July 8, 2008

No Public Hearing on Taxpayer Subsidy for Lathrop B&G Club

Our City Council approved an $800,000 subsidy from property taxpayers to build a new home for a private, not-for-profit, on public land - with no public hearing!

AUTHORIZATION FOR THE EXECUTION OF INTERGOVERNMENTAL AGREEMENT WITH CHICAGO PARK DISTRICT AND TRANSFER OF FUNDS FROM HOWARD/PAULINA TAX INCREMENT FINANCING DISTRICT FOR CONSTRUCTION OF GALE SCHOOL PARK

Read the "where as"-es carefully. See any mention of a public hearing?

Read the rest of the ordinance. See any mention of the Lathrop Homes B&G Club?

Now let us read together Illinois' TIF law (Chicago is in Illinois):
"Prior to the adoption of an ordinance proposing the designation of a redevelopment project area, or approving a redevelopment plan or redevelopment project, the municipality by its corporate authorities, or as it may determine by any commission designated under subsection (k) of Section 11‑74.4‑4 shall adopt an ordinance or resolution fixing a time and place for public hearing." 65 ILCS 5/11‑74.4‑5(a)
The definition of "redevelopment project" requiring public hearings is quite broad, and explicitly includes public as well as private projects:
"Redevelopment project" means any public and private development project in furtherance of the objectives of a redevelopment plan." 65 ILCS 5/11‑74.4‑3(o)
To appreciate what is conspicuously absent from the Gale Park process, compare and contrast the Gale Park legislation with another property taxpayer subsidy approved moments earlier at the very same City Council meeting: a $39,735,000 property taxpayer subsidy from the so-called "Pratt/Ridge" TIF to Moore's corporate sponsor, S & C Electric:

DESIGNATION OF S & C ELECTRIC COMPANY AS PROJECT DEVELOPER AND AUTHORIZATION FOR EXECUTION OF REDEVELOPMENT AGREMENT FOR THE REHABILITATION AND RENOVATION BUILDINGS AT 6601 N RIDGE BOULEVARD
WHEREAS, Pursuant to Resolution 05-CDC-29 adopted by the Community Development Commission of the City of Chicago (the "Commission") on March 8, 2005, the Commission recommended that the Developer be designated as the developer for the Project and that the City's Department of Planning and Development ("D.P.D.") be authorized to negotiate, execute and deliver on behalf of the City a redevelopment agreement with the Developer for the Project; ...
One subsidy had a public hearing before the Community Development Commission; the other did not. If you follow TIF in Chicago, you may be under the impression that a public hearing is required for TIF subsidies, and that the CDC hosts those public hearings. This is a recent innovation in the City's process for doling out great wads of our money: skipping the public hearing.

The $800,000 subsidy to bring the Lathrop Homes B&G Club to Gale Park was approved by the full City Council on Wednesday June 11, 2008. (Unanimously, of course, 45-0; oddly, Moore's vote is not officially recorded although he was not absent.) A week later, on Wednesday, June 18, 2008, Moore showed up at a North of Howard Park Advisory Council meeting to explain his plan to lease the new building to the Lathrop B&G Club. On Monday, June 30, Moore sent out a blast mail announcing his plan to lease the facility to the Lathrop B&G Club. Conspicuously absent from Moore's website and profuse e-mail stream was any mention of this 11th-hour $800K public subsidy, let alone any announcements of opportunities for public participation.

Just think, IF a public hearing HAD been held on this subsidy...
  • might the City have claimed in public that the subsidy was for a Park District facility, with Park District programs?

  • or might the City have been forced to reveal their plan that this subsidy was to a building, 12 years in the making, that they planned to LEASE to a private not-for-profit?

  • might neighbors have attended?
Sadly, we will never know.

Our neighbors north of Howard are currently struggling mightily against the grip of two titanic forces, two fronts in the war against the public and in support of the Olympics in Chicago:
  1. the marginalization of park advisory councils, and

  2. no public comment subsidies

3 comments:

mcl said...

IMO the only way this public property(taxpayer funded)handover can be stopped is to file an injunction against it, on behalf of the community/taxpayer! Any attorney out there willing to do so, on a pro bono basis, for the residents of Rogers Park? Hello out there!

Fargo Woman said...

Is this it then. They get the center and we're out in the cold? Say it ain't so! The survey's were a waste of time then? There will be no public meeting? Am I reading this right?

- PEACE -

Peace . . . but not here in Rogers Park. Whatever happened to "No Justice, No Peace" anyway?

Save Street End Beaches said...

This seems similar to the Latin School Lincoln Park soccer field situation. There's good information at the Save Lincoln Park website. http://savelincolnpark.org/2008/3/11/alderman-daley-get-it-right
They published the complaint they used to win an injunction.
We need legal help. Toni, you should contact them.