The City has had a budget black hole three times in recent memory. They occurred in 2000, 2002 and now in 2008. All three times we were in contract talks with the City. All three times, after our contracts were resolved, the black holes just fell off the face of the earth never to be heard of until the next contract.
The City claims they have a $400,000,000 budget deficit. The City blames this on the housing market, yet this is a time when businesses are moving into Chicago instead of fleeing as they had in the past. This can be seen with Miller Brewing and United Airlines moving their corporate offices to Chicago.
The City has 1.8 billion dollars reserved from the lease of the skyway. The City is currently in negotiations to lease Midway airport for billions of dollars.
Dennis Gannon and the Chicago Federation of Labor (CFL) are willing to take unpaid furlough days. That is the smart thing to do since his membership can be laid off and having just signed a ten year prevailing wage package for the tradesmen. On the other side of the coin, police officers cannot be laid off until all the civilians employees are laid off first.
If the City is serious about closing the black hole then look at serious proposals. Start by eliminating the take home vehicles which the supervisors in all departments the City have at their disposal. These are the highest paid employees with the added perk of a take home vehicle and free gas, free maintenance, and free insurance. This is not an occurrence exclusive to the Police Department. It is in every City department.
We are the only City department who has officers serving unpaid suspensions everyday. We are the only City department where the City is seeking to fire officers every month. We are the one department in the City that generates the most revenue.
Stop letting millions of dollars escape over the border to Indiana casinos. The Mayor wants a casino in Chicago and the Governor wants to give the City a casino license for $500,000,000. The Mayor does not want to pay a licensing fee. To fix your black hole negotiate with the Governor and bring a casino to Chicago. We have not had a pay raise in the past two years, we have not had any fruitful contract negotiations, City Hall has blocked our pension portability legislation without any reason, and we get beat up by the media and the politicians.
This black hole, if it is real, did not come to light yesterday; the City must have seen it coming years ago and they took no steps or corrective measures to fix the problem. Now, at the eleventh hour, the Mayor’s solution is three unpaid furlough days, which only gives the City $9,000,000. This makes for nice cosmetics but it hardly helps fix the deficit.
At a time when homicides and violent crime are on the rise and the citizens at every forum want more police officers in their neighborhoods for protection, it is reckless to even suggest that you would want less police officers on our streets. We will sit down and help the mayor find solutions to the problem but not at the expense of our officers.
F.O.P. Lodge 7
Wil there be a similar statement coming out PB&PA?