I am an active voter. But not just for politicians. What I do best is vote with my taxable dollars where and with whom I spend my money. And I am sure that many others in the Chicago area do the same thing. For example, I will not buy gas in Cook County. I was working a part-time job that took me to the South Side three times a week. I wasn’t too far from the Indiana border, so when the gas got low, I drove into Indiana and filled up my tank. My tax dollars went to Indiana and not Illinois. And guess what? I wasn’t alone.
Even the Illinois vans that deliver Meals on Wheels were filling up at a gas station in Indiana. How many people now buy their bottled water in the suburbs? I do. Ever since the mayor and his band of 50 aldermen decided that a nickel tax on each bottle of water was what people should pay, I now stock up whenever I go to Sam’s Club in Northlake. So the city not only lost regular taxes out of me on the water, they also won’t get the special taxes as well.
I was watching the news the other day and a female newscaster explained how she was now going to the malls to get her nails done. She had tired of dealing with the parking meters and the limited amount of time. So her regular nail technician lost a customer, and the city has lost out on any additional revenue she might have spent.
I’ve just read a story where the Maxwell Street Market, since relocated to Canal Street, is now losing vendors. Say what you may about the market, but it did draw people out to spend money-and the merchants there benefited from the throngs of people shopping. Many of the vendors are now opting for Swap-O-Rama at 41st and Ashland. So far, they haven’t left the city, but how long before they too-tired and fed up-start looking elsewhere?
For all the talk the mayor does about shortfalls in the city’s budget, there’s one area needing increased revenue and a great deal more of the mayor’s attention: encouraging people to shop in the city. Who in their right mind wants to drive downtown and pay over $20 for parking just to shop? Who wants to spend their money trying to figure out the complex parking meter rules and regulations? Who really wants to go downtown to see a bean (a.k.a. Millennium Park’s Cloud Gate)? Is Chicago for Chicagoans or are we the mere background players in the mayor’s grandiose quest to have listed in his political obituary the line, “And he brought the Olympics to Chicago.”
When will we as citizens, who continue to vote with our pocketbooks by not spending money in the city, work to get others to vote this mayor out of office? A mayor whose greed for a possible Chicago Olympics has him repaving roads in Washington Park while the rest of us risk our lives in our neighborhoods with potholes the size of small craters.
When will we as citizens demand a true accounting of the city’s finances? Why is there always a budget shortfall that ends up resulting in taxes increasing? Yet, there are millions of dollars in TIF funds that the mayor spends like it’s his own personal checking account.
Pay attention Chicago, pay attention. We are in an economy where every dime matters. When those who are in charge of the money become careless with it, we need to hold them accountable.
When money suddenly becomes available to make the ride on city streets comfortable for the visiting Olympic committee, but there’s no money to make the city’s residents’ ride comfortable, the message becomes clear-we the citizens are not the ones for whom the mayor serves.