Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Talking points

Posted By on 11.14.07 at 01:36 PM

No members of City Council announced Wednesday that this budget and tax plan are the "bravest, kindest, warmest, most wonderful" budget and tax plan they've ever known in their lives.

But one after another justified supporting the city's $5.9 billion 2008 budget--featuring $276 million in new taxes, fees, and fines--by insisting that we simply must "keep Chicago moving forward."

The phrase may sound familiar. Mayor Daley ran for reelection this winter by urging voters to support him and "Keep Chicago Moving Forward."

Then he made the campaign slogan the theme of his budget address in October, arguing that record tax hikes were essential to avoid letting the city stagnate. "We have a choice in this budget," he said. "Do we maintain city services and make the investments needed to keep Chicago moving forward, or do we cut services, make substantial layoffs, and risk falling behind? I believe we have only one choice--we must keep Chicago moving forward."

His argument proved persuasive.

"When you serve as an alderman, you learn something new each day," 30th Ward alderman Ariel Reboyras said Wednesday. "As I drove through my ward these last few weeks and thought about and contemplated my position on this year's budget, my choice became clear: We can either continue to move the city forward as it has been these last 18 years, or we can simply quit."

Frankly, it sounded like the budget backers were given some talking points.

But 40th Ward alderman Patrick O'Connor, the mayor's floor leader, said that no one had been handed a sample speech or explanation cheat sheet, though it was clear some of the aldermen could have used the help. "I really don't tell people, 'This is how you sell this,'" he said. "I just try to get people in on a vote. And quite honestly, 'moving forward' is a platitude. 'Moving forward' doesn't tell you what you're doing--you could be moving forward in the wrong direction. The mayor coined that phrase and other people borrowed it."

Daley spokesman Lance Lewis said the mayor's office didn't issue any talking points either. "We don't do stuff like that," he said. "Believe it or not, the aldermen are independent. And I don't know if we would even trust them to read the talking points right anyway."

He was joking about that last part.

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