CHICAGO CITY TREASURER Kurt Summers addresses the City Club of Chicago on Dec. 1, 2015. (Photo credit: City Club of Chicago)
Discusses Cost of Inequity in Justice System at City Club of Chicago on First Anniversary in Office
Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers recently spoke to inequity in the justice system and disinvestment in Chicago’s neighborhoods as it relates to the more than 500 shooting deaths that have taken place in the City since the death of Laquan McDonald on Oct. 20, 2014. The Treasurer’s remarks took place at the City Club of Chicago, exactly one year after taking office as Treasurer.
“Throughout this first year in office, the people and stories of this City have bolstered my resolve in Chicago and our potential to achieve great things together,” Treasurer Summers said. “However, as taxpayers, we can no longer afford the high cost of injustice, disinvestment and inequality. If we truly want to be one Chicago, we need to invest in all of our City. This is an economic problem and should be a problem for every Chicagoan.”
Treasurer Summers laid out a sense of inequality in low-income predominantly minority communities, where a lack of investment and access to capital has led to distrust, disenfranchisement and eventually, despair, resulting in a lack of the value of life. This has led the local government in Cook County to spend more than $1 billion on the jail and court system and $71 million on a juvenile detention center. The City of Chicago spends $2 billion on police and police pensions annually, has spent $500 million in court settlements over the last decade and more than $300 million in criminal justice or other public assistance.
Meanwhile, unemployment rates for Chicago’s Black and Latino communities are over 25%, there are more than 20,000 troubled buildings in the City and roughly 20,000 homes in foreclosure. Relative to the over $4 billion spent on the criminal justice system, a mere fraction of that is spent on community investment and opportunities for neighborhoods to thrive.
“This use of resources is inherently unequal and ultimately cost- ly,” the Treasurer added.
In his speech, the Treasurer recognized organizations like the Chicago Community Trust, who in 2016 will partner with the Treasurer’s Office to provide neighborhoods with catalytic grants for use in planning their future and can be used to attract additional investment. Treasurer Summers called on others to follow suit and encouraged banking partners who benefit from city deposits to invest back into Chicago and pro- vide access to capital in more communities.
Treasurer Summers is committed to ensuring the office’s core principles of transparency and accountability are the foundation to creating an inclusive system to invest in all Chicagoans.
Over the past year, the Treasurer has transformed office operations and implemented a new investment policy, a minimum credit quality and maximum risk standards to guide how the office responsibly invests taxpayer dollars. Additionally, as a result of putting underinvested dollars to work, the Treasurer’s Office is projected to increase returns by 40 million dollars next year alone that will go towards city services.
The Treasurer also reported significant progress on an initiative he launched one year ago to create significant savings on annual investment fees for all of Chicago’s public employee pension funds. Eight of the City’s 11 funds have signed on to a joint resolution to share information on how much in fees they pay to investment managers. Now, the Treasurer’s Office will partner with the funds to launch an online database or “clearinghouse,” to promote collaboration among the retirement plans and so they can work together to reduce those fees. The initiative has the potential to save more than $25-$50 million a year or $1 billion over the lifetime of all 11 pension plans.
Treasurer Summers serves as the City’s banker, investor and advocate, overseeing Chicago’s $7 billion investment portfolio. He also serves as a trustee or fiduciary on five of the City’s public employee pension boards with $25 million under management. Since taking office in Dec. of 2014, the Treasurer has worked to provide taxpayers with greater transparency and efficiency to ensure a responsible investment approach and drive value for residents in each of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods.