Saturday, August 19, 2017

Michael Bloomberg throws support behind Cook County soda tax – Chicago Sun-Times

A seven-figure broadcast and radio buy was made Thursday and Bloomberg plans to be “on the ground” driving that message and supporting those who support the tax for as long as it takes.”

Jobs vs. Bullets – Crain’s

A detailed look.

U of Chicago reminds freshmen that it doesn’t do safe spaces – CampusReform

Comment: Thank goodness such places still exist: “At the University of Chicago, we insist that all faculty and students are free to debate, disagree, and argue, without fear of being silenced,” Dean of Students Dr. John (Jay) Ellison wrote in a letter welcoming incoming freshmen to campus."

Poll shows trouble for Preckwinkle amid pop tax furor – Crain’s

According to a just-released We Ask America survey, a whopping 68 percent of registered county voters who were questioned say they disapprove of how Preckwinkle is handling her job. Just 21 percent give her performance a thumbs-up, with 11 percent undecided.

Alderman says Lincoln bust in West Englewood burned – Chicago Sun-Times

Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) on Thursday accused President Donald Trump of emboldening vandals to set fire to a bust of Abraham Lincoln that has stood as a symbol of freedom in West Englewood for nearly a century.

Aldermen seek to junk monument to fascist Italo Balbo – Chicago Sun-Times

How much further beyond ridiculous is this going to go?

Transportation Innovation’s Crucial Ingredient – Governing

From a former member of Mayor Emanuel's staff and an investor in early-stage companies that hold the potential to solve urban problems: "The key ingredients are governments willing to set narrow rules to ensure consumer protection rather than picking winners and losers and emerging companies willing to play within those rules."

New CFO for Cook County government named – Daily Herald

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle on Wednesday announced she is naming Ammar Rizki as the county government's chief financial officer, pending board approval.

Chicago lags in homebuilding rebound – Crain’s

In the Chicago area, building permits for all types of housing, for sale and for rent, will end the year 20 percent below the region's historical average, according to a report released Wednesday by Trulia, an online real estate resource. Only three of the nation's 20 largest metro areas will end the year farther below their averages:

Chicago’s Confederate Mound: Tribute To 4,000 Rebel Soldiers – CBS Chicago

If you enter the private Oak Woods Cemetery on Chicago’s South Side and navigate several meandering roads, there you will find it: the largest memorial to Confederate dead north of the Mason Dixon Line.During the Civil War, some 25,000 Confederate soldiers passed through Chicago’s Camp Douglas as prisoners of war. As many as 6,000 died there.

Emanuel imposes minority reporting requirement on major developments – Chicago Sun-Times

Developers of Chicago’s largest private projects would be required to sign affidavits spelling out their efforts to share the wealth with minorities, under an executive order signed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel that disappointed minority aldermen. Comment: Dems seem to be doubling down on identity politics.

Why parks director with four jobs gets to keep his pensions – Daily Herald

Each district claimed Vallez works more than 1,000 hours a year. However, North Berwyn officials stated his contract requires 40-hour work weeks, or about 2,000 hours a year. That means Vallez is required to work, among all the jobs, about 4,000 hours a year, or an 11-hour workday every day of the year.

Chicago investors fret after city showcases progress – The Bond Buyer/SourceMedia

"The signs of growth and other fiscal accomplishments fell far short of calming their worries over longer term pension ills, the school district’s precarious finances, state political dysfunction, and plans to establish a new borrowing tool."

Chicago Property Market Heats Up as Food Companies Pile In – Wall Street Journal

Like many other major U.S. cities, Chicago is enjoying a boom as big employers opt for downtowns over suburban office parks that are being shunned by young workers. More than $20 billion worth of residential, office, cultural and retail projects are in development or on the drawing board, according to the city Planning and Development Department.

More hot water for Preckwinkle’s pop tax – Crain’s

In a letter to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, the Illinois Liquor Control Commission wrote that even though the tax on sweetened beverages excludes alcohol, many of the wholesalers to which it applies distribute both kinds of products and therefore have to deal with the tax complications of the county's new levy. As a result, it "may lead to practices that violate the Illinois Liquor Control Act."

Cook County soda pop tax born under a bad sign – Editorial – Chicago Sun-Times

"Cook County’s soda pop tax is as welcome as a broken mirror. Throw it out."

Can the former South Works overcome the current South Side’s baggage? – Crain’s

The 440-acre South Works site has been vacant since 1992. - Chicago Lakeside Development As two European developers work up plans to build 20,000 homes on the site of the former South Works steel plant, they face a big question: Who will live there?

Crowd chants ‘free Palestine’ at SlutWalk Chicago – Jerusalem Post

SlutWalk participants cheer a speaker, after walking from Hyde Park Corner, in Trafalgar Square, cen Sheesh: “As a feminist, transnational movement calling for an end to rape culture, we march in solidarity with all Palestinians suffering the impact of the State of Israel’s brutal policies."

What happened to Chicago’s Japanese neighborhood? – WBEZ

In April 1942 — days before they were forcefully relocated — Japanese-American students in San Francisco began their morning by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. (Dorothea Lange, War Relocation Authority) An interesting history. Japanese-Americans didn’t end up in Chicago of their own accord: The U.S. government forcibly resettled 20,000 of them to the city from World War II incarceration camps. And, as part of that effort, the government pressured them to shed their Japanese identities and assimilate into white society. The result? Unlike cities on the West Coast, Chicago’s “Japantown” was not official and it was short-lived.

Chicago schools budget counts on uncertain funding – Reuters

A fiscal 2018 budget unveiled on Friday by the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) depends on nearly $570 million in new money from the state and city that may not materialize or has not been identified.

CPS’ let’s-pretend budget – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

Even if Springfield comes through, there's still that $269 million from City Hall. So far, there's no indication of where the money would come from.

New Cook County minimum wage, sick leave mandates burden Skokie businesses – Illinois Policy

The Skokie Village Board failed to pass a measure in July that would have exempted the village from Cook County’s new minimum wage and sick leave ordinances that took effect July 1 – as more than 80 percent of Cook County’s 132 municipalities have done. Big mistake.

Chicago is doomed to become a ‘municipal black hole’ – Business Insider

Comment: This is a must-read, though there's nothing that will shock Wirepoints readers.

A billion-dollar payout for Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund? – Crain’s

A federal judge in New York ruled July 28 that the pension fund's case alleging the banks have a collusive stranglehold on the interest rate swaps market could proceed. That gives the teachers' pension, and other institutional investors covered by the class action, a potential billion-dollar payout.

Cook County commissioners file ordinance to repeal soda tax – Illinois Policy

Commissioners from both parties are supporting a repeal effort of the sweetened beverage tax following widespread public outcry.

Illinois could lose $87 million in federal food stamp funding over Cook County soda tax – Chicago Tribune

The problem: While Cook County has informed retailers that purchases made with federal food stamp benefits are exempt from the soda tax under federal law, it's also allowed retailers to tax those purchases and provide refunds as a workaround for stores that haven't been able to properly update their point-of-sale systems.

CSX layoffs at Chicago switching yard expose fears that facility could close – Chicago Tribune

CSX Railroad giant CSX, which is under fire from regulators for operating changes that have disrupted its freight service nationwide, laid off more than 60 employees this week at its primary Chicago switching yard, according to the workers' union.

More Fallout From the Cook County Sweetened Beverage Tax – WTTW

“The reason that she filed that lawsuit against the Illinois Retail Merchants Association is because it was a retaliatory or vindictive kind of a lawsuit,” Boykin said. “Never in county government should we use taxpayers’ money to retaliate against businesses, against people.”

Madam President, abolish the soda tax – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

"Voters are onto this scheme. They know bunk when they see it. Restore some of their trust. Kill a beverage tax that everyone knows is a shakedown."

New front opens in soda-tax fight – Crain’s

Three members of the Cook County Board have opened a new front in the battle over the county's controversial new tax on soda pop and other sweetened beverages, moving to limit board President Toni Preckwinkle's ability to file civil lawsuits. The measure would require advance board approval of any civil suit filed by the president on behalf the county that seeks more than $500,000. The board also would have to be notified of any suit seeking more than $100,000.

John Kass: Sanctuary cities, Rahm and power politics – Chicago Tribune

"And you wonder why Trump won the election?"

Tullman to Step Down from 1871 Leadership Role at End of Year – Video – WTTW

Great interview captures some of why Tullman has had such an impact on Chicago.

Redbox Founder to Son: I Wish I Had Known These Things Before My First Job – Gregg Kaplan – LinkedIn

Chicagoland's Gregg Kaplan is the founder and former CEO of Redbox, the automated DVD rental kiosks. Over 11 years, Kaplan grew this business from scratch to nearly $2 billion in revenue.

Cook County Drops Suit Seeking $17M in Damages Related to Soda Tax – WTTW

Comment: The judge should order Cook County's lawyers to put up their basis for the original claim. Unless they can show that it had some basis they should be sanctioned, as we said in our article linked here.

McDonald’s, Walgreens hit with lawsuits over Cook County soda pop tax – Chicago Tribune

McDonald's is allegedly adding the beverage tax to the subtotal of orders before calculating other sales taxes, which, in turn, results in overcharging of taxes, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court. Meanwhile, a Schaumburg resident alleges in a lawsuit filed Friday in Cook County that Walgreens improperly charged the tax on unsweetened sparkling water.

Immigrants bypassing Chicago for other cities – Crain’s

Metro Chicago's century-old position as a top destination for international immigration has eroded, with the Windy City no longer even close to New York or Los Angeles in terms of attracting people moving to the U.S. from a different country.

Former Cook County assessor’s office employee pleads guilty in bribery scheme – Illinois Policy

"Exchanging money for lower property tax bills is nothing new at the Cook County assessor’s office."

Can Mayor Rahm Emanuel Manage Chicago? – Forbes

"Chicago is in trouble. But the city’s woes aren’t stopping 10,600 government employees from bringing home six-figure incomes and higher. This includes 1,000 city employees who pocketed at least $40,000 each in overtime."

City of Chicago to cover employees’ gender reassignment surgeries – Chicago Sun-Times

Transgender city employees and their dependents will soon get $100,000 in costs tied to their gender reassignment surgeries covered by taxpayer-subsidized city health insurance, under a groundbreaking mayoral order disclosed Wednesday.

City Officials To Trump: We Won’t ‘Knuckle Under’ To Threats – DNAinfo Chicago

At a rare Sunday afternoon press conference, Mayor Rahm Emanuel cast the effort by Trump administration efforts as an attempt to force Chicago to choose between its renewed commitment to community policing and its status as a self-declared "sanctuary city," where officers are prohibited from cooperating with federal immigration agents in most cases.

Cook County Soda Tax, Chicago Pension Funding, and More – Stump

A wrap-up from the perspective of an actuary and numbers wonk, Mary Pat Campbell.

Class action: Chicago tramples rights in prosecuting distracted driving tickets – Cook County Record

Fast on the heels of a $39 million settlement ending their class action lawsuit against City Hall over tickets issued under its red light camera program, attorneys with the firm of Myron Cherry & Associates have again delivered a class action lawsuit against the city of Chicago, now alleging the city also wrongly prosecuted tens of thousands of city citations issued under the city’s distracted driving ordinance.

Preckwinkle’s attempt to silence business, taxpayer advocates ‘chilling’ – Opinion – INN

It also might be a violation of the state's anti-SLAPP law. SLAPP is an acronym for a "strategic lawsuit against public participation." In other words, it is an attempt by powerful government officials with unlimited taxpayer money at their disposal to use the state's expensive civil court system to stifle citizens' freedom of speech protections guaranteed in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Quiet voice in education talks wants pols to get religion – Chicago Sun-Times

The influential head of Chicago’s Catholic Archdiocese met with Gov. Bruce Rauner about trying to get a tax benefit for those who contribute to scholarships for parochial and private schools. The cardinal’s overture drew strong support from the Republican governor, cautious looks from Democratic leaders — and outright opposition from the Chicago Teachers Union.

‘It’s for the children!’ CPS’ crushing debt, that is – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

But CPS' annual hand-to-mouth budgeting doesn't just siphon millions from classrooms and programs today. It will undercut Chicago's ability to educate students for decades.

Cook County soda tax exempts food stamp purchases – Illinois Policy

While supporters of the tax claim success in the fight against obesity, the law exempts a vulnerable segment of the population.

Preckwinkle doubles down on foolish: Vengeance is mine, sayeth the soda taxer – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

"While consumers have been busy rebelling against Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's soda tax, she has been busy plotting revenge. Preckwinkle assigned her lawyers the task of punishing the group that sued her."

Preckwinkle demands $17 million from pop tax foes – Crain’s

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is sending a strong message to anyone who wants to mess with her pop tax: Don't.

In an action a judge said could have "a chilling effect" on government and citizens' rights, county attorneys are seeking $17 million in damages from the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, the group that, with a couple of co-plaintiffs, won a temporary restraining order delaying the levy by about a month.

Comment: Gotta be kidding me. The sanctions here should be assessed against Cook County for trying to penalize legitimate legal activity.

Former Cook County Assessor’s Office employee pleads guilty in kickback scheme – Daily Herald

A former Cook County Assessor's Office employee pleaded guilty to taking more than $9,000 in kickbacks from property owners in exchange for helping them obtain fraudulent tax refunds.

Executive, escort suspected of spending $5.8 million on company credit card – Chicago Tribune

The FBI says the onetime financial executive of a north suburban drug company gave a professional escort access to his company credit card. Less than a year and a half later, the two had run up unauthorized charges of nearly $5.8 million, according to the FBI. Comment: In an abundance of caution, it's probably not wise to give your company credit card to and escort service.  

Fitch: Rauner veto creates ‘uncertainty,’ could affect school ratings – Chicago Sun-Times

Translation: Bailout Chicago or we'll look really stupid for going so easily on it in our ratings.

Howard Tullman stepping down as CEO of tech incubator 1871 – Chicago Sun-Times

Comment: Tullman has been worth his weight in gold to Chicago. He's a force of nature, and his work has been key to making 1871 and Chicago's tech community in general the successes they are.

This One Chart Will Fill You With Despair for Chicago – Reason

Comment: "Contrary to what this chart shows, there was no inflection point in 2015. Illinois' and Chicago's budgets didn't get suddenly worse that year, they have been quite bad for a long, long time. What changed is how governments have to report their debt." I think that's exactly what I explained in the original article. Whatever.

Retail Merchants Association Files Soda Tax Appeal – CBS Chicago

The drink tax plot thickened late Tuesday afternoon, as retailers in Illinois filed an appeal to stop the sweetened beverage tax from taking effect.

Lombard Westin filing bankruptcy to restructure $246.6 million debt – Chicago Sun-Times

The agency that owns the Westin hotel in Lombard is restructuring its debt through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing that will help it pay off $246.6 million owed to bond holders while continuing operations.

Mayor Emanuel’s dog that didn’t bark – Truth in Accounting

The press was suckered again by the City of Chicago's "budget" release, which are routinely shredded by actual results which the press ignores.

20,000 Homes Planned For Huge Vacant U.S. Steel Site As New Buyer Emerges – DNAinfo Chicago

U.S. Steel has reached a deal to sell the 440-acre South Works site along the city's south lakefront, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced. Emerald Living will buy the land with views of the Chicago skyline from U.S. Steel and build a mixed-use development that will include up to 20,000 housing units, Emanuel said.

$1.3 Billion Needed for Chicago Pension Funds, Debt Payments, KBRA Says – CIO

Comment: Take it for what it's worth. KBRA -- Kroll -- is the least respected of the credit raters.

Chicago facing $114.2 million budget shortfall in 2018 – Chicago Sun-Times

Comment: In the fictional world portrayed about our fiscal crisis, the silliest parts are about "budgets," which time after time are proved meaningless by actual financial statements. We'll dig into this one more closely soon.

CPS buys short-term relief with bonds that will carry costs for decades – Chicago Tribune

Chicago Public Schools' latest long-term borrowing deal will buy the district a bit of financial breathing room through 2019 but comes at an immense cost to future generations. By the time the $500 million loan is paid off, children now entering kindergarten will be in their mid-30s and the school district will have spent $850 million in interest costs alone — making the total expense of the bond issue a whopping $1.35 billion.

Judge: Lawyers may need to justify $1.12M fee request for ‘3 months work’ in sex toy case settlement – Cook County Record

The lawsuit alleged the We-Vibe products, which can be controlled by a smartphone app, “monitor, collect, and transmit … usage information, including the date and time of each use and the selected vibration settings, and transmit such data – along with the user’s personal email address – to (Standard Innovation’s) servers in Canada.”

Chicago Municipal and Laborers’ Pension Funding Changes Approved as Part of State Budget – The Civic Federation

Comment: This is yet another surprise just coming to light about what was in the "state budget" bill.

Will someone intervene in Harvey? – Chicago Tribune

There are a lot of options if federal or state agencies, or other outside officials, want to get involved. We don't often encounter federal prosecutors, attorneys general or state regulators so shy that they cannot find some way to insert their enforcement powers into chronic crises that victimize people by the thousands. Comment: With denial still ruling in Illinois, you'll see more and more Illinois municipalities to become zombies like Harvey.

State reps skip legislative session, volunteer as CPS janitors – Chicago City Wire

"It’s all about the kids...." CPS lists 67 employees at Sullivan H.S. earning $6,385,388, or an average of $95,304 each before their taxpayer-funded pension payment.

Judge Lifts Injunction Blocking Cook County Soda Tax – CBS Chicago

Cook County judge says Cook County OK to tax beverages. Hmmm.

hicago could get new open-outcry trading floor, even as frenzied trading declines – Chicago Tribune

Open outcry Box, a Boston-based exchange focused on electronic trading, is proposing a small options trading floor for about 40 humans at the Chicago Board of Trade Building in the South Loop. The Securities and Exchange Commission is reviewing the request and is expected to decide by Aug. 2 whether to allow Box to proceed. Some other exchanges, including the Chicago Board Options Exchange, have filed objections.

Getting An Affordable Rent Apartment Under City Program Isn’t Easy – DNAinfo Chicago

Comment: Chicago's affordable housing ordinance is a classic example of "progressive" stupidity. Results are virtually zero yet the program imposes huge costs on developers, reducing the supply of housing. See our own earlier article on this linked here: http://www.wirepoints.com/chicago-doubles-down-on-a-hairbrained-housing-ordinance-wp-original/

Chicago Slaps Fines On Businesses For Putting Signs On Windows Without Permits – DNAinfo Chicago

A number of neighborhood small business owners are complaining that the city is overzealously policing sign permits, saying they've had to pay thousands of dollars in fines for words painted on their shop windows.

Wall Street agency: Chicago will need $1.3 billion more for pensions by 2023 – Chicago Tribune

"The pain of new taxes in Chicago is not over, a Wall Street debt rating agency predicted this week. Still, a Kroll Bond Rating Agency report says Chicago is making progress in fixing its financial woes and can weather the continuing storm." Comment: Kroll is the least credible of the sorry sack. of credit rating agencies.

Illinois RTA readies refunding post state budget passage – The Bond Buyer/SourceMedia

"While the RTA of Northeastern Illinois is facing some state aid cuts, the sale could reap a pricing benefit from the recent passage of a fiscal 2018 state budget package that broke a two-year-old impasse as it provides more certainty in the future flow of revenue, several local traders said." Comment: Yeah, we've written about that. The muni bond industry has been working quietly to ensure that all government assets are "collabered up" to secure bonds.

Summer scandals show little has changed in Emanuel’s Chicago – Chicago Reporter

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is back in town after a European jaunt with an entourage of local technology executives, paid for by World Business Chicago, the taxpayer-supported economic development group.  Before that the mayor had a series of national media hits, including a controversial op-ed in the New York Times and a fawning interview with Fareed Zakaria on CNN.

Parents could be held reponsible for gun-wielding kids – Chicago Sun-Times

Parents would be held responsible — and ordered to perform community service — for their gun-wielding kids under a crackdown proposed Wednesday to stop the bloodshed on Chicago streets.

Council unleashes North Side land rush despite infrastructure concerns – Chicago Sun-Times

The City Council on Wednesday seized what a North Side alderman called a development opportunity not seen since the Great Chicago Fire.

Chicago real estate rebound short lived – Residential News – Crain’s Chicago Business

Home prices in the Chicago area grew the least of any of 20 major U.S. metropolitan areas in May, according to a national index released this morning.

The region's single-family values were up 3.3 percent in May from a year earlier, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices. It's the lowest year-over-year increase shown this year, following 3.9 percent growth in May.

This Is a Safe Space in Chicago. No Jews Allowed. – Slate

"Why are some American progressives embracing overt anti-Semitism?"

ICE chief lists worst sanctuary cities: Chicago, NYC, San Francisco – Washington Examiner

In a broadside on sanctuary cities that harbor criminal illegal immigrants, the acting head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement called them "un-American" and cited the worst: Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, and Philadelphia.

Does Cheap Office Space Matter? – Points and Figures

Chicago is on a good trajectory when it comes to building a local tech community. Chicago will never be Silicon Valley or anyplace else. It’s unique. There are strengths here that you just don’t find in other places. It’s Chicago, just like our hot dogs and Italian beef with giardiniera.

In Chicago, There’s Pork on the Infrastructure Menu – Governing

Aldermen choose how to use infrastructure dollars from a preapproved list of projects. The result: A big spending gap between neighborhoods.

Martwick, property tax lawyer, fails to disclose political cash – Illinois Policy

State Rep. Robert Martwick blamed “poorly written” ethics laws for his failure to disclose income from political consulting work.

Chicago professor resigns after being attacked by a small group of ‘militant LGBT students’ – The Blaze

One Chicago art professor resigned from his post earlier this month after a “small cadre of militant LGBT students with an authoritarian agenda” continually accused him of “racism” and “homophobia.” The Art Institute of Chicago, professor Michael Bonesteel told the Chicago Reader, “feels more like a police state than a place where academic freedom and the open exchange of ideas is valued.”

Ruling on Cook County Soda Tax Delayed Until July 28 – WTTW

Shouldn't call it a "soda tax" because it covers so much more than that.

Slow housing recovery hurting Chicago Gen Xers – Crain’s

The difference is slender. Gen X homeowners in the Chicago area on average owe 77.3 percent of their home's value, compared to millennials owing 76.5 percent. But it's significant, because in nearly all of the 35 metro areas that Zillow analyzed, the positions are reversed: Gen X homeowners owe less than millennials.

How Chicago Learned Privatizing Public Housing Isn’t Enough – Politico

Comment: Consider another possibility, which is that efforts were designed to fail in order to push the poor out of the city.

School district sues Mount Prospect, Ill., over TIF – Illinois Policy

The case against Mount Prospect, Ill., shows how tax increment financing districts siphon tax money from school districts and other taxing bodies, and diverts needed resources and puts pressure on taxpayers to make up the difference.

Rep. didn’t list source of income because form was hard to understand – Chicago Sun-Times

A Democratic legislator from the Northwest Side was paid $170,000 for work as a consultant to fellow Democrats during two years when he failed to list that work as a source of income on his required state ethics filings. State Rep. Robert Martwick, D-Chicago, who is an attorney, says the economic-interest statements that legislators have to file with the secretary of state’s office every year are so “poorly written” that he didn’t understand what he needed to include.

Why black homeownership rates lag even as the housing market recovers – Chicago Tribune

Comment: This premise of the article is highly questionable: "Homeownership is a way for people to generate stability and wealth and not just go to work every day." The fact is that, around Chicago, tens of thousands of homeowners have had their life savings wiped out in the form of lost home equity. That's particularly true in black parts of the south suburbs.

How city power players diverted millions in blight-fighting TIF cash to Navy Pier – Crain’s

Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration signed off on an elaborate financial shell game that obscured payment of $55 million for renovations at Navy Pier with tax dollars reserved to fight urban blight, records show. The bookkeeping jiujitsu appears to violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the controversial tax-increment financing program, which critics say has been widely abused and not used for its intended purpose of spurring development in or near economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Suburban property taxpayers would be on hook for CPS’ $17B in debt if schools bill becomes state law – Chicago City Wire

"A Chicago City Wire analysis of the the 482-page bill found carefully crafted language that would, in effect, distribute responsibility for paying off the massive debt incurred by Chicago Public Schools (CPS) across the rest of Illinois."

Judge: South suburban Harvey illegally diverted water cash owed to Chicago, millions missing – Chicago Tribune

In a rare move, a Cook County judge has taken away a south suburb's control over its lucrative water operations after ruling the suburb's leaders "failed to grasp the severity of their years of illegal conduct."

Emanuel Email Case Nets Five More Lobbying Violations – BGA

Comment: City rules on this are written far too broadly. They capture improper lobbying, but can also capture harmless, innocent emails and other communications.

New deputy mayor Rivkin has transportation experience – Chicago Sun-Times

Rivkin is replacing Steve Koch, who departs after five years.

Emanuel’s right-hand man leaves City Hall – Greg Hinz – Crain’s

Comment: Greg Hinz writes, "The city official who played a key role in rebuilding Chicago's finances and boosting its post-recession economy is leaving." Good God, what planet is Hinz on?

Let liberal cities do what they want – National Review

Comment: Lots to be said for this point of view, and you can certainly insert Chicago into much of this article, though it's not mentioned specifically. The problem is the complexity and inconsistency that results -- a compliance nightmare for companies with a big footprint.

Political hiring laid groundwork for racist emails, alderman says – Chicago Sun-Times

Comment: Racism in Chicago Water Department? Political hiring? So shocking.

Chicago’s Wm. Blair leaving muni bond business – The Bond Buyer/SourceMedia

Chicago-based William Blair has decided to shed its municipal bond business, abandoning an effort that started four years ago to expand the public finance practice to new regions. Blair, which is both an investment bank and asset management firm, made the decision public Tuesday.

Grocery store’s video gambling opens new wagering frontier in suburbs – Daily Herald

As more grocery stores seek liquor licenses, often to allow sales of beer and wine along with prepared food in dining areas, they also become eligible under state law for video gambling licenses. Comment: How morally and fiscally bankrupt government raises money.

A Sign From The Past: What Happened To Chicago’s Koreatown? – WBEZ

Comment: Education and entrepreneurship. They assimilated. The melting pot works if its virtues are honored.        

These are the four hottest suburban real estate markets – Crain’s

The four towns that rose to the top of the list are Winthrop Harbor and Beach Park, a pair of neighbors on the northern tip of Illinois' Lake Michigan shoreline, and Homewood and Flossmoor, another pair of neighbors in southern Cook County. Comment: That's especially welcome news for those two south suburbs, that have been hammered.

Multiple waterfront towers planned for Tribune site in Chicago’s River West – Curbed Chicago

Riverside Investment plans a campus containing 1.5 million square feet of residential and office space.

Rep. Sam Yingling Op-Ed: Bruce Rauner doesn’t care – Chicago Tribune

Comment: Compassion for Illinoisans, you must understand, is entirely the province of the left and Madigan's caucus members in the House like Yingling.

Food processing, manufacturing no longer major way of life in Chicago – Marketplace

Chicago and the state of Illinois have lost multiple food manufacturers, and the jobs they provided, including a General Mills and a Tyson Foods plant. In 2000, the state had more than 47,000 food manufacturing jobs. That number has since dipped by the thousands.

Amazon plans 440,000-square-foot warehouse in southwest suburban Crest Hill – Chicago Tribune

Amazon is expected to have the facility up and running in mid-October, after completing more than $25 million in renovations, according to McMaster. The Crest Hill site will employ several hundred full- and part-time workers, he said — anywhere from 400 to more than 1,000 during peak shipping periods during the holidays.

Chicago Lays Off Prosecutors as Bodies Pile Up – Daily Beast

http://www.thedailybeast.com/chicago-lays-off-prosecutors-as-bodies-pile-up

Despite hiring surge, CPD on pace to break overtime record – Chicago Sun-Times

The Chicago Police Department is on pace to set another record for overtime spending in 2017 — despite a two-year hiring surge tailor-made to keep pace with attrition and bolster the force by 970 police officers.

Chicago Transit heads into bond market – The Bond Buyer-SourceMedia

While it faces some operating aid cuts, the CTA stands to benefit from the new state budget because funding levels are more certain and the state may be able to speed up payments due to an income tax hike and other measures aimed at lowering a bill backlog. The state owes more than $600 million to the CTA’s fiscal parent – the Regional Transportation Authority. On the capital side, the CTA remains starved for help as a prior state public works program expires. In the absence of state help, the CTA has turned to alternative financings.

IG alleges preferential parking scheme on streets near United Center – Chicago Sun-Times

Ever try to find street parking around the United Center on your way to a concert, Bulls or Blackhawks game and come up empty, forcing you to pay through the nose at a private lot? It might just be the result of a clout-parking scheme engineered by a former manager at the city’s 911 emergency center and executed by eight supervisors and traffic control aides to benefit “friends and family” attending United Center events.

Here comes your bailout for the financially-mismanaged Chicago Public Schools – Belleville News-Democrat

"What they really should call it is the 'Downstate Taxpayers Bail Out Chicago’s Broke Schools Act.'"

Cook County Assessor Faces Questions About Property Tax Inequity – ProPublica

After reporting showed that Cook County’s property tax assessments punish the poor and reward the rich, Assessor Joseph Berrios is called before a public board to explain.

As companies relocate to big cities, suburban towns are left scrambling – The Washington Post

McDonald’s may not even be the most noteworthy corporate mover in Illinois. Machinery giant Caterpillar said this year that it was moving its headquarters from Peoria to Deerfield, which is closer to Chicago. It said it would keep about 12,000 manufacturing, engineering and research jobs in its original home town. But top- paying office jobs — the type that Caterpillar’s higher-ups enjoy — are being lost, and the company is canceling plans for a 3,200-person headquarters aimed at revitalizing Peoria’s downtown.

Chicago shows off during the summer – USA Today

Comment: Just another page in the tale of two cities.

‘Radical’ Publisher Wants To Take Over This Mansion, But A Fight Is Brewing – DNAinfo Chicago

Since Haymarket Books, a self-described "radical progressive" publisher, expressed interest in buying property at 800 W. Buena Ave., neighbors have been hit with a parade of flyers for and against the sale.

Chicago schools again get huge funding preference, GOP alleges – Sangamon Sun

According to a GOP spokesman, SB1 recommends $705 million in additional spending for prekindergarten through 12th grade schools. With the House amendment in place, CPS would receive $494 million of that amount, or 70 percent. The remaining 30 percent would go to the state’s 851 other school districts, which collectively teach 77 percent of Illinois’ students.

Housing vouchers continue to stir debate in Naperville – DuPage Policy Journal

By a 5-4 vote last fall, the Naperville City Council approved an ordinance that prohibits landlords from disqualifying Housing Choice Voucher holders solely based on their Section 8 status.

I covered murders during Chicago’s deadliest year in decades – here’s what I saw – Business Insider

Last year, more than 4,000 people were shot in Chicago, and they’ve become so normalized that they rarely make the front page of the local papers, let alone the national news. " I couldn't get the screams out of my head."

 

Being ‘mad at the math’ won’t end Illinois’ ongoing financial woes, attorney says – Chicago City Wire

Comment: The law firm's blog, linked here, also shows the compliance nightmares the City of Chicago is imposing on employers.

Will Hartford Be the Next American City to Go Belly Up? – The American Interest

"It’s remarkable that this is taking place in one of the richest states in the union and in the midst of an historic bull market. The structural problems in state and local finance run deep, and they will not resolve themselves.We need to be prepared for the fiscal storm that will sweep the country the next time a recession hits."

Soda tax delay leads Cook County to lay off over 300 workers – Chicago Tribune

More than 300 Cook County employees have been laid off after a proposed county soda tax was indefinitely stalled by a lawsuit, county officials said Friday

Inspector general lights another fire under Chicago Fire Department – Chicago Sun-Times

Inspector General Joe Ferguson lit another fire under the Chicago Fire Department Thursday — this time on a hiring issue that has the potential to save taxpayers millions. Ferguson concluded the Fire Department hired only seven of the 32 civilians it agreed to hire to fill administrative jobs that have nothing to do with firefighting or emergency medical service.

Chicago VC funding is looking up – Crain’s

Venture funding for Chicago companies in the second quarter was the highest in seven years.

Total funding—led by the monster $500 million-plus funding of Outcome Health—was $684 million, according to Dow Jones VentureSource. That's the most for a single quarter dating back to at least 2010.

Chicago’s financial decline accelerated last year – Truth in Accounting

Comment: We, too, can make no sense of the city's claim that its losses were “primarily as a result of assumption and plan changes impacting the pension liability.”  And the whopping loss in unrestricted net position -- $4.9 billion -- is an indication that the situation is worsening in particular for unsecured creditors in the bankruptcy we think is coming. That loss is over half of the city's total annual income. That's all during a year in which the city claimed to have a "balanced budget." For those interested the full CAFR just released by the city is linked here.

This Chicago Politician Is Showing How to Govern From the Left – The Nation

Alderman Ramirez-Rosa is the chief sponsor of a bill to re-instate the corporate “head tax.” Presented with no further comment, except to remind you that he and his buddies could indeed take over Chicago.

Teamsters boss indicted on charges of extorting $100,000 from business – Chicago Tribune

In a 2011 deposition stemming from one suit, Coli was asked under oath why so many of his relatives were allowed to control the union's lucrative pension funds. "For the record, go f--- yourself," Coli answered, according to a transcript in court records.

Chicago labor leader John T. Coli Sr. charged in extortion scheme – Chicago Sun-Times

A Chicago labor leader who provided early and pivotal support to Rahm Emanuel in the 2011 mayoral campaign has been indicted for an attempted extortion scheme.

Longtime Crain Communication president sells company stake to brother – Chicago Sun-Times

Memo to Keith, the new guy: Time to end the biased, anti-business political reporting.

Chicago’s annual financial report for 2016 finally surfaced today: $3.6 billion loss for 2016 – Truth in Accounting

Comment: And linked here is the announcement from the city about its "balanced budget" for that year!

Are Cook County residents Plato’s cave dwellers? – Truth in Accounting

Comment: Flattered by this, but Truth in Accounting has been saying the same thing for years. Nobody listens.

Chicago drivers pay more for on-street parking than any other city: study – Chicago Tribune

The average driver spends about 56 hours per year in downtown Chicago looking for parking, and pays more for a metered spot than in other major cities in the country, according to a new study.

In Chicago, There’s Pork on the Infrastructure Menu – Governing

Aldermen choose how to use infrastructure dollars from a preapproved list of projects. The result: A big spending gap between neighborhoods.

McPier gets new line of credit in state budget bill – Crain’s

The agency that operates McCormick Place will be able to pile on to its massive debt load thanks to the state's long-awaited budget. Built into legislation that passed last week is a $293 million increase in the bonding capacity. The agency maxed out its borrowing limit two years ago. Despite a gargantuan long-term debt burden that totaled $3.7 billion as of June 2016,McPier officials plan to take advantage of the new line of credit immediately.

Amazon rapidly expanding Chicago corporate presence – Chicago Business Journal

Amazon, the Seattle-based online retailer, said today it will double its corporate office presence in Chicago to accommodate 400 employees at 227 W. Monroe in the city's Loop business district.

Protesters caused thousands in damage at Trump Tower: prosecutors – Chicago Tribune

Environmental activists who raised a banner at Trump Tower in protest of President Donald Trump's agenda caused thousands of dollars in damage to the River North skyscraper, according to prosecutors.

‘We are still in’: Rahm Emanuel’s futile and stupid virtue signaling – Washington Examiner

A more topical example of virtue signaling — and one not exclusively confined to social media — is the recent decision made by a group of mayors on behalf of their cities to sign the "We Are Still In" pledge, a commitment to meet the Paris climate accord's carbon-dioxide emissions reduction guidelines despite President Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the agreement.  

Share Why opposing Cook County taxes is important – Suburban Chicagoland

"Cook County has tried to force suburban businesses to pay more in wages in an effort to allow Chicago based politicians to extend their reach into the suburbs. They’ve targeted the suburbs with taxes like the 1 cent hike in the Soda Tax. The people most hurt by that tax will be people living in the suburbs, not Chicago where Cook County government is controlled."

Growing Muslim population means more services to keep up – Chicago Sun-Times

The Council on American-Islamic Relations estimates Chicago’s Muslim population at between 300,000 and 500,000 people, or between 11 percent and 18 percent of Chicago’s population. As for mosques, the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago says there are 52 within the city’s limits, but that number varies.

Environmental Study Finds Air In Chicago Now 75% Bullets – The Onion

“Far exceeding the levels of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and even oxygen, bullets now constitute three-fourths of Chicago’s air supply,” said atmospheric scientist and study co-author John Molina, stressing that the dense and widespread deposits of jacketed lead and copper in the air pose severe and potentially fatal health risks to all Chicago residents."  

This Chicago Startup Is Changing How Governments Interact With Citizens – ChicagoInno

CityBase is a tech company hoping to make citizen-government interactions more personalized and responsive. Its current offering includes a mobile, web and kiosk platform that allows citizens to make government payments, as well as access general services like property searches and permit applications. Moreover, CityBase also analyzes data from its platforms, empowering governments to directly tailor communication with individual residents.

Citing CPS’s finances, Moody’s to review city’s bond rating – Chicago Sun-Times

“These actions reflect the close financial, political and governance relationship the city shares with the Chicago Board of Education.”

Moody’s warns of another credit downgrade for CPS after district fails to make full $733 million pension payment – Illinois Policy

Chicago Public Schools failed to pay in full the $733 million pension payment that was due June 30, instead making a partial payment of $464 million, even after taking out a $387 million loan from JPMorgan.

Troubled Chicago school system sets $250 million bond sale – Reuters

Chicago's public school system will sell $250 million of bonds as soon as next week even as it faces a possible downgrade from Moody's Investors Service to the deep junk level of Caa1, signifying high credit risk. It wants to raise $200 million from the sale of general obligation bond sale through lead underwriter J.P. Morgan, according to the preliminary official statement. It plans to use the proceeds to reimburse costs of terminating interest-rate swaps and for capital improvement expenditures.  

How will Cook County survive without the soda tax? Let’s find out. – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

"This is a useful exercise, whether or not Circuit Judge Daniel Kubasiak eventually lifts the brick on this cowardly tax."

Sun-TImes Exclusive: County Board president lists 925 for layoffs if no soda tax

I can see the comments coming already: Yeah? So what...good start....overdue...."

Lawmakers Rename Part of I-55 for Former President Obama – NBC Chicago

The state Senate voted in favor a resolution passed by the House last week to designate the stretch of I-55 from the Tri-State Tollway south to mile marker 202 near Pontiac as the “Barack Obama Presidential Expressway.”

Preckwinkle administration: Prepare for 10% budget cuts if soda tax stays on hold – Chicago Tribune

In a letter dated Monday sent to all county elected officials, bureau chiefs and department heads, Preckwinkle budget director Tanya Anthony said analysts would be providing them "a recommended course of action" to meet spending cuts needed if Cook County Circuit Judge Daniel Kubasiak doesn't lift a temporary restraining order that's preventing the penny-per-ounce tax from being levied. Kubasiak stopped the tax, which was supposed to go into effect Saturday, after the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and several grocers sued the county to permanently block it on the grounds it is vague and unconstitutional.

Property tax bills arrive; Assessor Berrios goes yachting – Chicago City Wire

Berrios was spied spending his Independence Day yachting on Lake Michigan, hanging on the "Good Times," an 83-foot luxury boat owned by Chicago corporate lawyer Christopher D. Lueking.

Cook County ID card proposed for undocumented immigrants as city tries its own – Chicago Tribune

Cook County officials on Wednesday set out to create a county ID card for undocumented immigrants and others, even as Mayor Rahm Emanuel presses ahead with his own plans to offer a city ID.

Why township road district merger is proving difficult – Daily Herald

Comment: It's indeed very hard and complex, politically and otherwise. But essential for Illinois.

A View From The Outside: Chicago Violence Stuns Australia’s ’60 Minutes’ – DNAinfo Chicago

Through a segment entitled "Chicago Without Hope," Australian television viewers this week got a glimpse of Chicago's violence, with a perplexed host describing the situation as "urban warfare out of control."

Illinois Almost Has A Budget — Here’s What It Means For Chicago – DNAinfo Chicago

Good summary of some provisions pertinent to Chicago that haven't gotten much press.

Truth in Accounting’s quest (again) for the overdue Chicago financial report

Legally, the City of Chicago is required to produce its annual report within six months of the end of the fiscal year (December 31).  But June 30 came and went without a published report.

Chicago commits $100 million to investment fund aimed at low-income areas – Chicago Tribune

Comment: Don't expect the city to earn market level returns on this cash. For any government, using treasury or pension money for social goals is a ticket to earning less.

Bag tax missing revenue goal but city touts drop in use of disposables – Sun-Times

Chicago aimed to raise $9.2 million from the 7-cents-a-bag fee in its first year. As of collection on June 18, the tax has raised nearly $2.4 million in the nearly five months since it took effect; that leaves it well off the mark.

N.Y. Daily News slams Emanuel over ‘dumb’ boast about transit – Chicago Tribune

  Rahm Emanuel on Daily News front page Mayor Rahm Emanuel scored a publicity coup Monday when the New York Times published his op-ed essay boasting of the CTA’s superiority to New York City's public transit system. But Emanuel probably got more publicity than he planned when the New York Daily News took offense and put his picture on Tuesday's front page with the headline “DUMB TRACK MIND.” The Daily News noted that New York, with three times the population of Chicago, has fewer than half as many homicides so far this year. A subhead declared: “Rahm touts Chicago trains, but AT LEAST our riders don’t get SHOT on the way home.”

Rahm Urges Federal Gas Tax Hike for CTA, Rips Trump – DNAinfo Chicago

Comment: I considered writing a piece asking how long it would be after the state tax increase that the next round of tax increases began. Never mind.

Planting seeds of hope for teens in the Forest Preserves – Chicago Sun-Times

More than 50 African-American teenagers from the south suburbs will be working in the Cook County Forest Preserves removing invasive plant species, earning some money and maybe changing the future.

Chicago’s Elected School Board Stalls Again – WBEZ

Despite sailing through both chambers of the Illinois state Legislature, a bill creating an elected school board for Chicago is stalled and won’t be coming back up until at least the fall. Comment: Since Chicago isn't capable of governing itself why would the schools be any different?

In Chicago, Thought-Police Brutality – National Review

'What’s going on in Chicago is a reminder is that greasepaint revolutionaries can barely handle even mild intellectual opposition. They picture themselves riding bravely into the battlefield of ideas. But if anyone shows up to fight for the other side, they cry meekly, “Excuse me, I don’t think you’re allowed here.”

Chicago, Feds Create ‘Strike Force’ To Curb Gun Violence – NPR

Twenty ATF agents have been permanently sent to the city for what officials called a "laser focus" on the illegal trafficking of weapons. They join 41 ATF agents already in Chicago. The force will also focus on investigating and prosectuing repeat gun offenders.

Cook Co. jury orders $115M to families of victims of 2013 Afghanistan military cargo plane crash – Cook County Record

A Cook County jury has ordered a Florida-based cargo airline to pay the families of three aircraft crew members who died in an airplane crash while transporting armored vehicles in Afghanistan a combined award of more than $115 million.

Preckwinkle: The soda tax isn’t popular — but it’s necessary – Opinion – Chicago Tribune

Comment: Average voters will be livid when they see this moronic tax in action, and retailers rightfully already are.

Bye, Chicago – The Chicago Defender

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Chicago crime driving exodus of black middle class.

Monthly Case Shiller Index: 4% Chicago Area Home Price Gains Kinda Sad – ChicagoNow

When the 20 metro areas covered by Case Shiller average a 5.7% year over year gain in single family home prices it's pretty sad when the Chicago area can only eke out a 4% gain. That's the lowest year over year gain in 5 months and once again Chicago finds itself 4th from the bottom in the ranking of the metro areas.

Analysis: North Cook County fire, police pension funds paid $195 million, lost $5 million on investments in 2016 – North Cook News

North Cook County’s 61 police and fire pension funds paid out a total of $195,281,518 in benefits to 3,465 retirees and inactive recipients in 2016 while losing $5,495,345 on their investments, according to a North Cook News analysis of the funds' mandated financial filings with the Illinois Department of Insurance.

Raises Coming Saturday For Chicago’s 270,000 Minimum Wage Workers – DNAinfo Chicago

In 2014, the minimum wage in Chicago was $8.25 an hour. As of Saturday, it will be $11 an hour. Comment: A raise for some, but no job for others.

Emanuel flexes home-rule muscle on pensions – Sun-TImes

Chicago would forge ahead with higher contributions to two of four city employee pension funds — even without employee concessions that only the state can authorize — under a mayoral plan introduced Wednesday.

Cargo carriers are about to pay more at O’Hare—a lot more – Crain’s

With their leases set to expire soon, cargo carriers at O'Hare International Airport are about to lose what appear to have been truly sweetheart deals to rent warehouse space at the airfield.

Proposed Fair Workweek ordinance would mandate predictable schedules, stable paychecks – Chicago Tribune

Chicago employers would have to give workers at least two weeks' notice of their schedules and pay them extra for last-minute changes under a proposed ordinance that will be introduced Wednesday at the City Council.

CPS borrows another $112 million at exorbitant rate – Sun-Times

A week after CPS borrowed $375 million from J.P. Morgan at a whopping 6.39 percent, it secured an additional $112 million from the same lender at 6.41 percent.

Chicago Looks to Become Fintech Mecca As Lawmakers Show They Actually Understand Blockchain – International Business Times

Comment: To be fair, the headline should be "Rauner Administration understands...." This is their initiative. The tech folks in the administration are doing great work under tough circumstances, and should be recognized.

Guns Waved Around In Music Video Shot During 1,000-Person Gang Bash – DNAinfo

A music video shot during a raucous gang party that brought 1,000 people to the Near West Side last weekend shows shocking images of men and even children flashing guns while others party, drink and dance in the middle of residential streets as police idly sit by.

What shoppers need to know about the Cook County soda tax – Chicago Tribune

A 2-liter bottle, which usually costs about $1, will incur a 67-cent soda tax.

Looming ACA changes pose a drag on Cook County finances: Fidelity Investments

From The Bond Buyer's Yvette Shields: Cook County, Illinois will work in the coming months to close a $97.6 million gap without tax increases but dark clouds loom that could cause the red ink to swell due to the prolonged state budget impasse and GOP efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

Speed up the foreclosure process so real estate can rebound – Opinion – Chicago Tribune

Comment: McCarron's instinct is dead on this time. You gotta flush the toilet fast and often to get rid of the problem but we haven't done that.

Obama Library’s Wish List Is Long, But Who Will Pay For It All? – Hyde Park – DNAinfo Chicago

Plans for a place for concerts, a farmers market and community events first proposed as part of a new visitors center by Project 120 for the eastern side of the park are now listed among the amenities the center wants to incorporate. Sledding hills, a public garden, children’s play areas and walking and bike paths are also on in the works.

Dems to nix Rauner official as potential pick for top fed Chicago spot – Chicago Sun-TImes

Congressional Republicans from Illinois have recommended four lawyers to the Trump White House for the U.S. Attorney post in Chicago, with one of them, Maggie Hickey, likely out of the running because Democrats don’t want Hickey — now a top official for GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner — in the spot, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

City Colleges of Chicago Fund Balance Continues to Decline – The Civic Federation

Fund balances are down to just 4.8% of annual operating expenses, far worse than a recognized standard of 16.7%.

No Buyers for Chicago School Bonds Causes Rates to Hit 9 Percent – Bloomberg

"The spiraling interest bills are reminiscent of the chaos that erupted in the wake of the Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s bankruptcy in 2008."

U.S. Supreme Court decision could have big impact on mass actions in Cook County, elsewhere – Cook County Record

"This ruling could prove to be a powerful tool in stopping the kind of venue abuse we see all of time in Cook County."

Chicago NOT most dangerous U.S. city, new report says – WGN

In gun violence per capita, Chicago isn’t even in the top 10 — or the top 15.

Chicago Public Schools borrow $275 million at sky-high interest rate – Chicago Sun-Times

More than four times the interest rate a typical government would pay on the same borrowing deal, financial experts say.

Packers fan sues Bears over dress code – Crain’s

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A Green Bay Packers fan is taking the Chicago Bears to court over his right to wear Packers apparel on the field during a pregame warmup session he had access to through the team's rewards system.  

Chicago goes high-tech in search of answers to gun crime surge – BBC

In a cramped office in a police station in Chicago's 11th district, the sound of gunfire is a little computerised ping that rings out a few times a day.

Chicago’s slow housing recovery has a huge price tag – Crain’s

The Chicago area's slow housing market recovery comes at a price: $107 billion. That's the difference between the current market value of all residential property in the six-county area and what it would be worth if the Chicago real estate market's recovery were keeping up with the nation's.

Oak Park businesses brace for wage hike, raise doubts about future – West Cook News

“Let me be clear: Every one of my employees is paid more than minimum wage, and I am a Democrat,” Morava said. “But to have my village, my county and my state dictating compensation levels for my business when they haven't paid their bills -- already paid for by our tax money -- owed to our neighbors for over two years is ludicrous. It is so easy to spend other people’s money.”

Emanuel donor and alderman’s husband face fines for improper lobbying – Sun-Times

  Alan King, husband of Ald. Sophia King (4th), and James Abrams — whose wealthy North Shore family owns Medline Industries and sold the city the Michael Reese Hospital site — are the latest targets of the reinvigorated Board of Ethics.

Democrats strangely mum on Berrios – Opinion – Chicago Tribune

"Let me just pose the question: Can you imagine the outrage if the assessor were a Republican?"

Setting the stage for the end of the Chicago Public Schools fiscal year – Truth in Accounting

A casual observer might infer that if they are regularly balancing the budget, expenses would run in line with or below revenue, and debt would not be increasing.  That is not the case, for CPS or the City of Chicago.

Forgotten Illinois: Round Lake – united by nature, divided on paper – Illinois Policy

According to data from the Tax Foundation, the median Lake County property tax bill is almost $7,000 each year, the highest in the state and one of the highest in the country. This is a problem for the Round Lake area – nearly 25 percent of homes in the greater Round Lake area are “seriously underwater.”

Immigration Not Enough to Halt Exodus From Biggest U.S. Cities – Bloomberg

Chicago -- beset by crime, economic and budgetary woes and high taxes -- is the net exodus leader among 100 metro areas tracked by Bloomberg using Census Bureau data for the year through July 1, 2016.

Moody’s Downgrades Chicago Transit Authority Sales Tax Bonds to A3 from A1; Outlook Negative

"The downgrades are driven primarily by the authority's exposure to the State of Illinois...."

Home-buying incentive for police officers sails through committee – Sun-Times

   Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to “stabilize” high-crime neighborhoods by offering police officers and firefighters “forgivable loans” to purchase homes cleared a key hurdle Tuesday.

Cook County, Illinois, Experiences Disastrous Rollout of Its Soda Tax – Reason

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Comment: "The rollout of a soda tax in Cook County has been a complete fiasco." Yeah, well, so is the whole county, but read the article for just one chapter.  

Group demands University of Chicago pay slavery reparations – Campus Reform

The group also calls capitalism a “monstrosity,” writing of the need to think “beyond the legal framework of ‘damages,’ or the neoliberal ordering of private property rights, or the monstrosity of capitalism.”

Chicago property taxes are about to go way up – Crain’s

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Chicago homeowners are about to get whacked with a 10 percent increase in their property taxes. Owners of commercial properties will have to dig almost as deep. The average hike there is 9.3 percent.

Competence at the assessor’s office: Too much to ask? – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

Cook County homeowners expect to pay property taxes based on a fair determination of their home's worth. In short, they want the Cook County assessor's office to do its job well. Is that asking too much?

Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios makes a dicey situation worse – Crain’s

In the wake of a biting media probe and statewide howls for reform and property tax freezes, the Cook County assessor yesterday declared that he sees nothing wrong with accepting campaign cash from tax appeals lawyers whose job it is to influence his office and that he intends to continue doing just that.

Spotlight on Chicago, the Brand Hub That’s Become a Capital of Culture – Adweek

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"This week, Adweek is digging deep into the world of Chicago’s marketing, media and tech."  

What an Algorithm Reveals About Life on Chicago’s High-Risk List – The New York Times

"We analyzed that information and found that the assigned risk scores — and what characteristics go into them — are sometimes at odds with the Chicago Police Department’s public statements and cut against some common perceptions."

School funding overhaul dispute centers on Chicago Public School dollars – Associated Press

Comment: You'd think more would notice that the funding per student for Chicago, when you combine state, federal and local, is much higher than the state average. See data linked here.

The Chicago Tycoon Who Battled Canadian Elitism (in Hockey) – The New York Times

Long before President Trump turned a protectionist eye to the iniquities of Canadians, another opinionated American tycoon decided that he had had enough. Eighty years ago, the cross-border irritant wasn’t Nafta or softwood lumber. As Maj. Frederic McLaughlin saw it, Canada was flooding American markets with too many hockey players. In 1937, his short-lived America-first campaign was all about making his Chicago Black Hawks great again.

An Era of Errors – Chicago Tribune

Part 3 of the Tribune's detailed look at Cook County property taxes. For more than a decade, the Cook County assessor’s office hid a secret inside the massive computer programs used to calculate property tax assessments for single-family homes.

Inspired by Sanders, activists in Chicago push Democrats to left — or out of the way – Chicago Tribune

Sanders was the star of this year's People's Summit, which has quickly become the country's largest progressive political conference. At least 4,000 people trekked to Chicago for a weekend of teach-ins, panels and dance parties.

Anti-Sharia Protest, Counter-Demonstrations Held in Chicago Saturday – NBC Chicago

It was supposed to be a rally against Sharia law, but those demonstrators were quickly outnumbered by counter-protestors in Chicago on Saturday afternoon.

JPMorgan to purchase new debt for struggling Chicago schools – Reuters

Comment: Mortgaging to the hilt. "The new borrowing is secured by about $467 million of CPS' delayed grant funding from the state of Illinois, which is struggling through a second-straight fiscal year without a complete budget."

The problem with appeals – Chicago Tribune

Assessor Joseph Berrios encourages homeowners to file appeals. But the process makes the property tax system even less fair. Part 2 of the Tribune's detailed look at Cook County property taxes.

Two Chicago pension funds slip amid state’s continued inaction – Fidelity Investments

By The Bond Buyer's Yvette Shields. The funded ratios of Chicago’s municipal and laborers' pension funds further eroded last year and prospects remain bleak for both as they careen toward insolvency. The funded ratio of the Municipal Employees' fund fell to 30.5% in 2016 from 32.9% in 2015 and the funded ratio of the Laborers’ Fund fell to 50.36% from 52.99%.

Block 37 apartment sale could be biggest here since 2007 – Crain’s

The developer of a big brand-new Loop apartment tower has put the property on the market, the first step in what could be the biggest Chicago multifamily sale in a decade.

Illinois owes billions to suburban non-profits, companies, government agencies – Daily Herald

The amount is roughly 15 percent of the $14.7 billion the state owes all vendors. Chicago-based vendors are owed close to $5.6 billion, according to the comptroller's figures.

Major video group sues Chicago over online game tax – Chicago Tribune

Playing Minecraft online in Chicago is 9 percent more expensive than it used to be. That’s because the city of Chicago reinterpreted its longstanding Amusement Tax in 2015 — one half of the controversial “Cloud Tax” — and it’s a move a leading video game industry group says was illegal.

‘Kind of the calm before the storm’ for downtown Chicago apartments – Crain’s

Developers will complete a record 4,500 apartments in downtown Chicago this year and another 3,500 in 2018, a potential downer for landlords enjoying the best rental market in decades.

School funding equity loses out to Chicago greed – Editorial – Daily Herald

Chicago Democrats used the issue as a means to maneuver a bailout of the mismanaged Chicago Public Schools system that for years has wildly overspent while overpromising its powerful unions.

For taxpayers, a window into Chicago’s union contracts – Chicago Tribune

In 2007, the City Council signed off on dozens of city worker contracts, all in force for 10 years. It was an unusual and risky move, meant to buy labor peace until after the 2016 Summer Olympics, which then-Mayor Richard M. Daley hoped to bring to Chicago. Oops.

Chicago emigration is warning of Detroit endgame – Opinion – Reuters

"Chicago is already in a big hole. If it can’t hold on to its people, Detroit’s fate will loom even larger."

Chicago sees decrease in violence so far this year after long, bloody 2016 – ABC News

There were 56 homicides and 257 shootings in the city in May 2017, down from 68 and 316, respectively, in May 2016, the Chicago Police Department said.

Chicago phone tax could rise by 28 percent to save pension fund – Chicago Sun-TImes

Instead of $3.90 a month per phone number, Chicagoans would pay $5 per number. The increase flew in under the radar because it was tucked away into a broader telecommunications bill that covers funding for 911 emergency centers across the state. The bill is awaiting Gov. Bruce Rauner’s signature.

City of Chicago fire brass warn they may quit ‘exempt’ jobs and return to ranks – Sun-Times

The fire officials are seeking pension changes, expanded health insurance benefits and pay raises — and have been unable to persuade Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago to sweeten the pot for them.

How the Hyperloop Could Transform the Midwest – Chicago Inno

In the Midwest, a Hyperloop proposal is moving forward that would connect Chicago to Pittsburgh in just 47 minutes. Dubbed Midwest Connect, it’s part of call for proposals by Hyperloop One, a startup founded in 2014 that’s raised $160 million to bring Musk’s vision to life (though the company is not officially affiliated with Musk).

Ferguson urges Emanuel to seize moment, renegotiate union contracts – Sun-TImes

Lucci: Emanuel spins as Chicago reels from population flight – Opinion – INN

Chicago might be bleeding manufacturing jobs, but city pols are still world-class when it comes to manufacturing a fake reality.

City watchdog offers Emanuel cost-saving ideas as dozens of union contracts expire – Chicago Tribune

Comment: The report is a ripping indictment of the the city's collectively bargained labor agreements. The full report is linked here.  And closely related, skim through the database of City of Chicago salaries we just posted.

Kane County may resort to layoffs to address midyear budget deficit – Daily Herald

Layoffs for Kane County government employees may become a reality for the first time since 2010 as officials scramble to address a midyear budget deficit of $2.8 million.

Where rising assessments are boosting property tax bills most – Daily Herald

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The assessed value of residential properties in 50 suburban townships increased an average of 11 percent over the past three years. But the rise in assessments varies widely, from 32.7 percent for homes in Kane County's Plato Township to as little as 1.3 percent in Lake County's Antioch Township.

CPS Chief Makes Plea To Save District From ‘Brink Of Insolvency’ – WBEZ

He said there is nothing the district can do on its own to escape from impending financial doom driven by rising pension costs.

Case Shiller: Chicago Area Home Price Gains Lag The Nation – ChicagoNow

Comment: This author, Gary Lucido, always has the best and most objective look at the monthly Case-Shiller Index, which is the best available means of tracking home prices.

Governor Kills 911 Legislation Supported by Chicago – NPR IL

The nixed deal involved letting Chicago increase its fee per phone from $3.90 to $5. All other cell phone bills in the state would see an increase of $1.50 from 87 cents.

Cubs owners launch agency to promote Wrigleyville ventures – Crain’s

In a move aimed at streamlining the family's ability to take advantage of its growing footprint around Wrigley Field, the new agency will be led by Cubs executives and book business across multiple properties, including the team, the Park at Wrigley adjacent to the stadium, rooftop properties beyond the Wrigley Field bleachers and the new Hotel Zachary set to open next year across the street from the ballpark.

Singed by census report, Emanuel turns to U-Haul – Chicago Tribune

But the U-Haul study did not analyze the number of one-way rental departures out of the city -- or how many people or families left town with a truck. U-Haul even included this disclaimer in its news release: “Destination cities do not account for departing traffic and thus do not necessarily reflect growth like U-Haul Growth Cities.” And where does Chicago rank on the U-Haul’s list of Top 25 growth cities? It doesn’t.

RTA Worrying About State’s Backlog In Public Transportation Funding – CBS Chicago

What’s really worrying RTA Executive Director Leanne Redden and her chief deputy, Jill Leary, is how badly the state has fallen behind — $484.5 million.

Popular Chicago floating and sensory deprivation studio coming to Schererville – NWI Times

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A floating and sensory deprivation studio has proven popular in Chicago's River North neighborhood, getting booked weeks in advanced and lining up notable clients like Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews.

Chicago Teachers Union Pet: South Suburbs’ Hutchinson leads charge for CPS bailout – South Cook News

State Sen Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields) doesn't represent the City of Chicago. But she's isn't shy about her support for Chicago's public schools.

The illogical reason your electricity bills are going up – Crain’s

Much of it is actually quite logical, though foolish. The cost of the renewable energy elements in that Com Ed bill went entirely unmeasured. Neighboring states rejected similar proposals because the cost is in the billions, effectively a regressive tax on consumers.

Chicago mom honored as a ‘superhero’ for fight against city violence – Chicago Tribune

"There are no days off," Manasseh said. "I didn't start out to be an activist; I'm not an activist. I'm just a mom."

Pritzker company loses $100M contract after Ald. Reilly insults San Antonians – Chicago Tribune

Just two weeks after Ald. Brendan Reilly went viral for mocking San Antonio's touristy waterfront as "cheap and crappy-looking," his counterparts on the San Antonio City Council snubbed a Chicago boat business in Reilly's 42nd Ward, instead handing a $100 million contract to run San Antonio's tourist boats to a local company.

Supreme Court decision puts dent in ‘patent troll’ cases, may put companies on defense in Chicago court – Cook County Recod

“The potentially far-reaching implication of this case is that instead of seeing cases brought by mainly Illinois-based patent owners, the Northern District is likely to see patent owners from around the country suing Illinois corporations here. In other words, the Northern District could go from being more offensive-based to a more defensively-based venue.”

Chicago firm will run $1 billion overhaul of Union Station – Associated Press

Chicago-based Riverside Investment & Development is calling redevelopment of the iconic building a "transformative" project for the city. It's expected to include retail, hotel and office space. Officials say there'll also be a pair of 12-story residential towers.

April home sales down in Chicago as limited choices discourage buying – Chicago Tribune

Sales were down 2.3 percent compared with a year ago, but prices rose 5.2 percent as sellers raised prices amid a limited supply of homes for sale. There were 10,157 homes sold.

Karen Lewis finds J.B. Pritzker’s progressive credentials ‘hilarious’ – Chicago Tribune

"Can one oligarch replace another oligarch?" Lewis asked, rhetorically. "What's going to be different?"

Record number of city homes under contract – Crain’s

In the week that ended May 13, buyers put 874 homes under contract in the city, according to data posted Monday by the Chicago Association of Realtors. (It's the latest week for which data is available.) The contract figure is on pace to end May as a record-setter. Both weeks of May have had more contracts than any week in March, which saw more contracts signed than any month going back to 2007. If the momentum continues through the later weeks of May, the monthly total will eclipse March's 3,141 contracts.

Hartford latest U.S. city on the brink of bankruptcy – Fox News

Hartford, is just the latest city to mull over the bankruptcy option. Since 2010 a total of nine municipalities have filed for bankruptcy protection—which is on top of an additional 42 utilities, water districts, hospitals and other municipal agencies that have actually gone full-fledged bankrupt.

Trial begins for West Side nonprofit head accused of using funds for spending spree – Chicago Tribune

As the leader of a small nonprofit in Chicago's poverty-stricken West Garfield Park neighborhood, Franshuan Myles was supposed to use a $60,000 state grant to help impoverished youth learn new skills and stay out of trouble over their summer break. Instead, federal prosecutors allege that Myles started stealing the funds the moment they hit her bank account

Preckwinkle: Soda tax will stand – Chicago Tribune

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle believes efforts to repeal a countywide sweetened beverage tax before it takes effect in July will come to naught.

Rahm’s latest plan to stave off Chicago financial collapse under fire – from Dems – Opinion – American Thinker

"The crash is coming.  The Dems are just looking for opportunities to blame Republicans for the consequences of their bribes to unionized public employees."

Helping the ‘most broken’ of Southland’s homeless – Chicago Tribune

There are few options, even for a former Marine who was shot, stabbed, run over and had his left hand nearly "chopped off" and sewn back on before he was discharged for playing Russian roulette. He pushes back a sleeve to show the scars. Living under a bridge

The Nasty Women Art Show, an important first step for female artists in the Trump – The Reader

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"We're here today to represent every nasty woman across America. I know I'm nasty at what I do," said one participant.

Butterball to close 600-employee Illinois meatpacking plant – A.P.

Turkey processor Butterball has announced it will shut its meatpacking plant west of Chicago, resulting in the loss of about 600 full-time jobs.

‘Racism’ Painted On U. of C. Frat House After Controversial 5 De Mayo Party – DNAinfo Chicago

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A University of Chicago fraternity's construction-themed Cinco de Mayo party has sparked racial tensions on campus, the latest in a series of polarizing incidents on the South Side campus.

How a Chicago alderman has used zoning law and political strong-arming to control private businesses – Project Six

An ongoing battle between Chicago’s Double Door music venue, the venue’s building owners and Alderman Proco Joe Moreno (1st Ward) is a telling example of how zoning laws, zoning changes and political threats can be used to inflict personal agendas and punish those who aren’t politically connected.

CPS to borrow against late state block grants to pay for end of year – Sun-TImes

Aldermen will be told Friday that the Chicago Public Schools will get through the end of the school year and pay for teacher pensions by short-term borrowing against $467 million in late block grants owed by the state, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

Wealthy blacks just as likely to be segregated as poor here – Crain’s

n Cook County, affluent black people are more likely to live near poor blacks than near white people of their income level—or any income level—according to a new study from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Analysis: CPS has overspent budget 15 years straight, by total $6.6 billion – Chicago City Wire

The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) have blown their annual budgets in 15 of the past 15 years by a collective $6.6 billion, amassing debt to continually increase spending on operations while district student enrollment has steadily fallen.

John Hancock Center could change owners — and names – Chicago Tribune

The owner plans to sell. In addition to 897,000 square feet of office space and a 730-space parking garage, a buyer would acquire control of the naming rights.

New study: Chicago City Council is growing a spine — ever so slowly – Sun-Times

It shows that there have been 67 divided roll call votes — roughly three per month — in the two years since the new City Council was sworn in. That’s twice as many as there were during Emanuel’s first term.

Police and Fire finally switching to electronic time-keeping – Chicago Sun-Times

The Chicago Police and Fire departments — which together spent nearly $200 million on overtime last year — are finally coming out of the Dark Ages when it comes to employee time-keeping.

CPS cancels presentation to pension fund – Chicago Tribune

Without short-term borrowing or some other rapid cash delivery, officials said the district will fall far short of making the pension contribution. At the same time, the state pension code doesn't specify what course of action the fund could take in the event CPS doesn't make the full payment. CPS owes the fund roughly $716 million, though the district is expected to pay a little less than $470 million of that tab by the end of June.

A decade later and still down – Crain’s

 

Homeowners in many Chicago-area ZIP codes have yet to share in the recovery that is boosting values in hot city neighborhoods and a handful of suburbs.

Chicago losing some of its allure as a convention city – Chicago Business Journal

In Cvent's 2017 annual rankings of top convention cities, Chicago dropped to third place from the No. 2 spot in 2016.

Emanuel’s CPS rescue plan gets cool reception from aldermen – Sun-Times

Chicago aldermen reacted coolly Tuesday to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to tax downtown businesses, high net-worth individuals or both to dig the Chicago Public Schools out of a $596 million hole without state help.

New Algonquin Township highway commissioner fires predecessor’s sons-in-law in first minutes on the job – Northwest Herald

Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser fired the two sons-in-law of predecessor Robert Miller immediately after taking office, sparking a battle with the union that now represents his employees.

Emanuel considering taxes on rich, downtown businesses to fund CPS – Sun-Times

Mayor Rahm Emanuel may seek new taxes on downtown businesses, “high net-worth individuals” or both to dig the Chicago Public Schools out of a $596 million hole without state help, City Hall sources said Monday.

Chicago Tribune and L.A. Times publisher may acquire Chicago Sun-Times parent – Marketwatch

Comment: Horrible. Already too much concentration in the media.

Eldorado Trading is latest Chicago firm to wind down – Crain’s

Many of the small- and mid-sized trading firms in the city have been squeezed out of the industry in recent years as technology, exchange and regulatory compliance costs rose just as trading volatility and volumes—which create opportunities for nabbing price discrepancies in the markets—shrunk in the face of economic and geopolitical conditions.

Chicago water commissioner resigns amid IG probe into racist, sexist emails – Chicago Tribune

Out is Barrett Murphy, who made $170,000 a year leading the Department of Water Management after taking the job in April 2016. He's a city government veteran who is married to Lynn Lockwood. She's the former chairman and treasurer of one of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's political funds, as well as a friend of Chicago first lady Amy Rule.

Alderman Profited Off The 606 — But That Doesn’t Mean He Wants You To – DNAinfo Chicago

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Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) rode the wave of soaring property values along the popular 606 trail to flip four properties, pocketing $300,000 in profit two years ago.

In South Loop, plans for city within the city begin taking shape – Chicago Tribune

Over the next two decades, the developer envisions creating a city within the city on the 62-acre parcel along the Chicago River, south of Roosevelt Road, that eventually will link the South Loop and Chinatown. It is one of the most ambitious developments ever conceived in Chicago.

Class action says Fannie May bumps box size to ease sales of 7 oz candy boxes for $10 – Cook County Record

Iconic Chicago candymaker Fannie May has been hit with a class action lawsuit by consumers who claim they overpaid for $10 boxes of candy after discovering the boxes were only about 60 percent full.

Report: Cook County Short Nearly 190,000 Affordable Rental Units – WTTW

Cook County's affordable housing supply has not kept up with demand, according to a report issued by the Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University.

University of Chicago frat’s construction-themed party called ‘racially insensitive’ – CampusReform

The "FIJI" fraternity at the University of Chicago had to apologize for holding a construction-themed party to celebrate progress on renovations after students deemed it "racially insensitive" because it happened to occur on Cinco de Mayo.

Obama Library Will Give $3.1 Billion Boost To Cook County, New Report Says – Woodlawn – DNAinfo Chicago

Comment: That number may sound exaggerated, and maybe it is, but don't be so sure. Money coming in from visitors from outside the state is gold -- it doesn't cannibalize internal spending that might have gone somewhere else. Put a multiplier of 4 or so on that and you get big bucks.

Police Assign ‘Heat Score’ To 398,000 People To Track Violence – DNAinfo Chicago

Over 398,000 people are on a Chicago Police Department database used by police to identify and track those who are most likely to be involved in gun violence.

Florida woman seen hitting herself with fallen sprinkler piece highlights fraud case – Sun-Sentinel

Comment: This story is from Florida, but anecdotal stories of widespread worker's comp fraud in Chicago have been rampant for decades. Sure wish somebody would get to the bottom of it.

For J.B. Pritzker, mansion’s disrepair has saved $230K in taxes – Sun-Times

Comment: And that, my friends, is what high property taxes incentivize owners to do. Imagine if you live in Chicago's south suburbs where taxes average over 5.5%? Are you gonna improve your property or do what you can to get the appraisal down?

Chicago will short teacher pensions by $250 million, taxpayers to pick up tab – WBEZ

"One thing is clear: the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund won’t be getting the full $715.9 million owed to it on June 30. CPS plans to subtract $250 million from that total."

Rahm willing to consider head tax to bail out CPS – CBS Chicago

Comment: A special tax based on how many jobs you give makes great sense, don't you think? Let's also put a special tax on inner city kids who graduate from high school with honors.

Chicago Startup TurboAppeal Acquired by Paradigm Tax Group – Tech.Co

Comment: They deliver an online platform for challenging property taxes, so they were we wise to launch in Cook County as their first market.

Emanuel won’t say why he waited so long to reveal depth of CPS money woes – Chicago Tribune

Comment: Let me speculate with this explanation: Because he's pathologically dishonest.

Peapod moving headquarters from Skokie to Chicago, exec says – Chicago Tribune

Peapod plans to relocate its headquarters from Skokie to downtown Chicago this year, an executive said Wednesday — a move that could affect 180 employees.

CPS says it may fall short on upcoming pension payment – Chicago Tribune

Officials say that without short-term borrowing or some other rapid infusion of money, the district will fall far short of making a $700 million-plus contribution to the Chicago Teachers' Pension Fund. Making a late or incomplete pension payment could violate state law and prompt a negative response from bankers the district needs to stay afloat.

Sinclair Bid for Tribune Gives Conservative Voice a Big-City Perch – Bloomberg

Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.’s deal for Tribune Media Co. would give a broadcaster known for its conservative leanings fresh reach into leading media markets including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

More gloom for Chicago department stores – Crain’s

Sales at Chicago-area general merchandise stores, a category that mainly covers department stores, fell by a whopping $1.3 billion, or 10.3 percent, last year, to $11.5 billion, according to a new report from Melaniphy & Associates, a Chicago-based consulting firm.

City issues plan for 760 acres along Chicago River, likely to bring building boom – Tribune

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Billions of dollars in commercial real estate development, as well as new sports fields, bridges, a new Metra station and other infrastructure could soon be coming to a 3.7-mile stretch along the Chicago River, after the city on Monday unveiled its final draft of proposed zoning and land use changes.

How a $500,000 green card started fueling Chicago hotel developments – Crain’s

Now it's hard to find a Chicago hotel developer that isn't exploring the program. EB-5 investors helped finance the Godfrey Hotel in River North, which opened last year, and the builders of the 93-story Wanda Vista tower along the Chicago River may raise more than $100 million in EB-5 money. In Rockford, a venture including a unit of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway is using EB-5 financing to convert an office building into a hotel and convention center.

Here’s hoping the spirit of WGN stays in Chicago – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

What happens to WGN radio and WGN-Ch. 9 once they lose local ownership? On Monday, Tribune Media — which owns the WGN combo as well as 41 other TV stations across the country — announced plans to sell itself to Sinclair Broadcast Group of Maryland in a deal valued at $3.9 billion.

Actuary’s model shows Chicago pension plan depleted in seven years – Chicago City Wire

The Municipal Employees' Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago will run out of money by the year 2024, according to a model developed by actuary Mary Pat Campbell.

Anthony Rizzo’s Foundation Announces $3.5 Million Donation to Lurie – NBC Chicago

Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo has gained a well-earned reputation as a philanthropist during his time in the Windy City, and on Monday morning his foundation announced yet another massive charitable donation.

Chicago mayor Emanuel posts EPA’s deleted climate change page – Sun-Times

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s response to the Trump administration pulling down its website detailing information about climate change: putting up his own.

Ex-Aide To Dorothy Brown Indicted – WBEZ

A former high-ranking official in Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown’s office has been indicted on federal charges for lying to a grand jury that’s investigating hiring and promotion practices in the clerk’s office, federal prosecutors announced Friday.

Chicago’s South Side Golf Courses in Line for a Tiger Woods Upgrade – The New York Times

Source: Chicago’s South Side Golf Courses in Line for a Tiger Woods Upgrade - The New York Times

CTA spends $200 million to rebuild 1 train station – Crain’s

is the Chicago Transit Authority doing the right thing by spending $203 million, to be exact, to rebuild just one el stop, the hoary Wilson Avenue station on the Red Line in Uptown? Are taxpayers really getting a good deal?

McHenry County Board begins to brainstorm ways to cut property tax levy by 10 percent – Northwest Herald

A working group of just less than half the McHenry County Board has started looking at ways to fulfill its promise to cut its property tax levy by at least 10 percent.

Former owner in failed car-charging station project pleads guilty to fraud – Tribune

The former owner of a California company selected to install a vast network of electric vehicle charging stations in Chicago and elsewhere pleaded guilty Tuesday to fraudulently obtaining at least $1 million in federal grants related to the failed green initiative.

Chicago police department struggles with officer suicide – Reuters

"Chicago is a war zone," said Alexa James, the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Chicago. "They (officers) are seeing the worst day of everybody’s life every day."

Can Chicago become Big Agriculture’s innovation hub? – Opinion – Crain’s

There is no greater need in the world than sustainable ways to feed the growing number of people on earth. There is no more logical place for Big Food research, entrepreneurial activity, systems development, to take place than right here.

Illinois legislation would ensure payment to wrongfully convicted – Journal Star

The bill sponsored by Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago, would provide continuing funds — even without a state budget — for payments for time unjustly served in Illinois prisons.

Lawyer: Zillow ‘Zestimate’ illegal appraisal hampering home’s sale; Zillow: Only estimate, not appraisal – Cook County Record

A lawyer in suburban Glenview who is attempting to sell her home has asked the courts to step into her dispute with real estate listing site Zillow over the site’s “Zestimate” of her home, calling the site’s approximation of her home’s value a “sloppy, computer-driven appraisal” of her home, created without her consent and in violation of state law.

Surburban Chicago assessors inundated by appeals – Crain’s

In what's becoming Cook County's own rite of spring, homeowners who have received the county's latest estimate of their homes' taxable value are inundating assessors' offices with appeals.

Among Major Cities, Chicago Ranks Worst In Home Value Recovery – Chicagoist

The conventional real-estate wisdom says that the U.S. housing market has for the most part recovered from the recession, at least in terms of individual home values. But a new report says not so fast—especially in Chicago. Nationwide, only 34.3 percent of homes have gone past their pre-recession peak values. In Chicago, that figure plummets even more dramatically, all the way down to 7.6 percent.

Barack Obama Has Big, Bold, Optimistic Plans For The South Side – DNAinfo

"This isn't just about buildings," Obama said, "I tell people, Chicago's never looked more beautiful. It has never sparkled more.

Chicago and Atlanta Agree to Run on 100 Percent Renewable Energy – Architectural Digest

Comment: As that News-Gazette editorial asked today, "Anybody care about cost?"

Crime’s toll on a neighborhood: Violence that crushes lives also crushes parts of Chicago – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

Witnessing the decline of South Shore is sad and frustrating. This attractive neighborhood on the lakefront, within easy commuting distance of the Loop, should never have lost its place as a bastion of Chicago's African-American middle class.

Rogers Park Effort Aims To ‘Ruin’ ICE’s Plans – WBEZ

A group of Rogers Park residents are mobilizing to interrupt and protest immigration raids with the hope of making the process so inefficient for enforcement agents that the federal government will stop trying.

Bank of America to anchor planned skyscraper along Chicago River – Chicago Tribune

Bank of America will be the anchor tenant in a 51-story office tower to be built along the Chicago River.

Chicago last among major cities in real estate recovery – Crain’s

Of the nation's ten largest metro areas, Chicago has the smallest share of homes that have recovered to their pre-recession peak values. The culprit: Chicago's slow growth in three inter-connected spheres—jobs, income and population—relative to the other big cities.

How much trouble is the city’s economic development chief in? – Crain’s

A flurry of internal turmoil has hit World Business Chicago, the city's public/private economic development unit, with staff departures, an outside consultant's review and an extraordinary open apology of sorts from​ CEO Jeff Malehorn.

IDOT: Six firms interested in South Suburban Airport – Daily Southtown

Six firms recently responded to the Illinois Department of Transportation's attempt to gauge developers' interest in building, operating and maintaining the planned South Suburban Airport, the agency said.

‘There’s a story behind why we shoot’ – WBEZ

Two young Chicagoans talk about why they picked up a gun, and how it changed their lives.

Chicago once again ranked top metro for corporate investment – Curbed Chicago

For the fourth year in a row, the Chicago metropolitan area has taken the top spot on Site Selection magazine’s list for corporate growth.

Illinois House passes bill to allow dissolution of township road districts – Illinois Policy

House Bill 607 would allow for the consolidation of a duplicative layer of government, something Illinois taxpayers desperately need.

New home sales highest in Chicago almost four years – Crain’s

The sales figure for the quarter was the second-highest of any quarter since new-home sales tumbled in 2008 in the wake of the housing crash. In the second quarter of 2013, builders sold 1,317 new homes in the Chicago area.

Northwestern suit promises big load of dirty laundry – News Gazette

The fuse has been lit. When and if the bomb goes off, prestigious Chicago institutions — Northwestern University, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, prominent media outlets — and people — a sitting judge, a former state's attorney, prominent journalists — will have more than egg on their faces.

How millionaire’s gang fantasy ‘blew up the West Side’ – Chicago Sun-Times

In 2012, he won an astonishing $25 million in a wrongful-conviction lawsuit against the city of Chicago. Half went to his lawyers. And he showered millions of what was left on his street gang, the Simon City Royal.

Judge OKs Work on Illinois Highway Some Say Threatens Bee – A.P.

The court had earlier ordered a halt to work, but now the plaintiff's bee expert failed to show up.

McHenry County a model for reforming government – Opinion – INN

"According to the United States Census Bureau, McHenry County residents pay higher property taxes than 99.99 percent of other Americans," but the county is moving towards cutting those taxes by 10%.

Illinois Tollway approves $4 billion Tri-State widening project – Illinois Policy

Despite the massive size and scope of the project to widen the Tri-State, the Illinois Tollway board suggests new tolls and taxes won’t be needed ­– but history shows that promises related to tolls in Illinois haven’t held up in the past.

John Kass: The lies we were told about who would silence free speech – Chicago Tribune

Safe spaces are not about learning or critical thinking. Safe spaces belong to education camps, where future bureaucrats are trained in the Orwellian shaping of language and the culling of threatening ideas.

Chicago fintech, the rising star in innovation – Chicago Business Journal

With names such as the Chicago Board Options Exchange, Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Citadel, Discover, DRW Trading, JPMorgan Chase, Morningstar and Northern Trust, these financial titans lead this industry as some of the most respected firms in the world.

New FOP president claims victory in early battles with city – Chicago Sun-Times

The battles stem from what FOP President Kevin Graham called the “unilateral expansion” of body cameras to all Chicago Police officers, and the Chicago Police Department’s proposed “disciplinary matrix” for “complaints registered” against officers.

New Grants Available For Struggling Shopping Areas On South, West Sides – DNAinfo Chicago

With the City Council's blessing, the city has earmarked $16 million from Tax Increment Financing districts to spruce up commercial corridors in Austin, Back of the Yards, Bronzeville, Chatham, Englewood, South Shore, West Humboldt Park and West Pullman.

State’s ‘illegal’ streaming tax described as rerun from Chicago – Sangamon Sun

lllinois failed to learn from a court-challenged Chicago ordinance when it tried to tax streaming services as part of the failed "grand bargain" in the Legislature, an attorney with a Libertarian justice advocacy group said recently.

Giant Puffball Mushrooms The Size Of Soccer Balls Grow Around Chicago – DNAinfo Chicago

The mushrooms can grow to massive sizes: A 5-foot, 50-pound specimen is on record, according to mushroomexpert.com.

Chicago’s Origin Ventures just raised $80 million for its fourth fund – TechCrunch

Comment: Nice to see good guys thriving.

Faisal Khan: What has Chicago learned from the Barbara Byrd-Bennett scandal? – Opinion – Chicago Tribune

Why is Byrd-Bennett, the former chief executive of Chicago Public Schools, going to spend so much time incarcerated? No-bid contracts. There are flaws with every process, but the city should be awarding contracts based on a company's value and performance, not political connections.

City could deal blow to Trump wall contractors – Chicago Sun-Times

“It would be much like an ordinance proposed years ago banning any Chicago bank doing business with a Swiss bank resisting cooperation in reparations to victims of Hitler’s Holocaust,” said Ald. Edward Burke (14th), who is familiar with the proposal.

Emanuel leads cheer for latest corporate HQ to move to Chicago – Chicago Sun-Times

Great Wolf Resorts’ CEO Rubén Rodriguez calls the office “Wolf Den Chicago.” It’s home to 45 Great Wolf Resort “pack members” and has room to grow to 100 employees to accommodate future company expansion.

Harris Associates’ Oakmark Fund excels at stock-picking – Crain’s

Touting stock-picking expertise in the face of an industry swing toward index-investing takes a certain amount of guts. But glance at graphs charting the performance of Harris Associates funds, and you understand why they're sticking to stock-picking.

Single-Family Home Prices Are Highest Ever In 4 Areas Of Chicago: Study – DNAinfo Chicago

But citywide, single-family homes are still 23.4 percent below their highest levels in 2007.

Google Building’s Newest Perk? A CTA Train Car On Its Roof – DNAinfo Chicago

When complete, the train car will serve as a focal point and casual place to sit on the green rooftop for employees and others. The deck will also have raised platform with views of the Chicago skyline, a green lawn and landscaped areas.

Redfin migration study suggests Chicagoans looking to stay

Among the dominant trends:  Chicago, Boston and Seattle had perhaps the most dedicated residents, with more than nine out of 10 local users planning to stay in the area. Comment: Interesting data, but whether this really shows intent to stay is questionable.

Lawyer, guns and liquor — gunplay for the country club set – Chicago Sun-Times

Joe Neveril’s fervent desire is to bring the Chicago area its first “guntry club,” which he describes as kind of a country club for gun enthusiasts.

Case Shiller Home Price Index Up Again in Chicago Area – ChicagoNow

Looking at the seasonally adjusted numbers it does seem as though the Chicago area is now performing better than most of the other metro areas so we should continue to rise in the rankings.

Data Points: In the Chicago region, when white people leave jobs tend to follow – Metropolitan Planning Council

The invisible barriers that generally separate people by race and income in the Chicago region also appear to serve as barriers to population growth and job growth, critical factors for strong economic development.

Who’s lending to South Side homebuyers? – Crain’s

In a region where home values have sputtered and many people have damaged or poor credit, who's writing mortgages? Marquette Bank, for one. Its small loans have been a staple since the bank opened in 1945 on the Southwest Side.

U.S. Supreme Court deals struggling taxi industry another blow – Chicago Sun-Times

Chicago’s taxicab industry is likely to turn into a “Wild West” dominated by independent drivers, with fleets disappearing and the city losing control, after the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday dealt the struggling industry a final flow.

Chicago aldermen propose $33 per employee ‘head tax’ on city employers – Illinois Policy

Eighteen aldermen signed on to legislation that would introduce the “head tax” to Chicago employers with 50 or more employees. Comment: An attempt to revive one of the stupidest taxes in history -- one that's specifically on how many people you employ.

The Vote is in for Chicago Growth at Conference on Fiscal Future – MuniNet

Comment: This event was a whitewash that the Chicago Fed and The Civic Federation should be ashamed of. The best presentation was from Harrison J. Goldin, a veteran of New York's turnaround in the 1970. He emphasized the importance of the first step -- honestly measuring the full depth of the problem. We haven't even done that, and conferences like this are part of the reason.

Obama to deliver first post-presidency speech in Chicago – Associate Press

Comment: Hey Obama, you came to office with the stars aligned as they do only a couple times a century. You had both houses of Congress and all the political capital in the world, yet you didn't do squat for Chicagoans or anybody else, so spare us your wisdom.

Clout-rich janitor firm accused of job offer mess – Sun-Times

The city contractor that allegedly “reserved jobs for individuals based on political considerations” is United Maintenance Co. Inc., according to City Hall sources and the alderman whose office blew the whistle on the firm.

March for Science: Dispatches from Chicago – The Scientist Magazine®

Comment: The anointed celebrate their monopoly on truth and evidence.

Testing Chicago MEABF to Destruction – Stump

A look at one of Chicago's pensions, the Municipal fund, by actuary Mary Pat Campbell.

Inundated with gunshot victims, Chicago doctors and nurses face ‘compassion fatigue’ – Chicago Tribune

Comment: A friend who interned at Cook County Hospital said their unofficial motto in the E.R was "The life you save may take your own."

Emanuel shoots down stripping aldermen of control over menu money – Chicago Sun-Times

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Friday he is not about to strip aldermen of their cherished control over infrastructure projects in their wards and hand it to professional engineers in the Chicago Department of Transportation.

GOP leader files ethics complaint over Chicago schools letter – Chicago City Wire

The CPS letter began with an accusation that Gov. Bruce Rauner "decided to attack those who need the most help." It continued with a claim that the governor, a Republican, blocked $215 million in funding for the city schools. It referred to the loss of the funding as stealing from the children.