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Editorial: ‘Delay’ of 6 days on Trust is no delay

Updated: May 21, 2012 8:36AM

With a straight face, Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wed­nesday argued that delaying a vote on his experimental city improvements trust fund by a mere six days — to next Tuesday — was a real concession.

It was not.

This newspaper has called for a delay — a real one — so that Chicagoans, in particular the aldermen who represent us, can do their homework on Emanuel’s bold and innovative plan to create the Chicago Infrastructure Trust, a mechanism to draw in private investors to finance public works.

And when we say homework, we mean independent study (as in research that’s not directed by Emanuel’s staff. A delay isn’t simply about allowing time to change a few key lines in the ordinance to beef up oversight, which Emanuel did last week and for which he deserves credit. And it’s not simply about adding an executive order, which Emanuel announced on Wednesday and which looks promising. The order calls for an independent financial adviser to assess each proposed Trust project before a City Council vote and for an annual third-party audit of the Trust to see what can be improved.

A delay is about the big picture — giving aldermen and others time to properly nail down an idea that looks pretty good. For the sake of taxpayers, for the sake of the decaying city infrastructure the Trust promises to rebuild, let’s take the time to get this right.

A delay isn’t about standing idly by as the city’s infrastructure crumbles, as Emanuel has suggested. It’s about doing right by Chicago for decades to come.

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