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City Council 'Progressive Caucus' To Host 3 Public Hearings On Budget

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Members of the Chicago City Council's self-described "progressive caucus" said the mayor's office isn't giving residents enough of a chance to discuss the city budget, so they'll hold more budget hearings of their own.

WBBM Newsradio's John Cody reports a coalition of aldermen said Friday that the mayor's two limited roundtables to discuss specific budget issues – business and education – and one day of public comment at City Hall just aren't enough for taxpayers to have their say on the proposed $8 billion budget.

Ald. John Arena (45th) criticized the decision not to have the two roundtable discussions open to the public.

"They're closed-door. I don't know who was represented in those meetings. I know that – talking to the community leaders in the 45th Ward – I don't have one instance of a representation from the Northwest Side being in those meetings," Arena said.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's John Cody Reports


Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) said there needs to be more than the one scheduled budget hearing open to public comment, tentatively scheduled for Nov. 2.

"All I know is that not giving the public an opportunity is not being transparent. It's not being open," Sawyer said.

He acknowledged there are typically only a few diamonds in the rough amid the suggestions from the public at such budget hearings, but he said taxpayers deserve more input on a budget plan they'll have to pay for.

"A constituent's idea may not be the best idea, that's okay. There's nothing wrong with that. There's no bad idea. The worst thing about it is having no input," he said.

Arena and Sawyer joined Alds. Robert Fioretti (2nd), Ricardo Munoz (22nd), Scott Waguespack (32nd), and Nicholas Sposato (36th) in scheduling three public comment sessions on the budget. They will be held Monday at 6 p.m. at South Shore International College Prep High School on the South Side, Wells High School on the West Side, and the Copernicus Center on the Northwest Side.

Asked why the city is having only one public comment session on the budget, when former Mayor Richard M. Daley used to sit through at least three – two in the neighborhoods, and one at City Hall – Sawyer said he had no idea.

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