Category Archives: Civic Life

Tell The Mayor To Tell Us Where Our $1.4 Billion Is!


Go the TIF Illumination Project to get the full 2014 analysis of Chicago’s TIF program.

Contribute to the TIF Illumination Project via PayPal (and get some swell swag). We’ve been turned down ten times by national and local foundations.

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I Ask the Mayor About TIFs And He Answers!

Tom asks mayor-w. spreadsheet+budgetWhat a night at Malcolm X College. About 300 people showed up for the first 2016 Budget Town Hall presided over by Mayor Emanuel and attended by all his department heads. Dozens of folks got one minute to ask a question or make a statement. The room was filled with supporters of the Dyett High School hunger strikers. People young and old expressed their anger and aspirations, stepping up to the mike and demanding that the mayor first meet with the hunger strikers and accept the community-development proposal to transform Dyett into a global leadership and green technology academy.

There were also calls for coming clean on TIFs and releasing TIF funds into the general stream of local government agencies – especially our beleaguered public schools. I asked the mayor to release all documents proving his claim that most of the $1.4 billion sitting in TIFs on January 1, 2015 are NOT available for distribution. The mayor and his budget director actually responded. Budget Director Alex Holt promised Tom a meeting in the near future to answer all our questions on where the money is. Stay tuned.

Watch the exchange here:

Listen to the full exchange here.

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CivicLab Profiled in NewCity

Check out this profile of the CivicLab in the April 22, 2015 issue of NewCity.
Thanks, Mike Workman!NewCity screen
Among all the different types of maker spaces throughout the city, there’s really not another quite like the CivicLab in the city’s West Loop neighborhood. Operated by Tom Tresser and Benjamin Sugar, the space is a gathering place and laboratory for what Tresser describes as “civic science,” the enthusiasm in his voice rising as he seizes on a topic he is clearly passionate about, “we make Democracy here.” As a longtime public defender in the city, he is perhaps most well known for heading up the No Games Chicago initiative that opposed former Mayor Daley’s efforts to bring the Olympics to the city.

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Chicago, Why Are You So Lame?

April 2015 Turnout-unofficialApril 7 was a very disappointing day in Chicago’s civic life. OK, I did not agree with the results of the election for mayor and there were SOME encouraging signs of progressive independence in aldermanic races. BUT – overall ONLY a 39% turnout? 47 wards had turnout less than 50%. 27 had less than 40% and 3 had less than 30%.

What is it going to take to get people to vote in Chicago?

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Help Us Fund The TIF Illumination Project!

The mainstream media in Chicago won’t cover TIFs. The aldermen are all rubber stamps who vote with the mayor 90% of the time. The university public policy shops are not interested. The downtown civic groups won’t look into TIFs. So it’s up to US to investigate and report on what happens to the almost HALF BILLION DOLLARS IN PROPERTY TAXES that Chicago’s TIFs suck up every year.

Help support the The TIF Illumination Project via this crowdfunding campaign today.
Let’s Illuminate Tax Increment Financing Districts by Tom Tresser

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