Chicago has yet to recoup the $1.74 million cost of President Obama's victory celebration in Grant Park -- despite a burgeoning $50.5 million budget shortfall that threatens more layoffs and union concessions.Days later, Daley was again asked about the debt:
"The Democratic National Committee has not yet paid us,'' Peter Scales, a spokesman for the city's Office of Budget and Management, said Thursday after questions from the Chicago Sun-Times. "We're reaching out to them this week."
Stacie Paxton, a spokeswoman for the Obama-controlled DNC, explained the reimbursement delay by saying, "We are still looking at various costs and bills.'' She would not say whether parts of the bill are disputed.
The city spent $1 million on police protection for the rally. The Office of Emergency Management and Communications racked up more than $120,000 in expenses, including $19,500 paid to police official Neil Sullivan to quarterback election night logistics.
In late October, Mayor Daley assured that the cash-flush Obama campaign would reimburse the city for every penny spent on the rally. "We have a financial crisis," he said at the time. "The City of Chicago could not afford $2 million on this because we're gonna be laying off people, cutting back. That [cost] would really be unfortunate. . . . It's a huge cost to the City of Chicago.
"Yeah. I don't know why you're so negative. ... What is this? He just won for president, and you say, 'He's not gonna pay his bills,' " the mayor said then.The skepticism that Democrats would timely pay their debt was justified. No doubt prompted by a press inquiry, Chicago is now - in the jargon so beloved by politicians these days - "reaching out" to the Democratic National Committee. Maybe the city should try a collection agency. Or even ask Senator Roland "How'd I Get Here?" Burris for assistance.
The Chicago Sun-Times should be commended for carrying a story most of the mainstream media won't touch. Don't count on seeing the item on CNN anytime soon.