Harvey seeks to resume control of water operations, alleging receiver appointed to oversee department is ineffective – Southtown
In July 2017, with Harvey more than $20 million in arrears on its water bills to Chicago and continuing to improperly divert water funds in violation of a consent decree, a Cook County Circuit Court judge took the extraordinary measure of revoking the city’s control of its water operations and appointing an independent receiver to oversee them.
A Twenty Three Trillion $$$$ Dollar Failure/ Chicago says “Whats a few more Million”/ Forgotten History. – ChicagoNow
Chicago taxpayers spent nearly $210 million on police and fire overtime last year — and another $33.7 million on lump-sum payments to departing employees, most of them police officers, records show.
One retiring officer walked out the door with $276,053 for stockpiled compensatory time and another $9,236 for unused vacation days. Records released to the Chicago Sun-Times in response to a Freedom of Information Act request show scores of other six-figure checks and hundreds of payments that topped $20,000.
In private industry, employees are routinely required to use comp time within a defined period of time. They are not allowed to accumulate a career’s worth of comp time and cash it out when they leave.
John Kass: Why is Kim Foxx sticking taxpayers with a bill for her Jussie Smollett mess? – Chicago Tribune
As it geared up for a two-week strike last fall, the Chicago Teachers Union spent nearly $1.5 million from the dues it collects from members on lobbying and other political activity, a Chicago Sun-Times examination of the clout-heavy union’s finances has found. The money was on top of $1.2 million that the CTU’s two political action committees gave union-friendly candidates and political organizations.
And a union foundation has cut back sharply on the money it gave to charities and like-minded groups — to $1 million in 2018 from $1.9 million the previous two years. That’s according to the Sun-Times’ review of tax and campaign-finance filings as well as documents the union for the first time is required to file with the U.S. Department of Labor. Those offer a more detailed picture than previously has been available to show how the 24,000-member labor group spends its substantial wealth.
Preckwinkle seeks more control over county health board after CEO ousted with $542,000 severance – Chicago Tribune
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is seeking veto power over the selection of the public health system’s next leader, a move that comes after a $542,000 severance package and generous pension for the ousted CEO raised eyebrows.
Pot taxes in Chicago could be as high as 41% by July as county moves forward with 3% levy – Chicago Sun-Times
Aldermen fear setting aside contracts for gay-owned businesses could lead to fraud, fewer contracts for people of color – Chicago Sun-TImes
Lightfoot-backed study to look at possible set-asides for gay-, transgender-owned Chicago businesses advances – Chicago Tribune
50,000 Cook County residents will lose food stamps if they don’t find work soon, and the clock is ticking – Chicago Tribune
Of the 11 states where recreational marijuana has been legalized, Illinois’ taxes are second only to Washington state
The Real Enrollment Challenge In Chicago: What To Do With All Those Empty School Seats – Block Club Chicago
While secretly recording conversations to help the FBI expose an extortion scheme run by longtime Chicago Teamsters union boss John T. Coli Sr., the president of Chicago’s largest movie studio, Alexander S. Pissios, also had a starring role in another production that could bring him and his partners millions of dollars.
Pissios’ Cinespace Chicago Film Studios teamed with public housing manager The Habitat Co. and Mount Sinai Hospital on a development in North Lawndale, getting the Chicago Housing Authority to approve their proposal for a $76 million development on Ogden Avenue including stores, offices and homes.
- Monday: Restorative Justice, Empathy and Loving Engagement
- Tuesday: Diversity and Globalism
- Wednesday: Trans-Affirming, Queer Affirming and Collective Value
- Thursday: Intergenerational, Black Families and Black Villages
- Friday: Black Women and Unapologetically Black
Cost of dismissing Cook County hospital CEO? More than $600,000, plus a big pension. – Chicago Tribune
The Cook County health board’s decision to part ways with its CEO will prove costly to taxpayers, with the tab expected to top $600,000.
Opponents argue Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx should be disqualified from seeking reelection because she doesn’t have enough valid nominating signatures – Chicago Tribune
Bachrach & Berg: Chicago should study LA police reforms for ways to really lower the homicide count – Chicago Tribune
GOP strategist forecasts an accelerated ‘fiscal demise’ if Chicago approves new ‘LaSalle Street Tax’ – Chicago City Wire
Judge forecloses Cook County’s bid to renew tax loss claims vs Bank of America in discriminatory lending lawsuit – Cook Country Record
Recovering from bond scandal, Chicago suburban school district readies restructuring deal – The Bond Buyer
Feds seized $51K in cash from safe at Cook County commissioner’s home during last year’s raids – Chicago Sun-Times
Consumers may foot the bill for concessions City Hall may squeeze out of utilities with its newfound muscle. Asked about what she'd like to see in the negotiations, Lightfoot recently said she supports an end to shut-offs for those delinquent on their electric bills. She said the same for Peoples Gas and its rising heating bills as well. Both utilities pass along to paying customers the cost of customer debt they write off.
After 66,000 CPS students missed 1st strike makeup day, many kids skip 2nd one Thursday — will more stay home Friday? – Chicago Sun-Times
Hometown developers of projects like Vista Tower, Lincoln Yards and Bank of America Tower are putting money in other cities. ‘We love Chicago but are super nervous.’ – Chicago Tribune
Oak Lawn officials resist tax increases, service reductions despite credit rating downgrade over mounting pension obligations – Chicago Tribune
The new year brings a hike in taxes on food and drinks at Chicago restaurants. More fees for parking meters and garages. Statewide, more for car registration fees, additional taxes on automobile trade-ins. And Chicago’s new “congestion tax” kicks off on Jan. 6, we will pay the highest ride-hailing tax of any city in the nation.
City forgives $11.5M in debt during first 3 months of city sticker relief program – Chicago Sun-Times
The city launched the debt forgiveness program for sticker scofflaws in October, allowing residents who’d racked up hefty late fees to buy a new city sticker without being hit with the back charges.
Nearly 9,000 drivers did just that to get into compliance, a ninefold increase over the previous year, according to the mayor’s office. In all, almost 11,400 residents were absolved of more than $11.5 million in outstanding ticket debt.
Chicgago could lift topless ban on strip clubs with liquor licenses after settling suit with trans woman – Chicago Sun-Times
Bea Sullivan-Knoff filed the federal suit in 2016 seeking to overturn the ordinance that prohibits liquor license holders from allowing women from exposing their breasts without imposing the same restriction on men. Sullivan-Knoff, a performance artist, described the measure as “sexist and transphobic,” slamming the restriction as an “embarrassment” to a modern American city.
Sullivan-Knoff also sought compensatory and punitive damages for the difficulties she faced living as a working artist whose act depends on being bare-breasted. The city didn’t provide any details of a cash settlement.
Black Caucus chairman threatens to resurrect six-month delay for recreational marijuana sales – Chicago Sun-Times
Lightfoot plans to increase crisis intervention training for police and firefighters and create a plan for public agencies to coordinate with one another as well as mental health providers when responding to emergency calls, the mayor’s office said Thursday. Lightfoot also announced creation of a new position, the Victim Services Coordinator, who will be tasked with connecting residents with city and community trauma-response services after incidents.
The efforts are included under the $9.3 million expansion of the city’s mental health services budget.
Loosening up zoning rules that allow only single-family homes would make way for nearly a quarter of a million new dwelling units, according to Zillow.
A federal grand jury subpoena obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times shows investigators are digging into former Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios and his political organization. The subpoena seeks documents related to Berrios’ 31st Ward Democratic Organization, his Friends of Berrios campaign fund and the Mexican American Political Action Committee.
The subpoena asks for information about contributions to Berrios’ retirement party and his access to private planes and boats, among other things.
It also seeks any items “related to any official action taken in exchange for a benefit” and specifies the type of actions — including “assessor recommendations, certificates of correction, certificates of error, property valuations and re-reviews.” Those refer to the actions the assessor’s office can take related to setting — and reducing — property valuations for real estate tax purposes.
Oak Lawn expects to reap at least $500K from ‘penny per push’ video gaming tax, believed to be first of its kind in Illinois – Chicago Tribune
Editorial: Dorothy Brown and the case of the lying deputy: Voters, you can change this – Chicago Tribune
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday she is “very serious” about the city growing its own recreational marijuana to give minorities a chance to learn the business and share the wealth and said $15 million generated by tax-increment financing could be used as seed money.
Lightfoot said the concept of the city opening a “cooperative cultivation center” that minorities can “buy into” — either with a “modest cash investment” or with “sweat equity” — is aimed at overcoming the biggest impediment to minority ownership.
As Mayor Lightfoot demands answers from ComEd over federal probe, her security chief’s wife lists the utility as a lobbying client – Chicago Tribune
Should the city of Chicago have to pay $44 million for a shooting involving an off-duty police officer? Federal judges set to rule
Mayor Lori Lightfoot defends website shaming budget naysayers: ‘Since when is letting voters and residents know how aldermen voted bullying?’ – Chicago Tribune
Mayor Lori Lightfoot says Chicago police merit promotions process has become ‘illegitimate’ – Chicago Tribune
Chicago’s Low-Income Housing Trust Fund subsidizing unsafe units, new audit shows – Chicago Sun-Times
Businesses hit hard by new property tax assessments in the suburbs — but homeowners could catch a break – Chicago Tribune
$1.2M settlement to family of man who died in police custody is ‘hush money’ for gangs, alderman says – Chicago Sun-Times
“What we … just did in the hopes of saving money is told [law-abiding residents] that, when these neighborhood terrorists continue to terrorize their communities and are caught, and if anything happens, we’re willing to pay them hush money to go away. That is unacceptable. We have told these neighborhoods that, ‘You are on your own,’” Lopez said.
“It is disgusting to me as an alderman. It is disgusting to me as a member of the Brighton Park community — and more so as a [resident of] the city of Chicago that we would even consider paying a family that has so terrorized the neighborhood a single dollar — let alone $1.2 million.”
“There’s definitely a component of this where lawyers know they can sue the city on these types of cases and the city is gonna want to settle,” O’Shea said.
Lightfoot plans to demand end to shut-offs and answers on ComEd lobbying scandal before renewing utility’s franchise agreement – Chicago Sun-Times
The City Council’s Progressive Caucus has demanded any new franchise agreement with ComEd include both a progressive rate structure and an end to shut-offs — not just for those unable to pay, but also for those who refuse to pay.
Lightfoot has already ended water shut-offs, which has cost the city $20 million in water bill revenues. The mayor plans to ask ComEd to get on board.
“All the utilities — whether it’s ComEd, whether it’s Peoples Gas” should end shut-offs, she said. “People are suffering and they’re struggling. And we can tell from the data where those … problems are,” Lightfoot added.
Chicago Public Schools proposal to close 2 charter schools slammed as ‘racist and irresponsible’ by teachers union – Chicago Tribune
From the beginning, the Chicago Teachers Union was critical of the Chicago Public Schools initiative through which Chicago Virtual Charter School and Frazier Preparatory Academy opened more than a decade ago.
A longtime city official who currently works in the Department of Aviation has been hit with a felony theft charge for allegedly making purchases on credit and then claiming he didn’t receive the items he ordered, police said. George Coleman Jr., deputy commissioner for intergovernmental affairs at the Department of Aviation, has been charged with one count of continuing financial crimes enterprise.
In an outline of her 10-year strategy to remake the city's economy and rebuild its population to 3 million, the mayor focuses on seven industry clusters. The full text of Lightfoot's speech on this is linked here.
Another day, another example of City Council balking at Lightfoot’s plan to chip away at aldermanic prerogative – Chicago Sun-Times
This time, the point of contention was the mayor’s plan to abolish four tax-increment-financing districts as part of declaring a record $300 million TIF surplus to help balance the city budget and bankroll the new teachers contract.
Three TIFs — Harlem Industrial, Pershing/King and South Works Industrial — were abolished without controversy by the City Council’s Finance Committee.
Editorial: How closing a Chicago high school with zero students can help kids citywide – Chicago Tribune
After scandal, Preckwinkle shifted security detail to forest preserves police, with raises — again – Chicago Sun-Times
Two members of Preckwinkle’s security detail got pay raises last year that put them on par with what forest preserves police commanders are paid — about $110,000 annually — though they aren’t supervisors. The third went from $113,000 a year to $114,878.
Editorial: Illinois Exodus alert: Why Chicago skyscrapers and your home are worth less – Chicago Tribune
If you think the head tax—the per-employee levy repealed in 2014—is dead, think again. And while you're at it, consider Denver, which progressives hold up as a model. There, people pay for the privilege of having a job.And Chicago Teachers Union, which supports the tax, responded thusly when columnist Hinz asked for comment: "Greg, you've disparaged the CTU and our work for much of the last few months, pushing Chicago Public Schools talking points ad nauseam and going so far as to compare us to big business and Donald Trump. spokesman Ronnie Reese emailed back. So don't be surprised that no one over here is jumping over barrels to speak to you."
Tired of waiting for new Chicago police contract, FOP puts demand for 18% pay raise over 3 years to arbitrator – Chicago Sun-Times
Lightfoot agreed to pay striking teachers 16% over five years with staffing increases and other perks that pushed the overall price tag to $1.5 billion amid concern that would become the floor for police officers and firefighters.
Those fears turned out to be wrong.
Rank-and-file police officers won’t be content with simply matching the teachers. Their union is demanding an 18% pay raise over three years.
Pritzker says pot law will create black and latino millionaires as black aldermen push delay of sales over lack of diversity in industry – Chicago Sun-Times
Recreational marijuana in Chicago is coming soon, but aldermen want more minority participation – Chicago Tribune
A prediction for 100 metro areas puts Chicago in a group of 17 where both prices and sales will go down, but the dips here are so small as to be essentially flat. Local experts say not much will change until the city and state are on better financial footing.
Of all the Chicagoans who’ve suffered the Board of Trade bar’s hangovers, Eddie Johnson’s may be the most permanent.
Chicago’s new ride-hailing tax begins in January, and it’s the country’s highest fee – Curbed Chicago
Twitter exchange with Cook County assessor sums up outrage and exodus: Tax hikes are paying for debt, not services. – Commentary – Chicago Tribune
All aboard: Relatives of embattled state Sen. Martin Sandoval hitch a ride on CTA payroll – Chicago Sun-Times
Pols pull plug on plan to give North Shore properties floodplain property tax breaks – Chicago Sun-Times
Three months ago, new Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi sent a letter to more than 1,100 homeowners in New Trier Township all but promising them a surprise property tax break because they live on a floodplain.
It’s now clear they’re not going to get it.
Charges dropped against CPS teachers arrested during CTU strike protest at Sterling Bay headquarters – Chicago Tribune
Dorothy Brown’s office debuts upgrade to criminal court computers to wide ridicule – Chicago Tribune
The rollout of a long-awaited upgrade to Cook County courts’ archaic case management system by beleaguered Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown’s office has caused disarray at the county’s main criminal courthouse on Chicago’s Southwest Side.
Alderman Says Gangs Have Left At Least 13 Blocks In The Dark In Brighton Park, And Problem Is Getting Worse – CBS Chicago
Mayor Lori Lightfoot says alderman doesn’t understand budget because he went on hunting trip during committee hearings – Chicago Tribune
Chicago Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin hired private security using taxpayer funds after CPD found there was no threat. She disagreed, saying people call her ‘the money lady.’ – Chicago Tribune
Lightfoot’s precariously-balanced budget will sail through the City Council, but how long will it last? – Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago water bill payments down $20 million this year as Mayor Lori Lightfoot stops shut-offs for nonpayment – Chicago Tribune
A Chicago city income tax could be in our future because other alternatives are worse – Chicago Sun-Times
Rising commercial property tax assessments spark fears of big property tax hikes.
Activists urge aldermen to oppose Lightfoot budget because it keeps mental health clinics closed, gives wealthy corporations a pass – Chicago Sun-Times
Kim Foxx announces re-election bid — while admitting she didn’t handle Jussie Smollett case ‘well’ – Chicago Sun-Times
Mayor Lori Lightfoot agreed Monday to raise the annual aldermanic expense — from $97,000 to $122,000 — to appease aldermen demanding more staff for their ward offices and build support for her 2020 budget.
Instead of budgeting $4.85 million for the annual aldermanic expense allowance, the city will spend $6.1 million — about a 26% increase. The additional $1.25 million will come from unspecified spending cuts and revenue increases, officials said, as the City Council’s Budget Committee approved the mayor’s $11.65 billion spending plan.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot says she’s not expecting additional Chicago property tax hike for 2020; budget plan advances – Chicago Tribune
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s plan to raise Chicago’s minimum wage to $15-an-hour by 2021, but maintain a “sub-minimum wage” for tipped workers, cleared a key legislative hurdle on Monday to cheers from restaurant owners.
That’s not good enough to satisfy Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th). He argued again Monday that eliminating the “sub-minimum wage” and phasing in a $15-an-hour wage for all workers was imperative to “reduce workplace sexual harassment” and eradicate a two-tiered system that “leaves black and Latino women in the service industry behind.”
Business group: Chicago work scheduling rules unconstitutional, should be blocked – Cook County Record
How Open Is Chicago Area Government? One-Third of Local Agencies Get Failing Grade for Transparency – City Bureau
Dozens of Chicago and Cook County agencies fall short on Open Meetings Act and other open government standards, according to a City Bureau analysis.