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[21 Jul 2017 | No Comment | ]

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration signed off on an elaborate financial shell game that obscured payment of $55 million for renovations at Navy Pier with tax dollars reserved to fight urban blight, records show. The bookkeeping jiujitsu appears to violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the controversial tax-increment financing program, which critics say has been widely abused and not used for its intended purpose of spurring development in or near economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Emails and internal documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show that officials at the city …

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[18 May 2015 | No Comment | ]

Believe it or not, legislators usually try to reflect their constituents’ core values. If the folks back home are convinced that their representatives have strayed too far from those values, those representatives are in danger of losing their jobs.

Some politicians are so popular that they can get away with anything. But few elected officials want to risk sparking up an opponent. Even though they’d likely win, they’d have to actually work during an election year. Politicians are like everybody else. Not many enjoy doing extra work for the same salary.
Read …

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[16 Mar 2015 | No Comment | ]

From Greg Hinz
Since he took office, Emanuel has approved $1.3 billion in TIF projects.  The biggest discrete chunk, $303.8 million, went for local street resurfacing, reconstruction and streetscaping in every ward in the city. Just over $155 million went for new or rebuilt Chicago Transit Authority stations, $54 million for school projects, $39 million for bridge reconstruction and $76 million for residential projects, mostly low-income and senior housing that otherwise would not be built. Smaller amounts went to a host of things like sewer work and job training.

Private development—those subsidies …

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[26 Jan 2015 | No Comment | ]

The Chicago attorney (Manny Sanchez), who was removed amid controversy in 2012 by Gov. Pat Quinn, has been named chairman of the ISFA’s seven-member board. He replaces former Illinois Senate President Emil Jones Jr.
“I’m ecstatic,” Sanchez said today. “I look forward to growing the revenue sources at U.S. Cellular Field and protecting the interests of the state and the city in terms of (the ballpark’s) fiscal viability.”

The ISFA board, which manages bond debt payments from construction of U.S. Cellular Field and the renovation of Soldier Field, is composed of four …

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[6 Nov 2014 | No Comment | ]

With the loss, UPB has burned through $63 million of the $141 million in capital a host of Wall Street giants including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. plowed into the bank in 2010 after their efforts to save ShoreBank fell short. UPB remains well-capitalized, with the remaining $78 million in equity supporting $833 million in assets, down from $1.36 billion when it was formed in August 2010.

The UPB executives who had hoped the bank would be profitable by now can’t predict when it will start making …

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[26 Sep 2014 | No Comment | ]

What about our waterways? We hear less concern about the state of our aquatic transportation infrastructure.
Many forget that Chicago’s status as the nation’s transportation hub is rooted in the era when most goods moved by water. Its rise from remote trading post to mid-continent metropolis began when immigrant laborers arrived to dig the Illinois & Michigan Canal, which connected the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico.

Fewer still appreciate the continuing role of water shipping in our economy. Boats and barges transport everything from steel to …

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[26 Aug 2014 | No Comment | ]

A senior Quinn administration official is leaving his post amid continuing fallout from a patronage hiring scandal in the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Deputy Chief of Staff Sean O’Shea is going off the payroll, effective Aug. 29. He’s held that position since August 2011, and his responsibilities included overseeing IDOT and its hiring of senior officials in policy positions.
A spokesman for the Quinn administration confirmed the departure, but insisted that it has nothing to do with the hiring matter.
Read more in Crain’s

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[18 Aug 2014 | No Comment | ]

The Chicago Housing Authority is changing a controversial program that paid for low-income residents to live in some of the city’s most expensive apartment buildings, bowing to criticism that it wasted tax dollars.

The CHA said it is tightening the formula it uses to determine the maximum rent it will pay to subsidize people who hold housing vouchers, a change that will effectively make many luxury downtown high-rises off limits.
Read More in Crains

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[5 Aug 2014 | One Comment | ]

The internal watchdog of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is launching an investigation of a Chicago Housing Authority program that pays market-rate rents for poor people to live in some of the city’s most expensive apartment buildings.

HUD Inspector General David Montoya is conducting an audit of the CHA’s use of federally funded housing vouchers to subsidize low-income residents in high-end buildings, according to a Capitol Hill source. Critics of the so-called supervoucher program say it’s a waste of tax dollars and rewards a few lucky tenants at …

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[24 Jul 2014 | No Comment | ]

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Evanston, followed the lead of U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and wrote a letter to Walgreen CEO Gregory Wasson warning that the company risks hurting its U.S. business if it continues on its current course.

Even if it moves, Ms. Schakowsky wrote, “Walgreens would still be dependent upon its American business operations for much of its revenue. I doubt customers will feel the same loyalty to a company that seeks to use a currently available tax loophole to avoid its corporate responsibilities to them and to our nation. …