City colleges officials mum on stimulus details

  • By Peter Sachs
  • Staff Writer
  • February 13, 2009 @ 12:00 PM

City Colleges of Chicago officials, and from other agencies overseen by City Hall, are refusing to release details on the projects they would like to have funded by the $789 billion economic stimulus bill Congress is slated to approve today.

“When we know exactly how much we’re getting from the federal government … then the city will be able to release the final investment plan,” City Colleges spokeswoman Elsa Tullos says.

City Hall officials asked the college district leaders not to divulge any specifics of its wish list, Chancellor Wayne Watson says.

In general terms, he added, the district would like to get enough funding to expand workforce training and vocational programs in health, nursing and green construction.

“There’s nothing crazy in there,” Watson says. The matter was discussed at today's CCC trustees meeting.

He referred other questions to the mayor’s office. But no one in the mayor’s press office was available to comment.

Despite repeated requests from media across the city, Mayor Richard M. Daley has refused to detail when projects the city hopes to have funded —including projects that would affect the City Colleges, Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Public Schools and other departments.

Daley has only hinted in the broadest strokes that money would go to projects such as repaving streets and repairing CTA tracks.

Many other municipalities across the state and nation have clearly stated the projects they’d like to have funded.

In December, officials from the Regional Transportation Authority, which oversees the CTA, Metra and Pace, said they had up to $675 million worth of projects it wanted to see funded by a stimulus bill.

Earlier this week, Evanston officials released a $145.5 million list that included $90 million for a new civic center as well as funds for a dozen other projects.

At a City Colleges Board of Trustees meeting last week, Diane Minor, an assistant vice chancellor, said the district’s draft list of projects totaled nearly $300 million and included renovations to many campus buildings. It is unclear how many of those projects, if funded, would ease the strain on the district’s backlog of deferred maintenance projects, which tallies about $100 million, according to budget documents.

“These projects … involve immediate job creation for newly trained workers and have a highly visible impact on the economy,” Minor said at the meeting.

Daily News Staff Writer Peter Sachs covers higher education.