Stop robbing the poor and giving to the rich with TIF programs demand community organizations


Huu Nguyen holds up envelope with letter as anti-TIF supports chant, with Estella Diaz at right

"How dare these taxing bodies be complicit in raising taxes on Chicagoans from Rogers Park to Roseland at this pivotal moment---all so they can pad the pockets of developers in Lincoln Park?," questions Huu Nguyen, an organizer with Raise Your Hand Action, at an anti TIF rallying prior to Chicago City Council's Joint Review Board meeting to review and vote on the Roosevelt/Clark and the Lincoln-Cortland TIFs (Tax Increment Financing), Thurs. morning, Jan 10. 

With a letter signed by 21 organizations, they were telling the Joint Review Board to "…reject the mega TIFs and not be complicit in the diversion of hundreds of millions of tax dollars from their own coffers placing them in the hands of private developers [to be used] in some of the wealthiest and most congested areas in this City--the very opposite of the blighted areas that TIFs are designed to help."


Don Darling

"It is difficult for some people to realize this, but it is true that by capping the money for the entities receiving tax dollars means that taxes must be increased for everyone. In so doing, the poor, too, are paying for development in the City's wealthier communities," commented Wendy Katten, Co-Director, Raise Your Hand Action, to this reporter.

Don Darling, Lakeview Lutheran Church, said about  the "23 year or longer" commitment per TIF that "it is not clear or proven that these developments require TIF dollars to be constructed. Without such proof, TIFs could be in violation of State laws. I believe that good governance requires that planning and development of these TIFs proceed much more slowly."

He then questioned how a Plan Commission can be held in two weeks when most of the specifics are not clearly identified and presented to the community. [The Lincoln-Cortland TIF is currently on the agenda for approval at the Jan. 24 Planning Commission meeting.]


Judy Mansueto

Also demanding slowing the process for the Lincoln-Cortland TIF, Judy Mansueto, Friends of North Branch Park and Nature Preserve, expressed two other concerns. 

Pointing out the community being promised to have more hearings, Mansueto said that there is concern about the interest cost for the TIF money. She understood that it was to be around $400 million. 

Her second concern is about having park land to accommodate current residents as well as those in the proposed 5,000 new units. "We want a public park owned and operated by the City and the Chicago Park District. We do not want space given to us by Sterling Bay who can demand what time, when and what we can do with it." 

Speaking on behalf of  those beyond the immediate area of the Lincoln Yards project was Estella Diaz who has four of her five children in a Brighton Park school. She said that her children are in a school, that among other things, has no elevator in a three-story school and not enough money to educate the students it has. "Teachers have to spend their own money for students because the school and parents cannot afford to pay for materials." 

Diaz also pointed out that no handicapped students can attend the school because there is not elevator.

Pointing out the need for change in this funding mechanism, Nguyen said, "This is a time when citizens of Chicago are demanding a new era of clean and transparent government, when a massive ethics scandal has just been unearthed in the halls of this building involving the person who held the keys to the finances of this city for decades---on the eve of a municipal election."



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