Village of Robbins Calls on Governor Rauner to Put People Before Wall Street Banks


Robbins Unanimously Passes Resolution against Predatory Bank Deals Draining State and Local Budgets, asks for Attorney General to Take Action

Robbins, IL – On the eve of Governor Rauner’s budget address the Village of Robbins Board of Trustees passed a resolution targeting Wall Street banks that have drained hundred of millions of dollars from taxpayers through toxic interest rate swaps.

The resolution calls on Governor Rauner to negotiate a termination of the state’s remaining interest rate swaps with no further cost to Illinois taxpayers; resolves that the Mayor and the Board of Trustees of Robbins enforce a moratorium on entering into interest swap deals; and calls on Attorney General Lisa Madigan to investigate the state’s predatory swap deals and sue to recover the money that banks have taken from the state.

“I’m am thrilled that my community is standing up to Wall Street and articulating clearly that we want public resources to be going to helping people not padding Wall Street bank profits,” said Barbara Pillow Sidibeh, a resident of Robbins following the vote. “Black and Brown communities across the state are facing massive targeted disinvestment as a result of these toxic deals with Wall Street banks.”

“Even while they consider halting payment to state workers, gutting public education, and cutting services, Rauner and the political establishment have been unwilling to stand up to Wall Street banks. Tonight the Village of Robbins showed how it can be done. Now we need Governor Rauner and Attorney General Lisa Madigan to do the right thing and put the interests of Illinois families before Wall Street bankers,” stated Amisha Patel, Executive Director of Grassroots Collaborative.



As Violence Soars, Governor Continues to Pursue Personal Political Agenda Over Needs of Residents


Grassroots Collaborative Statement on Governor Rauner’s 2017 State of the State Address

Chicago, IL – On Wednesday, Governor Rauner delivered his third state of the state address without having successfully passed a budget. The following is a statement from Amisha Patel, Executive Director of Grassroots Collaborative.

“Today, Governor Rauner attempted to borrow from the Trump playbook and layout alternative facts about the state of Illinois under his leadership, but the reality is that his time at the helm has been an unmitigated disaster for Illinois families. Precious lives have been lost as a result of the elimination of state anti-violence funding and erosion of the social safety net. In addition to pushing disinvestment, Governor Rauner has contributed to an escalating climate of scapegoating of Muslim and immigrant communities in Illinois by eliminating all state funding for immigrant services and attempting to ban Syrian refugees.

The diverse set of communities that Grassroots Collaborative represents understand that our state needs a new way forward. We need a People’s Agenda, one that closes capital gains loopholes and fully funds education with that revenue. We need universal childcare so that children have a safe learning environment while their parents go to work. We need criminal justice reform that takes money out of incarceration and reinvests in the communities most affected by policing. These ideas and more are the way to move the state forward.”


Job Posting: Operations and Administrative Manager


Grassroots Collaborative is hiring! People of color strongly encouraged to apply.  For consideration, send a resume, cover letter, and three references to Amisha Patel, Executive Director,  No calls, please.  Position open until filled.

TITLE: Operations and Administrative Manager

SUPERVISED BY: Executive Director


SALARY/HOURLY, EXEMPT OR NONEXEMPT: 25-30 hours a week, Nonexempt (Pay: $20-25 an hour, depending on skills, plus six paid sick days per year)

ORGANIZATIONAL SUMMARY: Grassroots Collaborative (501c3) builds power with working families through strategic community-labor organizing, grassroots leadership development, civic engagement, and research. We organize to win progressive policies and systems-change that improve the lives of low-to-moderate income residents and communities of color. We utilize popular education to build consciousness, and build organization that unites residents to create transformative change for a more just society. Our affiliated 501c4, Grassroots Illinois Action, works to build community political power through issue advocacy and electoral strategies.

We have a strong record of leading bold campaigns that shift the narrative of racism, austerity and corporate power.

POSITION SUMMARY: The Operations and Administrative Manager for Grassroots Collaborative and Grassroots Illinois Action supports the operations work of both organizations.  The Manager is responsible for key office and finance support work to help the organizing campaigns and staff leadership be more effective.  

Job Responsibilities:


  • Financial Support: Process membership dues and fundraiser revenue; Review general ledger to ensure accurate categorizing of expenses in Quickbooks; Coordinate annual auditing process; Work with Executive Director, Director of Development, and Board Treasurer to create annual and project budgets.
  • Administrative Support: Provide direct support to Executive Director, preparing relevant materials for meetings, securing logistics for meetings, coordinating travel plans for all staff; Provide administrative support at Board and strategy meetings, compile materials for meeting; Assist in filing, copying, note taking and general record keeping; Place orders for supplies; Provide other administrative support to staff as needed; Prepare paperwork to stay in compliance with state and federal guidelines.
  • Bookkeeping: Manage all receivables, cash receipts, and general ledger functions; Monitor and follow up on receivables that are outstanding; Manage all accounts payable activities, including debit and credit card transactions, reimbursements, and vendor payments; prepare monthly closing entries and reports; Disseminate financial reports to Board Treasurer, Executive Director, and others as needed.
  • Human Resources: Serve as liaison with insurance companies; Maintain time off records; Post job descriptions, collect resumes and correspond with job applicants; Ensure payroll is completed each pay period accurately and timely; Coordinate timesheet and allocation activities.
  • Data Support: Helps manage our database, including data entry


  • Minimum 2 years applicable experience
  • Excellent written and verbal communication ability
  • Proficient in Excel, Word, and knowledgeable in Quickbooks and Salsa
  • Graphic design skills a strong plus
  • Excellent team player, super organized, detail oriented, and able to meet deadlines with ease
  • Comfortable working in a fast-paced environment
  • Strong support for the mission of Grassroots Collaborative and Grassroots Illinois Action
  • Demonstrated commitment to racial, social, and economic justice


  • This position operates primarily in a professional office environment This role routinely uses standard office equipment such as computers, phones, photocopiers, scanners, filing cabinets
  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to talk or hear. The employee frequently is required to stand; walk; use hands to finger, handle or feel; and reach with hands and arms. The employee must frequently lift and/or move objects up to 25 pounds and occasionally lift and/or move objects up to 40 pounds
  • Some travel to off-site locations in the Chicago metro area is required. Occasionally, some out-of-the-area travel may be expected
  • Workplace is a smoke-and drug-free environment

Grassroots Collaborative is an equal-opportunity employer.  People of color strongly encouraged to apply.  For consideration, send a resume, cover letter, and three references to Amisha Patel, Executive Director,  No calls, please.  Position open until filled.


As Obama exits scene, Chicago legacy debated


But community organizer Amisha Patel said Obama too often tried to walk a fine line on such issues.

“I think the president was afraid to be clear on an urban agenda. I don’t think he thought he had room to move on that, and so you get a really hands-off approach, these half-solutions,” Patel said. “There was tremendous pressure on Obama, being the first black president of this country, and I think he was focused on being seen as the president for everybody in the country, and so he moved away from urban issues.”

Patel applauded Obama’s success with Obamacare and noted the great pride many Chicagoans feel in him, but said the high expectations many locals had when Obama took office because of his background and understanding of city problems were met with disappointment.

“When he campaigned in 2008, he campaigned as a community organizer, but he didn’t govern as one,” she said. “I think that’s a missed opportunity.”

Grassroots Collaborative Statement on Mayor Emanuel’s FY17 Budget Address


Chicago, IL – On Tuesday, community leaders and residents listened as Mayor Emanuel delivered his FY17 budget address. Although Emanuel agreed to release some of the city’s surplus TIF funds under mounting pressure from parents, teachers, community organizations, groups expressed disappointment that Emanuel again failed to ask Chicago’s most wealthy individuals and corporations to contribute the resources necessary to the long term success of all of Chicago’s neighborhoods. The following is a statement from Grassroots Collaborative, a coalition of labor and community organizations based in Chicago.

“Mayor Emanuel continues his streak of asking working families to pay more while the most wealthy continue to not pay their fair share. This is not sustainable. Plastic bags are not going to generate the resources needed to address the economic and racial inequality driving so much of the violence in our communities,” stated Amisha Patel, Executive Director of Grassroots Collaborative. “It is our hope that we can build on the release of additional TIF funds and win more substantial progressive revenue in the near future.”

Patrick Brosnan, Executive Director of Brighton Park Neighborhood Council added, “The declared TIF surplus is a victory for Chicago’s families but we have to pass the Chicago Public Education Revitalization (CPER) Ordinance to institutionalize the surplus process. We started this campaign in July, knowing that it would be a long and hard battle.  While we acknowledge that some of the surplus is being redirected to schools, it’s only the start of our fight to win education equity in Chicago.”


Governor Rauner Leaves Public in Dark on Swap Agreements

News Source:

Illinois was in the national spotlight this week for taking action to hold Wells Fargo accountable for defrauding millions of customers. Illinois state Treasurer Michael Frerichs, Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers, and the Chicago City Council took action by withdrawing city and state funds and financial business from Wells Fargo. The move received coverage in the New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Bloomberg, CNN, LA Times, and Chicago Tribune

Governor Rauner also made an announcement about the state’s business with Wall St. Banks this week. On Tuesday, just prior to a scheduled press conference by SEIU Healthcare, the University Professionals of Illinois, and Grassroots Collaborative regarding the state’s toxic swap deals, Governor Rauner announced that he had reached agreements with five Wall Street banks holding interest rate swaps with the state of Illinois. But the Rauner administration isn’t releasing the terms of those agreements to the public.

In a release about the agreements, the Rauner administration repeatedly talks about mitigating risk and limiting the state’s exposure. Chicago Mayor Emanuel used very similar language to describe his actions regarding Chicago’s swaps just months before the swaps were terminated, costing Chicago taxpayers $400 million in fees. Governor Rauner has hired the same advisors used by the Emanuel Administration.

Also of interest, nowhere in Rauner’s statement does the administration claim that the new agreements will save the state of Illinois money. Is Governor Rauner the most modest elected official in the state? Or are there are no actual projected savings?

Based on what the administration has told the media, it appears that Governor Rauner renegotiated the credit rating trigger, a threshold that when crossed, causes the swap to terminate, incurring penalty fees. However, if the Governor does not take action to renew the Letters of Credit connected to the swaps, which are set to expire on November 27th, the swaps will still terminate, costing Illinois taxpayers close to a billion dollars. Rauner’s announcement may do little more than push an $870 million payout to Wall Street banks until after the election – which may have been exactly his intention.

Gov. Rauner’s announced agreement on swap payouts to Wall Street banks lack details

News Source:


October 4, 2016


Gov. Rauner’s announced agreement on swap payouts to Wall Street banks lack details

Coalition of educators and human service providers skeptical, demand disclosure of agreement terms

SPRINGFIELD, IL – This morning, Gov. Rauner reacted to Illinois educators and human service providers who had gathered for a press conference to call on the governor to prevent a near $1 billion payout connected to toxic interest rate swap deals with big banks.

A last minute press release by the governor’s office said the state had reached new agreements on the swap deals that would “reduce the state’s financial risk.”  However, the release raises many questions.  It claims that “the new terms are more favorable to the state” but provides no details about the new terms or if the agreements save the state money.

“We want to see the terms of these new deals. Taxpayers deserve to know what the Governor has negotiated and if it benefits them or big Wall Street banks like JP Morgan Chase,” said Amisha Patel, Executive Director of the Grassroots Collaborative. “There is too much at stake for us to just take the governor at his word. Illinois taxpayers have already had more than $670 million taken away from our schools and universities and critical services like childcare, senior services, and violence prevention programs, in order to pay for Wall Street banks’ profits,” she said.

Organizers said any action that Governor Rauner has taken around the interest rate swaps and letters of credit is a result of the pressure they had put on him to stop paying Wall Street banks while universities and social services starve for funding.

When asked about the news from the Governor’s office, Saqib Bhatti, author of “Turned Around: How the Swaps that were Supposed to Save Illinois Millions Became Toxic,” commented, “The devil is in the details.  Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a similar announcement when he renegotiated toxic swap deals.  A few months later, Chicago taxpayers had to pay $400 million in termination payments. We won’t know the potential impact of Rauner’s agreements until we see the actual terms.”

Notably, the statement from the governor’s office does not offer any detail about the status of five Letters of Credit that are attached to the swaps that were renegotiated.  These Letters of Credit will expire on Nov. 27th, 2016, triggering a massive payout of nearly $1 billion that would have to be diverted from already hurting education and human service programs.   The Governor’s statement merely says the priority is to “renew or replace” the letters of credit.

John Miller, President of the University Professionals of Illinois Local 4100 said about today’s announcement, “We need to see these agreements.  And we need an announcement from the Governor that he is currently negotiating with the five banks in question.  Our state cannot afford a $1 billion payout to big Wall Street banks while our college students are leaving the state, because they don’t know if their university will be open two months from now.”


Rahm Avoids Criticizing ‘Absentee Fathers’ In Anti-Violence Speech


CITY HALL — Mayor Rahm Emanuel had been expected to talk about the role of parenting in preventing violence in his big speech Thursday, but aldermen and activists cautioned him about the “myth” of the absentee African-American father.

In the end, Emanuel seemed to sidestep the issue in his speech on Thursday, and mentioned the word “parenting” just once.

“We need to strengthen policing, prevention, penalties and parenting,” he said, according to a transcript of his remarks.

In briefly laying out his plans for his speech on Wednesday, Emanuel had the “parenting” issue in terms of addressing “mentorship” programs like My Brother’s Keeper.

“The Vice Lords are ready to be a mentor. Is Chicago ready to be a mentor?” Emanuel said. “We know what the gangs are offering. The question is will there be an alternative for our kids to choose from?”

Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) challenged the factual basis for the “myth” of the fatherless African-American family.

Amisha Patel of the Grassroots Collaborative says the mayor is better off sticking to economic policy


“I think the mayor should focus on economic policy,” said Amisha Patel, executive director of the Grassroots Collaborative. “Blaming fathers and blaming families for crime is really disingenous.”

Yet Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) defended the idea of attending to families if focused on wider social issues.

“I would like to see us look at ways in which we can actually rebuild the family unit and find ways in which we can get police and families to engage,” Lopez said. “I’d like to hear an announcement about year-round employment for youth, things that keep idle hands busy.”

Lopez said he hopes Emanuel has ideas on “some new corporate partners in Chicago,” and using them to drive economic development, “not just Downtown,” but also in the neighborhoods.


Legislators and Community Leaders Meet With SEC


CHICAGO, IL – On Friday, State Representative Andrade, Chicago Alderman Ramirez-Rosa, and community leaders met with Federal Securities and Exchange Commission Regional Director David A.Glockner, and asked that the SEC investigate predatory interest rate swap deals that have caused taxpayers to pay out billions of dollars to Wall Street banks.  

“Right now we have Chicago students who are not getting the investment they deserve as a direct result of these interest rate swap deals,” stated Alderman Rosa. “Chicago and CPS together lost $1.4 billion after being sold these potentially fraudulent Wall Street gimmicks. I sincerely hope that the SEC will listen to us and do what Mayor Emanuel refused to do by taking the necessary legal action to protect our students and our city’s taxpayers.”

For years, Wall Street banks pitched cities and local governments on complicated financial deals called interest rate swaps promising big savings over simple loans. When their promises proved false, cities, states and school districts cut public services and vital programs in order to pay back Wall Street banks.  These toxic swap deals contributed to budget shortfalls that led to schools closing in Chicago, water shutoffs in Baltimore, and devastating environmental and health issues in Los Angeles.  These same bad deals also helped lead to the bankruptcy of Jefferson County, Alabama and Detroit, Michigan.

“Predatory swap deals have a devastating cost in our communities.  Every dollar that cities and states are forced to send to Wall Street banks is money not going towards essential community services. We must intervene to make sure that people are protected over the ill-gotten gains of large financial institutions,” said Amisha Patel, Executive Director of Grassroots Collaborative, following the meeting.   

Action by the SEC could provide much needed relief to the city of Chicago, Chicago Public Schools, and the State of Illinois. Interest rate swap deals have already cost the state $684 million and could cost taxpayers an additional $870 million if Governor Rauner does not renew letters of credit on these deals before November this year.

Community Leaders Tackle Downward Spiral of Gun Violence in Chicago


“I lost a brother, sister, an uncle and two cousins to gun violence right here in this neighborhood,” said Rev. Robin Hood, Illinois Anti-Foreclosure Alliance
There is no disagreement. The current level of gun violence in the city of Chicago is unacceptable.

“Kids don’t jump rope together anymore. You don’t play hopscotch because you’re afraid you may be shot by a stray bullet,” said Principal Sherryl Moore-Ollie, William Penn Elementary School.

Principal Moore-Ollie was just one of the North Lawndale neighborhood’s many community leaders that came together to discuss how to put a stop to the downward spiral being experienced by people here. Housing, job creation, education are all elements needed to curb the violence.

“I’ve been a part of Mothers Opposed to Violence for years and we’re still fighting,” said Gloria Muldrow, a crime victim.

Elsewhere in Chicago, similar discussions were being had. Proposing a somewhat unorthodox solution, longtime violence interrupter Tio Hardiman called on the state to resume its funding of Ceasefire, and suggests employing some of the same people currently responsible for perpetrating violent crimes in the city to stop them from happening.

“You need strong individuals that know these young brothers for real that can get into their ear at different times. And you have to hang out with them at times because you have to be there,” Hardiman said.

Meanwhile, in Douglas Park, a group of several dozen people came together for a mock funeral procession in Douglas Park. Their purpose? To call on the mayor and governor to better fund violence-wracked neighborhoods.

“Giving these young men help, sending them back to school, opportunities when they get out of jail, set up a work program, so that they can get back in school. It would be a lot better,” said Clarise Evans, a certified nurse assistant.