Sunday, January 21, 2018

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Appeals court to hear arguments on sanctuary cities today – Associated Press

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Archdiocese of Chicago to close 5 Catholic schools – ABC Chicago

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Rent Control in Chicago: The Cases For and Against It – WTTW

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Chicago Plan Commission approves 1,011-foot River North skyscraper – Curbed Chicago

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What Could Hurt Chicago’s Bid For Amazon’s HQ2? – WBEZ

Hmm. 'Lemme think.

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If Mayor Rahm really wanted to stop poor people from leaving Chicago, he’d stop giving TIF handouts to corporations |- Chicago Reader

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Parents scrambling after word of Catholic school closings – Chicago Tribune

Officials Wednesday night announced that Incarnation, St. Cyprian School in River Grove, Holy Cross School in Deerfield and Our Lady of the Ridge School in Chicago Ridge would close, along with St. Michael School on Chicago’s Far South Side, at the end of the 2017-18 school year.

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Suburbs eye new Apple campus announced Wednesday – Daily Herald

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‘What a Loathsome Little Demagogue You Are’: Tucker Carlson Blasts Chicago Alderman Over Illegal Immigration – Fox News

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Chicago’s offer to Amazon: $2.25 billion in incentives – Crain’s

The city and state have offered Amazon an incentive package worth up to $2.25 billion and perhaps a bit more if it brings its prized second headquarters and a promised 50,000 well-paying jobs here, a source close to the matter is saying.

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Amazon narrows list of candidates for new headquarters to 20, Chicago makes the cut – CNBC

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City Council approves $5.5M Presence Health subsidy after emotional debate – Chicago Sun-Times

A divided City Council on Wednesday signed off on a $5.5 million subsidy to Illinois’ largest Catholic health system, in spite of Presence Health’s anti-abortion policy, after an emotionally charged debate that focused on the volatile issues of race and a woman’s right to choose.

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Chicago postpones $898 million bond sale, eyes new structure – Reuters

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Paul Vallas ‘seriously considering’ mayoral run against Rahm Emanuel: report – Chicago Sun-Times

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Did Cook County’s failed soda tax cause sales taxes to fizzle, too? – Daily Herald

Cook County's short-lived penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages not only failed to bring in as much revenue as projected, but it might also have cost the county millions in sales tax revenue as consumers crossed county and state lines to buy their groceries.

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Mayor Emanuel Op-Ed: How Chicago worked with labor unions rather than step on them

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Five-year trade union contract teed up for final City Council vote – Chicago Sun-Times

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City will pay $115M to dancer who was paralyzed in O’Hare shelter collapse – Chicago Sun-Times

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Chicago Teacher Pension Payday: Top Earners in 2017 – WTTW

Comment: Major mistake in this article by quoting "average pension," which is misleadingly low. That includes those who worked only part of their career in CPS. Numbers have to be put on a full-career basis to be meaningful. Still, look at these numbers.

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A Poor Neighborhood In Chicago Looks To Cuba To Fight Infant Mortality – WBEZ

Cuba's infant mortality rate, at 4.3 per 1,000, is lower than the United States’ 5.7 per 1,000, according to the World Health Organization’s 2015 data. And Cuba’s rate is much better than the infant mortality rates in some of the poorest parts of the U.S. In the Englewood neighborhood, for instance, 14.5 babies per 1,000 do not reach their 1st birthday. That’s a rate comparable to war-torn Syria.

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Will Changes to the Obama Presidential Center Appease Activists? – WTTW

It looks like taxpayers will be shouldering at least $200 million in road improvements.

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Emanuel responds to ugly testimony by Water Management employees – Chicago Sun-Times

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Cook County repeal of soda tax was a mortal mistake – Opinion – Chicago Sun-Times

Comment: Nah, never mind.

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Voter registration drive held at Cook County Jail – Fox32

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Guess what else is key to the jobs boom? Public transit. – Kirk Dillard – Crain’s

RTA Chair Kirk Dillard: Mass transit is the "economic equalizer" that levels the playing field for job seekers because our transit system gives applicants from all over the region a chance at a good job—or, even better, their dream job.

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Algonquin Township officials in conflict over hire of 23-year-old deputy highway commissioner – Northwest Herald

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Oak Park property taxpayers’ lament: their local government spending has more than doubled in last 40 years – West Cook News

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Chicago’s securitization bonds face another test of their market appeal – The Bond Buyer/SourceMedia

Comment: Another $795 million sale of body parts coming up in an attempt to put bondholders ahead of taxpayers and service recipients if bankruptcy comes.

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Chicago tourism numbers hit record high, topping 55 million in 2017 – Chicago Tribune

Tourism in Chicago

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One more Burge-era claim looms, even after aldermen sign off on $9M settlement – Chicago Sun-Times

Already a $111 million mountain of Burge-related liabilities!

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Ice formations most common around super-cold Antarctica showed up in Chicago – The Washington Post

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State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s deals benefit benefactor Ald. Edward M. Burke – Chicago Sun-Times

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Dow’s historic rise is made in Chicago, led by Boeing and Caterpillar – Chicago Tribune

Well, sort of, anyway.

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Karen Lewis backs bid to dump anti-pop tax Cook County board member – Chicago Tribune

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Emanuel buys measure of labor peace with new union deals ahead of re-election bid – Chicago Tribune

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Chris Kennedy got it right: people of color are being pushed out of Chicago intentionally – Chicago Reader

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Candidate for Illinois attorney general robbed at gunpoint – Chicago Tribune

Aaron Goldstein, 42, and several members of his campaign team were in the middle of taking publicity shots when the robbery happened, according to Goldstein’s campaign manager. The robbery took place about 3:25 p.m. in the 4600 block of North Albany Avenue in Albany Park

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Prevailing wage is price city must pay for other reforms, mayoral aides say – Chicago Sun-Times

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New budget director as Chicago schools regroup following CEO’s departure – The Bond Buyer/SourceMedia

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Chicago Republican Party backs Ives in straw poll – Chicago City Wire

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Lavish Obama Center hits mounting opposition in Chicago as profs blast plans, ‘socially regressive’ ideas – Fox News

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Immigration agents descend on 7-Eleven stores in Illinois, 16 other states – ABC News

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Chicago’s 2018 Women’s March and what to know – Curbed Chicago

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Dorothy Brown runs out of excuses on e-filing – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

For 17 years — starting with her first bid for office in 2000 — Brown has been promising to modernize the filing system in the nation’s largest unified court system. Every election cycle, she boasts about how much she’s done and vows to finish the job soon. Yet last year, more than 60 percent of the county’s 178,000 civil filings were on paper. And the ones that are filed electronically might as well be on paper, because the digital documents aren’t immediately accessible. “Brown has not explained why she cannot implement any of the measures other state and federal courts have taken to provide access to e-filed complaints,” Kennelly wrote in granting a preliminary injunction instructing the clerk to make the filings available.

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Would-be Gutierrez successors disagree on Trump’s border wall-DACA deal – Chicago Sun-Times

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Private booters to get 21 percent fee hike – Chicago Sun-Times

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Illinois’ richest man pays Illinois’ richest price — ever — for a Gold Coast condo – Crain’s

Hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin paid $58.5 million for the top four floors of a Gold Coast condo building. It's the highest-priced home sale ever in the Chicago area, surpassing all other record sales by tens of millions of dollars.

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Massive Peoples Gas Pipeline Upgrade to Result in Higher Prices – WTTW

According to an estimate from the attorney general, the average gas bill this year is around $1,200 for a residential customer. That could skyrocket to around $2,000 by 2033, and to just under $3,000 by the year 2045.

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Illinois public safety pension funds outside Chicago fare no better – Bond Buyer

The unfunded liabilities of local government public safety funds outside Chicago nearly doubled over the last decade, eroding funded ratios to below 60%.

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Obama Foundation puts $350 million price tag on Presidential Center – Crain’s

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Chicago offers 5-year deal to snowplow operators following strike threat – IL Policy

Union officials have announced that the city of Chicago has offered city snowplow, garbage truck and other motor truck drivers a five-year contract, according to the Chicago Tribune.

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Chicago saw more big VC deals in 2017 – Crain’s

Chicago startups had more $10 million-plus investments in 2017 than in any of the past five years. There were 39 local deals of $10 million or more, topping the previous best showing, 34 in 2015. 2016 had 31 deals of $10 million or more. The increase in large, later-stage deals is a sign of further traction in the Chicago tech economy, as companies launched several years ago mature into larger organizations, able to attract more capital. In 2012 and 2013, there were just 19 deals of $10 million or more, according to PitchBook.

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Chicago Housing Authority: Chicago has not run away from CHA public housing – Letter – Chicago Sun-TImes

By Eugene Jones, CEO, Chicago Housing Authority

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The great CPS gift card scandal – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

The Chicago Public Schools watchdog recently reported that thousands of dollars’ worth of gift cards — intended as incentives for students and their families — were pilfered by school officials and employees. The cards, purchased by taxpayers, were used to pay a principal’s personal phone bill and a former CPS employee’s rent, to buy lobster lunches for teachers and party favors for a school clerk’s wedding reception, to pay for car detailing at a BMW dealership and layaway purchases at Kmart.

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Persistent pension pressures trigger a negative outlook on Cook County – The Bond Buyer/SourceMedia

S&P Global Ratings to shifted its outlook on Cook County, Illinois’ general obligation rating to negative from stable ahead of its plans to refund $100 million next week.

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Chicago Is Now Better Educated Than Its Suburbs – Chicago Magazine

A flood of college graduates has made Chicago one of the best-educated cities in America, but an unequal one as well.

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Betting site: Austin, Atlanta now share 3-in-1 odds of landing Amazon HQ2 – Austin Business Journal

Chicago's chances are 1/16, gamblers say.

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Why the Chicago Police Union is Fighting City Over Body Cameras – WTTW

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Federal Judge: Cook County courts clerk must give immediate public, press access to e-filed lawsuits – Cook County Record

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Controversial Obama Center garage moved: To be underground in Jackson Park – Chicago Sun-Times

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Google eyes adding thousands of jobs in new Chicago office – Crain’s

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Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown ordered to improve public access to electronic records – Chicago Tribune

Dorothy Brown A federal judge on Monday ordered Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown to provide media outlets with immediate access to electronically filed civil lawsuits, giving the clerk 30 days to make the change. Nearly 62 percent of the county’s roughly 178,000 civil filings last year were on paper. The clerk now has until June 30 to implement mandatory electronic filing in most civil cases.

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Rahm Emanuel locks in labor peace with 10,000 building trades workers – Chicago Sun-Times

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has locked in labor peace through the 2019 mayoral election with 10,000 unionized city workers in the building trades by guaranteeing them the “prevailing wage” in exchange for increased employee health care contributions. Chicago Federation of Labor President Jorge Ramirez refused to reveal the size of the five-year pay raise or specifics of the health care concessions. Comment: Watch for our article coming soon about what "prevailing wage" really means.

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Chicago Teachers Union: CPS’ proposed school closings would violate our contract – Chicago Sun-Times

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Letter from Some U of Chicao Faculty Objecting to Certain Elements of Obama Center

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Downtown hotels slipping from post-recession peak – Crrain’s

Weighed down by new supply that hit the market in 2017, revenue per available room at downtown hotels through November fell 2.6 percent year-over-year to $156.52, according to STR, a suburban Nashville, Tenn.-based research firm.

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Obama Foundation gives local minority-owned construction firms 51% stake – Chicago Sun-Times

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First CTA Fare Increases In 9 Years Takes Effect Sunday – CBS Chicago

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Predicting crime in Chicago – 60 Minutes – CBS

murder-9.jpg An experimental computer program is trying to prevent crime by predicting it. Chicago hopes it can reduce the city's gun violence and save lives.

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Agreement Reached With Snow Plow, Garbage Truck Drivers’ Union – CBS Chicago

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Harvey runs out of other people’s money — American Thinker

Comment: Adding to the madness, this is the city where a court ordered a tax increase specifically to fund pensions!  See our earlier article linked here.

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ParkChicago vendors ask judge to curb parking tickets class action; no ‘freedom from administrative inconvenience’ – Cook County Record

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328 Cook County employees laid off due to budget cuts, officials say – ABC Chicago

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How brutal is the Chicago cold? Even the rats are dying – Chicago Sun-Times

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Circuit Court Chief Chief Judge Tim Evans Sues Board President Toni Preckwinkle Over Budget – WBEZ

Evans wants the court to force Preckwinkle to give him his full budget of $290 million — not the $255 million county commissioners approved. Preckwinkle has said the county does not have the extra funds.

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After apartments flood downtown Chicago, building boom reaches suburbs – Chicago Tribune

Rental construction reached its highest level in more than a decade last year in the Chicago suburbs, and 2018 is shaping up as another busy year. More than 4,200 units were completed in 2017, and about 3,900 more units are projected for this year, according to data from Marcus & Millichap and MPF Research.

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Sears is closing over 100 more stores – CNBC

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Freeze-out: Government union strike could cripple Chicago this winter – IL Policy

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The gourmet lunch bunch and other school rip-off stories – John Kass – Chicago Tribune

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Chicago-Area Plumbers’ Phones Ring Off The Hook With Continuing Bitter Cold – CBS Chicago

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Chris Kennedy accuses Mayor Emanuel of pushing ‘people of color’ out of Chicago – Chicago Sun-Times

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CPS employees stole gift cards meant for students, watchdog says – Chicago Tribune

In one case, a principal of a school for vulnerable students stole presents of at least “$500 in gift cards that were donated to the students and were intended to help address their specialized needs,” Inspector General Nicholas Schuler’s office found. The same principal gave to an acquaintance 30 new backpacks filled with school supplies that had been donated, according to Schuler.

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Chicago Must Pay $5.6 Million to Ex-Gang Member’s Lawyers – INN

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Key Democrats ripped for sticking with Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios – IL Review

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Cronin: Merging two county offices a top issue – Daily Herald

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Private-sector jobs in Chicago reach 25-year high – Chicago Tribune

A 16.6 percent jump since the depths of the Great Recession in 2010 to the Illinois Department of Employment Security. That exceeds the U.S. average of 15.7 percent private-sector job growth during that period. In suburban Cook County, meanwhile, jobs grew just 7.5 percent during those eight years. It’s a different story in many areas outside the city. In northwest, west and south suburban Cook County, for example, private-sector employment is still lower than it was in 2007, just before the Great Recession.

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Illinois suspends Outcome Health’s agreement for EDGE tax breaks – Chicago Tribune

The state has suspended a tax credit agreement with Outcome Health — worth an estimated $6.1 million over a decade — in the wake of allegations that the tech company misled investors and advertisers.

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Union representing snow plow, garbage truck drivers sets strike vote for Sunday – Chicago Sun-Times

Teamsters Local 700 has scheduled a “contract meeting and possible strike vote” for 10 a.m. Sunday to protest the union’s displeasure with contracts talks with the city to replace a 10-year agreement that expired six months ago. Local 700 represents 2,032 city employees, the biggest chunk of the city’s unionized workforce outside police officers and firefighters.

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Cook County property tax prepayments reach $750 million. How high will they go? – Crain’s

As of midday today, a total of $757,023,249.27 in payments that ordinarily wouldn't be due for three months has arrived, according to Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas, who spent her New Year's Eve personally accepting payments from those who stopped by her office instead of filing electronically. "It's absolutely amazing."

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Downtown growth leads Chicago to highest job peak in decades – Crain’s

New figures released by the Illinois Department of Employment Security indicate the total number of private-sector, unemployment-insurance-covered jobs in the city grew by 168,000, or 16.6 percent, in the seven years ended this past March. The expansion was concentrated in the Loop and the Near North, West and South Side areas adjoining it, where the total number of jobs leapt nearly a quarter. But the action also is showing signs of spreading into outlying neighborhoods.

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Berrios and ‘The Silence of the Dems’ – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

It has been surprising, however, to watch the wagons circle to protect Berrios, again and again, year after year. Where are all the “reform-minded” progressive Democrats forcefully, publicly demanding change? Calling for his ouster? Denouncing a system that benefits the wealthy at the expense of the poor? They’re hiding, that’s where.

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More Chicago shooting victims being shot multiple times – Chicago Sun-Times

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Pace of Chicago immigration court slows to a crawl as record numbers navigate system – Chicago Tribune

The average wait time as recently as 2010 for a case to be processed in Immigration Court in Chicago was a little over one year. But it has increased each year since. By 2014 it was 733 days, and in the federal fiscal year that ended this fall, it had swelled to 1,019 days.

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Glennon: Best Chicago news in 2017? Historic low teen births – Illinois Review

A reprint of our article here.

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Suburban homeowners flock to prepay property tax bills to beat looming deadline – Daily Herald

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Chicago’s Emanuel reaps benefits of opposing Trump — as city problems fester – FOX News

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New York City on pace to record lowest murder tally in decades – CNN

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Chicago’s homicide total drops by over 100, but violence still ‘intolerably high’ – Chicago Tribune

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Apple’s flagship Chicago retail store wasn’t designed to handle snow – The Verge

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Cook County extends office hours for end-of-year rush to pre-pay property taxes – Chicago Sun-Times

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Chicago Firefighters Rescue Man From Clothing Donation Box – A.P.

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Combined value of homes in Chicago area is $821 billion – Crain’s

The combined value of all homes in the Chicago area rose to $821.3 billion in 2017, according to data released this morning. The total was up 5.8 percent for the year, better than the 4 percent increase in 2016, according to online real estate marketplace Zillow. Nationwide, the aggregate home value rose by 6.5 percent to $31.8 trillion.

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No Easy Fix For Chicago’s Debt Dereliction – Investors Business Daily

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Chicago’s dizzying alcohol taxes – Illinois Policy

chicago alcohol tax

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Property taxpayers in Chicago area scramble to pay bills by end of year before rules change – Chicago Tribune

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One-Third Of U.S. Homicide Spike Coming From 5 Chicago Neighborhoods – Daily Wire

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10 more cities sign on to Chicago climate pact – The Hill

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2018 to be another rough year for Chicago taxpayers – Chicago Tribune

Those looking for relief with the new year will be disappointed — the tax bite will continue in 2018. There’s another round of property tax hikes and an increase in the water and sewer tax. On top of that, the city is raising the monthly 911 fee and a CTA fare hike is in store.

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Case-Shiller Index: Home values on a strengthening streak – Crains

This house on Eastwood Avenue in Lincoln Square sold for $722,000 in October. - VHT Studios

Chicago-area home values picked up strength in October for the fifth month in a row, according to a national index.

The region's single-family home values were up 4.1 percent in October compared with the same month in 2016, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices. That was stronger than the September figure of 3.9 percent and the fifth consecutive month that was better than the one before, an indicator of gathering strength.

October's figure was the highest for the Chicago area since March, when home values were up 4.6 percent year-over-year.

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Experts Raise Their Forecast For Home Price Appreciation (but not in Chicago area) – ChicagoNow

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Opioid ‘epidemic’ prompts Cook County to sue drugmakers – Chicago Sun-Times

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Stalled Olive-Harvey College construction to resume — over budget and years late – Chicago Tribune

Along-stalled construction project touted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel as a centerpiece of his efforts to reform the city’s community colleges could be completed next fall, more than three years after its original timeline, officials said. Originally scheduled to open in spring 2015, the center at Olive-Harvey was partially built when state officials shut down construction that summer in response to the state’s budget crisis. For more than two years, the half-built building has sat vacant.completed and serve Chicagoans in a job-starved part of town. The project’s budget is $52 million — about $7 million more than city and state officials initially said it would cost.

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Chicago sees drop in Divvy income following expansion into, West sides – Chicago Tribune

Divvy income fell from $2.86 million in 2014 and $2.84 million in 2015 to $1.97 million in 2016, a 31 percent drop, according to the city Department of Transportation figures. The city said it is improving its outreach to get more people to try Divvy and expects its income for the program to be about as high this year as in 2015.

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Facing Fraud Allegations, Outcome Health Backs Out of River North HQ – Chicago Business Journal

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Northwestern President: 4 myths about safe spaces at NU and other campuses – Opinion – Chicago Tribune

Comment: Schapiro earned Northwestern a second-to-worst national ranking of 150 universities for tolerance of diversity of opinion. See our recent article on that linked here.

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Rahm’s 2017: Embarrassments, accomplishments — and a few lucky breaks – Chicago Sun-Times

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With no papers, no insurance, Maria relies on ‘angels’ in cancer fight – Chicago Sun-Times

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CNN Hero: Chicago cop spotlighted for helping kids in Parkway Gardens – Chicago Sun-Times

During her off hours, Officer Jennifer Maddox operates her own summer day camp for children in Parkway Gardens, a low-income housing development in Woodlawn.

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How to prepay property taxes in the suburbs – Daily Herald

It's a total mess. See our article on this linked here.

People Actually Waited In Line To Pay Property Taxes Early – CBS Chicago

Tens of thousands of people lined up to pay their taxes Thursday just days before Christmas, before the Republican tax bill goes into effect.

Chicago median home price dips in November, according to Illinois Association of Realtors – Crain’s

Comment: Keep in mind these number are just median prices which don't always mean much about the general direction of prices. Instead, they reflect...

From Relapse to Purpose: Program Provides More than Jobs – WTTW

Starting Thursday, Cook County probation officers will have a new place to refer some of the 20,000 people on probation. For many of them, finding work is critical to staying out of trouble with the law. The court’s new partnership with a Chicago nonprofit means that now, they’re not only finding new careers, but a new sense of purpose.

New tax may snare U of C—but not Northwestern – Crain’s

In the wake of the tax overhaul passed by Congress yesterday, the University of Chicago would likely have to pay a new 1.4 percent levy on its endowment investment income, but Evanston-based Northwestern would not, under the law's provisions. That's because the University of Chicago at the moment exceeds an endowment dollars-per-student ratio threshold, while Northwestern does not, based on recent figures.

Thousands of black students leave Chicago for other segregated districts – Chicago Reporter

In the past decade, Chicago’s public schools lost more than 52,000 black students. Now, the school district, which was majority black for half a century, is on pace to become majority Latino. Black neighborhoods like Austin have experienced some of the steepest student declines and most of the school closures and budget cuts.

Joliet will rent the prison – MySuburbanLife

Joliet is gaining some control of the prison that brought the city’s name to movie buffs and TV watchers for decades. The City Council on Tuesday voted to enter into a five-year lease that gives Joliet access and some responsibility for the Joliet Correctional Center, which the state shut down in 2002.

Chicago to pay $20 million to settle code-of-silence lawsuit over fatal crash caused by drunken cop – Chicago Tribune

Comment: These huge settlements seem like daily occurrences. Somebody needs to total them up.

Cook County Assessor Berrios Faces More Heat – WTTW

A government watchdog group is calling for oversight of Berrios and the way his office assesses property values. This comes as Berrios faces a lawsuit and condemnation by many public officials in his own party after recent investigations have revealed problems with how properties are assessed.

Is Chicago’s Dining Boom Over? – Chicago Magazine

Illustration by John Kenzie The boom of higher-end openings in Chicago over the past four years has depleted the available pool of waitstaff and kitchen help. What’s more, the fight for qualified workers has sent wages soaring, imperiling already thin margins. Add to that rising rents and property taxes, and the city’s restaurant industry is due for a reckoning. You read that right: staff shortages.

Chicago ends six-year rise in construction work – Crain’s

The Nobu Hotel going up in Fulton Market. - Danny Ecker

After climbing for six straight years, new construction projects in the Chicago area are on track to fall in 2017—and are projected to dip again next year.

Construction starts will finish the year down by about 7 percent compared with 2016, with firms on pace to have begun $12.5 billion in projects, according to New York-based research firm and publisher Dodge Data & Analytics.

While that is still twice the amount of work that was underway on the heels of the recession in 2011, it's a signal that the local construction industry may have peaked for the current cycle. Dodge forecasts construction starts in the area will decrease another 3 percent next year.

What does the tax bill mean for you? – Chicago Tribune

In light of the change, many Cook County accountants encourage taxpayers who pay more than $10,000 a year in such taxes to temporarily avoid the cap by prepaying property taxes this year that wouldn’t be due until March.

I got kicked out of diversity training – Opinion – Chicago Tribune

Things went south even before the workshop actually started, setting a poisonous tone. As the group got organized online, one member shared a screen grab from her Facebook feed, in which a stream of self-appointed diversity advocates pounced on a young woman who had shared her happiness about graduating from medical school. Almost immediately, someone minimized her accomplishment by attributing much of it to “white privilege.”

Highland Park hikes tax levy for pensions – Highland Park News

Comment: The list of other Illinois towns and cities doing the same goes on and on and on.

3 weeks into new budget, Kane County sheriff coming up short – Daily Herald

"(Inmates) probably get better medical services than you or I do," Kramer said. "But if you don't have good medical services, and someone has a beef with you, it's probably going to go to the federal courts. Lawsuits cost the county a lot of money."

Rahm Emanuel’s infrastructure trust: Is it a bust? – Chicago Sun-Times

The bold idea was that private financing could be found for much-needed, big-ticket improvements for the city, making it possible to get more of them done sooner and sparing taxpayers from having to foot the bills. City Hall says that still can happen.  But the infrastructure trust has fallen short of the expectations the mayor laid out. It has yet to raise a dime in private financing for a single public works project, records show. At the same time, it has cost Chicago taxpayers more than $5.1 million to pay for its handful of employees, offices on Wacker Drive, consulting fees and other expenses.

The board members of Evanston Township High School District 202 have no business throwing up roadblocks between the public and that information. That’s exactly what they’ve done by passing a resolution enjoining themselves from sharing memos and emails written by the superintendent and board president. Comment: The president of that school district is Pat Savage Williams. You'll be hearing more about her and her central role in "equity training" for area teachers.

Mundelein approves property tax hike to cover pension payments – Chicago Tribune

“Before we even started the process of working on the levy, we were already sitting in a hole of $1 million that we had to make up or figure out how to handle,” a village trustee said. “The pension contribution, every year it’s becoming more and more of a surprise.”

Lawsuit targets Berrios over biased residential assessments in Cook County – Chicago Tribune

Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios A group of public-interest lawyers filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging that embattled Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios violated state and federal civil rights and housing laws by knowingly producing inaccurate assessments that punished poor and minority homeowners across the county.

Chicago housing strength rises—from dead last – Crain’s

Of 100 big U.S. cities in the annual forecast Realtor.com released in late November, Chicago is expected to have the 84th-strongest residential real estate market in 2018, far better than this time last year, when Chicago placed dead last out of 100.

The forecast sees Chicago-area home prices rising by 2.57 percent during the year, up from last year's forecast, for a 1.9 percent increase. The improved forecast shows that "we see room for more price growth in Chicago," Vivas said.

Southland homeowners feel impact of Cook’s flawed assessment system – Chicago Tribune

Comment: The bigger problem in the south suburbs is the rates, not the assessment process. For that, you'd think the Tribune would use their own database of real, effective rates, rather than the confusing nominal rates used here. See our earlier article on that linked here.

List of Top 200 Pension Earners Shows Potential for Big Payouts – WTTW

It’s no surprise that working for the city can land someone a pretty sweet retirement deal. A taxpayer watchdog group Tuesday released a list of the top 200 pension earners in Chicago, and all of them make more than six figures annually. The top earner on that list could make more than $7 million off of taxpayers over his lifetime.

GOP tax overhaul will hit these Chicago-area home values hardest – Crain’s

Home values in several Chicago-area counties would take some of the biggest hits in the nation under the tax rewrite in front of Congress, according to a national forecast.

Lake, McHenry, Will and DuPage are listed among the 30 U.S. counties that will lose the most potential growth in home values if the tax package goes through, according to a report released last week by Moody's Analytics.

Emanuel calls Chicago a ‘Trump-free zone’ on ‘The Late Show with Stephen Colbert’ – ABC Chicago

Click to insert. Emanuel described Chicago as welcoming for immigrants from around the world and explained why local police are not enforcing federal immigration laws.

Why the average tax bill is set to drop $670 for District 303 homeowners – Daily Herald

The vote St. Charles Unit District 303 taxpayers have been waiting for finally arrived Monday night. Grins accompanied a sense of mission accomplished as school officials voted in a levy that will bring significant savings in local tax bills.

Chicago police union official blasts $31 million wrongful conviction settlement as part of ‘cottage industry’ – Chicago Tribune

“What is happening in this city is that the civil rights lawyers have carved out a cottage industry in the name of wrongful convictions,” Preib told aldermen. “They look to this chamber as their blank check. Their playbook is simple: they claim police misconduct, get the prosecutors to exonerate, draft a willing media and then manipulate the citizens of Chicago out of their tax money.”

Who wants to attend Zombie High in CPS? – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

There’s a vital job that remains unfinished: closing Chicago high schools hit by shriveling enrollment and faltering academics. There are at least 17 schools on that list, according to a recent analysis by Tribune reporters Juan Perez Jr. and Jennifer Smith Richards.

Elgin residents facing multitude of tax and fee hikes – Illinois Policy

Comment: Just another in the deluge of similar stories coming from municipalities across the state, which we wrote about last week.

Schools, companies move to fill massive aviation employee shortage – Daily Herald

With the need to fill millions of new aviation jobs over the next two decades, schools and companies in the suburbs are priming the pipeline for high school students to fill the shortage.

State expands plan to add toll lanes on I-55 – Chicago Tribune

Bruce Rauner and IDOT last year proposed adding one express toll lane in each direction for the 25-mile stretch between I-355 and I-90/94, to be built by private companies. The stretch starts at Bolingbrook and touches such southwest suburbs as Burr Ridge, Hodgkins and Summit, plus Chicago’s Southwest Side. IDOT has now upped the ante and proposes having two new toll lanes in each direction from I-90/94 in the city to I-294, with one toll lane in each direction from I-294 to I-355.

Backlog in Illinois appeals system is a case of injustice – Editorial – Chicago Sun-Times

A legal backlog has grown so lengthy that some defendants are getting hearings on their appeals only after they have already completed their sentences. See our Quicktake on this linked here.

Illinois’ pension crisis: Danville’s candid approach – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

Danville instituted a $267 annual fee to help shore up its depleted police and fire pension fund, which is $105 million in the hole. The city calls it a “public safety pension fee,” but you may as well call it the “Illinois is a dumpster fire” fee. Appropriately, Danville collects this money as part of the monthly sewer and garbage charge.

Illinois county aims to wean pensions from newly-elected officials – INN

The McHenry County Board decided last year that it would no longer offer Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund pensions to its new members. Now the board is looking to wean countywide elected officials such as the sheriff, clerk and others off of the defined-benefit plan as well.

New nonprofit aims to promote area economy – Crain’s

The city has World Business Chicago, the state has Intersect Illinois, and now the metropolitan region is trying for a new public-private partnership to promote economic development. A four-year-old working group representing seven counties and Chicago has incorporated and plans to launch early next year as the Chicago Regional Growth Corporation. The wild card is funding, which the group is raising now.

Investment bank with Emanuel ties comes to Chicago – Crain’s

One of the firm's founding partners, Joe Perella, was Mayor Rahm Emanuel's boss when they worked at financial advisory firm Wasserstein Perella nearly 20 years ago.

Chicago Park District Budget: Analysis and Recommendations – The Civic Federation

The Civic Federation supports the Park District's FY2018 budget because it reduces the District’s reliance on prior year fund balance, implements savings and efficiencies and reduces the size of the District’s workforce. At the same time, the District plans to increase the level of funding to its pension plan.

Commerial Breakdown – Chicago Tribune

Part 4 of the Tribune's special reports on Cook County property taxes: Under Joseph Berrios, assessments of commercial and industrial properties defy logic, punish taxpayers and enrich lawyers

Chicago Issues AAA-Rated Debt Despite City’s Junk-Rating – Bloomberg

"The corporation is a separate corporate existence and is bankruptcy remote from the city,” Carole Brown, Chicago’s chief financial officer and the president of the corporation, said in a roadshow presentation to investors."

Judge orders temporary restraining order for Cook County court layoffs – Chicago Sun-Times

Lawyers representing the Office of the Chief Judge Timothy Evans argued Tuesday to stave off the mass terminations and for the county to provide at least $290 million to the office for the 2018 budget — over $40 million more than he’s already slated to receive.

Chicago wants to shake COFINA comparisons ahead of securitization – The Bond Buyer/SourceMedia

Chicago hits the market this week with its inaugural sales tax securitization bonds, pushing hard to distinguish the new credit from its own battered bond ratings and quash comparisons to Puerto Rico?s bankruptcy-tainted sales tax credit.

Group At University Of Chicago Demands School Pay Reparations For Slavery – Daily Wire

A group a the University of Chicago is demanding that the school pay reparations to students whose families suffered as a result of slavery, because of the school's historical ties to politician Stephen Douglas.

Good times roll on for suburban apartment landlords – Crain’s

Demand for apartments soared after the recession, as fewer people bought homes in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Demand has remained strong amid an expanding economy and job market, the primary driver of apartment demand. In the suburbs, the median net rent has risen nearly 23 percent over the past five years.

How Cash-Strapped Chicago Snagged a Triple-A Rating for Its New Bonds – Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal

Comment: We wrote frequently here, warning about the dangers, as authorization for this moved through the legislature. The press ignored it.

Unions lost the soda tax fight. Do they want still more layoffs? – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

'Don’t look now, but perhaps the soda tax controversy stirred more than consumer rebellion. Maybe it finally will bring about meaningful, structural, necessary downsizing of a government designed for the 19th century. Taxpayers can hope."

Fox Valley charities unsure about impact of proposed tax code changes – Chicago Tribune

Tax plans endorsed by the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives would increase the standard deduction and remove the power to write off some local taxes paid. Some experts and charities have said they fear the legislation could drive down charitable giving because it would reduce the number of taxpayers who itemize deductions, including donations.

Comparison of CTA Productivity Measures and Fares – The Civic Federation

Productivity has declined because ridership, which fell by 2.6% on average each year, has not kept pace with labor costs, which grew by 2.0% on average each year.

Don’t let California become Chicago – Orange County Register

"It may be too late for Chicago as it seems destined to suffer the same fate as Detroit."  

Chicago raised its minimum wage two years ago, but some still earn less. Here’s why. – Chicago Tribune

Enforcement of Chicago’s minimum wage ordinance — which passed exactly three years ago on Dec. 2, 2014, and gradually raises the wage to $13 an hour by 2019 — remains a work in progress. But there’s also this massive loophole: The city considers nearly 100 professions, including private security firms, to be exempt from the city wage ordinance because they’re regulated by the state. That means those businesses only have to pay workers the state’s minimum wage, $8.25 an hour, instead of the city’s, which is currently $11 an hour. This came as news to the state.

Chicago Startups Raised $184M in Venture Funding in November – ChicagoInno

https://www.americaninno.com/chicago/funding-chicago/chicago-startups-raised-184m-in-venture-funding-in-november/

Chief judge files action against Cook County Board – Chicago Sun-Times

Chief Cook County Judge Timothy Evans made good Thursday on his promise to sue to block 2018 budget cuts planned by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle that would hit the court system hard.

Chicago’s Debt Dereliction – City Journal

About that new form of borrowing authorized by the state for Chicago and other muncipalities. Wirepoints has been warning about this since it was...

Gutierrez: From chopping up ‘pig innards’ to owning $1.1M second home – Chicago Sun-Times

And assuming Gutierrez completes this final term in Congress in January 2019, he would have served 25 years in Washington and be eligible for a full pension of about $67,860 per year.

Timing, politics and payout lead up to Gutierrez resignation – WGN

WGN Investigates also found in Gutierrez` federal election commission filings payments to his wife. Soraida Gutierrez stood with her husband today. She’s listed as a treasurer, manager and fundraiser for the campaign. Gutierrez has paid her as a campaign aide for years, but the amount has increased in recent months. So far this year she`s received $42,000. In the last 10 years, she`s made more than $79,000 from the campaign.

Is O’Hare express train plan real? – Crain’s

The CTA terminal at O'Hare Airport - bclinesmith via Wikimedia Commons Whatever you call it, the city is taking the next step toward creating a true express train to O'Hare International Airport, issuing a formal Request for Qualifications for someone who might be interested in designing, building, financing and operating a super-fast rail link between downtown and the airport.

Chicago Announces New Tax Breaks To Attract Major New York, LA Shootings – The Onion

“The city has already proven itself to be a big player, but these new incentives will ensure that Chicago stays at the forefront of gun-related violence for decades,” said Emmanuel.

Chicago and Cook County sue Uber over 2016 data breach – Chicago Tribune

San Francisco-based Uber disclosed last week that the personal data of 57 million customers and drivers globally were exposed last year, and that it had paid hackers $100,000 to keep quiet about stealing the personal information.

Illinois Supreme Court’s health care ruling will cost City of Chicago retirees – Chicago Sun-Times

In a six-word ruling on Thanksgiving eve, the Illinois Supreme Court refused to hear the retirees’ appeal of a state Appellate Court ruling that essentially upheld Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s now-completed, three-year phase-out of retiree health care coverage and a 55 percent city subsidy for anyone who did not retire by Aug. 23, 1989.

Apartment landlords’ new pitch: Let’s make a deal! – Crain’s

Many landlords are offering prospective tenants two months' free rent, gift cards and other goodies as they try to fill up their buildings in an overbuilt downtown market. After enduring years of rent hikes, renters are gaining leverage over landlords as the supply of apartments outstrips demand.

Local schools ease enrollment to help Puerto Rican students get back to class – Chicago Tribune

CPS published information online in November, and school officials said the district waived enrollment boundaries for students from Puerto Rico.

Chicago Immigration Raid Leaves Swiss Baker Scrambling to Restaff – Bloomberg

A Swiss maker of hamburger buns for McDonald’s Corp. said it’s struggling to run a Chicago bakery after it lost a third of its workers in a clampdown on 800 immigrants without sufficient documentation.

This City Hall, brought to you by Amazon – The Seattle Times

"Chicago has offered to let Amazon pocket $1.32 billion in income taxes paid by its own workers. This is truly perverse. Called a personal income-tax diversion, the workers must still pay the full taxes, but instead of the state getting the money to use for schools, roads or whatever, Amazon would get to keep it all instead. 'The result is that workers are, in effect, paying taxes to their boss.'"

Will Chicago Close Another 50 Schools? – WBEZ

Nearly five years after shuttering a record number of under-enrolled schools, Chicago once again confronts the same stark realities: plummeting enrollment and more than 100 half-empty school buildings, most on the city’s South and West sides, according to a WBEZ analysis of school records.

Chicago is buying into bitcoin in a big way – Crain’s

Bitcoin backers have created one of the most volatile, active markets on earth—and Chicago's trading community wants in. CME Group and Cboe Global Markets—two of the biggest exchanges in the world—each proposed a new bitcoin futures contract in recent months. When the contracts launch, the Chicago companies will convert trading to fees.

Stalled Schaumburg hotel project seeks tax – Daily Herald

Schaumburg trustees have unanimously recommended the village's endorsement of a Cook County tax incentive to save a two-hotel project that has already been approved but is financially stalled

More needless referendums to crowd Chicago ballot in 2018 – Illinois Policy

Chicago City Council continues its tradition of putting popular but toothless measures on the ballot to protect incumbent power and block real reform.

Is the Downtown Apartment Bubble Bursting? – Chicago Magazine

The pool deck of Optima Signature in Streeterville

With an expected 5,000 new rental units in the first quarter of 2018, some developers are offering up to three months rent free to lure new tenants.

   

City Council approves Emanuel’s $8.6 billion budget on 47-3 vote – Chicago Sun-Times

See our Quicktake linked here about what's left out here: an admission by Rahm that he has no answer about how to pay the coming ramp up in taxpayer contributions to the pensions.

Analysis Grades Chicago On Chances to Land 2nd Amazon HQ, And it Doesn’t Look Good – NBC Chicago

Chicago gets an “F” for stability in a new analysis grading big cities' chances to lure Amazon in its quest to find a second headquarters that's sparked a bidding war across the nation.

McHenry County Board members offer up IMRF pension alternative for elected officials – Northwest Herald

A pair of McHenry County Board members have put together a proposal encouraging countywide elected officials to enroll in private retirement plans rather than plans through the state’s pension system.

Emanuel’s 2018 Chicago budget surrounded by red flags – Chicago Sun-Times

Comment: Oh, jeez, another article calling the budget "balanced."

Aldermen, start asking: What’s in those labor contracts? – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

Here’s something that’s not a done deal: the collective bargaining agreements currently being negotiated with dozens of city unions. Why aren’t aldermen sounding off about that?

FOIA fight will cost College of DuPage, foundation $500,000 – Chicago Tribune

An unsuccessful legal battle to prevent the release of a federal subpoena will cost the College of DuPage and its foundation more than $500,000 after a court ruling Friday. Nearly half of that amount — about $225,000 — is a reimbursement of legal fees to the Chicago Tribune after the college and its foundation failed to turn over the subpoena, a refusal that prompted the news organization to sue for the document’s disclosure two years ago.

Chicago schools sell $1 billion bonds with lower market penalty – Reuters

The junk-rated Chicago Board of Education completed an up-sized bond sale on Thursday with a pricing that indicated an easing in the municipal market penalty the district has been forced to pay due to its deep financial problems.

U of C, Northwestern face new tax under GOP plan – Crain’s

Under the proposed House bill, the University of Chicago and Northwestern University, among other private schools, would be required to pay a new 1.4 percent tax on net investment income earned from their endowments.

South suburban school chief suspected of looting low-income lunch program to fund lavish lifestyle – Chicago Tribune

Lighthouse Christian Academy Court records made public this week show that Pamela Strain is suspected of using the small, nonprofit school she founded in 2005 to loot as much as $2.7 million in funds over a seven-year period, including money from federal school lunch subsidies and other grants designed to provide nutritious food to low-income children. Strain, 60, allegedly used the funds to pay for a lavish lifestyle, including her home and other properties, luxury cars, spas, salons and shopping sprees at stores such as Victoria’s Secret and Macy’s, according to an FBI search warrant affidavit unsealed in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

Chicago could lose out on Mars Wrigley candy HQ after $30 million N.J. bid – Chicago Tribune

Chicago could land the new U.S. headquarters for Mars Wrigley Confectionery, but Newark, N.J. might have the sweeter offer after officials in that state approved more than $30 million in tax credits Tuesday. The candy company, a unit of privately held Mars, is considering both Illinois and New Jersey for its U.S. headquarters. Hundreds of jobs are at stake in the decision. If Mars Wrigley selects New Jersey, Chicago — already home to the company’s global headquarters and other operations — could lose some 200 jobs that would be shifted to Newark and another site in New Jersey, according to a New Jersey Economic Development Authority board document summarizing the project.

Top of residential housing market limping toward the end of sluggish year – Crain’s

Buyers and sellers at the tip-top of the real estate market often do not make real estate decisions for the same practical reasons as people lower down the ladder. Nevertheless, Ames said, "what's happening at that end is symptomatic of what's happening across the board: hesitance about the real estate market because of the financial instability in the state."

Aldermen attempt to strip CTA, CPS funding from Emanuel’s budget – Chicago Sun-Times

Chicago aldermen have been complaining for weeks about the dangerous precedent Mayor Rahm Emanuel is setting by assuming more financial responsibility for the CTA and Chicago Public Schools and giving those agencies a “blank check” without City Council control.

Chicago poised to divert millions of tax dollars to private health provider – Illinois Policy

The Chicago Department of Planning and Development, or DPD, is evaluating a lucrative deal with Presence Health, Illinois’ largest Catholic health care network.

Advocate for lower property taxes faces dangerous backlash – Illinois Policy

Local barber Bob Anderson has endured two attempts at intimidation since being elected to the McHenry Township Board on a platform of consolidation.

So the unions and the giant rat don’t want more Illinois jobs? – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

State Rep. Michael McAuliffe, R-Chicago, was out of town Wednesday morning when a neighbor called with some news. Union members were protesting outside his under-construction Northwest Side home with signs, a billboard truck and a two-story inflatable rat squatting in the parkway.

DePaul preemptively deflates ‘free speech ball’ event – Campus Reform

DePaul University administrators forbade the school’s Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) chapter from hosting a “free speech ball” event on October 10, because it would create “an environment which invites hate.”  

Group that ripped Emanuel loses prominent board member – Crain’s

Leaving the board of Truth in Accounting is Rick Jasculca, a political consultant and publicist and prominent Democrat. He says he learned of the organization's decision to give Chicago finances an F in an email shortly before the report was issued and says he was "disturbed" that it left out details of what Emanuel has done to fill a pension hole that was "decades in the making."

U of C study gives charter high schools a performance edge – Crain’s

Researchers have been battling over that for years, and now a new report, linked here,  from the University of Chicago's Consortium on School Research comes down solidly in the middle of that debate, appearing to give charters an edge, but one that doesn't always hold up and one that strongly varies with the quality of the charter involved.

BROWN: Fast Eddie’s big secret still safe with him – Chicago Sun-Times

Prosecutors indicated for the first time Monday they have information Vrdolyak made cash payments exceeding $1 million to unnamed “individuals and entities” in connection with his own unexplained payday in the state’s $9.3 billion tobacco lawsuit settlement.

Is this the beginning of the end for Metra? – Crain’s

Fare hikes have become routine for Metra riders after four consecutive annual increases. But the hike approved by Metra's board last week is different. It comes with service cuts, marking the first time in many years that the commuter rail agency has reduced service for financial reasons. Along with $17 million in fare increases, Metra is eliminating or curtailing a handful of trains.

Chicago securitization bond pitch to investors begins in earnest – The Bond Buyer/SourceMedia

Comment: This is the one where the city sold $660 million a year in city sales tax revenue for 40 years to get $3 billion now. "The pitch begins with the borrower’s name – the Sales Tax Securitization Corporation – which lacks Chicago in the title, investors noted." Well, that was wise.

RTA orders CTA to raise fares – Crain’s

The agency that provides the bulk of the Chicago Transit Authority's operating subsidies is more or less ordering it to raise fares—the latest sign that the first general CTA fare hike since 2009 is on the way.

The Great Progressive Tax Escape – $ – WSJ

Between 2012 and 2015 (the most recent data), a net $8.5 billion in adjusted gross income left New Jersey while $6.2 billion poured out of Connecticut—4% of the latter state’s total income. Illinois lost $13.6 billion. During that period, Florida with no income tax gained $39.3 billion in AGI. (See the nearby table.) The prospect of future tax hikes appears to have propelled an exodus of high earners from Illinois, which has a relatively low and flat 4.99% income tax. This millionaires’ diaspora has harmed income and economic growth. Real GDP between 2011 and 2016 grew annually at a paltry 0.2% in Connecticut, 1% in Illinois and 1.2% in New Jersey, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. These states were the slowest growing in their respective geographic regions, though other high tax states in the Northeast didn’t fare much better. As a result, revenues have repeatedly fallen short of projections in New Jersey, Illinois and Connecticut while budget deficits have ballooned.

A cure for Cook County’s FMLA flu – Editorial – Chicago Tribune

Cook County Jail "We’ve written many times about the spikes in absenteeism that coincide suspiciously with holidays, major sporting events and snowstorms. New Year’s Eve, the Super Bowl, the Kentucky Derby, the NCAA football championship game. ... Each time, most of those who called in sick claimed intermittent FMLA."

Feds: Man threatened to make Vrdolyak’s secret deal ‘front page news’ – Chicago Sun-Times

The Chicago attorney indicted along with former Chicago Ald. Edward Vrdolyak once threatened to sue the ex-politician, make “front page news” and “open a can of worms” over a secret deal that has so far netted them over $10 million, federal prosecutors say.

Aldermen vent their anger about giving CTA a ‘blank check’ – Chicago Sun-Times

Chicago aldermen on Monday pushed back hard against the idea of giving the CTA a “blank check” — by raising ride-hailing fees to bankroll $180 million in CTA improvements — without more control over CTA finances.

For your entertainment: Latest Chicago tax hike hits concerts, theater – Illinois Policy

Faced with yet another budget deficit, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago City Council have decided to raise taxes again. This time in the form of the amusement tax on concerts and theater.