Tuesday, April 21, 2009

TIF Sunshine Ordinance Makes A Comeback

Update: The TIF Sunshine Ordinance passed through committee today, and is on the docket for vote tomorrow. If it passes, there will be a website built specifically for TIF documents, unlike the incomplete and confusing information dump about Wilson Yard that Ald. Shiller put on her website and called "transparency." Now it's time to turn up the heat and send emails and make phone calls to all the aldermen, urging them to VOTE YES. They'll have to buck the Mayor's pet project, TIFs, but they know the electorate is watching and taking names.

A reader wrote to tell us about today's Tribune editorial:

Time for TIF sunshine. Talk about a no-brainer. Two Chicago aldermen think the public ought to know what's going on with hundreds of millions of dollars in off-the-books property tax spending. Ald. Manny Flores (1st) and Scott Waguespack (32nd) have been trying for months to get their colleagues on the City Council to pass an ordinance requiring the city to post the details of its tax increment financing deals online. [...] What they're worried about is accountability. Because there's so little oversight of TIF spending, those millions are basically a glorified slush fund for Mayor Richard Daley's pet projects."

Read the entire editorial here. Comments are open, and our reader says: "I encourage all of your readers to post comments directing readers to donate to www.fixwilsonyard.org."


  1. The Trib's comments section is starting to light up (30 comments as of 8:35a); but, that's not nearly enough.

    The papers keep track of comment totals to gauge interest in the topic.

    If a big number of comments are generated (intelligent comments, that is), they'll consider doing follow ups on the story.

    If little numbers ... not so much.

    Get out there and make your voice heard so the Trib will know that people actually care about this issue.

    Or, think about it this way: if the Trib sees hundreds of comments, and is made aware of the hearing in May ... maybe they'll send someone to cover it. Heck, maybe they'll send someone down to check out the WY site and start asking some questions.

  2. Machine Cynicism Hat(On)Return to your shantys ye peasants. All the King's Men are yielding returns. These men now control the bank in Washington. With unprecedented speed, they approved themselves for 787 billion dollars in borrowed money to quell the public anger. Money is arriving on a daily basis as it trickles down through the machine apparatuses.

    Machine Cynicism Hat(off)The Chicago Tribune is still missing the big picture. In the long run, TIFs are a complete waste of time for the people and represent nothing more than a taxpayer piggy bank elected officials can loot to service their own political debts. Dismantle all the TIFs. Return the funds to the general ledger.

  3. A commenter on the Trib's site noted bringing up the issue with state reps/senators.

    Since Harris and Steans (and Mary Ann Smith, for that matter) read this, it's time to go on record about your thoughts on TIFs.

    Are you part of the solution, or part of the problem?

    A public statement regarding your views on TIF transparency, and subsequent action to that effect, will go a long way towards instilling trust within your districts/wards and will help out the voters the next time you're up for re-election.


    PS - the Chicago Reader is piling on

  4. The Trib's editorial board is pushing their TIF article on Twitter pretty hard (3 tweets):

    Trib_ed_board: Note to Chicago #aldermen: The time for #TIF sunshine is now. Voters deserve to know who their $$ are being spent. http://tr.im/jkud

    If you Twitter:


    Go nuts.

    (note: all of Chicago media is on twitter and uses it to gauge topic interest, as well).


  5. But perhaps the most striking part of the event earlier today was that it was organized by Balanoff’s union, which helped elect several would-be reformers to the council in 2007 but spent much of the time since campaigning for Barack Obama. SEIU leaders tell me they’re back, and they’re planning to make financial transparency their next “big box” campaign.
    SEIU is completely silent on Fix Wilson Yard. They have organized the signature drive that placed the rigged survey questions on the 11/05/2008 ballot. Their volunteers were out in force on election day urging Yes votes on both survey questions.

    The SEIU's "independent" news outlet, Progress Illinois, has repeatedly reported inaccurate information about Fix Wilson Yard.

    I've asked the SEIU to publicly disclose the raw data of the poll they conducted asking 500 Chicagoans for their list of priorities the city should address.

  6. Sunshine Ordinance passes committee and will be on the docket for Council, tomorrow.


  7. According to a contact at the Trib, the committee vote was unanimously for.

    Now, let's see how those committee members vote, tomorrow (I believe Helen's on that one, so this should be interesting).

  8. The TIF Sunshine Ordinance will be voted on at tomorrow's (Wednesday) City Council meeting.

    3 Easy ways to support the TIF Sunshine Ordinance Right Now

    #1. Call or email your alderman right now.

    Sample Email
    Dear Alderman___________,
    I am writing about the TIF Transparency Ordinance sponsored by Ald. Waguespack and Flores. This ordinance is an important step in bringing true transparency to the TIF process. Please attend tomorrow's meeting and VOTE YES.

    I hope to see your YES VOTE when I check results.

    Email is wardxx@cityofchicago.org
    Just replace the xx with your ward number.

    Send an email to your friends and neighbors and ask them to call or email now

    Support the Fix Wilson Yard lawsuit that is the blazing the trail for true TIF reform across Chicago. www.fixwilsonyard.org

    at www.ChiCityClerk.com.

    "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy...