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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:07pm
Thu Jul 7, 2016

Chicago Activists, Lawmakers Deliver Petitions To SEC For Action On 'Toxic' Interest Rate Swaps (VIDEO)

Chicago community activists and local elected officials delivered 88,000 petition signatures to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) regional office Thursday morning, urging the agency to investigate complex financial agreements called interest rate swaps.

Those who delivered the petition signatures, collected online by the Grassroots Collaborative and several other organizations, say cash-strapped local and state governments are being squeezed by the "toxic swaps" they entered into with banks before the Great Recession. The complicated deals, which come with hefty penalties and termination fees, were intended to save taxpayer-backed organizations money, but they backfired when the economy crashed.

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
6:07pm
Fri Apr 10, 2015

Report Outlines Reforms To Strengthen Illinois Charter School Oversight

The oversight system of charter schools in Illinois contains "fundamental flaws" that need to be revamped in order to prevent fraud, argues a report by Action Now and the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD).

The report -- which pointed to the scandal involving insider deals at the charter school operator United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) as a more recent example of the need for stronger oversight -- noted that over $13 million in charter school fraud, waste or abuse has been uncovered in Illinois since the legislature passed a 1996 law allowing charters to open in the state.

As a result of the state's "lack of transparency and necessary oversight," there are likely more instances in which funds were inappropriately used in the Illinois charter system than has been reported, the researchers claim. According to their estimate, charter school fraud in Illinois tallied up to nearly $28 million in the last year alone.

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