At Council last week, the mayor listened to my (and other's) advice and deferred the vote on his Infrastructure Trust Ordinance. The vote will occur at a special meeting of Council today (Tuesday).
Quite rightly, there is a lot of trepidation about this plan. The parking meter deal (I wasn't an alderman at that time) is one of the most visceral and unfortunate examples of a public/private partnership gone wrong.
The Infrastructure Trust Ordinance does have some perception problems for multiple reasons, which I won't go into here. Because of this, I was adamant that more time be given to allow for more dialogue and for everyone (aldermen and the public) to have more time to examine and absorb the details of this radical plan. If a vote had have been called last week, I was prepared to vote no.
Do I wish that he had given everyone more than six days? Yes, I do. But unfortunately, I don't control those decisions. I expect all the people who asked for more time to have spent the last six days studying the particulars of this plan.
I did and when this ordinance comes to a vote today, I will be voting in favor of it and I'm doing so for two simple reasons:
- The infrastructure needs in our city and my ward are painfully obvious, and
- There have been numerous positive changes to the legislation and, most importantly, aldermanic input and oversight is now guaranteed.
If you accept that the quality of our infrastructure is desperately in need of modernization and if you accept the facts that the days of Springfield and D.C. giving us large buckets of cash are over and that 99.9% of Chicagoans don't want to pay more property tax; then what do you do?
Establishing this trust gives our municipal government a mechanism to finance necessary and specific improvement projects. I respect those who are entirely opposed, in principal, to public/private partnerships, but I am not (never have been) and now that this plan has enough safeguards, I can support and advocate for it.
Throughout the back and forth from introduction to today, I felt the most crucial issue was ensuring aldermanic oversight. There's simply no way I (or most aldermen) could have supported an abdication of their responsibility to a five-person board, solely appointed by the mayor. As the ordinance is written today, one member of the board will be an alderman and we will have to approve every single project that comes through the trust, which attempts to spend taxpayer dollars.
The mayor's office sent all aldermen a frequently asked questions document, which I shared on my Tumblr blog, and can be read here. It's a helpful document to learn the specifics of the Trust Ordinance and is written in a fairly objective fashion.
Today, I'll vote yes for the Infrastructure Trust Ordinance because I'm confident that it will prove to be an essential positive for our city. It would be dishonest for me to vote no today; a no vote would be all about political expediency. Putting my head in the sand, while our great city crumbles around us is not something I'm willing to do.