Community, Labor, Faith Groups Call on Chicago Mayor to Create G8/NATO Community Fund

Chicago–Today community, labor and faith groups delivered a letter to Mayor Emanuel calling for all spending related to hosting the upcoming G8 and NATO summits to be matched dollar for dollar by investment in Chicago’s communities through the creation of a Chicago G8/NATO Community Fund.
The letter asks the Mayor to call upon the large corporations and benefactors funding expenses related to hosting these events to also donate to the Community Fund “which can be used to keep libraries and mental health clinics open, as well as to provide direct investment in Chicago’s many struggling neighborhoods, which are in desperate need of jobs, schools, housing, and essential services.”

The groups signing the letter point out that the city overlooked or ignored the interests of Chicago’s working families in planning the May summits. “[A]t a time when our city is experiencing a serious budget deficit and facing record unemployment, record foreclosures, record poverty, and drastic cuts to services,” the document states, “it is negligent to direct such a large sum of money to a weekend-long event that benefits the 1% without also ensuring that a similar sum is invested in Chicago’s 99%–our communities.”

The groups also call for any federal support received by the city to be similarly matched–dollar for dollar–by federal support for community programs. “If the City is willing to seek out federal funding to host a three-day summit, it also has a responsibility to seek federal funding to address the long-term issues that impact our communities, such as unemployment, foreclosure, school closings, and unfunded social programs and services,” the letter states.

“At the drop of a hat, Mayor Emanuel can raise $60 million for the global elite, and yet our neighborhoods suffer from unsafe vacant buildings, gun violence, and skyrocketing unemployment,” said Amisha Patel, Executive Director of the Grassroots Collaborative, one of the organizations issuing the letter. “Instead of throwing a party for the 1%, the Mayor and corporate Chicago should be creating jobs for the 99% — jobs to clean up abandoned housing, jobs to keep school children safe, and summer jobs for youth.”

“The G-8 Summit presents an opportunity for our mayor and business leaders to demonstrate that Chicago is a world-class city that, foremost, invests in its social infrastructures and the upward mobility of its residents, especially poor people,” said Rev. Calvin S. Morris, Executive Director of the Community Renewal Society.

“This money could go to renovating public spaces like Kelly Park, which has been in disrepair for years, and could fund more youth programs to keep our kids off the streets and out of gangs,” said Beatriz Merlos, a parent organizer with the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council. “And we could put more police in neighborhoods where shootings are reaching staggering levels.”

“I was crying at one of the six mental health clinics that Mayor Emanuel wants to close, thinking about the comparison between the $2 million we need to save our clinics and the millions of dollars that will go to the insane and insatiable greed surrounding the NATO/G8 summits,” said  Margaret Sullivan, who depends upon the services offered by Beverly/Morgan Park Mental Health clinic and is a member of Southside Together Organizing for Power (STOP).

Given what the City Inspector General terms the “corporate nature” of the World Business Chicago board, it’s not surprising that the group lobbied extensively to bring these summits to Chicago. It is unlikely that any but a narrow set of large corporate interests will experience any economic benefit from hosting the meetings here. “[I]t is clear that, after many millions have been spent on these summits, 99% of our city will still be in need of programs and services that will remain unfunded,” the letter states.

“The 99% have been struggling through harsh budget cuts while the city is doling out our tax dollars in corporate welfare to the CME and other World Business Chicago members,” said Rev. C.J. Hawking, Executive Director of Arise Chicago, a faith-based labor rights organization. “And now we’re going to invest millions in events for and by the 1%? We’re calling upon the city and World Business Chicago members to make at least an equal investment in the working families of the city.”

The following community, labor and faith groups signed the letter delivered to the Mayor today:

Action Now, Albany Park Neighborhood Council, Arise Chicago, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Chicago Jobs with Justice, Chicago Teachers Union, Chicago Political Economy Group, Community Renewal Society, The Grassroots Collaborative, Illinois Hunger Coalition, Lakeview Action Coalition, Metropolitan Tenants Organization, Move the Money Chicago, SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana, SEIU Local 1, SEIU Local 73, Southside Together Organizing for Power (STOP), Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation (SOUL), Stand Up! Chicago, United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), Workers United Chicago & Midwest Regional Joint Board


One Response

  1. […] Emanuel to match all the summit costs with an investment into communities in Chicago, through the proposal of a G8/NATO Community Fund. The proposal was made before the decision to move the G8 summit was […]

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