One citizen's take on the Dick that makes Chicago tick.


Monday, August 10, 2009


photo by Chicago Reader

Progress Illinois is asking questions about Central Loop TIF expenditures with their post Corporate Welfare in Chicago's Loop:

While we're on the subject of the collective $10 million directed to MillerCoors and Willis Holdings, it's worth asking who else in the so-called Central Loop TIF district stands to receive taxpayer dollars this year?

According to the 2008 annual report recently posted by the city, an additional $29 million is scheduled to be spent on four other redevelopment projects, including $5 million to NAVTEQ, a subsidiary of cellular giant Nokia. In 2007, the Tribune reported on Daley's defense of this particular giveaway:

Daley, at a press conference Tuesday, said "there's nothing wrong with TIF assistance" for corporate relocations. Without them, companies like Navteq would leave Chicago, he said. "They'd go to Naperville or New York. New York is offering huge bonuses."

Then when a firm flees, Daley added, "there'd be a big headline, 'Why does Mayor Daley let those companies move?' "

photo via Chicago Journal

And Ben Joravsky continues his crusade against Mayor Daley and his TIF slush fund with an appropriately titled piece - Mr. Big Spender:
The Central Loop Tax Increment Financing district—the oldest and largest TIF of them all—came in with a boom and went out with a binge.

It was created more than two decades ago, to great fanfare, to try to lift what was then a struggling downtown, and it quickly amassed millions of dollars for Mayor Daley and other elected officials to play with. In 2008, at the legally mandated end of its 24-year life, the city spent about $365.5 million from the Central Loop TIF's coffers—more than the city has ever spent in a single year from any TIF fund, and more than the total expenditures from the TIF over the previous three years combined. For a little perspective, that's the equivalent of about 70 percent of the city's predicted budget shortfall for 2010.

The process for phasing out a TIF is fairly straightforward, at least according to state law. The city can either spend all the money before it's closed or hand over what it didn't spend to the schools, parks, county, and other taxing bodies.

Well, in early July, when the city finally got around to releasing the 2008 reports on its 160 TIF districts, we found out which option the mayor went with. I'll give you a hint: the schoolkids didn't win. Instead the Daley administration went on a spending spree Paris Hilton could only dream about. In fact, the city burned through so much money that it drained the Central Loop TIF account and then had to borrow a little money from neighboring TIF districts ($1.45 million each from the LaSalle Central and River South TIFs) to pay the Central Loop TIF's final bills. That's perfectly legal, by the way, since our state TIF laws are conveniently pockmarked with loopholes.

Damn. All this TIF money for Daley to throw around but he insists on crying poor, laying off city workers, slashing services, selling our assets, and pronouncing the Olympics as the city's only hope for the future. I call bullshit.

I figured out what Daley's doing with all of our money.

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