CHICAGO
10/15/2012 03:29 pm ET Updated Oct 15, 2012

Chicago Budget Hearings 2012: Aldermen Organize Public Hearings After Mayor Emanuel Doesn't

Thought you missed the public hearings that took place ahead of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's budget address last week?

Such hearings -- of which there will be three -- will begin Monday, but the events are not being organized by the mayor. Emanuel is not expected to be in attendance at the hearings.

A coalition of seven Chicago aldermen -- members of the City Council's Progressive Caucus -- announced on Friday that they will hold three budget hearings that are open to the public ahead of the full council considering Emanuel's proposal, which was introduced last week.

Ald. Nick Sposato (36th), a caucus member, said in a statement last week that he "hope[d] the people take this opportunity to get informed on how their tax dollars are being spent and provide us with some ideas on how they would improve this budget."

According to WBEZ, the caucus was frustrated by Emanuel's decision to forego public hearings in favor of smaller roundtable talks with residents chosen to participate by third-party groups. A City Hall spokeswoman told the station that last year's hearings devolved into shouting matches targeting the mayor and that the smaller talks were more productive.

In the lead up to the approval of Emanuel's inaugural budget last fall, the Progressive Council lead an effort to pressure the mayor to reconsider cuts to the city's libraries, health care and police and fire dispatches, among other areas. The mayor ultimately made minor tweaks to his plan, which the council signed off on unanimously.

Emanuel's second budget proposal contains no new taxes or fees in the face of the city's $300 million budget shortfall.

The first hearing, moderated by the Chicago Reader's Mick Dumke, will be held Monday at the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave. The remaining hearings will be held concurrently at Wells High School, 936 N. Ashland Ave., and South Shore International High School, 1955 E. 75th St., on Oct. 24. All three events begin at 6 p.m.

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