In an editorial today in the Chicago Tribune, a leader with Stand Up! Chicago detailed her thoughts as to why corporate tax breaks, like the ones granted the CME Group and the Chicago Board Options Exchange in December, not only fail to create jobs, but are also detrimental to those that already exist — along with the state's long-term fiscal health.
Earlier this week, Stand Up! Chicago took their grievances with corporate welfare to the CME Group's doorstep with an interesting gift in tow — a golden toilet.
On Tuesday, Chicago residents and members of Stand Up! Chicago protested at the CME Group's downtown headquarters, attempting to deliver a golden toilet to the company's executive chairman, Terrance Duffy. The seemingly odd gift was meant to signify the "the greed behind the CME’s successful efforts to secure over $109 million in taxpayer money in recent years, despite making record profits," according to a press release for the event.
As Stand Up! Chicago Research Coordinator Elizabeth Parisian noted in today's Tribune editorial, CME Group execs cried poor, saying the company needed tax relief in order to remain in Illinois, all while the company was enjoying profit margins of larger than 30 percent. And although the tax breaks were billed as boons for both the exchanges and the local economy, Parisian points out the lack of any meaningful way to track job creation or ensure the protection of the CME Group's current jobs; adding that the company just announced plans to use electronic training to set livestock and grain prices, which will likely put the jobs of some traders, clerks and runners in jeopardy.
"Why would a private company that makes as much money as the CME Group receive millions of dollars in public funds – our taxpayer money -- when city parks need renovation, when schools are closing, and when people are losing their homes," said Maria Hueramo, a volunteer with the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council and speaker at Tuesday's rally. “I'm here to say to the CME Group: don’t flush our future down your golden toilet!"
Here's more from Tuesday's rally:
The toilet was also meant to stand for the $15 million in TIF funds the Chicago City Council approved back in 2010 for the CME Group to spend on bathroom renovations and other facility improvements, like a high-end fitness facility and employee cafeteria. City officials told the Huffington Post that although the funds were approved, they were never given to the CME Group.
Nonetheless, representatives for groups like Hueramo's Brighton Park Neighborhood Council say TIF funds should have never been considered or approved for such purposes, especially since so many community resources are in dire need of repair. Just last week, the Brighton Park group was denied TIF funds to make improvements to Albany Park.
"The best way to use [TIF] money would be for things our community needs, like parks and schools," Hueramo told the Huffington Post. "We also need services for senior citizens, for people who don't have a lot of income to help them with their nutrition."
Images: Stand Up!Chicago