Civil service job cuts unacceptable

By Editorial Board

Mayor Richard M. Daley’s empire, the great city of Chicago, is facing such financial difficulty that basic city services, including the police department, are being affected. But just as disturbing as cuts to vital city entities is the lack of communication among city leaders and dissemination of information to residents.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Daley has no plans to fill the 329 Chicago Police Department vacancies, and City Hall won’t deliver on a promise made by Supt. Jody Weis to add 75 police officers to the force by the end of 2008.

At a time when violent crimes are on the rise in Chicago, this decision and the lack of critical communication from city administration is unacceptable.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Weis promised to hire 75 new officers in the wake of criticism over rising homicide rates. However, Daley’s administration has yet to approve department requests to hire new officers to replace vacancies created by retirements.

According to Police Department spokesperson Monique Bond, Weis still remains committed to hiring new officers. But this commitment sharply contrasts Daley’s statement that no new officers will be hired. This communication breakdown, and the mixed messages that have resulted, is just one of many incidents indicating city officials are not on the same page and are most certainly not disseminating a clear and consistent message to city residents.

Chicagoans, along with all other Americans, understand we are in a state of economic crisis. Residents are feeling the pinch just as City Hall is. But economic woes and poor budget priorities do not explain or excuse a cut in critical services.

Chicago residents have a right to the most basic city services. When these services are going to be cut, residents deserve a strong, clear and consistent explanation. Residents also deserve to see an action plan detailing how the city is going to overcome this hurdle.

City officials need to work harder to communicate with the media. When major issues arise, including the decision to freeze police officer hiring, press releases and additional information should be immediately accessible on the city’s website.

Furthermore, at a time when the city can pledge millions of dollars in spending in preparation for the 2016 Olympic Bid, residents deserve an explanation of why their basic city services are in jeopardy. Residents need to be given the opportunity to understand where and why their tax dollars are being spent.

Daley needs to remember his role is that of a public servant. His snide attitude and flippant responses when questioned about city planning show a tremendous disconnect with the public he has been hired to serve.