Administrative and Regulatory

  • Local government reps green-light Cortland TIF despite public doubt

    13 January 2019

    A board of local officials gave the first governmental green light to the billion-dollar Cortland/Chicago River tax-increment financing district.

  • Government reps to meet for Cortland TIF district approval on Jan. 11

    3 January 2019

    A Jan. 11 joint review board meeting will let taxing bodies say whether they'll permit the Cortland/Chicago River TIF district to divert property taxes for the privately-developed Lincoln Yards.

  • A reporter's view of the Cortland TIF and Lincoln Yards

    18 December 2018

    In an interview by Ben Joravsky with Dave Glowacz on WCPT-AM's Ben Joravsky Show, Ben explores Dave's recent reporting on the Cortland/Chicago River TIF district and the proposed Lincoln Yards real estate development, and more.

  • City expects Cortland TIF valuation of $2.5 billion

    17 December 2018

    The city of Chicago expects that the equalized assessed valuation of properties in the proposed Cortland/Chicago River tax-increment financing district will total $2.5 billion.

  • City: Lincoln Yards TIF expected to pay out $1.3 billion

    12 December 2018

    The city expects to pay out at least $1.3 billion in collected property taxes from the Cortland/Chicago River TIF district, according to a newly released report.

  • City board set to advance Lincoln Yards TIF district

    10 December 2018

    The city of Chicago's Community Development Commission is set to advance a tax-increment financing district surrounding the proposed Lincoln Yards development.

  • How did city reckon $800M for Lincoln Yards TIF?

    4 December 2018

    (Updated on 12 December 2018)

    Recently, one of our Facebook followers responded to my article on the origin of Lincoln Yards and the associated tax-increment financing (TIF) district, writing:

    "What is missing from publicly disclosed documents are estimates for the amount tax revenue that this project can be expected to generate over the 23-year (more if it's extended) life of the TIF . . . How much in property taxes beyond the estimated $800M for proposed infrastructure improvements that would go into a discretionary (slush) fund under the control of the mayor?"

    City infrastructure spending
    Chicago Dept. of Planning & Development estimates,
    totaling $700M, of infrastructure spending in the
    Cortland/Chicago River TIF district.
    Source: city of Chicago's 11/14/18 public meeting.

    The one thing—and the only thing—we know about the estimated tax revenue from publicly disclosed documents is the amount: $800 million. This figure comes from a FAQ sheet distributed by the Chicago Dept. of Planning and Development at its Nov. 14, 2018 public meeting on the Cortland/Chicago River TIF district.

    I think the writer's larger implication is correct: The city has not provided any material to show on what it based that estimate.

    Presumably, planning department analysts looked at the potential 23-year life of the proposed TIF district and did the following.

    1. Estimate the number, size, density, and uses of all the buildings that might get built.
    2. Assign an equalized assessed value (EAV) of all the properties identified in #1, for each year of the TIF district's life. Sum them over all the years.
    3. Identify the EAV of all the properties present at the TIF district's inception. Multiply that by the number of years of the TIF district's life.
    4. To get the total tax increment accumulated by the district, subtract #3 from #4 and multiply by the tax rate.
    LY land use
    Sterling Bay's 11/29/18 update of the proposed Lincoln
    Yards building layout. Source: Sterling Bay.

    The city hasn't disclosed any of that. Planning department officials did, however, show how they'd spend up to $700 million of the estimated total TIF take (see "Key Public Infrastructure Needs" above).

    Some clues about the calculations appear in the TIF district's redevelopment agreement—a document that planning officials said at the Nov. 14 meeting they'd release "in three weeks," but that the city's Web site revealed on Dec. 12.

    Another wrinkle: The Lincoln Yards development will comprise an estimated two-fifths of the TIF district. The developer of Lincoln Yards, Sterling Bay, has not made publicly available a detailed list of the projected number, size, density, and uses of all the buildings in Lincoln Yards. Though an enterprising researcher could extrapolate some (or much) of it from the aerial renderings that Sterling Bay's presented at a Nov. 29 public meeting, no one has tried . . . yet.

  • Lincoln Yards 11/29/18 public meeting: complete audio

    2 December 2018

    Complete audio recordings of the Lincoln Yards public meeting held on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2018, at 1001 N. Crosby St., Chicago.

  • Ask Mr Bike: Why Chicagoans are targeted for biking while black

    5 August 2018

    In an interview by Ben Joravsky with Dave Glowacz on WCPT-AM's Ben Joravsky Show, Ben asks Mr Bike about Chicagoans in black areas that have gotten bicycling tickets in far greater numbers than those in white areas, and more.

  • Public input on city budget is no oversight

    20 June 2018

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on the history and creation of Chicago city budgets—and public versus mayoral control.

  • Dave and Ben dissect voting, transit, and development

    21 March 2018

    In an interview by Ben Joravsky with Dave Glowacz on WCPT-AM's Ben Joravsky Show, Ben and Dave reflect on their respective primary-election voting experiences, and more.

  • Building green: who profits from city's latest development schemes

    27 July 2016

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on why the Loop's perimeter basks in development, and more.

  • Lathrop TIF review slightly out of joint

    3 June 2016

    A surprise meeting of a joint review board approved a tax-increment financing district for the redevelopment of Lathrop Homes.

  • Law firm tells how to curb wayward police, cops call bullshit

    13 January 2015

    Just before Christmas of 2014, the city of Chicago released a report on police misconduct−how to prevent it, that is.

    The report was prepared by the law firm Schiff Hardin and the management consulting firm A.T. Kearney, both based in Chicago.

    Although the firms say they provided the report at no cost, the city has paid Schiff Hardin (also known as Schiff Hardin & Waite) about $1.2 million for various services since 2010. Schiff Hardin has helped defend the city against lawsuits brought by citizens who have claimed police misconduct.

    To head off misconduct, the Schiff Hardin report recommends that Chicago Police Department:

    • Adopt discipline guidelines, where few or none exist today.
    • Fire any officer engaging in a “code of silence.”
    • Include training as a discipline option.
    • Make supervisors more directly responsible for officer conduct.
    • Look into officer-worn cameras.

    To handle misconduct after it happens, the report's authors say that:

    • Misconduct investigations should wrap up within two years.
    • Various investigative bodies should use the same case management system.
    • Investigators should have a community advisory board (which, the authors later say, has already been created).
    • To get accused officers to cooperate with investigations, investigators should "plea bargain" with them.
    • The city should increase the number of investigators.
    • Officers should have less opportunity to appeal discipline decisions to the police board.

    In response, officers blasted the report via the termagant Second City Cop blog. Blog posters said that:

    • The annual number of citizen complaints has decreased, so why boost the number of investigators−especially when detectives and evidence technicians are in short supply?
    • The report's authors are a "bunch of assholes" for proposing to restrict the number of "false accusers" that are referred for prosecution. Noting that a false accuser can be charged with a felony, a blogger calls this idea "fucking brilliant."
    • Though former top cop Jody Weiss's policy was to "fuck [officers] every chance you get," officers credit Weiss with fighting citizen lawsuits in court to cut down on frivolous complaints. According to the blog, the Emanuel administration has done a complete 180: it's gone back to settling lawsuits. It did this "in order to enrich connected [law] firms," which the city often hires to defend accused officers.
    • The department can cut down on misconduct-related lawsuits by firing "untouchable" clouted cops who "cost millions" in legal fees. Examples of these "clout babies," says the blog, can be found in daily headlines: "sergeants raping women . . . sergeants firing guns at suburban cops . . . detectives shoplifting . . . commanders sticking guns in people's mouths...things like that."


  • Plan Commission approves Englewood TIF expansion

    23 September 2013

    The Chicago Plan Commission approved an expansion of two Englewood TIF districts for a railroad yard development.

  • The madness behind Mayor Emanuel's methods

    13 June 2013

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on who really pulls the mayor's strings, and more.

  • How Mayor Emanuel locked the parking meter deal in place

    6 June 2013

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on the mayor's clear message that investors can still buy city assets, and more.

  • Mayor Emanuel's FOIA policy: don't ask because we won't tell

    16 May 2013

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on CPS's statutory obligation to retain policy-related records, and more.

  • Inspector general fix introduced

    14 May 2013

    Members of the Chicago City Council recently introduced laws that aim to strengthen the city's Office of Inspector General. How did this set of legislation come about, and what are its prospects?

  • Charities drowning in city water fees

    14 March 2013

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on the repeated fall of so-called reform candidates for City Council, and more.

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