Friday, July 24, 2009

Timely Message From "Fix Wilson Yard"

The following message comes "Fix Wilson Yard," a group opposed to the Wilson Yard TIF debacle. It was emailed on the morning after Chicago Alderman Helen Shiller's laughable Wilson Yard Task Force meeting on Thursday, July 23. Shiller (46th Ward) wants to virtually double the current Wilson Yard TIF funding, and Uptown residents want to know what the money will be used for. After nearly two hours of an emotionally charged, contentious meeting, Shiller had not clarified anything and those who attended the meeting walked away scratching their heads. (Shiller's meeting was about as illuminating as Barack Obama's "explanation" of his health care proposals, televised on ABC on July 22.) The email message from Fix Wilson Yard, oddly, does not seem to have been posted yet to the group's Facebook page, nor to their web site at (as of 1:30 p.m., July 24). Dear Fix Wilson Yard Members, As evidenced by the attendance and energy of Thursday's Wilson Yard Task Force meeting, the community is behind us and continues to support our efforts. For this - we thank you. Over 80 people attended the meeting and posed very legitimate questions and concerns regarding the potential increased allocation of funds. Unfortunately, most questions and concerns were met with vague explanations and political rhetoric. According to Alderman Shiller, the Wilson Yard TIF is generating greater funds than anticipated since it's inception in 2001. She now seeks power to increase the budget by $54,000,000 - bringing the total Wilson Yard TIF - aka your tax dollars - to $112,000,000. But here is the rub... During Thursday's meeting, the alderman suggested several different "possible" uses for the additional funds, however - the lack of specifics, firm commitments and guarantees left us and other attendees to question the real agenda for the additional $54 million. Furthermore, Alderman Shiller was unable to accurately tell the community exactly where and how much of the original $58,000,000 had been spent and/or committed to date. This lack of commitment and transparency is exactly why Fix Wilson Yard was started-and we won't be fooled again! Therefore, at this junction, until we can be guaranteed that the community will have a real voice in the allocation of funds and receive a firm commitment on the use and assignment of these funds, Fix Wilson Yard does not support the proposed amendment to the Wilson Yard TIF. Furthermore, all should question whether this money should be spent at all. The City of Chicago is facing a $300 million shortfall this year, while the Board of Education is facing a whopping $475 million deficit. At the same time, the city's TIF districts ended 2008 with $1 billion in aggregate unspent funds-funds that were siphoned away from other taxing bodies, including the city and Board of Ed. Fix Wilson Yard would like to see Ald. Shiller spearhead the effort to return these funds to the general tax base, where they would go a long way towards helping our ailing taxing bodies. To learn more about how this could occur, read the following article by Progress Illinois. This lack of commitment to specific projects, as well as lack of transparency in planning and spending, is what we have been fighting against since the beginning. Fix Wilson Yard is committed as ever to this fight. The future of the Wilson Yard TIF, as well as the future of Uptown, will be determined by the residents of Uptown if we remain committed to this law suit. The Fix Wilson Yard lawsuit fights for truth in our government and transparency in our tax expenditures. In light of the presentation given today, our fight is far from over. Now more than ever, Fix Wilson Yard needs your help to continue this fight. We need you to spread the word about misuse of TIF funds, the lack of transparency and accountability and how Fix Wilson Yard continues to take the city to task. But to continue this fight, it costs money and we need your help there too. RELATED: Questions Linger After Wilson Yard TIF Meeting - Lake Effect News, 7/23/09 Shiller’s Fishy TIF Deal - Lake Effect News, 7/22/09 Leave a Comment... See Our Online Store Chicago News Bench RSS Feed We're on Twitter...