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Danny Davis says he’ll stop city’s ‘overnight deals’ if elected mayor

Updated: December 27, 2010 5:43PM

Congressman Danny Davis announced his agenda for reforming Chicago government Monday, pledging to stop the practice of what he called “overnight deals” made by executive decision if he’s elected mayor.

Davis didn’t mention Mayor Daley’s name. He also didn’t mention his mayoral opponents who include former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.

But Davis made pointed references to Daley’s style, a day after the mayor surpassed his father’s tenure to become the longest-serving mayor of Chicago.

“We have faced scandal after scandal in this city,” Davis said, promising to back the city’s inspector general and ethics office in their oversight of city contracts. Davis criticized the role of political clout in awarding those contracts.

He slammed what he termed “overnight” and “backdoor” deals by the Daley administration that led to the closure of Meigs Field, the installation of cameras to photograph and fine drivers who run red lights and the lease of city parking meters and the Chicago Skyway toll bridge to private operators.

“Overnight, Meigs Field bulldozed. Overnight, red light cameras to go up. Overnight, privatized Skyway deal done. Overnight, parking meters,” Davis said. Daley famously ordered bulldozers onto Meigs Field one night in 2003.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that I would have a far more transparent shop,” Davis said, adding that he would appoint advisory groups and committees to help him get public engagement and participation.

“The influence of money and illegitimate power operates in an often subtle and inscrutable fashion,” Davis said. “I want openness in government to enable public scrutiny of important policy decisions.”

He said he’s asked attorneys to examine the parking meter contract “to see if there’s a way to go back to the negotiating table.”

“The city revenue has been sold for short-term profit and there’s little long-term gain for the city or its residents,” Davis said of the parking meter deal.

Davis declined to answer a question about whether the city’s black vote would be split, weakening his chances if former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun remains in the race. Another leading black candidate, state Sen. James Meeks, withdrew last week. The election is Feb. 22.

Davis said he supports reasonable settlement offers in the remaining lawsuits against the city involving allegations of police torture. He said he would invoke an existing city ordinance to stop paying the legal fees of a former Chicago police lieutenant convicted of lying about the torture of suspects.

“Jon Burge was convicted and yet the city continues to finance the defense of Mr. Burge,” Davis said.

Davis also questioned the use of tax increment financing, or TIF, in affluent areas.

“The mayor has exercised total control over TIF funds and funneled money to high-income areas that are already experiencing significant market investment and development,” Davis said. “The TIF money is not a slush fund.”

He said he’d make sure neighborhoods have a greater say in how TIF funds are used.


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