The [Wednesday] Papers
4. "Illinois in 2011 is on pace to provide much more money in financial incentive programs to businesses to retain and add jobs, with the total through early May exceeding $230 million pledged to 27 companies," the Tribune reports.
"That is nearly the amount pledged all of last year by Illinois to keep corporations from leaving the state or to attract businesses to relocate or expand here, the Tribune has learned."
Here's the best part:
"The identities of 21 of the 27 companies receiving a total $53.1 million were not disclosed in a list provided to the Tribune on Tuesday by the state's Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity."
Yes, there is an explanation . . .
"The company names weren't released because of nondisclosure agreements with the companies, because contracts have not been finalized or because employees had not been told of plans at the companies in question, department spokeswoman Marcelyn Love said in a statement."
. . . but please, it's our money. Shouldn't these things be discussed publicly first?
"Face it, we're hostages," Rich Miller writes. "It's distasteful as all get-out, but we're basically left with no good choices. And the more deals we cut, the more deals we'll have to cut. Until we can overcome our serious, long-standing problems, we're at their mercy - and corporate CEOs are not generally known to have an abundance of that human quality."
I beg to differ. If the the more deals we cut just invites more deals we'll have to cut, any economic reasoning goes out the window. Besides, everyone knows you don't negotiate with terrorists. And if we're hostages, those taking us hostage are terrorists - the economic kind.
It's also not clear that there is an economic reason to make these deals. Just under Miller's column he includes a link to a Trib story with the subhead:" Critics say states, in push to attract businesses, often do more harm than good, with few jobs created and money wasted."
And if CEOs aren't known for their mercy, maybe out elected officials from the president on down should pound some into them, instead of palling around with them at cocktail parties.
Are you with America, Mr. CEO, or are you against? Are you with Illinois, or against? Are you on the side of the taxpayer, or against? Do you want government out of your business? Then get out of ours.
Finally, it seems to me a case could be made that these subsidies are - or could be made - illegal. Taxpayer money isn't supposed to be spent for private gain, right? Subsidizing corporations isn't the job of government. Taxing them to pay for the benefits they enjoy when they receive their charter is. We've got it backwards.
6. From a faithful Beachwood reader:
"I've been reading all the coverage of Emanuel's first full day in office and I'm starting to wonder, is it really a $75M cut in the budget if $31M of it is better grant management? That's not a cut in spending, it's more aggressive tapping of outside funds, and it relies on getting others, who may also be tapped out, to foot the bill. There's no guarantee that the money will actually be found, is there?"
Shhh. You just don't say such things around here. Get with the program.
7. "Chicago has a new mayor, Rahm Emanuel, who is impatient as all get-out to fix the city's public schools, make dangerous neighborhoods safe and create more jobs," the Sun-Times opines.
Gee, even more impatient than Richard M. Daley was to do the same for 22 years? Good thing we didn't elect someone with more patience!
The Sun-Times's Rahm rapture is in the service of supporting a new Chicago casino, which is one of the all-time bad ideas.
"The big casino being contemplated would bring the city an estimated local revenue share of $300 million to $400 million, create some 2,000 jobs and have a ripple effect on hotels, restaurants and other businesses."
First job in journalism? Because it only takes a few months in this career to learn that these kind of estimates are wildly inflated, if not outright fabricated.
"We have long supported in concept a casino for Chicago, with caveats. It would have to be located where it naturally draws the tourist trade, not Joe Blow from down the block gambling away his rent money."
Like downtown, which is traditionally difficult for Joe Blow to find.
"A recent Associated Press story quoted a Chicago man who said he gambles at a casino in Gary because it doesn't ban smoking.
"Maybe. But we suspect that this Chicago man does not do his gambling in Chicago because there is no casino in Chicago.
"Let's shorten his commute."
To a tourist area?
"The Illinois Gaming Board would have to have a strong say in the casino's operations to fend off organized crime."
"And the city's 'take' would have to be large."
Well, just from the parking meters alone . . .
10. One Love, Wild Hare. You made us feel alright.
The Beachwood Tip Line: One love.
Posted on May 18, 2011
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