Our Day in Court #TIFreform #TIFequity

On Wednesday, September 11, we joined fellow plaintiff, Grassroots Collaborative, and our lawyers, Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and national Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, and 60+ supporters at the Circuit Court, Daley Center. The City filed a motion to dismiss our TIF litigation case which was filed in AprilWe heard the oral arguments from both sides. We expect a written ruling from the judge in a few weeks. Press coverage and our press conference statement are below. 

Press coverage:

Sun-TimesJudge critiques lawsuit challenging $1.3 billion TIF for Lincoln Yards

One IllinoisJudge weighs dismissing Chicago TIF suit

Chicago TribuneJudge questions whether lawsuit to stop Lincoln Yards taxpayer subsidy can proceed

Crain's Chicago BusinessJudge on Lincoln Yards TIF: 'A deal is a deal'

Block Club Chicago: Despite City’s ‘Rush To Judgment’ On Lincoln Yards, Judge Says Lawsuit To Block Tax Subsidy Might Not Fly

WBEZ Morning Edition (starts at 10:45): The Battle Over TIF Money For Lincoln Yards

RYH's Communications & Outreach Director, Jennie Biggs, spoke at a short press conference following the court proceedings. Below is her prepared statement:

Two weeks ago, The Chicago Tribune came out with a whopper of a story that explains City Council’s rush to vote on this mega-TIF despite overwhelming community opposition. The truth is that Lincoln Yards did not qualify for TIF funding at the time that it was passed. This should be a huge scandal, but in Chicago it’s just business as usual. We are here to change that. 

Why is this a big deal? TIFs are a powerful tool that take away public money from the general fund that supports schools,libraries, and parks around the city for at least 23 years in order to support development in a specific neighborhood; for that reason, the IL legislature intended TIFs to only support development in communities that are suffering economically, which they termed “blighted” areas. But Lincoln Yards is not a “blighted” area. If City Council had waited until the new mayor took office, the certified 2018 numbers would have shown that in 3 of the last 5 years, the land values in Lincoln Yards actually have been growing faster than the rest of the city’s – in some cases twice as fast. It would have been clear to everyone that this disqualified Lincoln Yards from getting $1.3B in TIF money.

How can we give away $1.3B when there are such massive needs in Chicago public education? CPS needs $1.9B just to be considered adequately funded by the state. We have over a billion dollars in critical facilities needs and carry $8.8B in debt. 

How can we give away $1.3B dollars when schools & communities have to fight for scraps? The CPS choice model creates situations where under enrolled schools have to fight for “equity grants” or programming. How many school actions have occurred under the message of “there is not enough money”?

How can we give away $1.3B when there has been a shortage of school nurses for years and students lack continuity of care? How can we accept that there is 1 social worker for every 865 students in CPS? Who is the city of Chicago serving by diverting $1.3B in public funds from the public good? We need to fix the TIF process so it does what it was intended to do: help the communities that need it most.