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|[Actually 10/15/2010]: The May Report: 10/15/2010: The day of reckoning: W. James Farrell, Chairman of the Commercial Club of Chicago, says Gov. Pat Quinn is stalling off on the publication of an audit of the state's finances which has been complete for several months now; IL has the worst pension system in the country; and he's outta here... to Florida or Costa Rica; Melanie Adcock on government policies that pertain to tech workers; Tom Bennett on the TIF panel moderated by Andy Shaw and sponsored by the BGA which Bennett says dodged some key questions|
|October 15, 2010|
The May Report: 10/15/2010: The day of reckoning: W. James Farrell, Chairman of the Commercial Club of Chicago, says Gov. Pat Quinn is stalling off on the publication of an audit of the state's finances which has been complete for several months now; IL has the worst pension system in the country; and he's outta here... to Florida or Costa Rica; Melanie Adcock on government policies that pertain to tech workers; Tom Bennett on the TIF panel moderated by Andy Shaw and sponsored by the BGA which Bennett says dodged some key questions
Editor and publisher: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.themayreport.com , 773-525-3944.
Assistant editor: Melanie Adcock, iPHONE: 312-259-0610, email@example.com
If you missed an article, go here: http://www.tmronline.com/A55951/tmrarticles.nsf/vwFullNewsletter
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Scoop section:
-- W. James Farrell, Chairman of the Commercial Club of Chicago, speaks to a group of only about 30 people at the Gleacher Center Thursday, but it was one of the best talks of the year, Tom Bennett says, and Farrell is quite candid about the pending day of reckoning for Illinois
-- An anonymous call to TMR re: How Government Policies with respect to Foreign Workers have an effect on those working in the Tech Industry, by Melanie Adcock
-- Thomas R. Bennett: Chicago 2.0 - DREAMING BIG - Part I - BGA-moderated "TIF's 101"panel discussion at DePaul University
-- The Commercial Club of Chicago, the same organization that sponsored the Daniel H. Burnham plan of Chicago
-- An example of two things: One, how a press release on a hot topic gets picked up by the national media; and two, how a lot of Chicago firms are making money outside of Chicago
[Editor's note: Ron May here. It is almost 10:30pm Friday night but I thought it was important to get this out tonight since what Jim Farrell, the Chairman of the Commercial Club of Chicago, an august and blue-blooded body if there ever was one -- and the same organization that sponsored the Plan of Chicago put forth by Daniel H. Burnham just over a century ago -- said was newsworthy. Read the article. And then read the list of past Chairmen further on in this report. It is a who's who of Chicago business history.
I must say that both Tom Bennett and Melanie Adcock have done yeomen's work. Melanie told me she had an anonymous call to TMR and I figured a paragraph or two. In fact, she spent about four hours or more talking to the person and doing the research!
Meanwhile I attended a meeting of Let's Connect Chicago last night, organized by Todd McMeen along with folks like Jerry Jenkins, the people at IBM, companies like Monar Consulting, and Sean Harden who is a deputy CEO of the Chicago Public Schools.
Here are a few websites you may want to check out:
I will have much more detail about the meeting for you on Monday. It was well attended with about 120 people in the room. The meeting was held on the 6th floor of 71 S. Wacker in the new training offices for IBM. Those are really nice offices.
CityPartner.org is an outgrowth of the Green Street Project from about five years ago. Todd McMeen started Open Hill to provide a diversified platform to assist in the objectives of Let's Connect Chicago and as he explained to me today in our hour plus long conversation, to avoid an conflict of interest.
The meeting started with a presentation and quickly broke down into 14 tables which brainstormed for ideas and then each table gave a one minute summary of its key suggestions, concerns and take-aways. I have my own thoughts and have also written down the summaries of each of the tables. There was a lot of energy in the room and I will have many of the ideas and comments for you Monday.]
W. James Farrell, Chairman of the Commercial Club of Chicago, speaks to a group of only about 30 people at the Gleacher Center Thursday, but it was one of the best talks of the year, Tom Bennett says, and Farrell is quite candid about the pending day of reckoning for Illinois
Subject: The University of Chicago Booth School of Business - Finance Roundtable - Illinois is Broke! (Budget Reform Now.......or I'm heading to Costa Rica for Retirement!)
Date: 10/15/2010 8:00:25 P.M. Central Daylight Time
Last night I attended The University of Chicago Booth School of Business Finance Roundtable Discussion titled --- Illinois is Broke! (And what can we do about it).
The backdrop for last night's roundtable discussion was essentially --- "it is no secret to observers of all political persuasions that Illinois is broke. At the root of the problem are the $130 billion in unfunded obligations and debt related to the retirement programs of Illinois' public employees. The State's fiscal issues threaten Illinois' ability to attract and retain jobs and provide services, from schools and universities to social services and transportation."
Without a doubt, last night's roundtable discussion was one of the most 'profound' and 'extremely relevant' NON-PARTISAN policy discussions I've ever been involved with. To put it candidly, the Jim Farrell-moderated discussion related to the structural issues facing our state and local governments was "light-years" ahead of the substance and meaningful dialogue held at the recent BGA-meeting regarding TIF 101 pass-the-card meeting (Andy Shaw, Ben Joravsky, et al).
By way of example, Jim Farrell - former Chairman of Illinois Tool Works - and now Chairman of the Commercial Club of Chicago - gave the following opening remarks (and sound-bytes) within the first 5-minutes of the discussion:
* "I'm disgusted about politics."
* "Disgusted with all party leaders - irrespective of party labels."
* "Busting butt for past 4-years to essentially find that Illinois is a state that totally disregards fiscal policy."
* "Absent meaningful structural changes in state and local government....I'm out-of-here....Florida or Costa Rica - because I'm not paying taxes (associated with generationally egregious mismanagement of state government).
* "This is a recession on steroids."
* "We are toast."
Jim Farrell (www.merrickventures.com/detail.php?pID=102) gave a performance that was worthy of an Emmy as he 'hit' on every important 'nerve' that impacts our local and state economy. Jim Farrell connected with the audience at such a visceral-level that you could literally 'feel' the genuine disappointment and frustration in his benchmark-driven review of the state. Simply put, Mr. Farrell clearly cares about the direction of the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago and our country.
Some interesting factoids that Jim Farrell mentioned last night include:
* Illinois is has THE WORST funded pension system in the country. In fact, according to Pew Center --- Illinois is 47% as of 2010 (http://www.illinoisisbroke.org/facts.aspx)
* According to Jim Farrell, Bloomington-based State Farm Insurance and Northbrook-based Allstate Insurance have removed Illinois from their "safe" investments portfolio. Simply put, neither Insurance firm will purchase State of Illinois bonds.
* No funds have been set aside for Retiree Health Care.
* In 2006, it took 9-months for the State Comptroller's Officer (Dan Hynes) to supply Jim Farrell and his ad-hoc committee from the Commercial Club of Chicago to procure relevant information regarding the State of Illinois' Balance Sheet.
* Unlike the private sector, the State of Illinois has never used an actuarial firm to estimate pensions.
* Evidently a parliamentary procedure known as "revenue sweeps" allow the Speaker of the House (Madigan), President of the Senate (Cullerton) and Pat "Profile in Courage" Quinn to spend money without having to 'account' for revenues. It's the equivalent of paying for budget items via a slush fund.
So much for a forensic audit.
"Life and death for this state." ~ Jim Farrell
Upon Jim Farrell's retirement from Illinois Tool Works in 2006, Mr. Farrell was "roped-into" a Commercial Club of Chicago ad-hoc committee whose mission was simply to get a better handle on that State's finances. This is where it gets interesting....
Upon becoming informed about the magnitude of the structural pension issues, Mr. Farrell decided to contact the Union Community as a logical first step. After all, one would presume that Unions would be "the most concerned" as they have the most to lose given that pensions are "the" reward for a union member.
The union's overwhelming response --- "Hey...not our problem, live up to the agreement."
Specifically, the union attitude was very argumentative and Mr. Farrell quickly realized that the union conversation was going nowhere. The following is the high-level snapshot of the fiscally-choking, structurally-flawed and under-funded state pension formula:
There are 5 state pension funds (and the legislator's have their own fund which is coincidently the first fund that's anticipated to go broke in 2014) with a collective value as follows:
Supposed to have.......$130,000,000,000
State gross income receipts
(income tax, corporate tax, sales tax)...........$27,000,000
Based upon the above-formula, it doesn't take an actuary to recognize that
Illinois is FUBAR.
In any event, the Commercial Club of Chicago task force hired two (2) consulting firms to help state evaluate its balance sheet and develop relevant solutions. In fact, same two firms have strong track records in working with other states in similar capacities. While it took some time to define scope and depth of audit, the Blagojevich administration allowed auditors access to the state's books.
The following is also a very, very telling revelation from last night......evidently the consulting firm's audit report has been complete for several months and was supposed to be "published" this past August by the Quinn Administration.
Guess what? That's right....the Commercial Club of Chicago Audit Report hasn't been published.
The Quinn Administration is essentially 'stonewalling' the publication of the audit.
EDITOR'S NOTE and COMMENTARY (by Tom Bennett): That's not how Mr. Farrell put it...as Mr. Farrell was overly diplomatic in last night's presentation. EDITOR commentary is as follows >>>
Pat Quinn - Mr. Goo-Goo Pseudo Good Government Reformer by way of Fenwick and Hinsdale has been stonewalling the release of perhaps the most 'germane' and 'highly relevant issue' for the State of Illinois as well as the most germane issue for the entire gubernatorial campaign.
Aside from the fact that Pat Quinn is a total disingenuous phony, Pat Quinn has A LOT OF BLEEPING nerve brokering an uber-lucrative 2-year deal with AFSCME - the state's largest union with NO LAYOFF provisions (for 2-years) and an 8% raises!
I presume Pat "Profile in Courage" Quinn felt a little bit like Jerry McGuire when AFCSME stuck-it to the taxpayers of Illinois ---- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lnrb8HnQvfU&NR=1
For crying out loud, the Chicago Police Department received a de minimis raise of 2%! ! ! http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=7390669
AFSCME is getting a 2-year deal with no-layoffs and 8% raises?
Impeach Blago? For what....trying to cut-a-political-deal?
Speaker Madigan, Minority Leader Tom Cross and U.S. Senate hopeful Alexi Giannoulias (State Treasurer)......how about informing Pat "Profile in Courage" Quinn AND State Senator Bill Brady of their respective obligations to present the findings of the Commercial Club of Chicago audit report to the voters of the State of Illinois in advance of the November 2, 2010 election?
If Quinn doesn't release the Commercial Club of Chicago audit.....Quinn should be impeached for not living-up to his fiduciary responsibilities to the People of Illinois. Members of the General Assembly should be held to a similar standard as well (including Mr. Brady).
END OF EDITOR'S NOTE and COMMENTARY
In closing, Mr. Farrell and the Commercial Club of Chicago propose the following solutions:
1. Implement highly effective and highly relevant structural changes to State government. No new taxes get implemented UNLESS there are structural reforms.
2. Implement prospective pension reforms (annual savings of $2B+)
3. Implement retiree health care reform (annual savings of $1B+)
4. Implement major operating budget cuts.
5. Create a realistic plan to balance the Illinois budget.
6. Expand sales tax base.
7. Increase income taxes (every 1% increase in income tax rate yields $3B).
8. Stay away from Gross-Receipts Tax - "really bad idea."
9. Evaluate a value-add tax (VAT).
10. Employees pay something toward health-care.
11. Cap pensions at $106,000.
12. Local governments must evaluate a 'power-of-the-purse' mentality toward paying state. Simply put, all local governments submit gross revenues to the State and then, in turn, wait for reimbursement from the State. According to Mr. Farrell, local governments should account for their needs first, and then send the State of Illinois a check.....unless I'm missing something, this sounds like a great idea. It would put local State Representatives and State Senators in a position of really 'fighting' for their constituents and municipalities.
EDITOR'S CLOSING REMARKS (by Tom Bennett)
It's incredibly pathetic, but not surprising that no one from the local mainstream-stream media (WTTW, CBS2, NBC5, ABC7, FOX, Suntimes, Crain's, Tribune) was at last night's University of Chicago event. Further, it's totally lame that no one running for office - other than David Anderson - State Rep Candidate for 19th District (www.dave2010.org) - bothered to even show-up for meeting.
Aside from the Mr. Farrell's Costa Rica comment, the quote of the evening by Mr. Farrell is as follows:
"There doesn't appear to be a leader with a huge mandate to do something."
Very revealing. Very profound.
Tom Bennett 773.658.4830
An anonymous call to TMR re: How Government Policies with respect to Foreign Workers have an effect on those working in the Tech Industry, by Melanie Adcock
Subject: Government Policies on Foreign Workers affect those working in the Tech Industry
Date: 10/15/2010 11:23:53 A.M. Central Daylight Time
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
By Melanie Adcock
Note: An anonymous caller tipped off The May Report on this subject because they felt it would be of interest.
My take on Government visas, etc. is that it has potential to be a polarizing subject. By that I mean people can have extreme views in either direction. On one hand unemployed U.S. citizens in the tech industry don't like the high number of foreign workers being allowed into the country during this high period of unemployment. On the other hand there are great advantages for companies to have access to a larger less expensive talent pool to help drive business. It's been my personal observation that when it comes to polarizing subjects people formulate their views based on experiences they've had. This isn't about changing anyone's opinions but rather it is about sharing additional information for you to evaluate on your own. If there's anything I learned years ago when I lived in Washington DC it's just how much we'll never know about what's going on in government. The information in this article is worth reading and evaluating so you can formulate your own opinions.
Whether you are for or against specific government programs used to bring in foreign workers in the U.S. legislation has been introduced to reform several guest worker visa programs mostly used to bring in high skilled workers into the U.S. In the 110 and 111th Congress legislation has been introduced to reform and audit how these guest worker visa workers are being used. Newly developed bills going before Congress have great potential to impact the tech industry and your ability to get a job or not regardless of which side of the ocean you're from.
To express your views and make your voice heard please vote. You can vote starting the first Tuesday of November and early voting is available now at the county building at 69 W. Washington in downtown Chicago.
*The following website will give you some good information about how Illinois elected officials have voted regarding this matter.
*This link gives you the same information but on a national scale.
According to the Department of Homeland Security's statistics in its 2009 yearbook, 20% of workers in the United States' high tech industry are foreign workers and the U.S. has 75-100,000 foreign guest workers monthly. Here are a few visas you should know about, basic descriptions of what they mean taken from respected resources like Wikipedia, and links to pages where you can learn about each visa in more detail.
What it means: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H-1B_visa
The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa in the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act, section 101(a)(15)(H). It allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. If a foreign worker in H-1B status quits or is dismissed from the sponsoring employer, the worker can apply for a change of status to another non-immigrant status, find another employer (subject to application for adjustment of status and/or change of visa), or must leave the US.
What it means: http://www.h1b1.com/H1B1.htm
The H1B1 visa is similar to the H-1B visa: it allows qualified professionals to temporarily live and work in the United States. The crucial difference between the two types of visas is the foreign national's intent for coming to the United States. The H1B visa category allows for "dual intent" where the foreign national will be coming to work in a professional position temporarily while also intending to immigrate to the United States. The H1B1 visa applicant, however, has to demonstrate that he/she does not intend to immigrate to the United States. Therefore, H1B1 beneficiaries may not pursue permanent residence in the United States while in H1B1 status.
What it means: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L-1_visa
An L-1 visa is a visa document used to enter the United States for the purpose of work in L-1 status. It is a non-immigrant visa, and is valid for a short amount of time, generally three years. L-1 visas are available to employees of an international company with offices in both a home country and the United States, or which intend to open a new office in the United States while maintaining their home country interests. The visa allows such foreign workers to relocate to the corporation's US office after having worked abroad for the company for at least one year prior to being granted L-1 status. The US office must be a parent company, child company, or sister company to the foreign company.
What it means: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L-2_visa
An L-2 visa is a visa document used to enter the United States by the dependent spouse and minor unmarried children of qualified L-1 visa holders. It is a non-immigrant visa, and is only valid for the duration of the spouse's L1 visa.
What it means: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H-4_visa
An H-4 visa is a visa issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of the H-1B visa holders.
What it means: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J-1_visa
A J-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa issued by the United States to exchange visitors participating in programs that promote cultural exchange, especially to obtain medical or business training within the U.S. All applicants must meet eligibility criteria and be sponsored either by a private sector or government program.
What it means: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TN_status
TN (Trade NAFTA) status is a special non-immigrant status in the United States unique to citizens of Canada and Mexico. Professions identified in the Canada - United States Free Trade Agreement which began in 1988 are permitted TN Visas for legal work in the United States and Canada, creating freedom of labor movement.
What it means: http://www.ehow.com/about_6308110_ead-visa_.html
In short, an EAD Visa is any visa that allows the holder to qualify to apply for temporary work authorization to use to get a job in a local company.
What it means: http://www.workpermit.com/us/employer_b1_b2.htm
Business travelers may enter the United States using a B1, or 'Visitor for Business' Visa. In practice these visas are invariably issued as jointly with B2, or 'Visitor for Pleasure' (i.e. Tourist) visa.
What it means:
EB-2 visa is a United States visa created by the Immigration Act of 1990. This visa provides a method of obtaining employment authorization for aliens who are "members of the professions holding advanced degrees or their equivalent" and aliens "who because of their exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business will substantially benefit the national economy, cultural, or educational interests or welfare of the United States."
*This site contains an interesting chart that outlines the classification of a variety of worker visas. http://bit.ly/b8Y2pj
*Here is an up to date list of student and exchange visas F and F (OPT), M and J visas:
*This is a list of temporary worker visas that are for business. http://bit.ly/9PDMdr
*A description of permanent work visas and green cards EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, EB-4, EB-5 140,000 of these visas are issued yearly.
*A good resource for info on the visa waiver program and fees associated with ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization). The visa waiver program allows temporary travel into the U.S. up to 90 days without obtaining a visa. http://www.travel.state.gov/visa/temp/without/without_1990.html
Senator Durbin is a supporter of reforms and was involved with the development of Bills S. 887, S. 2804, H.R. 5397, S. 3816. Below are basic descriptions of these bills taken from different websites to help you understand what they mean and a link to each website where you can read more information.
Bill: S. 887 Written by Senators Grassley and Durbin.
What it means: This Bill Tightens up auditing processes for Visas.
A bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to reform and reduce fraud and abuse in certain visa programs for aliens working temporarily in the United States and for other purposes.
Bill: S. 2804
What it means: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s111-2804
A bill to require employers to certify that they have not and will not lay off a large number of employees before they are allowed to employ foreign workers in the United States, and for other purposes.
Bill: H.R. 5397
What it means: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-5397
To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to reform and reduce fraud and abuse in certain visa programs for aliens working temporarily in the United States, and for other purposes.
Bill: S. 3816
What it means: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s111-3816
A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to create American jobs and to prevent the offshoring of such jobs overseas.
Additional Reading on foreign worker visas and food for thought:
*List of those who have worked as U.S. Trade Representatives Why this is important to know is because these people go to WTO meetings and impact trade.
*Debunking the Myth of Mode 4 and the U.S. H-1B Visa Program. These programs are viewed as trade in services and not immigration. It's a nice overview of how to understand guest worker visas. This article was written by Lori Wallach and Todd Tucker, Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, March 2006. http://www.citizen.org/documents/Mode_Four_H1B_Visa_Memo.pdf
*2009 State-by-State count of just H-1B visa workers. If you look at this website you will see that the total number of people who have an H-1B guest worker visa in 2009 330,449 based on the map in the link below. Illinois had 14,981 workers. If you multiply that number by various costs associated with these workers and it can really add up. http://blogs.sacbee.com/the-public-eye/2010/07/the-number-of-skilled-temporary.html
*This website gives a good history of immigration and the legislative chronology of the H-1B visa. The info pertains to tech worker visas in tech from the 1950s and the full history outlined in this article dates back to 1819. http://www.zazona.com/ShameH1B/H1BHistory.htm
*Pages 13 - 14 in the PDF link below explain what an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) is and some frequently asked questions on how to get one.
*An overview of the process of student applications for work visas. An interesting quote from this document, "Students who are authorized for Optional Practical Training (OPT) must have an I-20 endorsed for OPT, and provide a USCIS-issued Employment Authorization Document (EAD). When authorized, Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment that is directly related to the eligible F-1 student's area of study." http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1268.html
* Questions and Answers: Extension of Optional Practical Training Program for Qualified Students. Interesting excerpts from this document:
"How many students stand to benefit from this interim final rule?"
"ICE records indicate that there are approximately 70,000 students currently in OPT and, of those, about 23,000 are studying in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM) fields. Some of these students will be selected for an H-1B to start in October 2008. Others may choose to continue their education, while some will depart the United States. ICE and USCIS estimate that approximately 12,000 will take advantage of the STEM extension." http://bit.ly/9LwbIB
*On page 4 of this document there is an interesting chart that breaks down information on who has entered the United States through visas and other means. http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/statistics/publications/ni_fr_2009.pdf
*The 2009 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics was published by the Department of Homeland Security in August of 2010. Refer to pages 68 and 69 of this PDF file (pages 63 and 64 of the document) to view additional statistics on guest workers in the U.S. last year. http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/statistics/yearbook/2009/ois_yb_2009.pdf
*An opinionated website listing work visas and their descriptions. Note the Green skull and cross bones on this site. Like I mentioned earlier, evaluate and form your own opinion. http://www.zazona.com/ShameH1B/VisaTypes.htm
*Some food for thought on adding smart technology into our passports. Outsourcing, H-1B And The Coming E-Passport Security Scandal August 24, 2010 By Rob Sanchez
*This article by Washington Watcher delves into the viewpoints of immigration reform patriots and their desire to see a moratorium on legal immigration into the U.S.http://www.vdare.com/washington_watcher/100301_moratorium.htm
I would like to thank the anonymous caller who was gracious enough to bring this to our attention. It just goes to show that there are people out there who really care to communicate with the tech community. Is there a tech topic you're passionate about and you'd like to get the word out? Let me know. I'm here to help. -
Facebook Fan Page: http://bit.ly/MelanieAdcockFacebookFanPage
Facebook Profile: http://www.facebook.com/melanie.a.adcock
Thomas R. Bennett: Chicago 2.0 - DREAMING BIG - Part I - BGA-moderated "TIF's 101"panel discussion at DePaul University
Subject: Chicago 2.0 - DREAMING BIG by Thomas R. Bennett - Part I - BGA-moderated "TIF's 101"panel discussion at DePaul University.
Date: 10/15/2010 12:38:47 P.M. Central Daylight Time
Please consider the below-report as Part I in a series of commentary and reports dedicated to both evaluating and defining a sustainable vision for a 21st Century Chicago that includes how to create meaningful, diversified and sustainable private-capital sponsored employment base in Chicago's Central Business District.
On Tuesday, September 28th, I attended the Better Government Association-moderated "TIF's 101"panel discussion at DePaul University.
The panel discussion was held on the 2nd floor of DePaul University's Student Union. Surprisingly, it was a standing-room only "packed" house of well over 100 people.
The panelists were as follows:
Ben Joravsky, regular writer of "The Works" column for the Chicago Reader
Rachel Weber, UIC Associate Professor, Research and Program Development
Thomas R. Henderson, Executive Director, Illinois Tax Increment Association
While the panel discussion was informative, way too much time was spent on gratuitous commentary related to the so-called TIF expertise of Ben Joravsky and the goo-goo mission of the BGA and not enough time was spent discussing 'meat-and-potato' issues --- specifically, how to leverage the approximately $700M in remaining TIF Fund Reserves to attract private investment and effectively create sustainable, high-impact employment in the City of Chicago.
As of yesterday, Rich Daley announced that he intends to draw $180M from the TIF Fund Reserves --- http://www.suntimes.com/business/2800308,daley-budget-101310.article ---- Based upon reported estimates, Daley's announcement will leave the next administration with approximately $520M in remaining TIF Fund Reserves that the next administration can, in turn, use for Economic Development and permanent job creation related efforts. While it's disappointing that Rich Daley is drawing upon approximately 25% of TIF Reserve Funds, the 'proverbial silver lining' is that the next mayor is left with over half a billion dollars to use toward creating sustainable, well-paying private capital-sponsored employment opportunities. Of course, the remaining TIF Reserve Balance is only as relevant as the next administration's (and city council's) vision toward creating a 21st century economy. Candidly, if the next administration (and reconstituted city council) simply uses the remaining $500M+ reserve to 'plug' the 2012 operating budget.....simply put, the Central Business District and the City of Chicago are BLEEPED!
Another piece of constructive criticism related to the 9/28 BGA/TIF panel discussion would have been to solicit questions directly from the audience to create more of a town hall format discussion as the "pass-the-index-card-approach" inherently marginalizes both the quality and overall direction of the conversation. In any event, probably two of the more disappointing takeaways of the evening were as follows ---
1. Receiving a partial answer to an index card I submitted with the following three questions:
A.) In the event a substantial portion of the $700M get applied to the 2011 Operating Budget to fill the major budget gap, how does the panel propose the City of Chicago incentivize private capital to invest in the City of Chicago?
B) Please identify the Top 3 projects that have been beneficiaries of Daley TIF policy.
C) Who is ultimately responsible for enforcement of the TIF redevelopment agreements at City Hall?
2. In his closing remarks, Ben Joravsky blaming the "citizens" of Chicago on TIF policy failure, not the Rich Daley Administration or the City Council.
While Andy Shaw did receive an index card of above three questions, he did not read the TIF' enforcement' question which candidly is probably "the" biggest issue with TIF Policy and, inherently, the "silver bullet" in terms of providing remedy for TIF Program challenges. Pursuant to my investigative findings related to the developer's non-performance of the 247 South State Street $8M TIF redevelopment agreement, the Law Department appears to have final say in the context of enforcing redevelopment agreements - although it would have been helpful to receive an answer from the panel on this matter. Probably the most critical question in the context of the City of Chicago's immediate prospects for incentivizing private capital to 'invest' in Chicago.....is how are we going to promote Chicago, and economically incentivize private industry without a 'flush' TIF Reserve Fund?
Again, effective yesterday, Rich Daley announced that he is planning to apply the $180M of TIF slush fund to the 2011 Operating Budget --- a real profile in courage and leadership as he walk out the door. Daley knows damn well how challenging its going to be for the next mayor (and city council) to generate a similar fund which ultimately leads to the next question.....
What is a compelling and relevant vision for Chicago 2.0?
To become the next Detroit? Let's hope not.
On a very surprising note --- Ben Joravsky had little to say re: the Top 3 TIF projects question I submitted - other than Joravsky stating the best use of TIF, to date, is Millennium Park. I am completely surprised and disappointed that there was not one single mention of either 247 South State or 600 West Chicago - which, by the way, is "the" model for the remaining TIF Reserve Fund. The $28M TIF granted to the 600 West Chicago developer in 2003 is "the" model for the HIGH-IMPACT use of the remaining $500M+ in TIF Funds as it created 'thousands' of sustainable jobs. While Joravsky is clearly recognized as the so-called TIF expert, I was very disappointed in his 'lack-of-knowledge' regarding either the 247 South State failure 'or' the 600 West Chicago success story.
In fact, about 15-minutes into the panel discussion, I interrupted Ben Joravsky when he went into what I can only characterize as an 'uninformed riff' regarding a 'have' vs. 'have nots' commentary re: TIF policy. Specifically, upon Joravsky commenting that TIF dollars should be diverted to communities like Austin, Wicker Park and Englewood --- I cut-him-off by stating that his commentary re: TIF policy is both uninformed and baseless. Upon cutting-off Joravsky I was then verbally-booed by presumably a bunch of Lincoln Park/Lakefront socialist good government goo-goo's by not adhering to the 'pass-the-index-card' question-and-answer format.
To Andy Shaw's credit, Andy Shaw allowed "the gentleman in the 4th-row" to expand upon his disagreement with Joravsky's commentary. At this point, I mentioned that TIF as well as all economic development/job creation tools need to be prioritized to fund the most HIGH IMPACT of projects in the city. I specifically referenced that it is very academic to weigh the impact of jobs created thru a Walgreens 'or' Walmart in Englewood vs. the high-impact jobs created by 600 West Chicago. I mean, how can any so-called economic development policy pundit carve-out a persuasive position that the permanent jobs, construction jobs and residual service industry jobs (i.e., convenience stores, restaurants, et al) associated with a high-impact development like 600 West Chicago are less meaningful that a Walmart store in Chatham or Englewood?
Aside from using simple metrics such as 'per square foot Return on Investment' metric to quantify the economic and social benefits of a 600 West Chicago TIF vs. a TIF for a convenience store in Wicker Park, Lakeview or Englewood --- the per square foot return on investment for a Central Business District TIF development will always be 1000% more valuable than a neighborhood development - irrespective of neighborhood (Beverly, Mt. Greenwood, Lakeview, Englewood, Chatham, et al). In addition, the so-called economic development experts should also ask themselves the following question --- when was the last time an office developer decided to 'invest' private capital due to the opening of a TIF-funded Walgreens? My point precisely is that the private developer (or Walgreen's real estate decision-maker) of a Walgreen's anchored CBD retail space almost always makes its decision based solely upon the density and pedestrian traffic created by a major vertical development (i.e., office or residential) that generally would not be possible 'BUT FOR' a TIF or some other economic development tool.
Lastly, Ben Joravsky's closing remarks related to blaming the "citizens" of Chicago on TIF policy failure, not Rich Daley Administration or the 'asleep-at-the-switch' City Council (Editor's note from Tom Bennett: Chairman Burke, Alderman Solis, Alderman Mell, Alderman Allen, Alderman Fioretti, Alderman Waguspeak, Alderman Burnett and former Alderman Flores being the only exceptions) are so 'off-base' and 'pandering' to the Daley Administration that I wanted to interrupt Mr. Jpravsky again, however, I figured that The May Report is a much more effective platform to address Joravsky's 'ignoramus' comments than 'riling-up' a bunch of north-side lake front liberals and good government goo-goo's.
More on who is to blame re: TIF/Economic Development failures (as well as lessons to learn from the 247 South State $8M Technology TIF failure).....but most importantly, I will shortly propose how we - as a united city of neighborhoods and a united downtown business community move forward - in a post-Daley environment --- after I attend this evening's University of Chicago-sponsored Roundtable discussion moderated by Mr. Jim Farrell, Chairman of The Commercial Club of Chicago.
Tonight's topic of discussion is very timely. It's also simply titled >>> "Illinois is broke."
Tom Bennett 773.658.4830 (mobile)
The Commercial Club of Chicago, the same organization that sponsored the Daniel H. Burnham plan of Chicago
The Commercial Club of Chicago is a membership organization of business and civic leaders in the Chicago metropolitan area. Prospective candidates are nominated by an existing Commercial Club member and evaluated according to their position in their business or profession and service in the public interest.
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The current officers of The Commercial Club are:
W. James Farrell
Retired Chairman & CEO, Illinois Tool Works Inc.
Miles D. White
Chairman & CEO, Abbott
R. Eden Martin
Partner, Sidley, Austin LLP
David D. Hiller
President & CEO, McCormick Foundation
Jay L. Henderson
Vice Chairman, Client Service, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
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An example of two things: One, how a press release on a hot topic gets picked up by the national media; and two, how a lot of Chicago firms are making money outside of Chicago
Attorney Michael Fox Asks for Declaration of Rights for Victim of "Sexting" by Former WI. DA Kratz and Reveals Existence of Another Victim/Witness
Published: Friday, 15 Oct 2010 | 2:22 PM ET
MADISON, Wis., Oct 15, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Attorney Michael Fox, of Fox & Fox, S.C., has asked a Federal Court to declare that the Constitutional rights of domestic abuse victim S.V. were violated, in a lawsuit being filing against former WI District Attorney Ken Kratz. Kratz aggressively "sexted" S.V. to solicit a relationship, while concurrently prosecuting her former boyfriend for strangling and suffocating her during a domestic abuse incident. In the Federal complaint, Fox alleges a pattern of predatory behavior that began at least ten years prior to the incident involving S.V.
In the lawsuit, Fox states that under Chapter 950 of the Wisconsin Statutes, entitled "Rights of Victims and Witnesses of Crime," "a witness has a right to protection from harm and threats of harm arising out of their cooperation with law enforcement and prosecution." As the elected District Attorney for Calumet County, Defendant Kratz was effectively the chief law enforcement officer for the County.
"Kratz' latest victim blew a whistle and no one listened. This lawsuit will provide S.V. with the hearing she never received. A District Attorney is supposed to protect victims not create them. If successful, her suit will confirm that she had a Constitutional right that was violated, exacerbating the harm she suffered as a domestic abuse victim, compromising her privacy and impairing her as a witness for the prosecution. To the extent a civil court finds that Kratz' conduct is unconstitutional and damaging to a witness who cooperates with the criminal justice system, the Office of Lawyer Regulation and the Victims Rights Board should revisit their positions on regulating such conduct," says Attorney Fox.
The Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) passed on investigating Kratz despite the fact that the State of Wisconsin Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR) states that attorneys may not engage in sexual discrimination or sexual harassment in carrying out their obligations as lawyers. Pursuant to this, the Crime Victims Rights Board released a public statement that they have no authority to address sexual harassment or sexual discrimination by a District Attorney, directed at a victim or witness.
Kratz' conduct was to be investigated in the course of a removal proceeding initiated by the Governor of the State of Wisconsin, but the investigation was closed as a result of Kratz' voluntary resignation as Calumet County District Attorney.
"Given the government's confused message addressing this situation, it is time to draw a bright line between what is lawful and what is not." A complete copy of the lawsuit is available upon request.
About Fox & Fox, S.C.
Fox & Fox, S.C. handles a substantial number of cases involving violations of citizens' constitutional civil rights by various agencies and officials of state and local government. The firm also handles cases involving significant constitutional issues such as the rights to free expression and association, the rights to be free of excessive force and false arrest, the right to proper conditions of confinement in jail and prison, and the rights to substantive procedural due process. Fox and Fox maintains offices in Chicago, IL, Madison, WI and Milwaukee, WI. www.fox-law.com SOURCE: Fox & Fox, S.C.
CONTACT: BIGfrontier Communications Group Steve Lundin, (312) 391-8007 firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright Business Wire 2010 -0- KEYWORD: United States
Wisconsin INDUSTRY KEYWORD: Public Policy/Government
Legal SUBJECT CODE: Lawsuit
Woman files civil lawsuit against 'sexting DA'
Posted 10/15/2010 3:10 PM ET E-mail | Save | Print
By Ryan J. Foley, Associated Press Writer
MADISON, Wis. - A domestic abuse victim has filed a lawsuit asking a judge to declare that her constitutional rights were violated by a prosecutor who sent her sexually harassing text messages.
Attorney Michael Fox filed the lawsuit Friday in federal court in Milwaukee on behalf of 26-year-old Stephanie Van Groll.
Former Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz sent Van Groll 30 text messages seeking to start an affair with her last year while he was prosecuting her ex-boyfriend on a strangulation charge.
The lawsuit notes that under Wisconsin law, witnesses have the right to be protected from harm arising out of their cooperation with law enforcement. Fox says the lawsuit aims to strengthen and clarify the rights of crime victims in Wisconsin.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for the harm she suffered.
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END OF REPORT