Chicago Stimulus Program: A Family Affair

Even though cities all over the United States are running large deficits, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley feels that an investment in one particular charity is an investment for the future. After School Matters, founded by Mayor Daley’s wife Maggie Daley, funds l youth programs and helps low-income youth obtain job skills. It has received more than $46 million from the city since 2005, with nearly one-third of that total coming in 2009 alone ($15 million). This is a 50% increase from 2008, when the charity received $9.36 million.

The city has even given some of its federal stimulus package to fund After School Matter’s job program, which pays low-income 14 to 24 year-olds $9-$10 an hour for four and a half hours of work each workday. The contract, signed in 2009, has allotted $1.31 million to the charity for three years. However, Illinois lags behind its projected job growth, and Mayor Daley must find a way to create sustainable jobs for these new workers if he is going to justify this allotment of stimulus money.

Aside from that, companies that have contracts with the city are donating money to the project as well. Mayor Daley may not be accepting money from city contractors for his campaign, it certainly does not hurt that these contractors are giving millions to his wife’s charity. The Mayor has encountered a lot of criticism for patronage in City Hall after his nephew was found to have used city pension money to buy union land. After School Matters may represent a much more righteous investment, but the Mayor’s seems determined to make Chicago’s budget a family affair.

Hat tip to Steve Bartin’s Newsalert