“Everybody’s talking about Mayor Emanuel’s proposal to create a “trust fund” that would use private money to build infrastructure, though nobody seems to understand how it would actually work. But that’s not stopping aldermen from getting ready to approve it as soon as next week.
Of course, utter ignorance has never kept the City Council from adopting sweeping policies at the mayor’s behest. Remember the parking meter sell-off?
In case you’ve somehow forgotten, the parking meter deal gave private investors control of our streets and untold billions in future revenue for a bundle of cash up-front. Aldermen signed off even though they hadn’t read the information about it that Mayor Daley gave them a couple hours before they voted.
The difference with the infrastructure trust fund is that Mayor Emanuel has provided virtually no information for the aldermen to avoid reading. In Chicago, that’s called reform.
Let’s review what we know—or think we know—about the trust, and what no one has been willing or able to explain.
WHAT WE KNOW: Chicago’s infrastructure is crumbling. And if it’s not fixed, we’ll slip into the lake. On that everyone agrees.
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW: Why Mayor Emanuel didn’t start by conducting and sharing a formal analysis of what needs to be fixed, how much it will cost, and what are the best ways to pay for it—you know, to make sure it’s done fairly and efficiently and all that.
WHAT WE KNOW: The city’s going to have to borrow money to finance projects to fix the infrastructure.
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW: How the mayor’s going raise the money to fix the infrastructure, who will profit, and what’s to stop the taxpayers from getting soaked.”