Excepts from the mayor's remarks about his priorities for the city of Chicago.
We are fortunate here
Chicago, for 71 years, to have the Metropolitan
Planning Council. I think it is one of the oldest councils throughout the
country. It has expertise and support on a wide variety of issues that are
really critical to the metropolitan area:
housing, jobs, preservation of water
resources, school funding -- issues that confront us constantly.
They are always in the forefront of
building coalitions … Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives, city,
suburban collar counties.
people coming together -- elected officials, as well as the business community
and faith-based organizations -- understanding the quality of life issues that
directly affect the people that we all represent and work with.
Constantly, when I talk to mayors and other business leaders, they ask me: “What’s the
great success of the City
What has really made
a great success?”
The key is where business and government
have worked together.
mean they may not have differences, but they work together.
There are examples time and time again
of working together.
On the Metropolitan Mayors
has made a difference since 1997 in a metropolitan area, I believe, is the
which was formed
Many of the mayors are
here. I encourage all of you, no matter where you live, make it your business to
get to know your mayor.
matter what size; just get to know that individual … the president of village,
the mayor of your local community.
Because there is where it begins and ends; right there, you understand
what the city administration is all about, what they are talking about: the
business community or school funding or crime or all the other issues.
And what the
has done is
comprise over 272 mayors throughout the region – McHenry, Lake,
We have the mayor of
, the mayor of
, even some of the mayors in
have come to many
of our meetings.
We all come
together dealing with the issue of really working together, not to divide the
area and not to talk about political issues … “let’s see what we can do
And we have done a lot
together, both in Washington D.C. and in
… on economic development, air quality control, deregulation of electrical
power, water resources, tourism,
just to name a few.
supported their work in
dealing with our lobbying efforts in
both the State Capital and
We have lobbied heavily in the Illinois General Assembly to expand the
eligibility for heating assistance for low-income families.
On Lake Michigan
Our great lake is
the key, that’s our front and back door of our great city. You think of what
Burnham did many, many years ago just protecting that lakefront. As compared to
cities in United States , in the world, there is no lakefront like it, and
that’s a lot of vision. They understood that at the time, those business
leaders, they understood the past and the present but they always looked to the
future. And that’s what Chicago is always about; always looking to the future in
regards to projects, in regards to quality of life, and never just living the
past. And no city can do it alone. We learn from one another. I learn from Dick.
I learn from other mayors not just here but across the city, across the country,
and across the world. We learn from one another.
Of course the
environmental issue is there because of our great lakefront, and that is a major
issue for the City of
and the metropolitan area.
That issue goes hand-in-hand with good
schools, affordable housing, economic development, and adequate
I believe this is
a major issue, whether or not this country is going to deal with infrastructure
immediately and not wait for another 10 or 20 or 30 years. That’s extremely
important. And that’s why we invested billions of dollars on our infrastructure
locally, with local money dealing with the quality of life of the city of
Chicago . For example, not just the buildings downtown, the lakefront Millennium
Park, but the smaller things in life: window boxes, flowers, shrubs, trees. The
whole idea of landscaping in our city, that nature can coexist in an urban
On civic pride
There is something
about Chicago that’s a hidden treasure. It’s unique. It’s a secret, and people
have pride in our city and that goes back for a long way. When you have pride in
the city, you think how well it looks from the airport to downtown, from one
community to another, whether you are using CTA or using Metra or basically
driving through any part of this city. You have to have pride in the city, and
it has to come from the community block clubs, community organizations, business
and faith-based organizations. That’s what we have to look at, and that’s what
we have tried to do over many years, getting pride back in every home and every
block in our great
We talk about
the lakefront, we talk about the cultural and recreational opportunities for
people in the metropolitan area, as well as 30 million visitors and business
travelers who pour more than $20 billion into the Chicago-area
On water resources
lake, our great Lake Michigan, provides 350 billion gallons of drinking water each
year to Chicago and 121 communities. It’s part of a regionwide system of our
rivers, our streams, our sewers, our deep tunnels, water mains, floodplains. They are
a most important resource and our biggest problem, depending how we use our
water. Two years ago, the City of Chicago brought together water agenda. How well
do we manage stormwater, protecting water quality, and promote conservation as
part of the same goal? Water issues demand a regionwide perspective, and that’s
why the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus has an agenda on that. Water pays no attention
to region or even international boundaries. Actions taken by Chicago or
Waukegan can affect Cleveland or
Chicago has taken a lead in organizing the
Canada into a group
called The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, which lobbies
D.C., on behalf of legislation such as
invasive species, sewage overflows, water levels, toxic problems.
We share our best practices of all the
cities on the
, and deal with the
best practices of cleaning up the lakes.
We began a major outreach campaign to educate the public on how they can
protect our water resources.
campaign is part of a larger effort called Conserve Chicago that will enlist
public support on recycling, energy conservation, air quality, as well as water
encourages Chicagoans to install water saving fixtures, plant rain gardens,
pick-up litter, dispose of the hazardous materials at collection sites rather
than pouring them down the drain.
Of course, government has to set
example. In Chicago, we have reduced water use
by 160 million gallons a day in 10 years, by replacing old water mains,
and through other
techniques. We are experimenting with new construction techniques in alleys to absorb
much of the stormwater that otherwise would run into
sewage system. We have installed water
saving plumbing in city buildings and public park
district pools. We are building a 3,000 foot
tunnel to carry clean rainwater from the
Michigan. That will keep approximately 55 million gallons of rainwater out at
the sewage system each
have installed rooftop gardens on city buildings to collect rainwater, which
lower temperatures in the summer and reduce the amount of energy needed to cool
buildings. We are
encouraging private building owners to follow our lead, and more than 100 rooftop
gardens and green roofs -- covering 1.6 million sq. ft. -- have been constructed or
are planned on top of public and private buildings in and around the city
. We are helping business improve
their manufacturing process to reduce water use or use new road building
techniques that keep road salt, oil, and gasoline from flowing into Lake Michigan and
River (which we consider the
have launched a long-range program to turn the river
Chicago’s second shoreline,
with nature trails, fishing areas, canoe launches, and other recreational
So far, we have acquired
over 37 acres of public open space along the river.
We have created over seven miles of
On the environment
Of course, our
concern for the environment extends beyond water conservation.
has created the most aggressive program
in a nation to transform brownfields into new industrial facilities, green
spaces, affordable housing, and manufacturing centers.
This has helped the city increase its
tax base, by more than $1 million annually and has created or retained more than
Last year, we implemented a new set of environmentally sensitive
construction standards for public buildings that will ensure healthier indoor
environments, reduce operating costs, and conserve energy.
We call it the Chicago Standard. It's
our commitment to build all city facilities, to assure they would be LEED
This means selecting
sites that are convenient to public transportation, designing buildings that fit
with the surrounding communities, have green roofs, use less energy and water,
are built with recycled materials when possible, and use indoor daylight.
So far, we have achieved LEED
certification for several libraries and police stations; a dozen more city
buildings are awaiting the approval.
We have created a Green Building Award Program to recognize
excellence in the private sector.
To showcase new methods of energy conservation, the city has financed the
restoration of four model bungalows with geothermal heating and cooling,
insulation made from blue jeans, and shredded newspaper (which I hope there is
more), and innovative ways of reusing rain water.
In their first year, these homes saved
over $700 in utility costs.
hosted a competition to design five affordable green residences, which were then
built and sold for about $150,000 each.
These models influence the construction of affordable housing, including
replacement residences for public housing high rise residents we tore down.
We have number of other environmental initiatives in Chicago, including the
requirement next year that construction sites recycle a minimum of 25 percent of
their waste. This will increase to 50 percent by January 2007. This effort is
not simply based on idealism. It makes environmental and economic sense; that
has never been more obvious than now, as we anticipate a rise in home heating
costs by at least 40 percent. If we can lower the citywide temperature by one
degree through green methods, we will save $150 million in energy costs here in
the city of Chicago . If we can persuade Chicagoans to turn off the water when
they brush their teeth, it would save 6 million gallons a day in the city of
Chicago . Every 5 percent reduction in water use saves the city $1.2 million on
the cost of treating and pumping water. When we talk about gasoline costs around
$3 a gallon, people are finally understanding the value of good mass transit
system -- a system the Metropolitan Planning Council has advocated for many,
many years. And that’s why the modernization of the CTA, encouragement of
residential development in the downtown area so people can walk to work is
extremely important in this day and age. When a city exists in harmony with its
environment it simply looks better, it feels better, and that’s good for the
very important that the Metropolitan Planning Council has built a statewide
consensus for education funding reform . And if we’re ever going to move in the
metropolitan area, that is the issue, education funding reform. We have talked
about it far too long, and now we have to do something about it. And I want to
thank the Metropolitan Planning Council for really providing that strong
leadership as well.
Education is the number one issue here in our city. I know I may be traveling
to see the White Sox tonight, but I will be back tomorrow morning for Principal
for a Day, which I believe is as important as a White Sox. I am a White Sox fan,
but education is the highest priority. And that’s what I believe is different in
our city … taking on the challenges of education. No other city has taken that
on in a personal way, from the business leaders and community people over the
last ten years. And there is a difference right here in the city of Chicago .