AN INJUSTICE FOR ONE WILL BECOME INJUSTICE FOR ALL!
I also wanted to say to Baltimore that you just have to look at the Finance Committee to see why there is a pipeline from Baltimore Development to the Mayor to the City Council. I hear people say Jack Young can't help it, the mayor has all the power. It is Jack Young and Carl Stokes who place the Enterprise communities on the Financial Committee. You have Harbor East/Fells Point, Mount Vernon, Federal Hill, and Mt Washington.....all affluent communities getting all of the city revenue on this committee. Jack Young as Council President and Carl Stokes as Committee Chair decide who sits on this committee. THIS IS WHAT ALLOWS ALL THESE BILLS TO MOVE RIGHT THROUGH TO FULL VOTE. THESE ARE THE FARM TEAM....THE TEAM PLAYERS THAT MAKE THE BDC PIPELINE WORK. Then, it is your neo-liberal pol that votes it into law even as it hurts the greater Baltimore communities. We need to vote all of them out of office and get those unemployed labor and justice people in office!
POOR JACK YOUNG.....THE MAYOR ALWAYS MAKES HIM DO IT.....HE WOULD WORK FOR US IF HE COULD.....WAKE UP BALTIMORE ....City Council works for BDC!!!
Citizens Oversight Maryland will be working to start this TIF Illumination Project here in Baltimore not only to stop the practice but to bring back those TIFs that show malfeasance.
The TIF Illumination Project
is a project of The CivicLab, an enterprise devoted to innovation in civic engagement and distributed democracy. Tom Tresser is the Chief Tool Maker and has been cooking up innovation in community organizing, civic engagement and strategic planning for over 30 years. The project will produce reports and teaching materials and will be a citizen-powered enterprise. We are recruiting and training a team of TIF Ninjas – citizen journalists who have already spent years doing hyper-local reporting, investigative muckraking, citizen activism and good government research. We can no longer rely on the commercial media to do this reporting. We can not rely on our elected officials to serve as champions for the taxpayers and our over-worked civic organizations show no inclination to do this on-the-ground, community-by-community reporting. If we truly want to know how our tax money is being used and abuse, we are going to have to find out for ourselves. It is our hope that, in time, every ward in the city of Chicago and every community in suburban Cook County will have a TIF Reporter on assignment to cover the uses and abuses of TIF funds in their area.
We are starting our ward-by-ward review of TIFs with the 27th Ward. We want to review and visit all 50 wards.
Click here to learn about the TIF Illumination Project editorial team. CivicLab co-founder Tom Tresser has been researching TIFs and related civic issues since 2008. Here is a flier from a February 2008 seminar at DePaul University that featured Chicago Reader reporter Ben Joravsky.
Review the presentation below to learn about the CivicLab and the space we want to create in Chicago for civic innovation.
Introducing The CivicLab
The article below is written about Chicago politics. Why is Chicago tied to Baltimore......IT IS THE SAME AS BALTIMORE WITH THE SAME PLAYERS! O'Malley is running for National office and Obama is from Chicago and Exelon is an Obama supporter and a charter/school privatization leader. Baltimore had its BGE utility sold to Exelon because of this run for national office and because of Johns Hopkins love of Exelon politics especially with TIFs and school privatization. So, Exelon is a match for Hopkins public policy goals. If you were at the Harbor Point TIF meeting at City Hall you heard that Exelon/the developer was to give 2 million dollars to a charter school at Harbor East pretending it would serve underserved school children bused in from around the city. No one believes that. The article makes clear Exelon is fighting to privatize schools as much as Johns Hopkins. It will become a super-funded affluent school in the midst of luxury development. EXELON JUST HAD TO HAVE THE TIF BECAUSE IT GETS ITS WAY IN CHICAGO AND PENNSYLVANIA AS WELL. As an aside, Exelon also raised rates on consumers in those markets so consumers could pay for all of their operation costs and infrastructure development just as they did in Maryland. So, this Harbor Point project involving Exelon is a pay-to-play with a corporation that has a history of taking all from the people. NICE NEIGHBOR O'MALLEY AND RAWLINGS-BLAKE IS LEAVING US WITH!
As I said last blog there is no reason to give this TIF......as we see time and again with Rawlings-Balke and O'Malley, public money is being handed hand over foot to the wealthy and it is RACKETEERING. So why does the Justice Department come in and break up these rackets? THEY DON'T SEE FRAUD, REMEMBER?
I want to note for the education side of the story below you will see how Rahm Emanuel, Arne Duncan, and Obama are doing in Chicago the same thing that Hopkins is doing in Baltimore as far as loading the school board with business people and turning all schools into charters. In Chicago they went directly to private charters. In Baltimore and Maryland they are taking the 'public' charter step before privatizing them. REMEMBER, ALL POLICY DEEMED PUBLIC-PRIVATE IS JUST A STEP TOWARDS PRIVATE.
I want to remind people that all these public assets and services took decades of public money to establish and all of it is being rebuilt with public money and handed over to private hands.
THESE POLS ARE NOT DEMOCRATS....THEY ARE NEO-LIBERALS AND THEY WORK FOR WEALTH AND PROFIT,....NOT PEOPLE. WE SIMPLY NEED TO VOTE THEM OUT BY RUNNING AND VOTING FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE NEXT ELECTIONS!
Rahm Emanuel, TIFs, Exelon, CPS and greed…it’s kids and community that suffers
The Chicago Teacher’s Union strike is in its second full day, and there is little sign the two sides are any closer to an agreement. Rahm Emanuel made more public appearances in the last 48 hours than he has in his entire first year in office. Emanuel was always seen with children the past two days, talking about how CPS and his office just wants “what is best” for the children.
Both sides claim they want what’s best for the kids. Emanuel elevated the rhetoric by calling the strike a “choice” of the union, saying it is unnecessary. What is going unreported by Chicago media is that the mayor is correct – this is a strike of choice. The choice, however, was not one made by CTU, teachers, or parents. It was made at the highest levels of corporate power that now dominate the city of Chicago. Teachers, students, taxpayers, and parents are just pawns.
The CPS School Board is appointed by the mayor, not elected by taxpayers and parents. In 2011, newly elected mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed seven people – only one with a public education background (Dr. Mahalia Hines). The board President (David Vitale) is in high finance, former President of the Chicago Board of Trade. The Vice President (Jesse Ruiz) is a corporate attorney who is an Exelon Board Member (this is important). There is another corporate attorney (Andrea Zopp), also an Exelon Board Member (again, important). The balance of the board is an economist/political scientist (Henry Bienen), real estate developer/multi-millionaire Penny Pritzker, and journalist/communications consultant Rodrigo Sierra.
The corporate dominant politics of Chicago have made it TIF (Tax Increment Financing project) central. Under Illinois state law, TIFs may only be used to prevent or remediate urban blight; or foster industrial development. In Chicago, TIFs have become an addiction for developers and politicians looking to line their pocketbooks and garner influence. In the past decade, TIF districts have nearly doubled, from 87 in 2000 to 162 in 2010.
In Illinois, a TIF district is authorized for a period of up to twenty‐three years, with the possibility of renewal for an additional twelve. At the time of designation of a TIF district, the current Equalized Assessed Value (EAV) of all property is measured by the Cook County Assessor’s Office and
established as a baseline, which is often referred to as the “frozen” EAV.
During a TIF district’s duration, no tax revenue created from increases in property values are allocated to overlapping taxing bodies such as Cook County, Chicago Public Schools, or the Chicago Park District. These jurisdictions are able to continue to collect taxes on the base level of EAV within TIF districts during its 23‐ year lifespan. Briefly stated – TIFs take money out of the CPS revenue stream; including loss of inflationary property value.
An academic study presented by Dr. Bruno Quesada, University of Illinois, in December 2011 quantified the CPS revenue applied to TIF districts from 1995-2010. The fifteen year total reported in the study was over $2.2 Billion. The 2010 figure topped $260 Million. Huge numbers in a revenue challenged economy and district – CPS is facing a $700 Million+ deficit in the current budget. The study concludes that the TIF allocation presents a tremendous burden; allocated in a non-transparent process, on CPS. The study has been completely ignored by CPS and the mayor’s office.
A recent report from the Cook County Treasurer in August 2012 disclosed that $867 Million in TIF funds remained available, but unallocated for the current year. A public schools advocacy group petitioned Emanuel to use these funds to help plug the budget hole. Emanuel refused – at the same time he was pushing for a 90 minute longer school day without compensation to teachers under contract.
CPS Board Member Penny Pritzker (also a Hyatt Hotels Board member) has drawn fire for a $5.2 Million TIF project to build a Hyatt Hotel in Hyde Park. The same area of the city was subjected to $3.3 million in school budget cuts, and 27 full-time positions cut.While the project development company received the TIF money, Hyatt will profit from franchise fees and profit share in the new hotel development.
The corporate influence on CPS is direct, and is placing private charter school development over real public school reform and improvement. To succeed, they must break the union. Leading the charge behind Emanuel are privatizing charter advocates on the CPS Board.
In the year 2000, Rahm Emanuel was an investment banker who played a key role in the formation of Exelon, along with David Axelrod. Recall, from above, that two current CPS Board Members have direct ties to Exelon as corporate attorneys and board members – Jesse Ruiz and Andrea Zopp.
The newly retired Chairman and CEO of Exelon is John Rowe. Rowe was a chief founder of the Renaissance Schools Fund (RSF) for the establishment of private charter schools in Chicago, along with Arne Duncan and Richard M. Daley. The top donors to the fund are privatization champions, and have direct connections with current CPS School Board Members:
Exelon Corporation and Exelon Foundation , Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rowe Family Charitable Trust, The Searle Funds, The Chicago Community Trust, The Walton Family Foundation, Inc., Pritzker Foundation, Bain & Company (yes, that Bain).
RSF boasts of its accomplishments on its website:
RSF has been the catalyst for the charter school movement in Chicago, raising over $50 million to open 70 new schools which will serve over 40,000 students at capacity. We established the due diligence process and infrastructure for the selection, evaluation, and authorization of quality new schools.
In 2011, Rowe used funding from Renaissance Fund to launch “New Schools for Chicago” – and serves as its Chair. The New Schools fund has revised its mission, and it would appear that the CPS Board is complicit in its plan to dismantle and render obsolete public schools, public school teachers, and the union that represents them:
We will ramp up the growth of the best national and local charter schools, invest in next-generation school models, and drive innovation and accountability so only schools that deliver results serve children. Our programs also engage parents and communities to demand and obtain the best education for their children. (emphasis mine)
The CPS push for teacher evaluation directly linked to test scores makes sense, in the above context. The corporate model, private charter school advocacy is being led by the CPS Board – the group charged with improving public schools in Chicago, for all students, not the select few served by select private charters with a narrow educational mission.
That is why the strike matters. It is about access, fairness, accountability for EVERY student – be it Chicago or Madison, or anywhere else there are grave inequities in the educational system. The crony educational system in Chicago is rotten from the mayor’s office, to the Board of Education, to the privateers.
At this moment, it is only the teachers walking the picket line and their supporters who stand in their way.
It is important to know that these TIF are not only meant to pad the pockets of the rich....they have a deliberate intent of starving local governments so that public assets and services are sold and handed over to corporate and wealth. IT IS AS SIMPLE AS THAT!!!
This is the same VISIGOTH attack on a local level that happened at the national level as tens of trillions of dollars were stolen in just a few decades by corporate fraud. Obama is allowed it to happen in Chicago and he has brought it to Washington DC.
THESE ARE NEO-LIBERALS NOT DEMOCRATS. THEY ARE ACTUALLY JUST CROOKS.
Chicago Rising! A resurgent protest culture fights back against Rahm Emanuel’s austerity agenda.
Rick Perlstein July 2, 2013
Read more: Chicago Rising! | The Nation
Below is a piece of this article. The entire article is valuable but I only wanted to TIF information.
“I believe what we call ‘the public’ is under attack in America today: public housing, public education, public health, public transportation. All these things have become precious and scarce, and have actually become dirty words,” he tells seventy-five activists one April evening at a meeting of his next venture, the TIF Illumination Project.
TIF, or tax increment financing, was a potentially noble solution to fix a market failure. Developers don’t want to build in blighted areas where banks won’t lend money, thereby guaranteeing their continued blight. TIF districts are supposed to subsidize development in these underdeveloped areas essentially by borrowing against projected gains in tax revenue generated by the new construction. But in Chicago, the idea has metastasized in a particularly wicked way. TIFs became a scam to funnel public funds to wealthy private interests; the allegedly “blighted” areas came to encompass the Lyric Opera, which got TIF money to spruce up its bronze door handles, and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, which was pledged $15 million, in part to refurbish its bathrooms. In response to the latter scandal, activists from the anti-TIF movement marched on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange bearing a golden toilet, embarrassing the company into publicly rejecting the money.
Tresser’s work is to create more stories like that one. But to get TIF money returned, you have to find it first—a frightfully difficult task. Each TIF district goes through a review panel composed of representatives from various city agencies, all of them appointed by the mayor. There is supposed to be one public representative on each panel, but that person is appointed by the local alderman and usually doesn’t have much of a clue about what’s happening. A TIF developer seeking public favor can promise to hire a certain number of locals, but there is no mechanism for evaluating whether the developer holds to the deal, and no penalty if it doesn’t. TIF projects are discussed at Chicago Development Commission meetings, but by that time they are basically done deals. No one knows the backroom process by which TIF-worthy projects are determined, though there does seem to be one constant: “If the mayor wants a project,” Tresser notes, “the project will happen.” What’s more, TIF amounts are excluded from the tax bill that property owners receive each year, which itemizes how the city is spending their money.
Finding that crucial hidden information is where the data nerds come in. “This stuff is enough to glaze your eyes over,” Tresser warns his audience, picking up his PowerPoint remote. He’s wrong; Tresser describes his first encounter with the TIF page on the city website, and the audience is rapt. His presentation features a city spreadsheet of individual projects with an unmanageable 4,588 rows, sortable by name, type or by amount of money allocated—but not by ward or neighborhood, the only information relevant to citizens who want to find out whether their community is being ripped off.
To get at that, Tresser’s team sat around his kitchen table and worked through the spreadsheet line by line, compiling their own database—a task made harder by the fact that the TIF districts bear no logical relation to the city’s fifty wards or seventy-seven official planning areas. He flips to a slide of the city’s map of 163 TIF districts. “It looks like a lady with varicose veins!” he says. The map is even harder to work with; when you click on each district, you get a PDF document. Chicago city bureaucrats love PDFs—you can’t enter information on them into database programs unless you do it by hand, which is what Tresser’s data team did. Only then were they able to arrive at some basic conclusions about a program that ate up no less than $455 million in 2011, out of total city property tax receipts of over $1.3 billion. Another even more stunning find was that each TIF district includes a fund balance, an unspent surplus that totals $1.7 billion citywide. That’s a lot of business for whichever bank gets to hold those funds—but the identity of the bank is secret, too.
Tresser begins his presentation explaining what led him to the TIF problem in the first place: hearing, over and over again, “We’re broke… sorry about your overcrowded school, sorry about your public park with no basketball hoops, sorry about the fact that you have to wait forty minutes for the bus, but we’re broke!” That is the excuse for the city’s proliferating privatization deals. It is the excuse, indeed, for Rahm’s fifty school closings.
Later, Tresser describes the even more painstaking work of breaking down TIF finances in each of the city’s fifty wards; they have been able to finish only fifteen so far. (The old trouper, who is a cueball, gets a laugh joking, “I used to have hair.”) He points to a chart indicating that the Fourth Ward, which we’re in, has $15 million in its fund balance. (“The provocative question is: What would you do to improve the ward if you had $15 million in your checking account?”) He points to another chart listing the ward’s TIF beneficiaries: twenty-one private real estate developments and one public school (one of the schools, ironically, that the school board is closing), all outside the designated blighted areas.
Tresser announces, “We want to deputize you to go to these projects and ask them what they did with your money.” He notes that while the city claims 54 percent of property taxes went to the Board of Education, if you include the money in the TIF “black box,” it’s actually only 36 percent.
“So are we broke?” Tresser asks. “It starts to get a little hazy to me.”
The local alderman, Will Burns, has sent his policy and communications director as his representative. At the beginning of the meeting, the aide announced that without TIFs, “high-quality development would not happen in the South Side community.” By the end, he is the recipient of some very hard stares. And a new cadre in Chicago’s activist army has been stirred.
Chicago school activists call this kind of work “data liberation,” and it’s been crucial to their campaign. Sorting through the data (when they could get it), they discovered that the “utilization formula” the school board was using to select which schools to keep open was based on whether homerooms were in a certain range: 20 percent above or below an “ideal enrollment” of thirty students. This means a school could average thirty-six students per classroom and still be considered underutilized. Activists had to dig that statistic out of an entirely separate pool of numbers, the district’s “empty seat” calculation. “We know it’s intentional,” explains Eric Téllez, communications and research coordinator for the Grassroots Collaborative, “to keep the public at bay and unaware of what’s going on.”
It’s not working. Such data liberations have turned into major propaganda coups for the CTU and a major driver of outrage against the school closings. So did a finding by radio station WBEZ, based on much of this same work, that of the nine empirical claims the school board was making about school closings, all nine were either inaccurate or false.
* * *
Chicago is where the spreadsheets are meeting the streets—and changing the face of politics in the city. Consider the victories of the last few years. Activists helped sink an Olympic bid that would have been a giant boondoggle and land grab (the failure was a key reason Mayor Richard Daley shocked the city by deciding not to run for re-election in 2011 after six terms). The Chicago Mercantile Exchange was embarrassed into returning $15 million in TIF money. The G-8 moved its conference out of fear of an advancing activist army. The CTU led its members in a victorious teachers strike. This kind of thing is not supposed to be possible, because teachers unions are said to be despised, especially by public school parents. But not in Chicago, where in a recent poll the most militant teachers union in the country is supported by 54 percent of parents; only 9 percent side with the mayor. That mayor came into office with national ambitions, but now his disapproval rating is 40 percent, and only 24 percent of Chicagoans believe the city is better off than it was under the also-unpopular Mayor Daley.
Watch Chicago. Watch it this September, when the school year is set to open with fifty fewer schools in operation. “So let me tell you what you’re gonna do,” shouted CTU president Karen Lewis in a rally last March. “On the first day of school, you show up at your real school! Don’t let these people take your schools!” The conditions are ripe for such civil disobedience: the bonds of trust within a variegated activist community; a growing culture of militancy extending all the way down to formerly quiescent middle-class parents; strategic smarts, passion, momentum. Brazil, Bulgaria, Taksim Square… Chicago. The next battle in the global war against austerity, privatization and corruption just might spark off right here.
Past shuttered schools and glass-strewn vacant lots, the Chicago Teachers Union documented the likely toll of Rahm Emanuel’s latest disastrous education plan, in Rick Perlstein’s April 5 blog entry, “A New Chicago Freedom Ride.”
Read more: Chicago Rising! | The Nation http://www.thenation.com/article/175085/chicago-rising#ixzz2ZWZtM4o5
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