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Emanuel Political Action Committee Targets Ald. Arena on Taxes

By Heather Cherone | February 10, 2015 5:47am
  Arena said he would work to "make sure v ery  wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share."
Emanuel Political Action Committee Targets Ald. Arena on Taxes
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JEFFERSON PARK — A political action committee funded by some of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's staunchest allies took aim at one of the mayor's fiercest critics, accusing Ald. John Arena (45th) of "double talk" on taxes.

Created to boost Emanuel's already healthy City Council majority and help him win re-election, Chicago Forward sent a glossy flier to residents of the 45th Ward in Jefferson Park, Portage Park, Forest Glen, Gladstone Park and Irving Park accusing Arena of breaking a 2011 campaign promise not to raise taxes.

Representatives of Chicago Forward did not respond to a request for comment from DNAinfo Chicago about the flier.

Heather Cherone says this could hurt or help Arena's campaign:

Arena, a member of the council's Progressive Caucus and the alderman who most frequently votes against Emanuel's proposals, said the flier "cynically distort[s] the facts to confuse voters and suppress turnout."

The Chicago Forward flier criticizes Arena for "wanting to raise" property taxes, income taxes and favoring the creation of "a new commuter tax, which would further burden working families."

The flier cites a DNAinfo Chicago story as evidence for its claims.

In an interview on Dec. 7, the day Arena formally launched his re-election campaign, Arena said new taxes should be part of the discussion about how to cover the $550 million pension payment that the state Legislature has ordered the city to make to its police and fire pension systems by 2016. 

In addition to a property tax hike, proposals to impose a tax on suburban commuters as well as one on financial service transactions should be on the table — along with plans to raise taxes on the wealthiest Chicagoans — as city officials develop "a real plan" to cover the shortfall, Arena said.

Emanuel has said he opposes those proposals.

In 2011, then-candidate Arena promised not to raise taxes in a questionnaire published by the Chicago Tribune.

"We can't afford Arena's double talk on taxes," according to the flier, urging voters to cast their ballots against Arena.

Arena said Monday he would not support raising taxes until the tax increment financing system is reformed and wasteful spending is ended.

Arena "wants to make sure that if we do look at new revenues, the very wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share so we're not balancing our budget on the backs of middle-class families," his campaign said in a statement.

Chicago Forward had $1.9 million on hand as of Jan. 15, and spent approximately $580,000 on Feb. 4 to support a host of aldermanic candidates who reliably support Emanuel's proposals, according to records filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Arena has fought the mayor on a variety of issues, including his plan to borrow $17 million at a higher-than-normal interest rate to expand the city's pre-kindergarten programs to 2,600 children in low-income communities and called for the school board to be elected, not appointed by the mayor.

The flier does not mention Arena's three opponents — Chicago Police Lt. John GarridoMichelle Baert, who publishes a website and Facebook page filled with listings for family-friendly activities as the 45th Ward Mom and Michael S. Diaz, who works as an attorney for the state department that regulates banks.

In aldermanic races where no candidate earns 50 percent of the votes cast on Feb. 24, a runoff between the top two candidates will take place April 7.

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