The Bears are leaving Chicago. Citadel has left, and with it, the big taxpayer Ken Griffin. Boeing has left Illinois and so has Caterpillar. Tyson Foods is leaving Chicago, and others could follow. Many downtown office buildings are half full, national retailers have left both Michigan Avenue and State Street. Conventions are going elsewhere, and tourism is down dramatically. Real estate taxes and sales taxes are among the highest in the nation. The economic base of Chicago and Illinois is crumbling right before our eyes. Some neighborhoods are riddled in crime and violence without consequences. Police are being targeted.
Let’s look at the facts.
Crime: Chicago experienced 723 murders in 2022, the most of any U.S. city. This year is tracking in the same direction. There were also 3,477 incidents of people shooting guns at other people in Chicago in 2022 (1,331 more than in 2019, just three years ago). To put these numbers in perspective, New York had 433 murders, Los Angeles had 387, Detroit, 403; and Atlanta, 170.
According to the City of Chicago Police Department Crime Statistics, Chicago experienced 8,996 robberies in 2022; 5,890 aggravated robberies; 7,622 burglaries; 20,194 thefts (up 50% from 2021); and 21,425 motor vehicle thefts (up 95% from 2021).
Schools: Chicago Public Schools used to decide what was in the best interests of children. Today, the Chicago Teachers Union determines what is best for themselves. Unfortunately, what is best for the Chicago Teachers Union invariably is not best for the students and their parents. New York City had in-person learning in classrooms during COVID. Chicago’s religious and parochial schools and suburban school districts had in-person learning. For much of COVID, the Chicago Teachers Union refused to teach students in person.
According to the Illinois Assessment of Readiness — the Illinois standardized test measuring third to eighth grade students — for the exam administered at CPS in March of 2021, only 21% of the students met or exceeded English grade level standards and only 16% met or exceeded math grade-level standards. Similar trends were seen on the SAT college entrance exam administered to 11th graders.
Chicago parents are voting with their feet. In 2012, there were 404,151 students enrolled in Chicago public schools. In 2021, 340,658 students were enrolled. The mayor and the governor need to take control of this situation immediately and side with the parents and students in this nonsensical ongoing CPS/Chicago Teachers Union battle.
This is not a teacher or principal problem. I met many of these professionals from the HOPE Chicago scholarship work I am involved with. The goals and desires of the teachers and principals are in the best interests of the students and parents. This is a Chicago Teachers Union problem— a union that supports Brandon Johnson for mayor. It has become a pure political platform, not an organization whose purpose and goals are to help students or teachers.
According to WalletHub, Chicago has the highest taxes payable by residents of any city in the U.S.
Chicago has the second-highest real estate taxes of any city in the U.S., according to WalletHub. Especially with the rise of remote work that came with the pandemic, there is no better reason for young people to leave Chicago for places like Austin, Dallas, Nashville, Phoenix, Denver, Miami and other lower-tax locations. It is not sustainable for Chicago residents to continue to pay more taxes to subsidize bloated city government, inefficiency, duplicative programs and wasteful spending.
Chicago retail and tourist spending:
There was a time when the Magnificent Mile attracted vacationers and tourists from all over the world, spending money on Michigan Avenue, State Street, Oak Street and the surrounding neighborhoods.Carjackings, smash and grabs, looting and retail theft have decimated much of this business. There are empty stores large and small everywhere on Michigan Avenue and State Street; many blocks have more vacancies than tenants. National chains are moving out. What is worse, much-needed local shopping and drugstores in the neighborhoods are being vacated in the same manner because of retail theft and violence.
Of the 11 cities in the U.S. that have been selected to participate in the World Cup, Chicago (the third-largest city in the U.S. and one of the most diverse) is not one of them. Chicago didn’t even put in an application.
Paul Vallas is the right choice of the two candidates for mayor. He has the skills and the temperament necessary to tackle some of the toughest issues today facing the city on crime, education and taxes. Johnson is a former Chicago Teachers Union organizer who has historically called for defunding the police and supporting the needs of the teachers union ahead of the needs of students and parents. A vote for Johnson would be a vote to continue down the self-destructive path Chicago is on today.
Ted Koenig is CEO of Monroe Capital.
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April 2, 2023 at 05:41PM