Transparent & Accountable Government Updates

End-of-year Traditions

By

After the disaster of a deal that privatized Chicago’s parking meters, there was a lot of talk of ensuring transparency and protections to make sure taxpayers never got ripped off again. Unfortunately, it looks as though the City Council is at it again — taking a short-term cash advance at the long-term expense of taxpayers and the public interest.

News Release | Illinois PIRG | Tax

Study Finds Only 52% of TIF-Related Job Creation Confirmed in Chicago

A new report released today found little tracking or enforcement of taxpayer subsidized private development projects that had promised job creation.  The analysis by the watchdog group Illinois PIRG comes one year after Mayor Emanuel’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Reform Panel released recommendations for how to fix the wasteful economic development program and underscores the need to implement reform to protect taxpayers.

Report | Illinois PIRG | Tax

Jobs and TIF

Illinois PIRG’s report “Jobs and TIF: An Analysis of Job Creation and Tax Increment Financing” analyzes the records of 21 TIF-funded projects from the last decade with the biggest number of promised jobs – each project examined was required to create at least 200 jobs. The report checked to see whether the city is making sure developers are living up to their promises. 

Since TIF projects are typically justified byusing their purported job-creation benefits, and because the number of jobs created is relatively easy for the city to track, we obtained and examined records on projects with job-creations requirements above 200 from in the years 2000 through 2010. These projects should ought to be the most scrutinized TIF projects in the city. The results suggest, however, that Chicago’s TIF programs remain largely impervious to scrutiny and unaccountable to the public.  The findings show that among projects that promised to create the most jobs, there are unacceptably low levels of tracking and enforcement:

• The city could demonstrate consistent tracking of job-creation for only three (14 percent%) of these major TIF projects

• Out of 21 projects with some kind of jobs goal, 15 (71 percent%) did not provide annual evidence that the jobs goals were being met, but the city only asked only two2 of the projects to give money back.

• Not a single project complies with existing the 2009 “Sunshine Ordinance” that requires posting of five5 major documents online; most projects provide less than half.

• A significant number of projects (19 percent%) did not even have specific job-creation goals in their official agreements with the city.

To show the relative degree of overall transparency and accountability for each project, we created a scorecard to assign each a letter grade from “A” to “F” based on four criteria: whether enforceable standards were created, whether the developers hit their jobs goals and reported it to the city, whether the city reclaimed the TIF funds in instances where developers failed to hit their jobs goals, and whether all the information required to be available to the public is accessible.        

 

 

Unaccountability in the TIF program

By

If an economic development project is supposed to create jobs, but no one is around to monitor it, should they still get our tax dollars?

News Release | Illinois PIRG | Consumer Protection

Passage of H.R. 4078 Would Shut Down Public Health and Consumer Safeguards and Put All Americans at Risk

The House’s passage of H.R. 4078 would shut down the U.S. regulatory system as we know it, delaying virtually all rule making and public health protections.

Central to the success of the economic development program Tax-Increment Financing (TIF), is job creation and retention, as increased employment is an indicator of economic growth and improved public well-being.  But when we dig deeper into the specifics of many of the TIF Redevelopment Agreements and the “Employment Certifications” provided by developers to the City, a couple of alarming patterns begin to emerge.

More TIF money spent without transparency

By

In the City Council meeting held today, the council voted to enact two ordinances approving new TIF projects. With so much taxpayer money being spent, one would expect a transparent and thorough analysis of the projects to ensure they are worthwhile.  But for the most part, specifics are unavailable to the public.

Super-Sized Loophole for Super PACs

By | Brian Imus
State Director

If you hate corruption in Illinois – I’ve got some bad news. The Illinois House of Representatives voted in favor of SB 3722, legislation that creates a super-sized loophole in the Illinois contribution limits law established in 2009.

$50 million parking ticket

By | Celeste Meiffren
Field Director

Chicago Parking Meters, LLC has sent another bill to the city, totaling $22 million. To date, the parking meter company has sought reimbursement of almost $50 million for lost revenue due to street closures and disabled parking, saddling Chicago taxpayers with even more debt.

Pages

Support Us

Your donation supports Illinois PIRG’s work to stand up for consumers on the issues that matter, especially when powerful interests are blocking progress.

Consumer Alerts

Join our network and stay up to date on our campaigns, get important consumer updates and take action on critical issues.
Optional Member Code



Illinois PIRG is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change.