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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
12:43pm
Thu Oct 27, 2016

Windy City Aldermen Talk Municipal Budget, Chicago Cubs At Panel Discussion

Chicago Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) says he thinks he has solved the city's budget for next year.

"We'll just add an additional tax on every item that the Cubs sell this season," Waguespack joked Thursday during a City Club of Chicago panel discussion on the city's 2017 budget. 

"I've never seen so many people wearing Cubs gear, not only in Chicago but just nationwide," the alderman said. "It's a good thing to see a team doing so well, because it does add to the bottom line. It adds to Chicago's stature at a time when things are pretty difficult, when we see so much increase in crime and violence throughout our city, that we can have one thing to look at and say this is a good thing."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:00pm
Tue Feb 23, 2016

Debate Heats Up Over Proposed Chicago Tobacco Ordinance

Some Chicago aldermen, small business owners and retail lobbyists want Mayor Rahm Emanuel to reconsider his tobacco tax proposal, saying the plan would adversely affect local businesses and neighborhoods, including those already impacted by black-market sales of "loosie" cigarettes.

But a coalition of health organizations is firing back, calling on the city council to "reject the tobacco industry's rhetoric and to pass a strong tobacco control ordinance."

Debate rages on over Emanuel's proposal to increase the smoking age in Chicago from 18 to 21 and impose a $6 million tax on non-cigarette tobacco products, with the revenue going in part toward Chicago Public Schools orientation programs. The plan is aimed at preventing "young people from picking up smoking, while investing in their education," according to the administration.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
6:43pm
Wed Feb 10, 2016

Chicago City Council Roundup: The Brouhaha Over Council Oversight & Plan To Slap Cab Riders With Another Surcharge

Progress Illinois provides highlights from Wednesday's Chicago City Council meeting, which covered everything from city council oversight to the "tampon tax."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
1:51pm
Wed Feb 3, 2016

CTU Closes Bank Of America Account Over 'Toxic' Interest Rate Swaps (VIDEO)

One day after Chicago Public Schools officials announced $100 million in proposed budget cuts, the Chicago Teachers Union closed its Bank of America account on Wednesday in protest over the controversial interest rate swap agreements held between the bank and school district.

CTU says cash-strapped CPS, which is facing a $480 million budget hole this fiscal year, has lost more than $502 million to "predatory" swap deals with financial institutions, including Bank of America. According to the union, Bank of America has collected $77 million in profits off of its interest rate swaps with CPS.

"What we hope is that our withdrawal of funds will spark people all over this city, all over this state and all over the country to start withdrawing funds from Bank of America until they give back some of the ill-gotten gains they've made off the backs of our students," CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said outside the Bank of America at 135 S. LaSalle St.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
3:25pm
Tue Jan 19, 2016

Report: Illinois Interest Rate Swap Deals Squeezing State Budget

Progress Illinois details the findings of a new report from the ReFund America Project about the financial costs associated with the state's interest rate swap agreements. 

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:41pm
Tue Jan 12, 2016

Chicago Progressive Aldermen: Put The Brakes On Swap Termination Payment Plan

Chicago's Progressive Reform Caucus wants the Emanuel administration to "delay or abandon" its proposal to use roughly $100 million in borrowed money to pay termination penalties for interest-rate swap agreements.

The caucus opposes the "Emanuel administration's plan to voluntarily pay massive interest-rate swap termination penalties" because it could result in "windfall profits for big banks" and cost "taxpayers more over the next few decades," Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) said during a press conference at City Hall on Tuesday. 

The interest-rate swap agreements in question, held between the city and financial institutions, date back to former Mayor Richard M. Daley's administration. The $100 million in swap termination payments is part of a $2 billion borrowing package set to go before the Chicago City Council on Wednesday. 

"The administration has said we're getting out of these risky deals, but what we're getting out of this deal is an irresponsible financial move by the administration," Waguespack said. "We need to stop this plan, abandon it today, and not move forward on behalf of taxpayers."

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
4:35pm
Wed Oct 28, 2015

Chicago City Council OK's Budget, Record Property Tax Hike & Lucas Museum

Progress Illinois rounds up the action at Wednesday's Chicago City Council meeting, during which aldermen approved Mayor Rahm Emanuel's 2016 budget — including a $588 million property tax hike — and zoning for the proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.

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