One of the pleasures of having our Hitting Left radio show and podcast – live at 11am on Friday’s. 105.5fm. Streaming at http://www.lumpenradio.com and podcast/archived at http://www.hittingleft.libsyn.com – is having as guests some really good and decent political people.
Chicago city council members even.
We’ve had as guests Susan Sadlowski Garza, Byron Sigcho, Rossana Rodriquez, Scott Waguespack and last week, Andre Vasquez.
Really good people.
On the other hand, I was struck this morning by the chutzpah of others who sit in the council chambers.
Like council member Patrick Daley Thompson of the 11th ward.
This morning’s Sun-Times reports that Daley Thompson isn’t happy about Mayor Lightfoot’s plan to go easier on the city’s poor who haven’t paid their tickets. Her plan is to stop suspending driver’s licenses for non-moving violations.
Suspended licenses is a cruel hardship for our people who need to drive to work, often at multiple jobs a day.
As the Mayor has noted previously, this practice of raising city revenue from unpaid tickets is punitive and impacts the city’s Black and Brown communities the most.
For example, under previous administrations the city doubled fines for tickets from $200 to $400 because of late fees.
Currently, more than 69,000 drivers licenses are in “suspension status” for non-payment of fines and fees. Under the Lightfoot plan, nearly all those drivers will be eligible for re-instatement.
The mayor’s plan calls for creating a six-month, payment plan that includes lower down payments and more time to pay for motorists in financial distress.
The short-term cost to the city? About $15 million a year.
That’s peanuts when you consider the city is facing a nearly billion dollar budget hole.
But council member Daley Thompson objects.
“At some point, there’s a little tough love [needed].” Daley Thompson told the Sun-Times.
“I understand there’s a hardship of some folks in paying for it. But residents of my community have a hardship of paying an increased property tax and increased fees and fines. They abide by the law and they pay their debts….We have to look at those that are …paying their debts and not burden them with this additional cost.”
Here’s the irony part.
It was only last Friday that it was discovered that the same Daley Thompson was fronting for the indicted Alderman Eddie Burke on shady business dealings costing the residents of his ward and the city plenty.
In a sharp break from City Hall convention, two Chicago aldermen fronted measures for now-indicted Ald. Edward Burke that would bring millions of dollars in property tax breaks going to Burke’s law clients in his Southwest Side ward.
By putting their names on a half dozen measures involving businesses in Burke’s ward, Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson (11th) and former Ald. Michael Zalewski (23rd) allowed Burke to get around the city’s conflict-of-interest rules, a Better Government Association investigation has found.
Some of the tax-break measures came as federal agents were working to build the racketeering and bribery case that accuses Burke, the longest-serving alderman in Chicago history, of trying to shake down businesses to hire his law firm for property tax appeals.
In two instances involving Thompson and Zalewski, Burke’s name and ward number initially were on official documents but were scratched off before the votes, with the other aldermen’s names and ward numbers penciled in as sponsors of the measures.
That was just last Friday.
On Monday he’s talking about “tough love” for people who can’t afford doubled fines on their parking tickets.