Be a better neighbor. Sign up for EveryBlock to follow and discuss neighborhood news.

Sign up for free →

Added Apr 17 2012

Let me preface my comments by saying that, generally speaking, I support the concept of public-private partnerships. However, the more I read about the Infrastructure Trust, the more uncomfortable I am with the structure; its lack of accountability; the potentially higher costs of financing relative to traditional bond financing for the same types of projects; lack of transparency, and the apparent delegation of aldermanic oversight and fiduciary duties of care and loyalty to a nonprofit organization that will not have accountability to tax payers or elected officials other than the Mayor of Chicago.

It is not clear what projects will be funded by the Trust, or how it could benefit local neighborhoods. To date, the Emanuel administration has indicated that the trust could be used to retrofit buildings to make them energy efficient.

There are no provisions for representatives from CPS, Chicago Public Libraries, CTA, Chicago Buildings Commission or Chicago Park District to be on the board of the nonprofit that will run the trust-in spite of the fact that many of the projects that will be funded from the trust are expected to come from these agencies. The board will be appointed by the Mayor, and is expected to have representation from financial institutions that could very well be financing the projects.

  • Valerie F. Leonard Lawndale Community Builder and Policy Analyst

    The Mayor seems to be comfortable with the fact that the costs of financing will be higher than under the general obligation bond program that traditionally funds capital projects. His take is that, investors are assuming the risk and should be compensated. It is not clear whether the compensation would come from new or increased user fees or dedicated revenue streams that would go directly to the investors as opposed to City coffers.

    In spite of the fact that the Mayor has not outlined all the details of the proposal or identified $7 billion worth of projects to be financed, he is urging the full City Council to approve this trust tomorrow. Other cities have used similar programs, but have typically outlined all the proposed projects to be financed before creating the trust. It is troubling that there are so many unanswered questions and our aldermen are prepared to vote on the measure tomorrow without complete information.

    Here is an article from WBEZ's website that outlines the aldermen's stance on the Trust. http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2012/04/17/revised-infrastructure-trust-vote#. Alderman Chandler has not provided comment, so it is not clear where he stands on the issue. I have called his office at 773-533-2400 to voice my concerns and have left a message requesting that he vote against the measure. I have included links to articles on the subject, as well as to the ordinance. I ask that you call your alderman's office and share feedback.

  • Valerie F. Leonard Lawndale Community Builder and Policy Analyst

    Here is a press release from Illinois Citizens for Public Banking, that provides interesting background and an alternative financing plan. http://www.scribd.com/doc/89853732/Group-Working-for-a-Fair-Economy-in-Illinois-Recommends-Alternative-Financing-1

  • Valerie F. Leonard Lawndale Community Builder and Policy Analyst

    Here is a copy of the ordinance. You can read this for yourself to see if you support or oppose. http://www.scribd.com/doc/89730103/Infrastructure-Trust

  • Valerie F. Leonard Lawndale Community Builder and Policy Analyst

    The City Council deferred the measure at least a month even though they had at least 26 votes to pass the measure. http://www.wgnradio.com/news/local/breaking/chi-emanuel-to-wait-a-month-on-controversial-trust-vote-20120418,0,2534219.story?track=rss

  • Valerie F. Leonard Lawndale Community Builder and Policy Analyst

    Correction: the City Council will take this up next week.

  • Valerie F. Leonard Lawndale Community Builder and Policy Analyst

    I thank Tom Tresser for sharing the following slides. He indicated that this is the briefing package that aldermen were given to make their determination as to whether to back the trust. http://www.slideshare.net/tomtee/chicago-infrastructure-trust-briefing.

  • Valerie F. Leonard Lawndale Community Builder and Policy Analyst

    It's not clear how the 30,000 new jobs are being counted. Are these individual jobs, or will the same people have multiple temporary jobs over the years as the construction projects begin and end?

    This trust structure is very confusing. If anyone can interpret it, please, share an explanation. Thanks.

  • Valerie F. Leonard Lawndale Community Builder and Policy Analyst

    The more I read about the City's proposed Infrastructure Trust the more questions I have. This is a very complicated deal. I hope the Aldermen do thorough due diligence, ask the right questions and make sure there are mechanisms in place to make sure the taxpayers are getting the best deal on capital financing. We don't need a rush to judgment or a repeat of the Sky Way and Parking Meter fiascos. They should not vote on the measure unless they have a full understanding of how it works, even if it means hiring an independent expert to provide an objective analysis of the pros, cons and potential impacts to the City. They ought not be rushing to sign off on anything they don't understand, particularly if it will impact us for the next 3 generations.

  • Valerie F. Leonard Lawndale Community Builder and Policy Analyst

    http://www.suntimes.com/news/politics/12010076-418/emanuel-no-more-changes-to-infrastructure-trust.html

    The Mayor is quoted in this article as saying his goal is not to answer questions to everybody's satisfaction but to answer enough to move the project forward. Alderman Cochran is going to change his vote from no to yes, and he is not fully satisfied with the ordinance. I'm sure other aldermen will change from no to yes. How can our Mayor be so bold as to charge ahead without making sure the Aldermen fully understand what they're voting for? How can our aldermen vote for a measure they don't fully understand, especially when the next 3 generations will be impacted by the decision?

  • Valerie F. Leonard Lawndale Community Builder and Policy Analyst

    The City Council will have a special meeting tomorrow April 24, 2012, to vote on the Infrastructure trust. Here is a link to a letter I sent the Aldermen. http://www.scribd.com/doc/90807901/Letter-to-Aldermen-Regarding-the-Chicago-Investment-Trust-4-23-12

  • Valerie F. Leonard Lawndale Community Builder and Policy Analyst

    The Mayor's ordinance passed by a measure of 41-7, with 2 aldermen being absent--Alderman Maldonado and Alderman Chandler. Aldermen Fioretti and Munoz were the only West Side Aldermen to vote against the measure. Instead, they voted for a substitute ordinance sponsored by Alderman Waguespack. Alderman Waguespack's ordinance would have provided language that could enforce FOIA, Open Meetings Act and City work rules on the trust, which will be created as a 501 c 3, instead of as a city agency.

  • Rochelle North Lawndale Resident since 1959

    Valerie, Thank you so much for keeping us informed. I hope the people of Chicago will finally take notice to what is really happening. The 99% say we are not for sale, the 1% say we are. When will it end?

  • Valerie F. Leonard Lawndale Community Builder and Policy Analyst

    You're welcome, Rochelle. There is a tipping point, Rochelle, and I don't think we have reached it.

  • As transparent government seemingly isn't something this Mayor or the 41 alderman/women that voted yes on this are interested in those of us that vote should be looking at them closely. It appears to me they don't read or just don't care, as we move forward we must look at what there voting on people of Chicago each of us must look at those that represent us are they just yes people for this administration have they been yes people for the previous administration. The number of Jobs that are being proposed have to be questioned and watched who will get them as Valerie has for stated and how will they be administered. If the Mayor isn't willing to answer question and the people that represent us aren't willing to ask question why are they there getting paid vote them out. 7 billion dollars is a lot of money 3 generations impacted by a decision that was delayed for 6 days by people who won't feel the pain of there decision but will reap the benefit in someway because they sold out for a vote right now for what ever reason tells me there either coward or there in it for there own personnel gain they can't be in it for the people. If it was about the people they would ask questions they would vote no until they found out the innerworkings of this deal and made all info available to the people. The 3 sister agency involvement also need to be made public. Nothing should be controlled by the Mayor every board should be an elected board, To every elected official that voted yes without answers I say shame on you, and there's one thing you can be guaranteed this voter will not be voting for you when your term is up. Iam following the way you vote. One more thing to those of you that think the camera in our neighborhoods stop violence and other activity get a life it is about revenue. Until there used for something other then speeding your only collecting money your not fighting crime.

  • fortheright Westside resident/

    thanks Valerie for the information tell me why these apts are now only want to rent to section-8 holders but dont list that in their ads. its a mess here in Chicago. thats why peoples need to know its time to do something point blank!!!

  • Its a shame our alderman in the 28th idnt stand withthose 7 alderman who voted no.this deal will come back to haunt the west side.and at forthright,my friend is in the real estate sector.she just told me there is a HUGE push to add up to 35% more section 8 housing in west garfield and austin as more prime neighbors get gentrified.

  • fortheright Westside resident/

    @John I know because it was a realtor that told that same story to a friend of mines. Its not fare every one doesnt hold a Section-8 voucher so to just push people away because you are looking for a come up is in the market and neighborhood is not right. like i told my friend tell the next realtor that tell you that to acquire you a section-8 vocher and then you can have a nice house,apt in the west garfield and austin neighborhood. Gentrified (Funny)

  • Valerie F. Leonard Lawndale Community Builder and Policy Analyst

    @Fortheright and John, I'm not aware of the Section 8 situation you describe. I can imagine that landlords want to get higher rents than they think they can get otherwise. It seems to me that the apartments should be available to anyone, unless those units are considered project based Section 8, meaning the voucher stays with the unit and not the person.

5 neighbors are subscribed to this conversation.

Posted to Ward 24

This was posted to Ward 24

What's the news in your neighborhood? Search for your ZIP code:

e.g. 60615