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The [Wednesday] Papers

"A legislative panel is likely to approve a proposed increase in check-cashing fees at its Feb. 13 meeting. Opponents say the increase will disproportionately hurt lower-income people of color . . . who have been driven out of mainstream banking by high fees and into currency exchanges," LaRisa Lynch reports for the Chicago Reporter.

"A Chicago Reporter analysis found that currency exchanges are most common in low-income African American areas, followed by Latino communities. For instance, the 60651 ZIP code includes parts of Austin and West Humboldt Park and has a mix of black and Latino households. That ZIP code has six currency exchanges, but just one bank.

"If the rate hike is approved, for example, the cost to cash a $100 check would increase from $2.40 to $3.50. The cost to cash a $500 check will go from $11.25 to $12.50."


See also:

* Month After Getting $3.5 Billion Tax Break From Trump, Bank Of America Hikes Fees On Poorest Customers.

* In America, Being Poor Can Cost A Fortune.


Ferro's Fabulous Folly

Assignment Desk: An honest look at the outcome of every Michael Ferro media initiative. Just make a chart. Be sure to keep this emoji handy.


Why Amazon Incentives Are Insane
"Business incentives have more than tripled since 1990, according to a study last year by the nonprofit W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. State and local governments spend as much as $90 billion a year, yet the tax breaks don't seem to have a large correlation with employment growth or income levels, the institute says," Bloomberg reports.

"Consider the cautionary tale of Boeing Co. in Amazon's home state of Washington. The company had threatened to relocate its 777X aircraft program. In 2013, the state offered a package estimated to cost taxpayers $8.7 billion, the biggest state subsidy package in history. But Boeing's Washington workforce shrunk to 65,829 from the January 2013 level of 86,397."

The numbers aren't as eye-popping here in Chicago, but only by comparison. A reminder:

"Seven weeks after announcing that it would move its headquarters out of Seattle, the Boeing Company selected Chicago as its new home," the New York Times reported in 2011.

"Boeing, the world's largest maker of commercial aircraft, chose Chicago over Dallas and Denver after it was promised tax breaks and incentives that could total $60 million over 20 years by the city and the State of Illinois."

Assignment Desk: Has it been worth it?


"Illinois state lawmakers decided, shortly after Boeing said 'yes,' that the incentive package was too sweet and slashed it by $11 million, to $30 million. Another $21 million in tax breaks and incentives came from the city," the Tribune reported in 2002.

"Chicago didn't get exactly what it expected either. Rather than bringing about 400 top-level jobs from Seattle and elsewhere, Boeing moved about 150 employees and hired another 250 people locally."


"Boeing Co.'s pay-for-performance program for top executives also can pay handsomely for doing nothing," the Knight-Ridder Tribune business news service reported in 2005.

"Consider the case of former Chairman and Chief Executive Philip M. Condit, who's poised to receive a final installment of Boeing stock, bringing the total value of a 2003 incentive to $19 million.

"Critics say Condit has done little to earn it. That's because the shares accumulating in his account have vested based on stock appreciation that happened after he was chased from the executive suite.

"Condit resigned Dec. 1, 2003, amid an ethics crisis that continues to haunt Boeing and the rest of the defense industry.

"'It looks like Condit was able to game the system,' said Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, a watchdog group that has been critical of Boeing's ethics. 'The core purpose is to reward good executive performance, but it's set up in a way that you can have a disaster and executives can still benefit from it' after they leave the company."


More on the inglorious CEO who brought Boeing to Chicago.


Sports teams at least pretend to care about character when they bring athletes to town. When it comes to bring businesses to town, character and corporate citizenry are never part of the equation.


Back to current-day Bloomberg:

"Boston has played it cool before. Deep public skepticism about the cost to taxpayers of hosting the 2024 Olympics resulted in local leaders terminating its bid two years ago.

"But, in 2016, the city and state agreed to shell out $145 million in incentives to land General Electric Co.'s relocation of its headquarters to Boston from Fairfield, Connecticut.

"Then Chief Executive Officer Jeff Immelt promised that for every dollar the city spent, 'you will get back a thousandfold, take my word for it.' In a column, the Boston Globe kvelled: 'General Electric moving its headquarters to Boston is all glory . . . The world can now mention Boston in the same sentence as Silicon Valley when talking about where the future is being built.'"

"Perhaps now, not so much. GE's stock price has been cut in half since December 2016, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating its accounting. Immelt, the Boston booster, has since stepped down. The headquarters, once slated to open this year, now won't be complete until 2021.

"'GE remains firmly committed to Boston,' spokesman Jeff Caywood said.

"Still, the company's current CEO, John Flannery, recently made comments suggesting that GE was considering another plan for its future: breaking up the company."


Keep in mind that the more profitable a corporation is, the bigger the taxpayer subsidy. (Assignment Desk: Equationize this!)


I don't believe taxpayers should be in the business of subsidizing businesses, as I've written before. In fact, I think it ought to be illegal.

But if we are going to subsidize businesses, I'd rather find ways to give breaks to those entrepreneurs - and, say, longtime businesses being gentrified out of their neighborhoods - who need them.

What taxpayer subsidies really do is go right into the pockets of the already extremely wealthy, one way or another.

And as far as jobs go, corporate taxpayer subsidies are the least efficient jobs program we could come up with. I'd rather spend that money on public works programs, which have far more economic impact than corporate subsidies do.

Related: Petition Asks Cities To Sign 'Non-Aggression Pact' In Amazon HQ2 Race.


The state corporate subsidy program was a mess. It was killed. Now it's back.


Today In The Paradise Papers

Inside story: Through death threats and scare tactics, Honduran reporter 'perseveres.'

Imagine being captured by a hooded man, bundled into the back of a car and having your life threatened. And all for just doing your job. That's the story of Lourdes Ramirez, an ICIJ member and investigative reporter in Honduras. The award-winning journalist tells us what it's like to report in her country, as our series Inside Story continues. It's a chilling, must-read tale.

We've also taken a look at the Russian oligarch list released by the U.S. Treasury last week. The list, which has been surrounded in controversy after it was revealed it came from Forbes' list of wealthiest Russians, has many names ICIJ (and our partners) have seen in our investigations.

And back by popular demand, we've taken another look at the mammoth tech company Apple. It released quarterly earnings last week, and (no surprises here really) their mountain of offshore cash has grown. But, what does that mean for the ordinary person?

Amy Wilson-Chapman
ICIJ's community engagement editor


New on today's Beachwood . . .

Illinois House Bill Would Protect Voting Rights For Jail Inmates
Would ensure that the 94 percent of people being held in pretrial detention at Cook County Jail who are eligible to vote, are able to vote.


Lipstick & Lyrics: Vice Versa
Vice Versa will be serving up your favorites with a side of sass. Audiences can look forward to an updated version of the "Cell Block Tango" from Chicago, an interesting take on "God, I Hate Shakespeare" from Something Rotten!, a Scream take on Blondie's "Call Me," a Taylor Swift version of Handmaid's Tale, and a fairy tale version of "Royals."


On This Day In . . .

2013: Assignment Desk: What Became Of Jesus Castaneda?


2014: Pay To Playwall.


2014: The Wisdom Of Martellus Bennett.





Crystal Sugar - "Chicago's Bakers."



The Drone War Updated.


Labor Department Allegedly Hid Study Unfavorable To Proposal On Tip Pooling.


A sampling.






The Beachwood Tronc Line: Ferrocious.


Posted on February 7, 2018

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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