The [Friday] Papers
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel has spending authority over millions of dollars in private donations left from the NATO summit, giving him a powerful new tool to reward projects and causes he supports, the Tribune has learned," the paper reports.
"The private donations were raised by Emanuel allies to help cover the city's share of hosting the May gathering of world leaders in Chicago, and officials have only said that any remaining money - currently as much as $14.9 million - would be spent on undefined NATO 'legacy' projects.
"But this week, the mayor's office and officials at World Business Chicago, the city's economic-development arm, confirmed that Emanuel will decide how to dole out the money."
I have a few ideas:
* Um, give the money back.
* Use the money to pay for the legal defenses of arrested protesters.
* Slip something extra into the envelopes of compliant reporters and editors.
* Um, give the money back.
"The first sign of how Emanuel wants to spend the money came Aug. 15, when the mayor announced he was contributing $150,000 from the NATO donations to the Illinois DREAM Fund, a state program to create college scholarships for undocumented students who are in the country illegally."
Um, good cause but what does that have to do with NATO?
"The controversial program is popular with fellow Democrats as well as Latinos who make up an increasingly strong political constituency."
"It is difficult to ascertain how much money is in the fund because it is not public and officials have declined to reveal much."
So, like the city's TIF accounts.
"'It's very unusual to have one person have that much discretion' anymore," Judy Nadler of Santa Clara University's Markkula Center for Applied Ethics told the paper. "Most places have eliminated the slush fund fundraising - we didn't call it a 'slush fund,' we called it an 'officeholder's account.'"
Around here, we call it The Chicago Way.
"In the past, Emanuel has said he would dedicate casino funds to fixing Chicago's aging infrastructure, including schools."
In other words, Emanuel wants to help the kids with money their parents lose playing slots. I have to admit, the man's got vision.
Speaking Of Infrastructure
"The funding, which is part of the governor's six-year, $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! capital program, will fund the repair of municipal, township and county infrastructure and improve public safety. Illinois Jobs Now! has created or supported more than 140,000 jobs since 2009."
I thought the old way of funding infrastructure was dead, and that's why we needed Rahm's trust. I mean, I was under the impression that no infrastructure was being funded anywhere in the country anymore because the old way was dead, we couldn't depend on Washington, etc. etc. That wasn't true?
Speaking Of The Old Way
Alternate headline: Rockford Beats Rahm.
"Woodward Inc. will receive up to $49 million in state incentives to expand into Loves Park," the Rockford Register Star reports.
"The bulk of that incentive package - up to $45 million - will come through potential income tax breaks spread out over 15 years. Those tax credits are provided through the state's Economic Development for a Growing Economy program and are dependent upon the amount of jobs created and retained by Woodward.
"An additional $4 million will be provided for capital projects - to help Woodward buy land and build its new facility - and train new employees. That money will be provided immediately, while the EDGE tax credits will be given out annually."
And how much of the company will taxpayers own in exchange for their investment?
But that's not all!
"The new 300,000 square-foot facility will also open in a tax increment finance district."
"That means the site's property taxes will be frozen. As Woodward builds and improves the property, it increases its value. But, instead of paying the increases in property taxes, called the increment, to local taxing bodies, that money will be pooled and used to develop the property."
Local taxing bodies like the local school district. Oops!
Unmentioned in news reports: Woodward is a $2.5 billion company. Billion. They don't need our $49 million - but the people of Illinois certainly do.
"The financial packages played a role, but the biggest factors, the company said, were the proximity to its existing aircraft turbine systems plant and offices in Loves Park and nearby Rockton, and the availability of a skilled workforce," the Tribune reports.
"'There's an aerospace cluster in the Rockford area,' said Sagar Patel, president of Woodward's Aircraft Turbine Systems, noting the presence of aircraft systems firm Hamilton Sundstrand and 'an extended supply chain.' The result is a deep pool of aerospace engineers, he said."
So would the company have made the same choice for $39 million? $29 milliion? $0 million? We may never know, but is Pat Quinn the guy you want at the poker table?
"State Rep. Jack Franks, D-Woodstock, said the state needs to devise a systematic way to analyze incentive packages before agreeing to award them, claiming Quinn's current practice is 'willy-nilly.'
"'It may be a good deal for the taxpayers, but how will we ever know?' Franks said."
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Posted on August 24, 2012
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