We are Suckers for Charming Politicians: Beware of Tax Increment Financing!!!


Especially in Chicago.  Both Mike Royko  (“Boss) and Len O’Conner  (“Clout” )wrote books on how  our machine worked.   It is no longer a machine, it is an institutionalized political process.  If you can talk a good game and can get rich folks to give you money,  and  your opposition is weak or has a shred of integrity,  you will get elected and stay elected.

I remember a report asked Mayor Richard J. Daley  to what he attributed a particular election win, and his  answer was plain:  “we got more votes.”

Things are different now, but not by much.  We don’t have  vast armies of patronage workers to go out on the street. The marketing is  more sophisticated, and costlier.  If you  can mow us down by inundating us with media, it doesn’t matter if the other guy is more honest or can run a  government better. All that matters is that  the richer candidate  appears stronger  and  more influential:  better able to get things done.

2 things make it bad for us in Chicago:  1 is that a seemingly very  ‘progressive’  candidate can get  monetary support form people who don’t live or work in the city.   Other  political players &  rich folks just throw money because the candidate seems like a nice guy.  The other  is that we have so many people who start out as regular folks who become aldermen.  The city council.  Few know anything about political science, urban planning, economics, or fiscal responsibility.    Knowing anything is not a requirement of the job in America.    They vote to approve a capital budget because the mayor wants it. They all assume that SOMEONE  has made sure it is based in reality.

Another problem  in Chicago is mass media.  They are all cheerleaders for whatever cockamamie plan any  mayor comes up with.  We dodged a bullet when we didn’t get the Olympics (no thanks to  Obama).  Go to any city  that has hosted the Olympics in the past 50 years & see what kind of monstrosities the citizenry paid for that  can’t be used. In Chicago, over the past  25 years or so,  the mayors and their minions have approved Tax Increment Financing—where  certain properties—privately owned, have their  taxes skimmed off in the name of economic vitality. The taxes that are skimmed off…where does that money go?

We have a huge problem  with Tax increment Financing .  The  ability to use Tax Increment financing…or ‘TIF’s— was originally developed to help manufacturers use taxes they paid to  improve their operations and create  more jobs for employees who would then be able to  pay property taxes.  Living wage jobs.  This has never happened.  I  believe the closest we got in Chicago was improving infrastructure around Finkel Steel, so they would stay in a gentrifying area, and more recently, for Republic Windows & Doors so the employees could buy their plant & keep working, when the owners illegally shut  the [plant after abbsconidng with  grants gotten to  maintain the plant & keep the jobs  here.  We’ve seen evidence of TIF dollars skimmed to help car dealerships and private real estate developers, & now, coming up, $55 million  for a private partnership between DePaul University and a group of investors  for…an entertainment center & hotel on the south side.  Funny thing is….a hotel was built about 30 years ago, torn down as being not profitable enough, then rebuilt. No joke!  So, we are all wondering , when the mayor (Emanuel, who gets lots of out of state  donations for his  political fund)has closed 50 public schooled, ‘laid off’ (say fired)  over 2000 teachers, & cut the  budgets for the remaining schools—why we have money skimmed off our property taxes for this?  Another  issue—sort of an aside… the teachers who’ve been laid off paid into their pension fund…as they are not eligible for SSI—Social Security. do they have to start over, or what?

No matter.   We will soon be as bankrupt as Detroit.  if Emanuel won’t use the TIF slush fund to close the budget gaps (there is an estimated $1.3 BILLION unaccounted for0, how will we continue to pay Richie M. Daley, the recently retired mayor, his $200,000 annual pension?

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