The [Tuesday] Papers
"Chicago Public Schools said it will tap into $21.5 million in surplus tax increment financing funds to hire extra teachers for arts and daily physical education classes," the Tribune reports.
On one hand, yay!
On the other, further evidence - as if any was needed - that TIF is just a slush fund for the mayor. This isn't in any way what the collection of these funds is meant to be used for under state law.
"Last week, the financially strapped district announced that it planned to finally comply with state requirements for daily physical education for kindergarten through 12th grade. Officials said how the extra gym classes would be paid for was still being worked out.
"Now officials say TIF money allocated by the city in November will be used to pay for 84 physical education teachers and 84 art teachers for schools in need. Many of those same positions were cut earlier this school year by principals facing declining enrollment and cuts to their budgets."
Further evidence - as if any was needed - that the CPS not only lacks cohesive long-range planning, but lacks cohesive short-range planning too.
"Teachers, students, parents and activists from two dozen Chicago schools descended on the Board of Education Wednesday to protest what they say are 'deep, painful' budget cuts at local schools," WBEZ reported last June.
"Speakers Wednesday urged board members to use their political clout to demand that TIF funds destined for developers be channeled back to education.
"But board member Andrea Zopp said it was 'magical thinking' to assume there's a pot of money hidden somewhere."
Well, as long as at least one city official said that.
"One of Bixi's U.S. customers says the cash-strapped Montreal company is not fulfilling key obligations of its contract to supply bike-sharing equipment and software," the Montreal Gazette reported in October.
"Nice Ride Minnesota has filed a 'notice of material breach' of the purchase agreement it signed in 2010 with the Public Bike System Co., the city-of-Montreal-controlled firm behind Bixi.
"Nice Ride will not say how Bixi is alleged to have breached the agreement. Such notices are sometimes a first step toward a lawsuit or a contract termination."
At least one Chicago official, though, said to just ride along; nothing to see here.
"Montreal has said Bixi is $42 million in debt, running a deficit of $6.5 million and owed $5 million by cities that purchased systems.
"The city has dismissed speculation that Bixi is on the brink of bankruptcy."
Or, at least one city official did.
Of course, airlines still fly planes while in bankruptcy. Just make sure your Divvy bike can outrun the repo man.
"Vancouver will review its proposed but already-delayed bike-share program after Bixi Bikes, the supplier, filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday," the Vancouver Sun reports.
"Bixi, a non-profit company controlled by the City of Montreal, filed for protection after the city demanded repayment of a $37-million loan. Montreal taxpayers are also on the hook for a $6.4-million line of credit to the company, and Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre says Bixi owes the city about $48 million."
Apparently Montreal doesn't have a magical pot of TIF money to dip into.
"Vancouver delayed the proposed rollout until early 2014 because Alta and Bixi hadn't met the city's financial conditions, including providing a sound business plan."
But this is the same plan we sold Chicago on!, at least one Bixi official exclaimed.
"Bixi began operations in 2008 and Montreal became a major shareholder. The company expanded into international sales, but now that global arm is dragging it down, as foreign customers owe Bixi $5.6 million.
"Other cities are not paying because they are not happy with delays in promised updates in back-end software. New York City owes $3 million, Chicago $2.6 million."
"The city's department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection set the starting bid for the licenses at an eye-popping $360,000 apiece - nearly twice what it was when the city last auctioned medallions in 2010. That time around, the winning bids were made public within a month of the auction.
"The BACP promised similarly to publicize results of the more recent auction within weeks of the end of the bidding period. But WBEZ received a response on Friday to a Freedom of Information Act request about the bids. The city still appears to be far from publicizing the results of the auction.
"'No information or documents may be released until all medallion sales have closed,' the letter states. 'Therefore, at this point in time, the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection cannot disclose any bid submission documents.'"
In other words, something went wrong and we haven't fixed it yet. But we're hiring back some cab drivers to teach gym!
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Posted on January 21, 2014
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