is anywhere near in line with the median household income in Chicago which, between 2006 and 2010, was $46,877 per year.
The City Council has been criticized in recent weeks over its support of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's controversial NATO and G8 summit protest ordinances and its months-long, tense battle over the city ward remap. The new map, approved by a vote of 41-8, carved out 13 supermajority Latino wards, while two majority African-American wards were lost. Last fall, shortly after 28 council member aligned to outline their concerns with the mayor's proposed budget in a letter, the council lined up unanimously a week later to approve a modestly altered version.
In a piece posted earlier this month, HuffPost Chicago blogger Keith Koeneman pointed out that, since 1970, 31 city aldermen have been convicted of crimes and "rubber stamping" of the sitting mayor's proposals have continued on despite many council members' campaign promises to the contrary. Some have called on the number of aldermen to be cut by as much as half its current size.