Sunday, January 26, 2020

Pappas: Tax relief program helps senior citizens struggling to pay Cook County property taxes

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Barack And Michelle Obama’s Official Portraits Are Coming To Art Institute Of Chicago – Block Club Chicago

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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.

Now 2 1/2 years into the receivership, with Harvey under new leadership, Mayor Christopher Clark is aiming to take back authority of the city Water Department’s finances.

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Cook County ethics board approves reforms as member resigns in protest of President Toni Preckwinkle’s move to replace chair – Chicago Tribune

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Lightfoot to launch waste management study; hopes to find way to improve Chicago’s dismal recycling rate – Chicago Sun-Times

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A Twenty Three Trillion $$$$ Dollar Failure/ Chicago says “Whats a few more Million”/ Forgotten History. – ChicagoNow

A former Chicago cop lets it rip.

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The Race to Repair Dorothy Brown’s Office – Chicago Magazine

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Chicago developers are making use of Opportunity Zone investment – Marketplace

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Chicago Ranked Most Affordable Major City For Minimum Wage Workers, Study Finds, But That’s Not Saying Much – CBS Chicago

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Cook County Health Needs A New CEO. Could Politics Get In The Way? – WBEZ

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Tom Cullerton’s lawyer appears to have deal with prosecutors over Coli evidence – Chicago Sun-Times

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Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle replacing ethics board chairwoman who donated to Lori Lightfoot in 2019 mayor’s race – Chicago Tribune

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Assessor Fritz Kaegi to critics: Some real estate investors are playing politics for financial gain – Chicago Tribune

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Illinois is at risk of an economic downturn – Chicago Chamber of Commerce

"We are at risk of shocking the region into an economic downturn when you combine an uncertain property tax environment with a looming pension crisis and new, costly mandates on the region’s employers."

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Why Chicago Tribune Staffers Are Terrified Of Their Hedge Fund Owner – Forbes

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Western suburbs taking ‘wait-and-see’ approach toward benefits of new pension consolidation plan backed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker – Chicago Tribune

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O’Hare to screen passengers for symptoms of Chinese coronavirus as US confirms its 1st case – WGN

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How Should Chicago Handle a ‘Climate Emergency’? – WTTW

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The debate over how Chicago should build affordable housing, explained – Curbed Chicago

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Overtime for Chicago police officers and firefighters soaring – WGN

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Financial atonement for racial discrimination in the US ‘blue bubble’ – Evanston — Financial Times

Evanston's reparations effort gets an international headline.

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From ‘Hot Mess’ To ‘Priceless’: CPD Triples Field Trainers In Overhaul Of Crucial Program – WBEZ

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Oakbrook Terrace Mayor Tony Ragucci Resigns Amid Reports Of Federal Investigation – CBS Chicago

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Police and fire overtime continue to surge in Chicago – Chicago Sun-Times

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she was “angry and frustrated” and planned to hold then Police Supt. Eddie Johnson accountable for reining in an abuse that beleaguered taxpayers “can’t afford.” The message apparently fell on deaf ears.

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.

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How Kim Foxx Has Exceeded the Authority of Her Office – Chicago Contrarian

A Progressive theologian hijacks Cook County’s system of justice.

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Chicago Tribune staffers seek new owners amid fears of hedge fund takeover: ‘We’re doing everything in our power to try to stop them’ – CNN

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Are coach houses the answer to Chicago’s affordable housing problem? – Chicago Sun-Times

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Why developers grumble about affordable housing rules – Crain’s

A city task force is looking at it.

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Thousands turn out for Chicago’s women’s march – NBC Chicago

   

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John Kass: Why is Kim Foxx sticking taxpayers with a bill for her Jussie Smollett mess? – Chicago Tribune

Foxx needs lawyers now, what with special prosecutor Dan Webb looking into the Smollett mess and the FBI hanging around the case. But she doesn’t need to stick taxpayers with the legal bills. Retired Judge Sheila O’Brien insists state law mandates that state officers with legal issues be represented by the Illinois attorney general’s office.
Isn’t Foxx supposed to follow the law?
“We’re going to find out,” O’Brien said Friday in an in-depth interview on this issue during a taping of my podcast, “The Chicago Way,” for WGN Plus. “Why this state’s attorney has gone out on our tax dime and hired somebody else that she gets to choose? How does that work? You can’t make this stuff up,” O’Brien said.

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Evanston’s reparations program that could offer a blueprint for the nation – The Guardian

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Chicago Teachers Union Inc.: How the clout-heavy labor group spends its money – Chicago Sun-Times

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.

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One-party rule enabled property tax dysfunction – Opinion – JournalStandard

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Preckwinkle Takes CRE To Task For Racial Inequity – Bisnow

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle began Bisnow’s Chicago 2020 Forecast event Wednesday with some tough words for the commercial real estate industry. In her keynote address to hundreds gathered in the atrium of GlenStar Properties’ Schaumburg Corporate Center in suburban Schaumburg, she called out the industry for its lack of diversity, noting that the county’s population was 25% Latinx, 24% African American and 8% Asian American.

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Nike’s Obama Center donation raises questions about corporate branding, public resources – Chicago Reporter

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Ex-Judge: Kim Foxx Shouldn’t Use Tax Dollars for Outside Counsel – WTTW

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Obama Center Plans Would Change Historic Aspects Of Park Boulevard System Too, Updated Report Says – Block Club Chicago

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Chicago STSC up to 40 times oversubscribed on long end – The Bond Buyer

Comment: That's what happens when you convey away full ownership of future sales tax revenue -- when you sell body parts you haven't even grown yet. Bond buyers may be happy, but for service recipients and taxpayers, we will be writing shortly about how this works.

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Chicago Prepares to Declare Climate Emergency – WTTW

From the resolution: “Restoring a safe and stable climate requires a Climate Mobilization, an emergency mobilization on a scale not seen since World War II in order to reach zero greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors of the economy; to rapidly and safely drawdown and remove all the excess carbon from the atmosphere at emergency speed and until safe, pre-industrial climate conditions are restored; and to implement measures to protect all people and species from the consequences of abrupt climate breakdown …”

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Lawyers: Immigration court system is ‘red tape gone crazy’ – A.P.

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Viking Cruise Line Bringing New Ships to the Great Lakes – NBC Chicago

While the cruise line’s initial Great Lakes offerings do not include Chicago, Milwaukee will serve as an origin point for several excursions.

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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.

In addition, Preckwinkle would get the power to directly appoint the chair of the health system’s board of directors. The new CEO also would be required to meet monthly with her, and the Preckwinkle-controlled Human Resources Bureau would wield the power to negotiate union contracts.

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Some guy on a flight out of O’hare got drunk and took his pants off so they had to land the plane to throw him off and he left an empty bottle of Jack Daniels in his seat then his girlfriend got rally mad and gave everybody the finger – Patch

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Chicago’s Bond Penalty Plunges as Investors Hunt for Yields – Bloomberg

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot Scolds Aldermen Over ‘Offensive Nature’ Of Debate On Study Of Possible Contract Set-Asides For LGBTQ Businesses – CBS Chicago

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Burke Spent More Than $400K on Legal Fees in 4th Quarter of 2019 – NBC Chicago

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Pot taxes in Chicago could be as high as 41% by July as county moves forward with 3% levy – Chicago Sun-Times

That 3% would be in addition to the city’s 3% planned tax and state excise taxes of 10-25%, based on the level of THC, the ingredient in pot that gets users high, in the product purchased. Marijuana products also carry normal sales taxes — which in Chicago are 10.25% — meaning some products could carry taxes of 41.25% starting this summer.

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Aldermen fear setting aside contracts for gay-owned businesses could lead to fraud, fewer contracts for people of color – Chicago Sun-TImes

Comment: If set-asides are extended to gays, only 13.6% of Chicago's population would be left without access to a set-aside – straight, white, males with no handicap, as we detailed earlier. In other words, over 86% of Chicagoans would be entitled to preferential treatment when bidding for city contracts. Maybe it would be easier just to designate the small minority that gets no preference.

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Nike pledges $5 million for Obama Center athletic/conference building – Chicago Sun-Times

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Why Illinois Is Pumping Millions Into the Census – Chicago Magazine

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More Weed Taxes? New Hospital? What To Watch For At Cook County Board – WBEZ

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State should allow cannabis cafes that serve edible pot products, aldermen say – Chicago Sun-TImes

Ald. Jason Ervin wants the Illinois legislature to let Chicago license smokeless cafes where marijuana-infused foods can be sold and consumed on premises.

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Number Of Social Workers Growing In Chicago Public Schools – WBEZ

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Chicago Sees Strong Year in VC Funding With $2.2B Raised in 2019 – Chicago Inno

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Chicago eyes bigger budget savings from upsized bond refunding – Reuters

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Lightfoot-backed study to look at possible set-asides for gay-, transgender-owned Chicago businesses advances – Chicago Tribune

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s move to study whether gay- and transgender-owned businesses should get city contracting set-asides similar to those for minority- and women-owned companies advanced Tuesday despite black aldermen’s concerns about how such status can be verified and that it could mainly benefit white men.

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Downtown office market posts best year since 2007 – Crain’s

Companies moved into more downtown Chicago office space in 2019 than in any year since before the Great Recession, keeping the good times rolling for landlords into the new decade. But some landlords still have big holes to fill.

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Foundation’s Chicago affordable housing defaults spread to suburban portfolios – The Bond Buyer

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Jussie Smollett’s Google Headache – National Review

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Why we can’t abandon Kim Foxx – Chicago Reader

Presented without comment.

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The Chicago Political Quote Hall of Fame – Chicago Magazine

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Chicago Developers Are Giving Opportunity Zones A Try – WBEZ

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Former acting ICE director responds to Cook County releasing illegal immigrants with criminal records: ‘That’s just stupid’ – Fox News

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Chicago alderman proposes tax on childbirth – IL Policy

Ald. Ray Lopez's proposals included “conception fees” and a license on childbirth, before later conceding that “this is not China” and that such measures were unlikely lawful in the United States. Lopez’s tweets also called for a “toddler escrow.” He told the Chicago Sun-Times that he “was serious” and that if it were possible “to legally implement parental licensing or conception fees” he would spearhead the effort.

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Spooked by property tax increases, Chicago developers look to other cities – Chicago Tribune

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Increases and Changes to Consumer Taxes in Chicago for 2020 – Civic Federation

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Judge orders CPD to turn over 48 years’ worth of misconduct files – Chicago Sun-TImes

“The order threatens to expose decades of police corruption and other skeletons out of CPD’s closet, prevents the City from continuing to expend millions in taxpayer dollars to keep police misconduct secret, and makes patterns of police misconduct readily available to the public, which will inform the ongoing public debate over how to police the police,” said the attorney behind the FOIA request.

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50,000 Cook County residents will lose food stamps if they don’t find work soon, and the clock is ticking – Chicago Tribune

The clock started ticking Jan. 1 for about 50,000 food stamp recipients in Cook County who are now limited to three months of benefits over three years, unless they work, volunteer or participate in job training for at least 20 hours a week. Part of federal law since the 1990s, the work rules have been waived in Cook County for more than a decade but as of this year must be imposed because of the county’s low unemployment rate.
The work requirements apply only to adults aged 18 to 49 who are considered able-bodied and don’t have dependents; the majority of the county’s 826,000 food stamp recipients won’t be affected.

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Chicago’s construction boom is about to bust – Crain’s

After a building boom that has stretched the boundaries of downtown and put a record number of cranes in the air, new construction projects are forecast to fall 10 percent this year, according to New York-based research firm Dodge Data & Analytics. If that prediction is right, it would mark the third annual decrease in four years and the biggest single-year drop in construction starts since the Great Recession

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Mayor Lightfoot announces Cannabis Resource Fair for employees and entrepreneurs – Chicago Defender

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Mendoza: State won’t collect red light camera fines. Suburbs: We’ll get someone else to do it – Daily Herald

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot Suggests She May be Open to Lowering Recreational Cannabis Taxes – NBC Chicago

Of the 11 states where recreational marijuana has been legalized, Illinois’ taxes are second only to Washington state

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The Real Enrollment Challenge In Chicago: What To Do With All Those Empty School Seats – Block Club Chicago

Chicago has lost 54,100 public school children in the past decade. That has left 145 district-run schools less than half-full.

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Waukegan distribution business moves across border to Wisconsin, citing taxes – Chicago Tribune

Trifinity Specialized Distribution, a distribution and third-party logistics company currently based in Waukegan, is in the process of moving to a new 250,000-square-foot facility in Kenosha, said Jim Merlo, the company’s owner and chief executive officer.
The company, which employs 61 people, signed a long-term lease with Zilber Property Group for one of its recently constructed industrial facilities, according to a news release.
Merlo pointed to taxes, in particular property taxes and the climbing gasoline tax; a more welcoming business climate; and safety concerns, following the AB Specialty Silicones explosion in May that killed four people, as reasons for the move.

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Chicago Forward — A letter from Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Bruce Dold – Chicago Tribune

The Chicago Tribune launches a six-month series: Chicago Forward / Young Lives in the Balance: How to reach Chicagoland’s disconnected youth. This campaign will engage our readers in a search for the best ways to prepare young people to live fulfilling, productive lives and contribute to the well-being of our city. It is outside of the Tribune's paywall.

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Coyote suspect captured – FOX Chicago

An omen for Michael Madigan?

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CHA gave $76M deal to movie studio head’s group while he was an FBI mole – Chicago Sun-Times

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.

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Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle Again Calls For Hospitals To Treat More Uninsured – WBEZ

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Chicago pastor charged with bilking federal program to feed needy kids, spending $142,000 on a Bentley for himself – Chicago Tribune

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$300,000 settlement to settle sexual harassment claim against retired Chicago cop – Chicago Sun-Times

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Another $500,000 settlement tied to allegations of police abuse – Chicago Sun-Times

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Black Lives Matter week at Evanston School District 65

The week's lessons correspond to the thirteen guiding principles of Black Lives Matter:
  • 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

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A coyote bit some guy’s butt in Chicago’s Gold Coast – Chicago Tribune

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Preckwinkle names new Cook County budget director – Crain’s

Annette C. Guzman, is a transplant from Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi’s office, where she served as Chief Administrative Officer. Her appointment will have to be approved by the Cook County board. Before her time at the assessor’s office, Guzman was deputy chief administrator and chief of staff at the Chicago Civilian Office of Police Accountability. She is a University of Chicago Law School graduate and practiced finance law in Sidley Austin’s Chicago

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Lightfoot pushes Chicago city council to loosen food truck restrictions – IL Policy

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Jussie Smollett case springs to life as Foxx lawyers up and judge issues search warrants – CWB Chicago

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How Will Chicago Use Its Land Near The Obama Presidential Center? – WBEZ

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Chicago plans full court press with investors this week – The Bond Buyer

Comment: Note the junior lien in future sales tax revenue that the city already pawned off!

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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.

Not only does Dr. John Jay Shannon stand to collect $542,000 in severance pay and health insurance benefits per the terms of his contract, but his interim replacement got a raise of more than $40,000. In addition, the county will have to spend tens of thousands of dollars more on a national search for a permanent successor.

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Red-light camera network should stay, Chicago’s new transportation chief says – Chicago Sun-Times

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Oak Lawn credit rating hits junk status amid skyrocketing pension costs – IL Policy

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Video gaming in Chicago? Here’s what’s at stake – CBS Chicago

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Fraud, waste, misconduct: Inspector General’s report details year of cases in Chicago schools – Chalkbeat

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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

“We have a clear fraud,” said Jeffrey Greenspan, adding that because Foxx is the county’s highest-ranking law enforcement official, she has a special obligation to get it right. “It’s a little different from a regular situation because there is an extra duty here.”

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$25 Million Chicago Teacher Payout Causing New Conflict Between Union And CPS – WBEZ

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Cook County assesses priciest properties in suburbs at below recent sale prices: report – Real Deal

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Judge tosses racial bias suit vs CPS, says lower black enrollment caused teacher layoffs, not racism – Cook County Record

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Physician nearly run over by carjackers in River North on Sunday afternoon – CWB Chicago

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CPS Inspector General Report Details Sexual Misconduct – WBEZ

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CPS had 140 residency violations complaints in 2019 – A.P.

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Can Lightfoot expand Chicago’s jobs pie while dividing it differently? – Crain’s

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CPS Watchdog Opened 450 New Sexual Misconduct Investigations in 2019 – WTTW

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City nabbing land near Obama Presidential Center – Crain’s

Several properties formerly owned by Rev. Leon Finney and a short distance from the proposed Obama Presidential Center in Woodlawn will soon belong to the city. Those properties will become part of an effort to help current residents stay in a neighborhood that’s seen real estate investment heat up.

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CPS Inspector General Report Details Sexual Misconduct

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2 U.S. cities are not prepared for a recession, Moody’s finds – Yahoo Money

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Where Have All the Polish Pols Gone? – Chicago Magazine

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Evanston readers say cut taxes to spur growth – Evanston Now

Comment: Whoa. In far left Evanston, no less.

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Bachrach & Berg: Chicago should study LA police reforms for ways to really lower the homicide count – Chicago Tribune

In LA, power over the Police Department resides with a professional civilian board of police commissioners. In Chicago, the mayor calls all the shots.
The results speak for themselves.

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GOP strategist forecasts an accelerated ‘fiscal demise’ if Chicago approves new ‘LaSalle Street Tax’ – Chicago City Wire

Republican political strategist Chris Robling does not mince words about his opinion of a plan to enact a margin tax on "businesses that conduct business in Chicago, minus certain labor costs." “New taxes are the problem, not the solution,” Robling told Chicago City Wire. “Illinois’ tax burden is already too high the way things are and not much good can come from any higher rates.”

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CPS Data Shows Hundreds of Underutilized Schools – WTTW

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2020 Will Cost You More In Chicago — Here’s How It Adds Up – Block Club Chicago

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More Fentanyl Overdose Deaths In 2019 Than Homicides In Cook Co. – Patch

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The Obama Center was supposed to break ground in 2018. What happened? – Curbed Chicago

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Judge forecloses Cook County’s bid to renew tax loss claims vs Bank of America in discriminatory lending lawsuit – Cook Country Record

A federal judge has refused to back off her order blocking Cook County from demanding Bank of America reimburse the county potentially billions of dollars for property tax revenue the county says was lost amid the foreclosure crisis – a loss the county has blamed in part on alleged discriminatory lending practices.

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A Chicago Without ComEd – Chicago Magzine

When Mayor Lori Lightfoot holds a hearing on the city’s franchise agreement with ComEd later this year, at least one alderman, socialist Daniel La Spata (1st), will vie for her to cancel it altogether. His alternative? City Hall takes over the grid itself, transforming Chicago into a public power community like Los Angeles, Austin, Cleveland, and a number of other cities.

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Recovering from bond scandal, Chicago suburban school district readies restructuring deal – The Bond Buyer

A probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Justice disclosed by the district in 2016 led to the filing in 2017 of criminal fraud charges against the district’s former superintendent, Lawrence Wyllie. He was accused of using bond proceeds to inflate the district’s apparent fiscal health. The charges remain pending.

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Chicago Lakeshore Hospital may close after feds pull funding, state license threatened – WGN

After a series of unsatisfactory inspection reports, the psychiatric hospital now faces the potential loss of its state license, and the cut-off of federal Medicare and Medicaid funding. Most of the patients’ bills are paid by one of those programs.

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Chicago Moving In 2020, Despite Political Worries – Bisnow

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As Illinois moves to consolidate local police and fire pension funds, Evanston and Skokie officials await the results – Chicago Tribune

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Feds seized $51K in cash from safe at Cook County commissioner’s home during last year’s raids – Chicago Sun-Times

A newly obtained FBI document shows not only what agents took from Jeff Tobolski’s McCook house but also reveals they visited the home of Oakbrook Terrace Mayor Tony Ragucci — and seized $60,000.

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Lightfoot’s pledge to get tough with utilities comes at a cost – Crain’s

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.

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After 66,000 CPS students missed 1st strike makeup day, many kids skip 2nd one Thursday — will more stay home Friday? – Chicago Sun-Times

While CPS did not immediately have attendance figures for Thursday available, if the situation was similar or worse to the first strike makeup day in November — as some expect — that means tens of thousands of students potentially missed classes.

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Editorial: Lori Lightfoot’s green light for Chicago food trucks – Chicago Tribune

"Kudos to the mayor for bringing a new approach, which her office describes as just one of her “latest efforts to support innovative business types and creative owners.” She even won the support of the Illinois Restaurant Association, which said, 'By expanding operating hours for food trucks, Chicago is encouraging innovation while balancing the interests of both food trucks and restaurants.'"

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Chicago Is Making the Case for Releasing Pregnant Inmates – The Atlantic

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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

Uncertainty over property taxes is paired with other issues already on the radar of big, institutional real estate investors. Those worries include ongoing city and state fiscal woes stemming from soaring pension obligations, as well as potential Chicago policy changes such as increased affordable housing requirements, rent control and tax-increment financing (TIF) reform. Construction costs also have been rising. “Most of our institutional investors have basically redlined Chicago,” said a major institutional investor. “They are not going to deploy capital here."

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Chicago’s homicides drop for third straight year – WLS

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Mark Konkol: Are Chicago Journalists Willing To ‘Scrooten’ Themselves? – Patch

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Case Shiller Index: Chicago Area Home Price Growth Continues To Lag Nation – ChicagoNow

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Housing for Rich Seniors a Hit With Property Investors – Mansion Global

A high-end senior housing facility in Chicago has sold for double its 2012 purchase price, the latest sign that investors are increasingly eager to own properties catering to wealthy retirees. The deal for the Chicago property shows that investors believe some segments of senior housing still look like a good bet. Many are wagering they can outperform the industry with amenity-rich downtown facilities that can charge more than $20,000 a month.

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Oak Lawn officials resist tax increases, service reductions despite credit rating downgrade over mounting pension obligations – Chicago Tribune

 Despite allocating nearly $10 million to funding public safety employee pensions in next year’s budget — a seven-fold increase since 2011 that represents roughly one-sixth of all general fund expenditures — Oak Lawn’s pension burden continues to grow. As a result, Moody’s Dec. 23 downgraded Oak Lawn’s credit rating to junk.
While Moody’s latest downgrade will not spur Oak Lawn to reduce services, Bury said, it could result in the village looking to cut costs through outsourcing.
“No one likes (outsourcing), but it’s what you need to do to reduce costs,” she said. The mayor declined to specify what services might be outsourced, but said officials needed to “re-evaluate the organization” from top to bottom.

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Chicago’s murder-clearance rate rose sharply in 2019, police say – Chicago Sun-Times

The city’s murder clearance rate in 2019 was about 53%, according to Chicago Police Department figures. In 2016, the clearance rate was just 29% — an improvement of more than 50% in three years, the department’s figures show.

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Abolish the Police? – City Journal

The latest call to action from some criminal-justice activists: “Abolish the police.” From the streets of Chicago to the city council of Seattle, and in the pages of academic journals ranging from the Cardozo Law Review to the Harvard Law Review and of mainstream publications from the Boston Review to Rolling Stone, advocates and activists are building a case not just to reform policing—viewed as an oppressive, violent, and racist institution—but to do away with it altogether.

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As population shrinks, gaps appearing in workforce, wages – Opinion – Crain’s

Chicago can again be a dynamo, but not without the government discipline to fix spending and pensions, curb corruption and create a stable business environment that grows well-paying jobs that will keep young families here.

Displaced Black educators call on CPS to settle civil rights lawsuits – Chicago Defender

"Displaced Black teachers, teaching assistants and other staff are demanding the district settle the lawsuits to help redress CPS’ racist purging of Black educators over the last 15 years."

New ride-hailing tax is a gut punch that few saw coming – Chicago Sun-Times

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.

I demand a recount – Howard Tullman

A rebuttal to a recent study purportedly showing that Chicago's tech sector stalled.

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.

Aurora OKs $96 million property tax levy – Chicago Tribune

The levy is about 6.6% higher than the about $89 million levy from last year. The bulk of the increase can be attributed to about a $2.7 million increase in the Aurora Public Library levy, and about a $3.5 million increase for the police and fire pension funds.

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

The chairman of the City Council’s Black Caucus threatened Thursday to try again to delay recreational marijuana sales in Chicago for six months after accusing Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office of backing off from a commitment made to African American aldermen demanding a piece of the pie.

Lightfoot announces mental health services designed to support those in crisis – 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.

How many granny flats and coach houses could be built in Chicago? – Crain’s

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.

Chicago home sales fall more than 10 percent – Crain’s

Because fears of an impending recession have largely dissipated and interest rates have stayed low all year after inching upward in late 2018, it’s hard to blame Chicago’s droopy sales on factors that aren’t specific to this region. Local factors in buyers’ hesitance include high property taxes, the likelihood that they will go up more and uncertainty about the future fiscal health of the city and state.

Home prices have been slow to rise for a decade. Here’s why that’s not all bad. – Crain’s

Comment: Some economist actually said this: “I don't think people would feel poor because they bought a house in Chicago ten years ago, and not in San Francisco,” where prices all but doubled during the decade, Lazzara said. The Chicago homeowner should feel rich, “because they can get so much more home for the money.”

City Council committee votes to delay sales of legal weed until July 1 – Chicago Sun-Times

"Black Caucus Chairman Jason Ervin (28th) is furious African Americans have 'zero representation' among ownership of 11 dispensaries.... The 10 to 9 vote by the City Council’s Committee on Contract Oversight and Equity was a political embarrassment to Mayor Lori Lightfoot, whose administration tried desperately to appease the Black Caucus during negotiations that continued during the meeting."

Feds investigating former Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios, records show – Chicago Sun-Times

Former Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios.

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

The “push tax,” which is akin to a sin tax on people who gamble in Oak Lawn, will assess users a penny for each push or play of a video gaming terminal beginning Jan. 1.
Existing video gaming regulations impose licensing fees on terminal operators. Oak Lawn charges $1,000 annually per operator and $500 annually per video gaming terminal. But the push tax is unique in that it assesses a tax on individual players.

Safe bet, sucker deal – Chicago Reader

The Chicago casino is still in the works, but it's likely to end up raising far less money for the city than originally promised.

Video: Shoplifters walk out of Lincoln Park store with armloads of winter coats – CWB Chicago

"We reported on Oct. 16 that shoplifting reports are up 20% over the past three years in Chicago. Suburban retailers have blamed the increase on a decision by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx to take a softer approach to shoplifting cases. Foxx has instructed her attorneys to reject felony-level retail theft charges unless a person is accused of stealing more than $1,000 in merchandise at a single event."

Editorial: Dorothy Brown and the case of the lying deputy: Voters, you can change this – Chicago Tribune

Not only was Brown the subject of several investigations into her fundraising and hiring practices, she also failed to modernize the office with basic technology despite pledging every campaign cycle to do so. A recent rollout of a computerized upgrade to the criminal court system flopped. Cleaning up that mess and installing a reliable electronic case-management system should be priority No. 1 for the next clerk.

Lightfoot wants Chicago to grow its own pot in weed co-op – Chicago Sun-Times

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

Margaret Houlihan Smith in October added ComEd to her lobbying clients, and listed dozens of city departments she might lobby on the utility’s behalf, including the mayor’s office, according to city records.
The arrangement has raised questions about the kind of information Houlihan Smith might be privy to and the kind of access she could promise. But the mayor’s office said it saw no issues with her security chief, James Smith, being married to a lobbyist for ComEd.

No ambulance fee approval — yet; No problem, Lightfoot’s budget team says – Chicago Sun-Times

Chicago is still waiting for the federal approval Mayor Lori Lightfoot claimed was imminent for a $163 million increase in ambulance fees, but it will come, averting the need for a “midyear correction” in her $11.6 billion budget, top mayoral aides said Friday.

Lawsuit’s novel approach: State is responsible for children ‘disabled’ by gun violence – NBC News

It argues that children living in Chicago’s most gun-ravaged neighborhoods suffer disabilities as a result of the violence and that Illinois is violating both the federal Americans With Disabilities Act and state civil rights laws by not tightening regulations on the flow of the illegal weapons that are contributing to the carnage.

Should the city of Chicago have to pay $44 million for a shooting involving an off-duty police officer? Federal judges set to rule

Though officials now share the jury’s opinion that Kelly shot LaPorta with his service weapon, the city contends it is not liable for LaPorta’s injuries because Kelly was off duty when it happened. The appellate judges seemed to agree, suggesting it would be unfair to hold police departments responsible for anything and everything their employees do.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot defends website shaming budget naysayers: ‘Since when is letting voters and residents know how aldermen voted bullying?’ – Chicago Tribune

The mayor’s committee launched the shaming website last week, prompting criticism from aldermen and political observers, including the Sun-Times editorial board, which compared Lightfoot’s move to bullying.
First term Ald. Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez, 33rd, told WTTW-Ch. 11, “We don’t have time to engage in petty discussions or arguments. We have work to do, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot says Chicago police merit promotions process has become ‘illegitimate’ – Chicago Tribune

“Survey after survey of police officers of all stripes have felt like people are getting their jobs ... because of who they know," Lightfoot said. “And that’s a significant problem.”

Chicago’s Low-Income Housing Trust Fund subsidizing unsafe units, new audit shows – Chicago Sun-Times

Based on a random sample of properties subsidized in 2017, Inspector General Joe Ferguson concluded that 45.8% failed to meet “minimum housing quality standards” and 61.4% did not fully comply with the Chicago building code.

Commentary: Mayor Lightfoot’s call for ComEd hearings sounds good, but … – Chicago Tribune

“We’re going to call them for some kind of hearing and make them answer some questions in the public about the broader framing of what they were doing, how they were using their shareholders’ dollars, and give us assurances that we can be comfortable doing business with them,” Lightfoot said, according to reports. As a former federal prosecutor, Lightfoot must know that a public hearing, conducted in the midst of an ongoing federal investigation, may be the last thing U.S. Attorney John Lausch and his colleagues in the Dirksen Federal Building need right now.

Businesses hit hard by new property tax assessments in the suburbs — but homeowners could catch a break – Chicago Tribune

Initial assessments are in, covering the north and northwest suburbs, and they show valuations for commercial, industrial and larger apartment properties increased by more than 74%, compared with less than 16% for homes, a Tribune analysis found.
The result may be a significant shift in how the property tax burden is divided up — with homeowners paying less and business owners paying more. A Tribune analysis shows that if Kaegi’s initial property values stand, businesses would pick up 44% of the combined taxes in those suburbs next year, up from 34% this year. That would shift 10 percent of the property tax burden from homeowners to businesses.

$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.

Now the union is calling CPS’ plan to close the two charter schools “an admission of failure by the district after decades of charter proliferation.”

City of Chicago official hit with felony theft charge – Chicago Sun-Times

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.

 

Five Cities Account for Vast Majority of Growth in Tech Jobs, Study Finds – Wall Street Journal

Comment: A very troubling study because Chicago, while still ranked tenth, actually lost 12,600 jobs in innovation between 2005 and 2017. That sector had been high growth. The full study is linked here.

Here’s how Lightfoot aims to reboot Chicago’s economy – Crain’s

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

In the last school year Douglass High School was enrolled at only 5% of its capacity. Fenger, 15%. Hirsch, 10%. Manley, 6%. Austin and Tilden, 11%. Many Chicago elementary schools also are miserably underutilized — even as some CPS schools are overcrowded.

Hey legislators, end legalized bribery in Illinois now – Editorial – Chicago Sun-Times

One of the more indefensible scams in Illinois politics is the legal right of dozens of officeholders to take money donated to their campaigns and blow it on pretty much whatever they want. Makes you wonder why a lobbyist can’t just give an elected official that BMW instead of campaign cash. It amounts to the same thing.

Muni-Bond Ratings Are All Over the Place. Here’s Why. – Wall Street Journal

Chicago is in bad financial shape, with an unsustainable pension burden and a towering debt load. Yet the city will shortly issue bonds that are likely to be rated as supersafe, even though similar investments have lost money.

After scandal, Preckwinkle shifted security detail to forest preserves police, with raises — again – Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle also gave raises to her security detail in late 2014, when the guards were moved from the Cook County sheriff’s police to her control.

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

"[T]o delay the reckoning with pension costs and enormous public debts accomplishes nothing positive. Stalling makes everything worse, in fact. Don’t believe us? Look at what investors are saying about Chicago and Illinois. To them, Hong Kong under siege is a better risk."

Universities are smarting over this new tax – Crain’s

The new federal tax applies to any college or university that has at least 500 full-time, tuition-paying students—with more than half of them being in the U.S.—and that has assets, aside from those used for charity, of at least $500,000 per full-time student. U of C, Northwestern and Notre Dame look likely to fall into the taxed category, despite being on the cusp of eligibility, giving them a combined liability of about $30 million.

The corporate head tax is an idea that just won’t die – Crain’s

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."

ComEd scandal claims a major civic victim – Crain’s

In a statement, club Chairman Ed Mazur said he has accepted Jay Doherty's resignation as president and member of the board. One source close to the probe into ComEd, which has been subpoenaed for records related to its activities in Springfield, says Doherty had more than 100 people drawing funds that originated with ComEd on his payroll, some in positions that involved little actual work.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot to interview Pete Buttigieg in Iowa – Chicago Tribune

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will be in Iowa tomorrow and is scheduled to take the stage with Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg for a public question-and answer session. It’s part of an event that pairs city leaders who haven’t endorsed in the presidential race with a candidate

When a ComEd rate cut is actually a rate hike – Crain’s

The commission yesterday approved a $17 million reduction in ComEd’s delivery rates as requested by the utility. In a release, ComEd delivered the good news, saying the average residential customer would see their monthly electric bill decline by 60 cents next year. But the release didn’t tell the whole story. ComEd’s net rates actually will climb by $33 million next year thanks to a move late last month to boost ComEd’s customer charge by $50 million for the energy-efficiency programs it administers. That Nov. 26 ICC ruling wasn't the subject of any ComEd press release.

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

“We want people who have been left out and left behind to have a real opportunity to not only benefit from this new industry but to create new millionaires in the black community and the latino community all across the state,” Pritzker told reporters.

Recreational marijuana in Chicago is coming soon, but aldermen want more minority participation – Chicago Tribune

I’m telling them right now, don’t even talk to me unless you have African American partners," said Ald. Walter Burnett Jr., 27th. “Don’t waste your time coming to see me. Because I don’t even want to talk to them. Because I think you’re just being racist in my face when you talk to me about this stuff and you don’t allow African Americans to be your partner. It’s ridiculous, man.”

When flat is fine: forecasts for Chicago housing market – Crain’s

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.

Richard Epstein: The Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park is not a done deal – Crain’s

"It is not too late for the city and Obama Foundation to do the right thing. They can still quite literally rethink the dubious OPC project from the ground up."

Ceres Cafe, Destroyer of Careers – Chicago Magazine

Of all the Chicagoans who’ve suffered the Board of Trade bar’s hangovers, Eddie Johnson’s may be the most permanent.

Chicago Property Prices Stagnate, Trail Even Crisis-Stricken Hong Kong – Wall Street Journal

Prices of office buildings, hotels, apartment properties, retail centers and other commercial real estate in Chicago fell by 4.1% over the past year, according to research firm Real Capital Analytics. That was the worst performance among major metropolitan areas analyzed by the company, behind even crisis-stricken Hong Kong, where prices fell 2.6%. “The primary reason that Chicago is struggling from an investment-sales perspective is the outlook for higher taxes in the future,” said Dave Bragg, a managing director at Green Street.

Luxury hotel on La Salle to get $21M in city-backed financing to save energy – Chicago Sun-Times

The financing is available through Chicago PACE, or Property Assessed Clean Energy, a program the Illinois General Assembly authorized statewide in 2018. Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration got it started in Chicago and his successor, Lori Lightfoot, has embraced it as an incentive for economic growth that’s energy efficient.

Chicago’s new ride-hailing tax begins in January, and it’s the country’s highest fee – Curbed Chicago

The tax was a flat fee of 72 cents per Uber or Lyft trip. Now, single rider trips citywide will have a $1.25 fee and those in the designated downtown zone will have a $3 fee.

Twitter exchange with Cook County assessor sums up outrage and exodus: Tax hikes are paying for debt, not services. – Commentary – Chicago Tribune

"Taxation here is not as simple as paying for schools, ambulances and baseball fields. It’s a shakedown exercise: Pay more for decades of irresponsible spending, expect less and be quiet about it, won’t you?"

Chicago’s New Planning Chief Has Fresh Eyes For INVEST South/West – WBEZ

As a part of INVEST South/West, the city pledges to commit $220 million in tax-increment financing dollars, $30 million from the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund along with $500 million in planned infrastructure investments and partnerships with sister city agencies. The city needs to raise an additional $250 million from private companies. BMO bank has pledged $10 million.

Inside Operation Greylord: Video Interview With the Author – Fox Chicago

Comment: It's bad now, but it wasn't that long ago that even murder trials were fixed.

Here’s where Illinois and Iowa residents are moving – Quad-City Times

Data show that most Illinoisians aren’t moving to Iowa. Instead, they’re bailing for different Midwestern states.

All aboard: Relatives of embattled state Sen. Martin Sandoval hitch a ride on CTA payroll – Chicago Sun-Times

While Sandoval held significant power over transit agencies as the chairman of the Illinois Senate’s Transportation Committee, his daughter and daughter-in-law were hired by the CTA — after his son was hired by another transit agency, the Pace bus system.

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.

The Real Reason Developers Are Avoiding Chicago – Points & Figures

The taxes stink. But it’s the real-world incentives of horribly designed public policy that is driving developers away. Given the environment, it’s not going to stop. In Illinois, property rights aren’t really respected in the classical capitalistic model. Coase works.

Charges dropped against CPS teachers arrested during CTU strike protest at Sterling Bay headquarters – Chicago Tribune

The so-called CTU 9 stood briefly Wednesday afternoon before a Cook County judge, who swiftly told them all charges of misdemeanor criminal trespass to property were dismissed, apparently because the complaining witness was not present for the court hearing.

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.

Attorneys and clerks interviewed by the Tribune since the rollout two weeks ago complained the supposed advancement has instead resulted in incomplete case information, poorly trained staff and lengthy delays in securing the most basic documentation.

Evanston aldermen establish historic fund for local reparations – Daily Northwestern

"It is time we lead our city past ceremony and apology and into the overdue commitment to a reparative policy."

Alderman Says Gangs Have Left At Least 13 Blocks In The Dark In Brighton Park, And Problem Is Getting Worse – CBS Chicago

Walk down the streets in Brighton Park, you can see it for yourself – sliced wires hanging out at the bases of light poles. We found a few in such condition – pulled, broken, clipped.” Why are they doing it? “Obviously to be the dark to; do what they want to do – whether it’s driving through the neighborhood trying to shoot people, graffiti, or do other things of that nature,” Lopez said. “As soon as we can fix it with CDOT, the lights are out the very next day,” he said. CBS talked to people who live and work here and walk the streets of Brighton Park every day. Nary a soul would go on camera – even anonymously.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot says alderman doesn’t understand budget because he went on hunting trip during committee hearings – Chicago Tribune

Far South Side Ald. Anthony Beale, 9th, called on Lightfoot last week to delay a vote on the 2020 budget due to concerns over $163 million in ambulance reimbursement payments she’s relying on as a key part of her spending plan for Chicago government.
On Monday, Lightfoot emailed Beale a response saying a delay would be “reckless and irresponsible.” Then she questioned the veteran alderman’s grasp of her proposal, saying his “predictions and statements about the proposed budget ... reflect a basic misunderstanding of the fundamentals of this budget."
“Unfortunately, as I understand it, you skipped many aldermanic briefings and then missed important days of the budget hearings while on a hunting trip,” Lightfoot wrote.

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

Chicago Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin listens as her press secretary, Yolanda Joe, speaks during an interview at Conyears-Ervin's office in City Hall on Nov. 21, 2019, in Chicago. "I cannot tell you how many places I go to where people say, ‘give me a loan, that’s the money lady, can you write me a check?’” Conyears-Ervin said. “People truly associate me with money … I’ve had people, when I walk in the room, they say, ‘Money, money, money — money.’”

Lightfoot’s precariously-balanced budget will sail through the City Council, but how long will it last? – Chicago Sun-Times

"The bottom line is a budget Lightfoot claims is on solid ground and her critics say is a house of cards certain to come tumbling down"

Chicago water bill payments down $20 million this year as Mayor Lori Lightfoot stops shut-offs for nonpayment – Chicago Tribune

Chicago water bill payments are down $20 million this year, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration said months after the mayor announced the city would stop shutting off households’ water because of unpaid bills.

A Chicago city income tax could be in our future because other alternatives are worse – Chicago Sun-Times

Comment: This article is a great example of how our press bears some of the responsibility for our fiscal crisis. This author ignored the Rhode Island decision on cutting pensions, which is the only decision on the point about a pension amendment, which he got wrong. Then there's Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, saying “it’s a rational thing to do” but only after exploring all other avenues. The author didn't bother disclosing that CTBA is a union-funded propaganda machine, and quoted nobody else.

How Are CPS Teachers Getting Post-Strike Makeup Days Off? – CBS Chicago

First, the Chicago Teachers Union demanded more makeup days for time spent on the picket line – and they got some of them, exactly as they wanted. But now, CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov has learned that teachers won’t be at work anyway on many of those days – and the Chicago Public Schools system is scrambling to find substitutes.

Here’s another worry for local manufacturers – Crain’s

Rising commercial property tax assessments spark fears of big property tax hikes.

How Lakefront Liberals Became Milwaukee Avenue Progressives – Chicago Magazine

Today, the Near Northwest Side is the heartland of the liberal Noth Side. The Chicago Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America has its headquarters in Logan Square. In the 2016 Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders’s strongest wards were on the Northwest Side. Three of the City Council’s six democratic socialists represent Northwest Side wards: Daniel LaSpata of the 1st, Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez of the 33rd, and Carlos Ramirez-Rosa of the 35th.

Dr. Jay Shannon Out As CEO Of Cook County Health – WBEZ

Shannon has partly blamed the rise in uncompensated care on other hospitals that send their uninsured patients his way, especially those who need expensive treatments. In recent months, he’s been vocal about imploring other hospitals to treat more people who don’t have insurance.. Besides facing financial pressures, Shannon has been caught up in a months-long volley with Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard. In June, Blanchard released a damning report that accused Cook County Health’s Medicaid insurance business, called CountyCare, of sitting on nearly $700 million in unpaid bills owed to hospitals and doctors.

Metro Chicago job growth hits a wall – Crain’s

The data is from the Illinois Department of Employment Security. Unlike most jobs numbers, it is based not on surveys and estimates but on an actual hard count of private-sector jobs covered by unemployment insurance that is considered highly reliable. According to the report, the total number of jobs in the six-county metro area in the year ended March 31 grew just 1,361, to 3,598,232. That's not even a tenth of a percent, and far and away is the lowest annual rise since the city and state began recovering from the subprime mortgage recession a decade ago.

Chicago signals intention to make full pension contributions – The Bond Buyer

Comment: Keep in mind that full doesn't really mean full. It just means paying what was set by the legislature, which is far short of what's needed even for the pensions to tread water. Taxpayer pension contributions have to double by 2033 just to get to the point where the growth in unfunded liabilities stops.

Finance Committee approves Lightfoot’s $104.2 million package of taxes and fees – Chicago Sun-Times

Mayoral allies beat back efforts to kill a $40 million congestion fee and a first-ever trash-collection fee for non-profits; the Finance Committee also approved a $1.5 billion debt refinancing package.

Chicago Tribune’s New Investor Is Hedge Fund Known for Layoffs – Bloomberg

Michael Ferro, the largest shareholder in Tribune Publishing Co., sold his 25% stake in the newspaper company for about $118 million to Alden Global Capital LLC, a hedge fund known for making deep cuts to newsrooms.

Kim Foxx announces re-election bid — while admitting she didn’t handle Jussie Smollett case ‘well’ – Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. Foxx had others to blame: “Every day my office is under attack, from a president who uses our city as a punching bag. The NRA, hell bent on letting guns flood our streets. And the FOP, clinging to old ways. They’ll do anything to undercut progress, including attacking me personally over the Jussie Smollett case,” Foxx says.

Lightfoot agrees to raise aldermanic expense allowance – 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

There’s no guarantee property taxes can be held down in the future, she said, especially if she can’t get state lawmakers next spring to make changes she wants to the proposed Chicago casino taxing structure.

Lightfoot’s minimum wage compromise advances, to cheers from restaurant owners – Chicago Sun-Times

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.”

Lightfoot is killing Emanuel’s Infrastructure Trust – Crain’s

The trust, launched with a flourish at the start of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration, has been criticized for accomplishing little at a snail's pace and depending on public financing, even though it was created with a goal of freeing taxpayers from the cost and risk of funding big infrastructure projects.

Business group: Chicago work scheduling rules unconstitutional, should be blocked – Cook County Record

The Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago has sued City Hall to try to stop the city from enforcing its Fair Workweek Ordinance, which regulates employers’ scheduling processes, and asking the courts to strike the ordinance down as unconstitutional for targeting only specific kinds of employers.

Downtown rents have companies taking a second look at the burbs – Crain’s

Tenant rep brokers say that widening gap isn't enough to reverse or stop a suburban-to-urban trend alone, as real estate expenses pale in comparison to labor costs. But with the suburban millennial population expected to grow during the next decade and the rise of telecommuting and co-working allowing more workplace flexibility, the calculus companies are using to decide where they want to call home is changing.

Chicago-pedia – a collection of ‘Chicago-speak’: Chicago Sun-Times

Comment: There's a misspelling in here. It's samich not sandwich.

Editorial: Who will bear the burden of CTU’s generous new contract? Take a guess – Chicago Tribune

Chicago Teachers Union officials earlier this year said the costs of a new contract would come from “rich people,” casino gambling, legalized marijuana and sports betting. Nope. Those revenues won’t cover the 16% pay raises and other promises. Money expected to be generated, eventually, from gambling and cannabis legalization would flow to the city budget, not the schools.
The burden will be borne by rank-and-file middle-class taxpayers and property owners. Same as it ever was in Illinois.

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.