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Election 2015

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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
11:52am
Thu Aug 28, 2014

Southwest Side Chicagoans Question TIF Use In 23rd Ward (UPDATED)

Residents of Chicago's 23rd Ward raised concerns about the city's tax increment financing (TIF) program after learning Wednesday evening that millions in economic development funds have yet to be spent in their community.

At the CivicLab's TIF town hall meeting at John F. Kennedy High School, Southwest Side community members learned that the six TIF districts located in the 23rd Ward had about $16.6 million sitting in their collective bank accounts at the end of 2013. Last year alone, the ward's TIF districts collected nearly $2.3 million in property tax revenue, according to the CivicLab's analysis.

Business owner and Southwest Side resident Martin Arteaga, who is running for alderman in the 23rd Ward, attended the meeting.

"There needs to be a lot more clarity and transparency as to where this TIF money is going," he told Progress Illinois. "Here in the 23rd Ward, particularly in the Midway Airport area along Cicero Avenue, you have a bunch of empty lots. We could use some of that money to redevelop that area and actually be able to expand our tax base, because we have thousands of people who pass through going to Midway Airport.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
10:52am
Thu Aug 21, 2014

CivicLab To Emanuel: 'Come Clean' About $1.7 Billion In Unspent TIF Funds

Volunteers with Chicago's CivicLab want a full accounting of the more than $1.7 billion that was sitting in the city’s collective tax increment financing (TIF) district bank accounts at the end of 2013.

Tom Tresser, co-founder of the CivicLab and leader of its volunteer-based TIF Illumination Project, said the group plans to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the city within the week to "demand the mayor to come clean" about how those unspent funds will be used. Tresser said the group is prepared to take legal action if the city denies the FOIA request.

"We asked for (similar information) last year, and they told us to go take a leap," Tresser said at a TIF discussion Wednesday evening at the CivicLab, 114 N. Aberdeen St. "This time, we're going to sue if we don't get it."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
11:14am
Wed Aug 20, 2014

Karen Lewis Discusses Potential Mayoral Run During Stop On Chicago 'Listening Tour' (VIDEO)

Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen Lewis said she is "seriously considering" running for Chicago mayor and will decided whether to challenge Mayor Rahm Emanuel when she has "certain things in place."

"And those things are, primarily, the three things you need to run a campaign," Lewis said at a Tuesday evening discussion about city issues, held on Chicago's far Southwest Side in the 19th Ward. "You've got to have money. You've got to have people, and you've got to have time."

"I want to run things on my timeline," she added at the talk, moderated by journalist Walter Jacobson and hosted by the CTU at the Beverly Woods Banquet Hall, 11532 S. Western Ave.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
3:55pm
Mon Aug 18, 2014

CPS Students Call For An Elected School Board, Adequate School Funding (VIDEO)

About 100 members of the Chicago Students Union and their allies marched in support of an elected school board and adequate neighborhood school funding during a downtown protest Monday afternoon. Progress Illinois was there for the demonstration.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
1:17pm
Fri Aug 15, 2014

Albany Park Community Land Trust Close To Locking In First Home Donation (VIDEO)

Leaders with Centro Autónomo in Albany Park say the group's effort to establish a community land trust to secure affordable housing in the northwest Chicago neighborhood is moving forward.

Centro Autónomo, also known as the Albany Park Autonomous Center, is currently asking financial institutions to donate local homes in foreclosure to its Casas del Pueblo Community Land Trust, a non-profit that wants to turn the properties into permanent affordable housing for low-income residents. Both Casas del Pueblo and the Centro Autónomo are projects of the Mexico Solidarity Network.

So far, no homes have been donated to the community land trust, which officially launched in 2011. But Antonio Gutierrez, housing coordinator at Centro Autónomo, said the organization has a negotiation session planned for September with Fannie Mae. Another meeting with a national representative of donations for Wells Fargo is scheduled for the end of August.

Gutierrez and others with the effort are optimistic the community land trust will receive its first donated home within the next several months. 

"Casas del Pueblo needs to put as much pressure as we can right now [on the financial institutions], because this is a time when we're almost sure that we can get this donation by the end of the year," he said.

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