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Red light and speed cameras: public safety or private gain?

No one likes getting traffic tickets. But a new research that we released today will make you dislike them even more. The report, Caution: Red Light Cameras Ahead; The Risks of Privatizing Traffic Law Enforcement and How to Protect the Public, outlines problems with the growing trend among cities to outsource traffic enforcement to private … Continue reading

Budget season

‘Tis the season to… fill gaping budget deficits. Cook County is facing a budget deficit of $315 million, and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle unveiled her plan to fill it yesterday. Much like the budget that Mayor Emanuel presented a couple of weeks ago, Preckwinkle’s budget is a mixture of cuts and revenue increases, … Continue reading

The Super Committee should be super open

Our nation faces enormous fiscal challenges. As part of the deal that was recently struck to raise America’s debt ceiling, Congress established a new Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to narrow the total budget gap by $1.5 trillion over the next decade. This “Super Committee” must report its findings by Thanksgiving, and if a … Continue reading

What TIF reform should look like

Tax increment financing (TIF) has been a hot topic in the news over the past couple days. The Chicago News Cooperative’s article, “Tracking TIF Spending,” analyzes how and where TIF money is spent in Chicago using new data collected by CNC. Over at the Reader, Ben Joravsky is fuming against them again. And Progress Illinois … Continue reading

How powerful are aldermen?

I am in the process of rereading “Boss,” the hard-hitting biography of Richard J. Daley that chronicles his rise to power, written by renowned journalist Mike Royko. It’s a captivating read, and I highly recommend it. The part I read yesterday takes place after Daley got sworn into office (1955), and is figuring out how … Continue reading

We’ve run out of road

Mayor Emanuel said a lot of things right in his budget address today. After years of short-term fixes and budget gimmicks that Mayor Daley used to maintain the status quo, this budget feels like a breath of fresh air. The City of Chicago is facing a budget deficit of $635 million. Mayor Emanuel is proposing … Continue reading

To retain or return? TIFs and the City budget

Mayor Emanuel is presenting his 2012 budget to the City Council tomorrow morning. Word on the street is that among a grab bag of fixes from fee hikes to grid-based garbage collection, he is planning on using 20 percent of unallocated tax increment financing (TIF) funds to infuse the City with an extra $15 million … Continue reading

Tip for Rahm: Don’t be Daley

Here is my op-ed that ran yesterday on Gapers Block and Progress Illinois: “No one will argue with the fact that Chicago’s budget situation is dire—and has been for some time now. But Mayor Daley masked the drastic fiscal situation in Chicago with year after year of short-term budget gimmicks. The hope now is that, … Continue reading

TIFs and Charities

The newly released Chicago Inspector General report, “Review of TIF Public Benefits Clauses and Charitable Donations,” is another example of why we need more transparency of tax increment financing in Chicago. The report finds that through the “public benefits clause” in a lot of TIF redevelopment agreements, the recipient of the subsidy is obligated to … Continue reading

Recycling competition

The “managed competition” recycling experiment officially starts today in Chicago– where public employees will go head to head with private contractors to determine who can deliver the most efficient, cost-effective recycling service for the City of Chicago. The competition is set to last six months, and the winner will provide the entire city with recycling– … Continue reading