Hmmm. I wonder what happened to Maggie Daley’s clout?
Five months after her husband left the mayor’s office, Inspector General Joseph Ferguson is raising question about contributions to Mrs. Daley’s After School Matters Program by businesses that benefited from the Daley Administration’s TIF program.
According to Ferguson’s report, businesses receiving TIF funds as part of redevelopment agreements were regularly directed to make donations to non-profit groups. Of 73 agreements with so-called “public benefits clauses,” 27 required donations to non-profits. More than half the time, the specified non-profit was After School Matters. Mrs. Daley founded the charity to fund after-school events and job programs. In all, After School Matters received $915,000 from TIF fund beneficiaries.
“Through public benefits clauses, the City of Chicago has leveraged its control of TIF subsidies to direct TIF subsidy recipients to make donations to a select group of non-profit organizations, including, most frequently, After School Matters.”
Ferguson’s report criticized “a significant lack of transparency and accountability in the City’s process of choosing specific non-profit organizations worthy of inclusion in public benefits clauses.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has made Cleaning Up Daley’s Financial Mess a theme of his administration, used the report as another occasion to take a swipe at his predecessor.
“As you know, in the first three days I established a TIF board review,” Emanuel told the Tribune. “Two, the charge of the TIF board was to reform TIFs, so they were focused on economic and business and job creation and weren’t a instrument of politics or political favoritism, but economic growth.”
The Chicago Reader’s Ben Joravsky, the city’s leading critic of the TIF program, broke down the three-way deal, in which Daley used developers to funnel money to his wife’s charity:
The mayor takes roughly $250 million a year in desperately needed property tax dollars from our nearly bankrupt public schools and feeds them into a slush fund.
He then disperses money from that fund to well-connected developers and or corporations who don't really need a public hand out at all.
And they in turn donate money to the mayor's wife's favorite charity, which promotes after-school programs in the arts for children whose schools are too broke to have their own art programs. Because the mayor takes $250 million a year in desperately needed property tax dollars....
And so we go round and round in the TIF circle game.
After School Matters has received $54 million from the city since 1995, including a $6.5 million payment during Daley’s last week in office. Somehow, I doubt Mayor Emanuel will be as generous.
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