RYH's Executive Director, Jianan Shi, spoke at the Investigate Lincoln Yards press conference held on Thursday, August 29. His prepared statement is below. This press conference happened shortly before Mayor Lightfoot gave a budget address to the city and in response to a recent investigation by Hal Dardick of the Chicago Tribune: The race to beat the clock on Lincoln Yards: How a delay could have stopped the megadevelopment from getting $1.3 billion in taxpayer money.
My name is Jianan Shi, I use he/him pronouns and I am the Executive Director of Raise Your Hand.
Mayor Lightfoot has been doing a lot of talking about good governance, equity and funding education. Her actions of continuing to let the city give away 1.3 billion dollars speaks much louder.
How can we give away 1.3 billion dollars when there are such massive needs in education? We need 1.9 billion dollars just to be considered adequately funded by the state. We have over a billion dollars in critical facilities needs and carry 8.8 billion dollars in debt.
How can we give away 1.3 billion dollars when schools & communities have to fight for scraps? The competitive choice model creates situations where under enrolled schools have to fight for equity grants or programming. How many school actions (closures, phase outs) have been under the message of there is not enough money?
How can we give away 1.3 billion dollars when there have been a shortage of nurses for years and students lack continuity of care? How can we accept that there is 1 social worker for every 865 students?
Investing in public education is a values statement. How much and where you invest in neighborhood schools shows how exactly much you care about that community and its people. Who is the city of Chicago serving?
Open an investigation on the Lincoln Yards TIF. Lori, stop giving out the city’s money until all questions are answered.