It is not going to be an early Christmas Holiday down in Springfield
Will CTA be advertised as the viable News Years Eve travel option?
SPRINGFIELD (AP) -- When he announced emergency funding for Chicago-area mass-transit systems earlier this month, Gov. Rod Blagojevich said he simply was using money already set aside in the budget for transportation projects.
But that was true only because his administration transferred funds from other construction programs before revealing the bailout, state records show.Of the $27 million Blagojevich provided to keep trains and buses running, $22.4 million originally was going to pay for bricks-and-mortar construction, highways and energy projects around the state.
Blagojevich announced the grant Nov. 2. Aides said it was "existing" money borrowed by selling bonds for rail and mass-transit projects.
Giving it to the Chicago Transit Authority and its suburban sister would not delay construction elsewhere in the state, they said.
But no one seems to know whether that's true.
The Hog with Big Nuts speaksCook County Board President Todd Stroger can't get his budget passed "because he's black," his floor leader angrily charged Tuesday.
Commissioner William Beavers said "if Todd was a white man, he wouldn't have half these problems," further alleging "this is a remake of the Harold Washington days" at City Hall, where racially fueled votes often ended in 29-21 decisions.
"Who's gonna control the county -- white or black -- that's all this is," he said.
Beavers railed on that one of Stroger's top critics, Commissioner Tony Peraica, "hates everybody who's black ... all black elected officials," going on to say Peraica used to beat up black people growing up in the Bridgeport neighborhood.
Peraica and others say the comments are not only untrue, they're born of a desperate frustration that Stroger can't pass a 2 percentage-point sales tax hike or other increases.
"Todd Stroger's credibility -- which has nothing to do with race -- is at a low ebb," Peraica said. "He needs to build up that credibility."
Even Commissioner John Daley, a Stroger ally, was surprised by Beavers' words, defending Peraica. "It's wrong for anyone to play the race card," he added.
Yet, prompted by a reporter's question, Beavers yelled not to forget that he's "the hog with the big nuts and I'm gonna tell you what it is."
Race continued to come up throughout an otherwise uneventful budget hearing, setting an ugly and uncomfortable tone that hasn't been seen in previous budget battles.
A shaken Commissioner Peter Silvestri gave a passionate defense, but Beavers was unswayed.
The attacks were the most noteworthy thing to come from a nine-hour meeting designed to help fill a $239 million budget deficit. About $1 million was cut Tuesday.
Though Stroger wants to pass his $3 billion budget by Friday, even he conceded that's not likely. He said commissioners are "afraid" and need to show "common sense" in approaching the budget.