39th Ward Parent Asks “Where Was Our Alderman?”
Rick Cardis was one of the organizers of the 39th Ward TIF Illumination held at the Belding School on August 27. Alderman Laurino had RSVP’d that she would attend. Instead, her Director of Economic Development John Riordan came for the first 20 minutes or so of the presentation. This is what Rick emailed to John today.
Thank you for attending the meeting last night. It was nice to meet you. I appreciated that we were able to connect on having children in or on the verge of being in CPS. I worry that too many of our decision makers, like the mayor and CPS Board, don’t have children in CPS and cannot really relate to what parents experience and/or don’t have the urgency the rest of us have. As I mentioned at the beginning of the meeting while you were still there, this year matters and the dollars that would come back to CPS through a TIF surplus declaration could make a huge difference to students being asked to deal with fewer resources.
I am disappointed Alderman Laurino backed out at the last minute. We had a lot of good questions at the end of the presentation and it would have been helpful to have her there to answer questions and share her perspective on why she feels money spent through the TIF program is better appropriated for private businesses, like Whole Foods, than schools. I realize that the alderman did not create the TIF program, that it is a state program, but I want elected representatives who stand up for me and fight for me when they see a program that is not placing a priority on public education, which is the foundation of our economy and a democratic society. We simply cannot ask schools to do more with less while giving tax dollars to private businesses. Perhaps the alderman believes TIF spending for private business at the expense of public institutions is a good thing. I don’t know. I wasn’t able to ask her.
I understand the 39th Ward Office is beginning to direct concerns over TIF funds to State Representative D’Amico. I am aware the program was created by the state, but the city has the authority to declare a surplus and return a large amount of money back to the taxing bodies from which it was taken in the first place. Alderman Laurino, especially in her new leadership role, should have the ear of the mayor. I am asking that she advocate for her constituents by urging the mayor to declare a TIF surplus. Our priority in economic development should be good schools. That’s what I want her to fight for.
The Alderman and her family have been around a long time. I assume they are well connected and influential. Please ask her to use her influence at all levels in the city and state to bring about TIF reform that will protect schools, at least. I’d like to have nicer parks, libraries, and public transportation, but we should at least start with reforms that protect schools from being robbed by TIF programs.
Thank you again for coming to the meeting. I’m sorry you couldn’t stay to hear or answer questions from the people of the 39th Ward. I am hoping that we can set up a meeting with Alderman Laurino so we can get her perspective on these issues and know whether she is for or against declaring a TIF surplus and reforming the TIF program.
Well said, Rick! Where was the Alderman? Where IS the Alderman? Where is YOUR Alderman on the issue of emptying the TIF accounts? On January 1, 2013 they held $1.7 BILLION!