Ballotpedia:Template:Main (Sunshine Review)
This Web site was reviewed Jan. 10, 2012.
- The budget is published, including overviews and revenue estimates, recommendations page and a separate link to the annual appropriation ordinance. 
- Elected officials and administrative officials are listed, including contact information. 
- Meeting minutes and agendas are published.
- Zoning information is published and includes a reference guide.
- Permit information is published and includes separate links to check status, apply, and a getting started overview of permits.
- Contract information is posted, including awarded contracts (scanned copies), emergency contracts, and contracting procedures. 
- Local tax information is published and allows residents to file and pay taxes online.
- Audit information is published.
- Lobbying information is posted, including registered lobbyists, lobbying permit access, filling requirements, and reporting forms.
- I Want To feature allows online payments and renewals of permits, licenses, parking tickets and stickers and utilities and is easy to use.
- The I Want To sidebar includes Report/File feature that lists over 75 links to allow easy access to file complaints, concerns, report problems and file FOIA requests.
- Within each search, a Get Started Online link is available, making action easy accessible with directions and forms.
- Chicago has an ethics board. 
- Forms for requesting public records are fairly simple to find on the website. Other FOIA requests can be found here 
- Legislation passed by the city council is posted online.
- If anything, to find some information, you must use the search function. This function is easy to use and turns up useful results.
The 2010 budget is $3,179,745,000, with a $60,000,000 ending fund balanced (reserves intended to be borrowed). The 2011 projected budget is $2,731,796,000. The projected shortfall in 2011 is $654.7 million due to decreased revenues since 2004 and lost $1.15 billion in tax revenues since 2007.
Chicago received $1,360,904,875 of federal stimulus money.
- In addition to the Mayor, the city-wide elected officials are the City Clerk and the City Treasurer.
- The Office of the Mayor includes contact information and news announcements.
- The Office of the City Clerk includes contact information, press releases and council news.
- The Office of the City Treasurer includes contact information and tabs for small business, personal finances and FAQs.
Public employee salaries
- Main article: Chicago employee salaries
|Stephanie Neely||City Clerk||$133,545|
|Susan Mendoza||City Treasurer||$133,545|
|Joe Moreno||Alderman||$ 106,644|
|John Pope||Alderman||$ 106,644|
|Howard Brookins Jr.||Alderman||$110,556|
|Walter Burnett, Jr.||Alderman||$108,086|
|Ariel E. Reboyras||Alderman||$110,556|
- Detailed contact information is available for every Ward and Aldermen.
- Additionally, there is contact information listed by department that includes useful information.
Public employee salaries
Full Employee Information & Salaries
Salary information is included for specific positions and is broken down by department, although the name of the person holding the position is not included.
- Main article: Illinois public pensions
According to a 2010 report published at Northwestern University, Chicago is one of the ten municipalities with the largest amount of unfunded pension liabilities. Nationwide there is $574 billion in unfunded pension liabilities for local pension plans, and this is in addition to the $3 trillion in debt facing state-sponsored pension plans. According to the report, the pension plans could be out of money as early at 2025. The Chicago Civic Federation reported unfunded liabilities for 10 city and county pension funds grew sixfold during the last decade, with shortfalls nearing $27.4 billion. Coupled with state pensions, which have a shortfall of $83 billion, this would cost every Chicago resident $15,000 to fund the pensions.
Chief Financial Officer Gene Saffold has said it would take $650 million a year for the next 40 years to run a healthy pension fund. He's also started that currently only about 42 percent of the pension is funded, compared to past rates of 62 percent in 2008, and 80 percent in 1996.
Mayor Daley has expressed opposition to Governor Pat Quinn's planned tax increase and pension reform, saying it'll lead to the biggest tax increase in Chicago history. Quinn's plan would require municipalities to fund police and fire pensions up to 90 percent by 2040 or the state would be allowed to without sales tax and income tax from the cities. Daley has said the plan would require a $550 million property tax hike in the city.
|Number of plans||Liabilities, Stated Basis, June ’09 ($B)||Liabilities (ABO), Treasury Rate||Net Pension Assets ($B)||Unfunded Liability ($B)||Unfunded Liability / Revenue||Unfunded Liability per Household ($)|
An analysis of a pension plan available to Chicago aldermen reveals that 21 aldermen who retired under the plan are in line to receive nearly $58 million during their expected lifetimes, though contributions and assumed investment returns are predicted to cover just $19 million, or a third of that sum. 
Under the plan, aldermen and other elected city officials became eligible to receive up to 80 percent of the salary they earned during their last month of work. All other employees in the municipal pension plan — including top managers — receive 70 percent of their average monthly salary over the previous four years. Aldermen can also reach the maximum benefit with just 20 years of service, compared with nearly 30 years for everyone else in the municipal pension plan. 
The Tribune/ WGN analysis showed the average payout to those aldermen is $81,000 a year. However, because they can retire at 55 and their pensions grow by 3 percent compounded annually, the average amount will eventually reach $165,000 a year. 
Proposed COLA Change
Speaking before the Illinois legislature Mayor Rahm Emanuel called for implementing a pause on cost-of-living increases for 10 years to allow the six systems "to catch its breath." He called for boosting employee contributions 1 percent each year for five years and offering employees of limited type of choice of retirement plans. Emanuel said the cost-of-living pause is necessary because retirees are getting increases while current employees are unable to get similar increases. For example, a retiree making a $60,000 pension in 1995 is now receiving $100,000. After 10 years of a pause, Emanuel said the plan would go to a simplified cost-of-living adjustment rather than annual compounded increases. 
In the News
- In 2009, Forbes.com ranked Chicago as one of American’s Ten Most Miserable Cities, based on commute times, corruption, pro sports teams, taxes, unemployment, violent crime and weather. Coming in at number 3, Chicago is cited as having long commutes, high costs of living, inclement weather, rising unemployment rates, and exceptionally high sales taxes.
- In the last three years, “The City that Settles,” Chicago, has been sued 900 times, nearly every single day. In 2010 alone, the City spent $85 million to litigate cases. Prompted by the influx of litigation, the Chicago Police Department announced in 2009 that they will no longer simply settle cases; From 2009-2010, lawsuits filed against the CPD dropped 50 percent, reducing the City’s liability by $7 million.
- The American Tort Reform Association ranks Cook County, Illinois as the nation’s fifth-worst “Judicial Hellhole” due to the county’s notoriety for frivolous lawsuits and big plaintiff payouts.
- In 2010, a landmark Second Amendment decision was handed down by the SCOTUS in McDonald v. Chicago 561 U.S. holding that the Second Amendment is fully applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment.
- Office of Inspector General for City of Chicago issues press releases including information on most recent suits against City of Chicago.
After more than two years, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was convicted of 17 of 20 public corruption charges on June 27, 2011 relating to his attempt to sell then-Senator Barack Obama's senate seat before he resigned to become President. Now that the Blagojevich trial has concluded, the House Ethics Committee is investigating another Illinois politician, U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. regarding allegations that he offered to raise campaign funds for Blagojevich in exchange for his appointment to the senator's seat.
Public Records Lawsuits & Open Chicago Transparency Initiative
- Inspector General announced “Open Chicago” in March 2011 to enhance transparency in Chicago and Cook County.
- The “Crooked Code” initiative helps investigate the performance of government employees to ensure total transparency and reduce corruption. Phase One of the program resulted in the arrest of five Chicago employees for federal bribery charges.
- In July 2011, the Department of Justice joined Illinois public universities in defense of a ruling issued by the Seventh Circuit court in Chicago holding that federal privacy laws do not prohibit the release of identifiable educational records about students and their families, a case that originated from a Chicago Tribune FOIA request demanding parents’ names and addresses of students enrolled at an Illinois public university.
- In April 2011, a reporter filed suit against Chicago, Mayor Daley and two FOIA officers when the Chicago Police Department rejected his legitimate request for information.
- In January 2011, the Better Government Association filed suit against the Chicago Police Department for their refusal to release FOIA requests relating to the size and cost of the police security detail for on Chicago Alderman, available to him 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
- Chicago State University’s former senior legal counsel, James Crowley, accused President Wayne Watson of withholding information sought under FOIA. Crowley was fired for releasing information to the press that Watson wanted to withhold. The information released questioned whether Watson was working and not volunteering when he sent contracts to friends in violation of SURS rules. Retribution for whistleblowing on Watson is hardly new. In 2009, Maria Moore, former manager of the PBS station at City Colleges of Chicago sued City Colleges alleging that Wayne Watson fired her in 2007 after she voiced concerns about the station being used for political purposes..
- In 2008, Judicial Watch filed a FOIA request calling for Blagojevich to release details about a $2 billion lump-sum member initiative fund for vague projects that benefit lawmakers’ districts.
- In 2007, a government watchdog group sued then Governor Rod Blagojevich for subpoenas issued by the Sangamon County Circuit that Blagojevich’s legal office denied the request under Illinois FOIA.
- Administrative hearings are listed and explained.
- Additionally, there is a link that streams live City Council Webcasts.
Tax information is published and the website provides ability for taxpayers to file online.
A 2010 audit of the Chicago Fire Department has placed 80 out of 108 firefighters under internal investigation for falsifying their mileage reimbursement forms for their personal vehicles. The Inspector General has said the abuse could potentially have cost taxpayers "hundreds of thousands of dollars."
- Main article: Illinois taxpayer-funded lobbying
- Better Government Association
- Open Chicago City Council (beta) Aldermanic attendance and voting records
- Official website
- Chicago on Wikipedia
- Chicago School District
- Chicago Chamber of Commerce
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