At yesterday’s City Council I cast one of nine “nay” votes opposing the Mayor’s proposed dispersal of approximately $1.1 billion in Federal CARES Act money.
This was a difficult vote, as there were many worthy and necessary expenditures continued in the appropriations measure. However, my colleagues and I were unable to obtain a commitment from the administration that the federal relief dollars be used only for direct health and economic relief measures, and not for Chicago Police Department overtime or any other policing and “public safety” expense. A letter from the Mayor dated June 16, 2020, explicitly stated the administration’s intent to use CARES Act funds to cover policing costs.
In a moment when our City’s residents are calling for a serious re-evaluation of our policing budget and a prioritization of health, housing, and human services, I could not in good conscience vote for a measure that would potentially allocate yet more dollars to an institution that already claims over 40% of our taxpayer-funded budget.
This was a measure that could easily have obtained unanimous consent with a simple commitment from the administration to use the funds for their intended purpose. Absent that commitment, I could not, as a representative of my Ward, vote to hand an open-ended “blank check” of federal funds to the City and its administration.
Ald. Andre Vasquez, 40th Ward