Pledges to fairly slice cityâ€™s contractual pie
By Chinta Strausberg
Leapfrogging over the customary exploratory committee stage of his campaign, former Ninth Ward alderman and Cook County Board of Review Commissioner Robert Shaw Thursday announced his mayoral candidacy vowing to reform the controversial Tax Increment Financing (TIF) program, the public schools including an elected school board and contract letting on a more equitable basis.
Shaw, 77, held his press conference at the South Loop Hotel, at 26th and State Street, which is owned by a group of African American businessmen. Flanked by a multi-racial group of supporters, Shaw said, â€œSome of us are very displeased with what is happening in the cityâ€ which was the stimulus for him to move back into Chicago’s Hyde Park/Kenwood community last December from South Holland.
Shaw believes he is the best mayoral candidate having an 89 percent name recognition in Chicago, and he said any other black including rumors that Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle may run who throws his or her hat in the ring will be dividing the black vote because he is the first African American to officially announce. Shaw said he canâ€™t tell Preckwinkle what to do.
When reminded about Mayor Emanuelâ€™s more than $6 million political war chest that could grow because of his brotherâ€™s Hollywood connections, Shaw referred to the 1983 and 1987 mayoral elections where then Congress Harold Washington won with far less than the double digit millions his opponents had and was reelected again in 1987. Shaw said he is running a â€œpeoplesâ€™ campaignâ€ and will not worry about those with large campaign funds he says are for those seeking name recognition.
Admitting his bid for mayor â€œis not easy,â€ Shaw accused Mayor Rahm Emanuel of â€œdisrespecting the community by closing schoolsâ€¦setting up red lightsâ€¦setting up speed traps, nickel and diming people to death.â€ Shaw said that is not his idea of how to run a city.
Rather he said, â€œThe city should be run fairly and the people of Chicago should have some say in terms of how this city is run. Instead of that, he says this is my city and Iâ€™m going to do it like I want to do it not withstanding how you feel about it and that is the problemâ€¦,â€ he said.
He pointed to the mayor closing 54 Chicago public schools calling that â€œoutrageous.â€ â€œSending the children across various (gang) lines is unconscionableâ€¦.â€ He pointed to the pension problem that may affect retiring teachers. Shaw called the cityâ€™s TIFprogram the mayorâ€™s â€œpersonal fund where he dips into it and do what he wants to do with itâ€¦like building a stadium over by the McCormick Place when the pension could use those fundsâ€¦.â€ Shaw is not pleased with CPS/CEO Dr. Barbara Byrd Bennett because of the school closures.
â€œThis mayor has set up lights and speed traps along these schools and parks. If he is really concerned about the safety of Chicago and the school children, he would put these speed humps by the schoolsâ€¦. Itâ€™s a matter of nickel and diming the people of Chicago,â€charged Shaw.
The former alderman pointed to the parking meters contract saying, â€œthis deal stinks to high heaven and everybody knows it.â€ An alderman for 20-years and a county commissioner, Shaw said, â€œThere was a sweetheart deal made with these parking meters. You can get out of this deal anytime you want.â€
Saying he has spoken to several lawyers, who tell him the contract can be changed. If we do a bond issue for McCormick Place for a stadium over there, we can do a bond issue and pay these people back and pay the debt service on the bond issue with the money we get from the meters, but that is not what this guy is trying to do. It is unfortunate that he can hoodwink the people of Chicago into believing that heâ€™s for them when heâ€™s really not,â€ said Shaw.
According to Shaw, the parking meter fees â€œhave gone up about 300 percent. You use to go by the lake and park and enjoy yourself, but that is not what is helping today.â€ He said today people might face getting a ticket and have to feed the meters. â€œSo, where is the recreation part of Chicago? Itâ€™s an unfortunate situation we are in.â€
Shaw said the City Council gave the mayor control of $1.9 billion in new bonds. â€œThey donâ€™t have any say so over how the money is spent. How are you going to do thatâ€¦to give this guy a blank checkâ€¦? Weâ€™re going to change that.â€
One of his supporters, attorney Robert K. Gorman, whose wife is a judge and is related to Cook County Comm. Elizabeth â€œLizâ€ Doody Gorman, handed out the city of Chicago real estate tax rates for Neighborhood 72003 located on the south side of Chicago showing that real estate property taxes have allegedly gone up by 33.6 percent since 2010 in Chicago. When the mayor claims heâ€™s trying to lower the taxes, Shaw says, â€œThatâ€™s a bunch of malarkey. We want to give people real tax relief.â€
When he was a commissioner for the Cook County Board of Review, Shaw said he lowered taxes for more than 400,000 people. â€œThat is what people needâ€¦,â€ he said.
Shaw accused the mayor of allegedly doubling the water rates. â€œHow are people going to pay? People have to take a bath, but at this rate at the rate heâ€™s going in another three-years you canâ€™t take no bath with this guy. You can go and jump in the lake but thatâ€™s about all you can do and that is unfortunateâ€¦.â€
â€œI will be asking at the people of Chicago to take a serious look at our campaign and our financing and elect a new mayor,â€ Shaw said. â€œWe intend to put together a coalition of people, backs, Hispanics and whites to make this candidacy work for the people of Chicagoâ€¦.â€
Asked about the closing of the schools, Shaw said, â€œThey could have used $1.7 billion in the TIF fundsâ€¦.They could have used part of that moneyâ€¦. Weâ€™re going to look at that TIF money for both schools and pension. If they can go over here and get $30 million to(build) a stadium by McCormick Place and go out south, 89th Street, and build a new school for $60 million out of TIF moneyâ€¦, that is a terrible waste of money.â€ He said the mayor could have used one of the shuttered schools rather than build a new one.
â€œThere is only 9 percent white (students) in Chicago, butâ€¦that is where they closed all the schools in the black and Hispanic communities and this should not be. Fairness should be the order of the day rather than picking on one community or another.â€
When a reporter reminded him of how some people think about the Shaw brothers (Shawâ€™s late twin brother, Senator William Shaw) and their â€œpolitricks,â€ Shaw said, â€œI donâ€™t know what youâ€™re talking about. I know weâ€™ve been elected to public office for more than 30-years. You can call it what you want to call it, but in February of 2015 we expect to hold up the victory flag.â€
â€œThe people of Chicago know me,â€ Shaw said referring to his 89 percent name recognition rate.
The mayorâ€™s office is not commenting on Shawâ€™s announcement.
Photo by Chinta Strausberg
Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com.