Alderman Scott Waguespack (32nd) is speaking out against library closings, an issue that Alderman Waguespack thought was resolved with the budget vote of 50-0.
“That’s not what was proposed or voted on. It’s completely contrary. We need to sit down quickly and get back to the original agreement, which was keep those libraries open” every day, said Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), who led the charge against the library cuts.
The mayor’s plan to reduce library hours and impose draconian job cuts that would impact library services at all hours fast emerged as the most controversial element of the mayor’s 2012 budget.
Aldermen from across the city decried the mayor’s decision to reduce corporate fund support for libraries by $10 million — even as the city continues to build new libraries on top of the 59 constructed under former Mayor Richard M. Daley.
Waguespack was one of twenty-eight aldermen that sent Mayor Rahm Emanuel a letter prior to the budget vote, demanding among other things that the library cuts be restored.
The aldermen thought they had a deal.
Apparently they didn’t.
The Emanuel Administration is blaming the unions involved with the library. The mayor himself is pointing fingers at the union, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), according to the Chicago Tribune.
“I didn’t support this, and I don’t want it,” Emanuel said of Monday closings. “That’s why I came up with a flexible — and aldermen came up and agreed to — a flexible proposal. Labor has to be that partner.”
Beginning Monday, layoffs take effect for 172 library employees in a move to save the city more than $3 million this year, leaving the libraries enough workers to operate 40 hours per week instead of 48 hours.
Anders Lindall, spokesman for AFSCME Local 31, said the union hasn’t rejected the city’s plan to cut Monday and Friday hours rather than closing altogether Mondays. But Lindall said the union has been trying to make the case that the city has the money available to reinstate those employees and not cut any hours.
“I don’t think the concern of the people of Chicago is how their library access can be reduced over two days per week or one day,” Lindall said. “It should be a priority to make sure library access isn’t reduced at all.”
Obviously, AFSCME disagrees with mayor and his interpretations of the events leading to these closings.
The fundamental problem for the mayor is the adverse effect this could have on their relationship, which at the moment is very good. The mayor is coming off a spectacular victory with a 50-0 vote to approve his 2012 budget.
However, in the coming days, the ward remap will be a hot issue. Very hot issue with not one (Black Caucus), not two (Latino Caucus), but three maps (MALDEF) on the table. For good measure a fourth map proposed by Alderman Waguespack that cuts the number of wards to 35.
Police station closings is quite gone with emergence of Anne Shaw as a serious candidate for 1st Ward Democratic Committeeman. Shaw opposes the closing of the 13th District station in no uncertain terms and will keep the issue alive.
Then there is pension reform that has to be addressed very soon.
I am certain the mayor would like to keep it that way, but he better move fast.
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John is the author of an award-winning book, the 2010 Winner of the USA National Best Book award for African-American studies, published by The Elevator Group Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots: How Barack Obama, Two Bookstore Owners, and 300 Volunteers did it. Also available an eBook on Amazon.