In a show of victory, about 50 activists returned to the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) yesterday with a giant check for $33 million — and the now infamous golden toilet meant to symbolize the millions of dollars in TIF money allocated to the CME Group to renovate CBOT's bathrooms. The giant check was indicative of the collective $33 million in TIF funds that were returned last week — including the $15 million the CME Group turned down — by Bank of America, CNA, and the financial exchange.
“We took our money back from CME, and now we’re ready to get that money for jobs for our people,” said Charles Brown, a retired police officer and organizer with Action Now, at the rally.
After proclaiming victory for "working families across Chicago", the group marched to City Hall with a specific message for Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago City Council: Use the returned $33 million in TIF funds for job creation — and preservation. The group reinforced their message by chanting, “Whose TIF money? Our TIF money! Whose jobs? Our jobs!” as they marched.
Here's more from yesterday's march and rally:
Specifically, the ralliers, who were organized by Grassroots Collaborative, would like to see the $33 million used towards schools as well as keeping Chicago libraries and mental health facilities open and staffed. The ralliers also called for a moratorium on TIF projects in the downtown area, arguing that large corporations shouldn't be the first in line to receive financial incentives, especially during such harsh economic times.
“The 1% doesn’t need incentives, the 99% need jobs," explained Lois Nelson, a retired Chicago Public Schools teacher in a press release. "End the blatant TIF abuse in downtown slush funds."
The ralliers were unsuccessful in leaving the golden toilet and giant check behind for the mayor as mementos of their visit to City Hall, but a representative from Emanuel's office did come out to speak with the ralliers and accepted a note requesting a meeting with the mayor as well as a moratorium on downtown TIF projects and the allocation of the $33 million to "public jobs at our libraries, schools, and clinics."
Image/Video: Grassroots Collaborative