My Budget Vote
Community Meeting re: 2670 N Lincoln
Oz Park Tree Lighting
Dear Neighbor,

Last week I voted for the Mayor's budget and want to share the reasons behind that vote with you. The overall answer is we are making progress on financial matters and stabilizing city operations while, at the same time, pushing forward on major reform and re-building our police force.
Four financial hurdles dominate the Chicago city budget: 

-        Pension obligations
-        Operating issues and inefficiencies
-        Poor financial practices leading to an overall high level of debt
-        Unsustainable union contracts
The courts stymied efforts to reform the city's pension obligations,  forcing property tax increases along with water and sewer increases to meet these obligations.  Recently, however, the  Illinois Supreme Court  issued an encouraging ruling that will save taxpayers $130 million a year and help reduce our pension debt.

Operating issues have plagued City departments for decades. The most costly have been  poor police practices that have resulted in over $600 million in judgments - that alone would have prevented the recent property tax increase. 
The answer to lowering costs is to eliminate the faulty practices in the Chicago Police Department that led to these liabilities.  I have written about reforming CPD in a previous newsletter. 
For our community, this budget will bring more officers to the North Side and offset the loss of personnel caused by police retirements.  We expect to have our police districts more robustly staffed throughout 2018.
Another operational cost saving, reducing  absenteeism and overtime, is beginning to bear fruit.  I co-chaired the Absenteeism Task Force and can report in the last 12 months, absenteeism has dropped dramatically. (See this chart).  Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), overtime and absenteeism discipline reforms recommended by the Task Force are being implemented and will lead to greater future savings. This means more money directed into better city services for everyone.

Overall debt has climbed as the city has paid the penalties associated with bad fiscal practices including swaps, adjustable rate borrowings and "scoop and toss."  These practices are now at an end.  

The city also pledged to decrease borrowing for non-long term items. From 2011-2015, the city borrowed $467 million to pay judgments and settlements, as it had for many years.  In 2016 we borrowed nothing, and there are no plans to borrow for 2017.  The city also provided me with concrete information proving tens of millions of items scheduled to be paid with borrowed funds were instead, paid with operating funds - which is more proper. 

The remaining threat to financial stability are union contracts, currently being renegotiated.  As I've discussed in an earlier newsletter, our police contract must be redrawn to facilitate reform and lower our costs. Unions, whose pensions are now generously funded, must now partner with the city to change wasteful work rules and stabilize wages and benefits to secure full city services for the future. 

I supported some changes in fees in this budget.  For example, our ward's local economic driver is live entertainment and restaurants.  That is why it was important to restructure the amusement tax to exempt all venues under 1500 seats.  This will help our local theatres, such as the Royal George, Lincoln Hall, and Park West, as well as smaller music houses like Alive One, Blues and Kingston Mines.  These establishments bring important dollars and vibrancy into our community and help support neighboring businesses and the restaurants that we enjoy.

Of course, there is room for criticism of this budget. After careful review, my vote was to endorse the progress we have made with a pledge to continue demanding efficient use of your tax dollars.
Community Meeting
2658-70 N. Lincoln Redevelopment Proposal

Monday, December 4th
6:00 p.m.
New Life Community Church
1110 W. Lill Ave.

My office and the Wrightwood Neighbors Association (WNA) will host a community meeting on a proposal to redevelop 2658 - 70 North Lincoln Avenue, currently the site of the Lincoln Park Gas Station.

The applicant seeks to redevelop the current gas station and the adjacent parcel into a four (4) story, 45 residential unit structure transit-oriented development. 

For more information, click here.
CTA Budget
Open for Public Comment

On Tuesday, December 12, 2017 at 6 p.m., CTA holds a public hearing on a 25 cent fare increase at CTA headquarters, 567 W. Lake Street, second floor conference room.  The public meeting notice is  here.

The fare increase will partially compensate for $33 million in reduced state aid. CTA has announced  more than $20 million in budget cuts and $3 million in increased ad and concession revenue to help maintain service levels in the coming year.  You can read the CTA budget summary here 

Input is encouraged at the hearing or by writing to Gregory P. Longhini, Assistant Secretary of the Board, Chicago Transit Authority, P.O. Box 7567, Chicago, Illinois 60680-7567 or via email to:  or via fax: 312-681-5035. The deadline for written comments is Noon Wednesday, December 13, 2017.
Fall Leaf Pickup

Neighbors, we need your help with this year's Fall cleanup.  The sweeping trucks are overloaded with leaves and it is slowing the street cleaning process.  Please  bag as many leaves as possible and we will do a special landscape pick up when you call 773-348-9500.  Just let us know how many bags you have to pick up.

Urgent Tree Care before Winter

We've planted a hundred new trees this year and city arborists advise to please water newly planted trees until the ground freezes and keep some mulch over the root ball/hole dimension.  Putting mulch on new and existing trees helps moderate soil temperatures and retain water.
Seasonal Events

Lincoln Park's Winter Warmup

Join the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce in a  month-long neighborhood celebration.  Welcome December with a weekend of shopping while sipping  hot chocolate, enjoying holiday songs and a visit with Santa -  all while exploring some of Lincoln Park's favorite streets -  Clark, Lincoln and Armitage.

       Clark Street                             Lincoln Avenue                    Armitage & Halsted 
Visit Santa at Mid-North Park     Visit Santa at Oz Park     Visit Santa at Bridgeview Bank
    (Clark & Belden)                       (near the Tin Man)           (1970 N. Halsted parking lot)
  Friday, December 1                  Saturday, December 2                 Sunday, December 3
    5:00 - 8:00 p.m.                             2:00 - 5:00 p.m.                         2:00 - 5:00 p.m.

Concert at Lincoln Park Branch Library
featuring Lincoln Park High Ensembles
1150 W. Fullerton Ave.
Saturday, December 2nd
2:00 - 3:00 p.m.

Celebrate the holidays with a concert from Lincoln Park High's award-winning ensembles.

Oz Park Tree Lighting

Holiday Meet and Treat
with Alderman Smith
Le Pain Quotidien
1000 W. Armitage Ave.
Thursday, December 7
5:30-6:30 p.m.

Our tradition continues of featuring local businesses during the holiday season. See you at Le Pain Quotidien for some treats and a chat about our ward in the first of this season's "Meet and Treat" events.  Hope to see you there!

Lincoln Park's Own Sing-Along Messiah
Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church
600 W. Fullerton Pkwy.
Sunday, December 10
6:00 p.m.

Featuring soloists and chamber orchestra, bring your score and sing along, or just enjoy. Freewill offering. Refreshments follow. 

News from our Schools

Lincoln Park High School

Have kids in Middle School?  Have them meet each other and learn about Lincoln Park High School on December 1 from 7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. The event is free, but please RSVP to Parents are expected to attend with their children.

The winning Oscar Mayer 5th-6th Grade Flag Football Team

Oscar Mayer Wins!

Congrats to both Oscar Mayer School and Alcott School for impressive finishes in the 5th-6th Grade flag football tournament. 

Oscar Mayer won first place in the league tournament, with Alcott coming in a close second.

LaSalle Language Academy

When you shop Amazon, go to and select Friends of LaSalle Language Academy as your designated charity, and a percentage of your order benefits LaSalle Language Academy.  

See you in the neighborhood,

Michele Signature

Michele Smith
Alderman, 43rd Ward 

43rd Ward Office Hours: M 9 AM - 7 PM, T-F 9 AM - 6 PM 
 2523 N Halsted | 773-906-4333 Call or Text||