Chicago mayoral candidate and progressive Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) is putting a spotlight on the controversial, mayor-backed $55 million tax increment financing (TIF) project for a new Marriott hotel near McCormick Place.
Aldermanic candidates and members of the Bridgeport Alliance, Pilsen Alliance, Prairie District Neighborhood Watch and Reclaim Chicago joined Fioretti and fellow progressive Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) for a Wednesday morning press conference near the corner of Cermak Road and Prairie Avenue to "denounce the $55 million in TIF money given to Marriott Corporation for a hotel and complex near McCormick Place," according to a release.
The presser comes a day after Fioretti unveiled his TIF reform ideas on his campaign website. The alderman, if elected, "will call for an immediate moratorium on any new TIFs" as well as an independent audit of the program. Among other ideas, Fioretti says he would declare a surplus of unallocated TIF funds, with the money used "to reopen our mental health clinics, shore up some of our school budgets, turn some of the closed schools into community centers that drive economic development and begin meaningful neighborhood economic development programs."
Fioretti and the other news conference speakers are upset about the $55 million TIF project, approved by the city council in March, because they say there was "no public process" and the public funding is "unneeded as an economic incentive."
"The public had no input, but made their disapproval more than clear when the money was earmarked for a private institute of higher education," Fioretti added, referring to the $55 million in TIF funds originally planned to be used for a new DePaul University basketball arena near McCormick Place. The TIF funds were shifted to the Marriott development following public outcry over the DePaul arena project.
"How can the mayor think he's following the public will now by shifting the same money to a private, for-profit company that made more than $12 billion in revenues last year," Fioretti asked.