Chicago TIF fund controversy described as swept under rug
The Chicago City Council has gone from playing a shell game to "keep away," the Better Government Association (BGA) suggested recently.
BGA President and CEO Andy Shaw called an apparent lack of action regarding the allegedly fraudulent use of tax ncrement financing (TIF) funds "the Chicago Way" of doing business.
The BGA and Crain’s Chicago Business worked together to report on a project to develop a hotel at McCormick Place that received $55 million in TIF funds despite being already fully funded. The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, which runs McCormick Place, instead used the funds for an improvement project for Navy Pier, which it also owns, they reported.
Shaw said that while the report triggered a hearing of the City Council Finance Committee, there have been no tangble results.
“[T]here was no in-depth discussion of the emails we found confirming TIF dollars were never intended for the hotel project, or why those dollars were unnecessarily earmarked for the hotel in the first place,” Shaw wrote. “In addition, no TIF experts were invited to the hearing, and community activists who reacted angrily to our disclosures weren’t there because they didn’t know the issue would be discussed.”
Shaw noted his profound disappointment that local officials did not act on this information to reform TIF policies, but noted the BGA's commitment to continue bringing similar stories to light.