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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
2:57pm
Tue Apr 9, 2013

Uptown Residents Unveil Community-Inspired Projects At Participatory Budgeting Expo

Uptown residents laid out their plans last night on how they’d like to divvy up the 46th Ward’s $1.3 million “menu money” budget as part of a new participatory budgeting process some Chicago aldermen are adopting.

Each year, Chicago aldermen receive city funds and decide how to use the pot of money for infrastructure needs in their wards, such as improving sidewalks, traffic signals and streetlights. 

The participatory budgeting process allows residents to decide how the money is spent based on a community vote.

Prior to participatory budgeting, Ald. James Cappleman (46th) said he and his staffers would ride their bikes down streets and alleys looking for areas of improvement in the ward, which was “very inefficient.”

“This (participatory budgeting) process understands that those people who know the ward the best are those who live in it,” Cappleman said to about 30 residents at an expo yesterday showcasing the proposed projects.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
2:38pm
Mon Apr 8, 2013

South Side Residents Question TIF Use In 8th and 9th Wards At Town Hall Meeting

Chicago’s tax increment financing, or TIF, program is intended to spur economic development and create jobs in neighborhoods that need it most.

But more than 50 South Side residents questioned the program's impact upon learning this weekend that millions of property tax dollars were diverted from local schools and other units of government and awarded to private companies.

“Even though they’re for blighted areas, we find that places in the city are using TIF money, like the Central Business District and LaSalle Street,” Tom Tresser, co-founder of the CivicLab, said at a TIF town hall meeting Saturday at Chicago State University.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
2:58pm
Tue Apr 2, 2013

Town Hall Meeting Illuminates TIF Use In Chicago's 7th Ward

Dozens of South Shore residents weren’t too happy upon learning that a portion of their property taxes have been used as part of the city’s tax increment financing, or TIF, program.

Tom Tresser, co-founder of the CivicLab, came to the 7th Ward, and is heading to others, as part of the volunteer-based TIF Illumination Project, which is intended to promote TIF transparency and provide Chicago residents with a snapshot of what the program is — or isn’t — doing for their communities.  

“I can’t believe that it’s so much money that’s out there that the community does not know about that’s not channeling back into our community, especially with all the schools closing,” Renita Jones, a South Shore resident of more than 14 years, said after Saturday's meeting.

Quick Hit
by Nathan Greenhalgh
4:33pm
Wed Mar 6, 2013

State Budget Needs To Be Simplified For More Transparency, Public Understanding

Improving the public’s understanding of how the Illinois state budget works will contribute to better policy decisions by elected officials, according to a new policy brief from the Fiscal Policy Center at Voices For Illinois Children.

PI Original
by Steven Ross Johnson
5:18pm
Mon Nov 19, 2012

Illinois Revenue Projections, Allocation Procedures Need Revamping, Report Finds

A new report from the governor’s advisory commission on improving the state’s budget process is calling on lawmakers to find a more accurate way of estimating how much revenue the state takes in, and become more flexible when it comes to how those funds are allocated.

Quick Hit
by Matthew Blake
6:34pm
Thu Nov 15, 2012

Emanuel Calendar Shows Mayor Holding On To National Profile

Through a public information request, the Chicago Tribune obtained Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s daily calendar between January and August of 2012. The Tribune’s focus on the hundreds of pages of documents is almost identical to the Chicago Reader, which did a two-part review of Emanuel’s public schedule between January and November of 2011. In a nutshell, the publications noted that Emanuel meets a lot with business leaders.

Emanuel’s ties with business are important given his policy record of ramming the Infrastructure Trust through city council in April, a nebulous effort to use private money for public projects, and expanding his own role as chairman of World Business Chicago, which coordinated the NATO summit in May.

But perusing through the calendar, available on the Tribune Web site, reveals other elements of Emanuel’s tenure including his national profile and approach to the Chicago Teachers Union labor dispute.

Quick Hit
by Matthew Blake
4:20pm
Tue Oct 16, 2012

City Staffing, Promised Savings Scrutinized In Emanuel Budget

The Chicago City Council started this morning four days of hearings that will examine the proposed 2013 budget that Mayor Rahm Emanuel released last week.

At a community meeting on the Northwest Side last night Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd) said that, “The annual budget is the most important aspect of public policy. It tells us who we are as a city.”

Perhaps to the chagrin of Fioretti, Chicago is a city that mostly lets the mayor write the budget. Unlike the U.S. Congress or Illinois General Assembly, the 50-member city council essentially plays an advisory role.

The public also played a small role under previous mayors through community hearings, but Emanuel scrapped those this year. So a group of six aldermen representing the council’s progressive caucus held a public forum last night that attracted about 200 people.

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