I sent this e-mail to Chuck Goudie and Alderman Beale yesterday morning. So far, no response from either one of them.
From: McMahon351 To: firstname.lastname@example.org Sent: 4/10/2009 12:14:54 A.M. Central Daylight Time Subj: To: Chuck Goudie and Anthony Beale
Someone just forwarded an e-mail to me with a link to a video of an I-Team Report: A Buried Treasure - 4/02/09 - Chicago News - abc7chicago.com by Chuck Goudie. This report interviews Anthony Beale, the 9th Ward Alderman from Chicago. Its subject discusses how the rank & file of Chicago’s Police and Fire Departments get issued a clothing allowance and duty availability pay somewhere to the tune of 4 to 5 thousand dollars a year. To paraphrase Alderman Beale, he feels this is excessive and should be taken away from these public servants to save the city money. He also claims there are no other places to cut city services to save money. I watched this blatant hypocrisy is disbelief and thought to myself, “This type of rhetoric doesn’t even dignify a response.” But I’m weak, so here ya go…..
Nothing could be further from the truth. Seeing that the roughly 18,000 men and woman of the Chicago Police and Fire Departments have been working without a raise or a current contract since 2007, the old worn out excuse that “we are currently in tough economic times” doesn’t hold any water any more. The economy was doing just fine back in 2007 and the Police and Fire Departments should have been given a contract with a raise back then, just like all of the other city departments did.
Of course everyone knows that an on time contract with a raise will never be a reality in Chicago because that would prevent Mayor Daley from earning millions of dollars in interest on the Policemen and Fireman’s money, and giving him the ability to eventually bribe them into accepting sub-standard raises with reduced benefits,……..with their own back pay. As is stands now, it would be fiscally irresponsible of the city to be fair with the Police and Fire Departments by giving them a timely contract. After all, who wouldn’t like access to all that interest free money to invest at their discretion and earn dividends for several years?
So where else can we save some more money in Chicago? That shouldn’t be too hard to do. Here’s a few suggestions we could start with;
• Eliminate 50% of the “top heavy” upper echelon jobs in ALL departments city wide. • Reduce the astronomical maintenance costs of repairs and the destruction of millions of dollars in Police and Fire vehicles with all the out of control running of these rigs. Almost every Fire Apparatus in Chicago does about 15 runs a day responding to false alarms and non life threatening incidents. Without even factoring in the fuel costs for these responses, these vehicles come with a price tag of around $500,000 each and will only last a few years because they’re too big, too heavy, and not built for this kind of abuse. It would make perfect sense to have 2 men respond in a small $25,000 SUV or pickup truck to most of these EMS calls to scope them out first, and 95% of the time they wouldn’t even have to call for additional manpower. • Make the abusers of these city services pay for this, not the taxpayers.
Now let’s compare 2 major American cities’ and see how much money we can save on our Aldermen; The City of Chicago is approximately 228 square miles with a population of about 2,837,000 people. If the population of all areas were equal, this would give Chicago a population density of about 12,443 people per square mile. It is broken into 50 political Wards with an Alderman in each Ward, serving about 56,740 Constituents each. With a base salary of over $110,000 and an expense account of $73,000, that puts them at about $183,000 per year without benefits or pension expenses. Not too bad for a part time job!
New York City is approximately 305 square miles with a population in all 5 Boroughs of about 8,275,000 people. If all of their areas were equal, this would give it a population density of about 27,131 people per square mile. It is broken into 51 political districts with a City Councilman in each one, serving about 162,255 Constituents each. They are earning somewhere around $112,000 per year, and in addition to that some also receive stipends with the highest one being somewhere around $28,000.
In square miles, New York City is a little more than one third larger than the City of Chicago is, it has almost 3 times the amount of people living there with over twice the population density, yet they manage to get by just fine with only 51 City Councilmen. What? Is this true? How can this be? Let’s look at this for a minute, shall we?
Here’s the numbers; Chicago has 50 Wards, serving 56,740 people each, for a total of 2,837,000 people. New York City has 51, serving 162,255 people each, for a total of 8,275,005 people. These numbers are fairly accurate and I’d encourage anyone to verify them.
Now let’s look at this a different way; If Chicago has 50 Wards, but has to serve 162,255 people for each Ward like New York City does, they could serve 8,112,750 people. But we don’t have anywhere near that many people, do we? No we don’t! So why don’t we just eliminate 32 of these part time Aldermen and let the remaining 18 serve 162,255 people each? That would total up to 2,920,590 people, which is much more like it. And I’m sure this is doable because Chicago ’s Aldermen get a substantially higher salary than their east coast counterparts do, and I don’t know of any City Councilman in New York City that has been worked to death yet,……..do you? I doubt it, but the worst that could possibly happen is our Aldermen might have to work a little closer to 40 hours a week like the rest of us.
In summary, Chicago’s Alderman are paid more than 2.5 times the salary for doing a part time job, than a Police Officer or Firefighter earns for working full time, under some of the most hazardous and deadly conditions imaginable. The truth of the matter is that we could very easily get by with 18 Aldermen, and eliminate 32 without ever missing them. Wow, that’s about 65% less Aldermen and nobody would die, nobody would be without city services, and I’ll bet that nobody would even notice. I’d like to see what would happen in Chicago if you eliminated 65% of the Police and Firemen. And at $183,000 per year, not including benefits and pension calculations, Chicago would save at least $5,856,000 annually on this simple budget cut alone. Oh look at that Alderman Beale, I found somewhere to cut some more “city services” without any negative results and don’t forget, “we ARE currently in tough economic times!”
And while I’m at it, here’s a few more facts;
While in the performance of their duty, I have never heard of any City Council member: Saving anyone’s life Prying anyone out of a wreck Chasing an armed criminal down a dark alley Working to total physical exhaustion Running into, or on top of a burning building Getting paralyzed Getting 2nd and 3rd degree burns Getting disfigured Diving into the lake, river or lagoon at night…..in all seasons Had someone die in their arms Putting dead victims in body bags Getting buried in a building collapse Comfort an abused child Catch a communicable disease Being exposed to deadly carcinogens and other health hazards Subjected to random drug and alcohol screening Shot at, stabbed, spit on or assaulted Getting killed in the line of duty
But I do know of thousands of Police and Fireman that have, and do all these things on a daily basis without hesitation, and all they’ve ever asked for is a little respect and a living wage to raise their families with. The average person couldn't, or wouldn't do these jobs effectively, and would never even consider putting themselves in harms way and risk their life for someone they don't even know, not for any amount of money.
Before anyone passes judgment on the members of the Chicago Police and Fire Departments, I’d challenge them to see if they could last one week alongside these dedicated men and women, and just stay with them, no matter what, and do what they are asked to do, in a moments notice! This challenge extends to every Citizen, Journalist, Alderman, or any other politician in the City of Chicago, including our Honorable Mayor, Richard J. Daley.
Jim McMahon Retired Lieutenant Chicago Fire Department