Mayor Emanuel’s comments on Wednesday about Chicago not being a “tale of two cities” but rather, a “tale of two investment strategies” leaves me incredulous because of his lack of awareness about our city and its people. His attempt at a play on words is an insult to the intelligence of the citizens of Chicago. Bottom line, there is a disparity in the economic development in the city.
What is even more insulting is the Mayor’s calculus on what it takes to buy the support of communities of color. The $100 million Catalyst Fund, and the $21 million in grants to small minority businesses are nothing compared to the billions of dollars in investment needed to reinvigorate some of our most challenged communities. And I’d ask, where are the TIF funds that were to be targeted to blighted neighborhoods? Yes, I agree that downtown is an economic engine that must run smoothly, but I believe that all of our neighborhoods deserve equitable funding and development.
“Community health and wealth building” is what I am proposing. As Mayor I would not take a piecemeal approach to investments, or have my economic development plan dependent on the whims developers. Rather, I would have an economic development plan for every sector of the city, geared towards the needs of that community, based on input from the community. The premise of “community health and wealth building” is to strengthen every institution within the community – schools, non-profits, religious institutions, health facilities, businesses, and infrastructure, along with the governmental institutions.
The Mayor has had two terms in office to right the disparities he now wants to blame on others- the governor, the president and past administrations. He has had no problem bringing investments into the downtown area, with little regard to investing in local neighborhoods until it is time to stand in front of them and ask for their vote. The neglect of certain parts of the city has resulted in Chicagoans with no opportunities, no hope, and few options. Citizens should not be fooled by his smooth words and empty promises again.
Even as the Mayor is now making announcements about investments in communities like Hyde Park, Bronzeville and Woodlawn we are seeing people of color who are no longer able to afford to live in communities they have called home for decades.
His oversight of CPS has only resulted in increased school closures and scandals of filthy schools and sex abuse. Shootings and murders are near daily occurrences where we consider anything under 40 shootings a triumph and, there is not enough cooperation between residents and the police to close all the outstanding cases. Unemployment is in double digits in certain sections of our city and there is widening earning and income gap.
Mayor Emanuel’s Chicago is much more than a tale of two cities, it is a tale of two continents, separate and definitely unequal.
Statement attributable to Dorothy Brown, candidate for Mayor of the City of Chicago
August 15, 2018