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Report Back: Lobbying Against Violence

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On Wednesday, March 22, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council (BPNC), Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and Grassroots Collaborative brought the People’s Agenda, a set of bills aimed at reinvesting in the People of Illinois, to the state capitol.

On this trip to Springfield our main goal was to meet with Illinois House members and ask that they co-sponsor the Violence Prevention Act (HB3166—Rep. Stratton), a comprehensive bill to prioritize five key areas of investment in order to stem the violence escalating in communities: street intervention programming, youth jobs, after school program investment, trauma-informed care, and supports for those in contact with the criminal justice system. Our meetings with legislators were productive, we gained 6 co-sponsors, including Elizabeth Hernandez (D-24), La Shawn K. Ford (D-8), Robert Martwick (D-19), Marcus C. Evans Jr. (D-33), Justin Slaughter (D-27), and Will Guzzardi (D-39).

busOn the bus to Springfield, Berenice Flores and Ebonee Stevenson, community organizers with BPNC and Grassroots Collaborative respectively, facilitated a Spanish and English training for our intergenerational group of 23 people on why we’re talking with our representatives and how to go about doing so.

“We are parents from different neighborhoods,” said Flores, and the “lack of resources there are for our kids is why we’re here.”

Stevenson added, “so we can stop begging for crumbs and start getting what our communities really need.” She encouraged folks, “If you see legislators who you want to talk to, don’t be afraid to speak. This is our show. We are fighting for our babies.”

9-year-old Sonya Sifore said, “It felt really good to lobby because I knew I was fighting for my rights and other people’s rights. I feel great that I got a representative to represent our state Illinois.”

Andres Barrera, BPNC member, said, “I felt as though the work that was done today was important but often neglected. We often hear about how only these rich corporations often lobby to get their point or law across but we often forget that we also have the power. It was interesting to meet the people who pass these laws that directly affect me and my community.”

Above all, our group expressed gratitude and concern. BPNC member Marivel Miranda said:

Es un gusto estar en este recinto en nuestro estado Illinois. Fue muy satisfactorio por el echo de que algunos de nuestro representantes nos apollaron en nuestros propositos, sobretodo en la violencia en nuestra ciuda de Chicago IL; mi mallor preocupación es tontas muertes de niños en los calles. Ojala este viaje nos sirva como comunidad para parar esta que esta afectando a tantos jovenes de nuestra ciudad y de nuestros barrios. Brighton Park es una comunidad que a sido muy afectada en todo, como lo mencionadado antenormente, como con los recortes en nuestras escuelas, que cada una de nuestras escuelas son templos de la enseñanza para nuestro hijos y futuros hombres y mujeres de vien en nuetra ciudad.

It’s a pleasure to be in our state of Illinois. It was very gratifying because some of our representatives supported our purpose, especially around addressing the increased violence in our state. My biggest concern is deaths of children in the streets. I hope this trip will serve our community, to stop this from affecting so many young people of our city and our neighborhoods. Brighton Park is a community that has been very affected in everything, as mentioned above, as with the cuts in our schools. Our schools are temples of teaching for our children and future men and women from around the city.

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Carried Interest Loophole Bill Passes Out of Committee

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On Thursday, March 23rd, the Illinois House Revenue Committee passed HB 3393 7 to 4.

Part of the Illinois People’s Agenda Legislative Platform, HB 3393 would put a “privilege” tax on Wall Street Money Managers who exploit the federal carried interest tax loophole. Conservative estimates predict this tax would generate $473 million a year for the state of Illinois, money our state needs to pay for vital programs and services.

Following its passage out of the House Revenue Committee, HB 3393 now waits for a full vote on the House Floor.

Send a letter to your state representative asking them to support HB 3393 when it comes for a vote.

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Bill Introduced to Close Corporate Loopholes and Raise $924 Million for IL

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News Source:

On March 10th, International Women’s Day, Representative Will Guzzardi introduced HB4004 to raise $924 million by closing nine corporate tax loopholes. Illinois’ backlog of unpaid bills has grown to $11 billion and the general fund’s deficit is now $9.5 billion. Budget cuts have a disproportionate impact on women — denying them opportunity to go to college, failing to support female caregivers, robbing female seniors of independence and dignity, endangering women’s safety, and increasing poverty and homelessness among women.

“It’s a moral failure that we’re letting the neediest among us suffer while huge corporations game the system to boost their profits,” said Rep. Guzzardi. “The nearly $1 billion dollars of loopholes we can close will take taxpayer money back from the corporate special interests and invest it where it belongs: in the people of Illinois, in our schools and roads and neighborhoods.”

The bill proposes:

Check out Fair Economy Illinois for more information about HB4004 .

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Introducing the People’s Agenda Legislative Platform

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On Wednesday, Grassroots Collaborative member organizations headed down to Springfield to refute Governor Rauner’s continued policy of disinvestment and call for a People’s Agenda that invests in the people of Illinois, keeps our communities safe, and generates the resources to rebuild.

The People’s Agenda Legislative Platform

Illinois needs investments in our people, measures to keep our communities safe, and new revenue so that we can rebuild our state. We cannot solve our problems with cuts – working and middle-class families have already been cut to the bone. In order to reverse growing poverty in Illinois, fight back against racism, and support women and children in Illinois, we need a bold agenda that puts the people of Illinois at the center.
The People’s Agenda Legislative Platform includes legislation that is being championed by members of several coalitions, including: Grassroots Collaborative, Black Roots Alliance, Fair Economy Illinois, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Tuition Free Illinois and other civic and labor organizations.

Investing In the People of Illinois

Minimum Wage
Legislation to pass a $15 minimum wage that would phase in over the course of 5 years in the state of Illinois. Raising the wage will boost our economy and bring more tax revenue into the state as more folks spend in their communities to purchase goods and services.

Childcare Expansion: HB3213 (Rep. Wallace)
Due to deep cuts made by Governor Rauner, the Illinois’ Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) remains unavailable to more than 14,000 children. This bill restores children of parents who are in education and training programs back into the Childcare Assistance Program, and begins the critical work of childcare expansion.

Homecare Defense
The Community Care Program (CCP) helps seniors live in their homes and community longer, avoiding premature and more costly nursing home care. Governor Rauner has proposed creating a new program called the Community Reinvestment Program (CRP), which will cut nearly $200 million from CCP and in-home services for seniors in Illinois. If created, CRP would cut and gravely reduce care to 43,000 seniors currently in CCP.

Medicaid Expansion
This legislation will protect those currently receiving care and potentially expand who can receive care. If the ACA is repealed, 671,000 people in Illinois stand to lose health coverage. At the very least we must fight to protect the current system which keeps many of our community hospitals afloat. Over the course of a year and half, Medicaid expansion brought 3.4 billion dollars into the state economy.

Rent Control: HB2430 (Rep. Guzzardi)
Repeals the law that prevents rent control from being enacted in Illinois communities.

Free College Tuition
Legislation to require the state to administer grant funding each year to each state university, based on enrollment, to replace the tuition they would otherwise have received. This initiative will lift the burden of debt from the shoulders of the next generation of Illinoisans and their families, freeing them to spend money in the state’s economy, while attracting businesses and families to Illinois for quality college education.

Elected Representative School Board: HB1774 (Rep. Martwick)
The bill establishes elections (rather than appointments) for the City of Chicago Board of Education through the election of members in representative districts across the city. This bill expands democracy and community input into a school district that has been under the complete control of one man since 1995.

Making Our Communities Safe

Violence prevention: HB3166 (Rep. Stratton)
Comprehensive legislation which will prioritize five key areas of investment in order to stem the violence escalating in communities: street intervention programming, youth jobs, after school program investment, trauma-informed care, and supports for those in contact with the criminal justice system.

Criminal Justice Reform
Sweeping criminal justice legislation, that not only works to address racial inequities in incarceration and policing, but also aims to reinvest the dollars spent on locking up low-level, non-violent and juvenile offenders, putting that money back in the communities that have been most impacted by mass incarceration. Supports programming that addresses recidivism, youth employment, and other community-centered violence prevention initiatives.

Protecting Immigrant Communities: HB426 (Rep. Welch)
Creates the Immigration Safe Zones Act. Establishes that schools, medical treatment and health care facilities, and places of worship may not grant access to law enforcement officers working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to take action against suspected immigration law violations without a warrant.

Generating the Resources to Rebuild

Protecting Taxpayer Dollars from Predatory Wall St. Deals: HB 2718 (Rep. Welch)
Requires evaluation of state financial contracts, including interest rate swaps, in order to know the financial costs of these hidden agreements. Provides that if these agreements have resulted in losses, all necessary efforts to recover those moneys will be made. Prevents the state from entering into high risk Wall Street deals like swaps in the future.

Close the Carried Interest Loophole: SB 1719/HB 3393 (Sen. Biss/Rep. Welch)
Imposes a privilege tax on hedge fund managers and private equity traders whose large profits currently go untaxed. Estimated revenue of $473 million would fund K-12 education.

Payment Prioritization: HM3871 (Rep. Martwick)
This bill provides that the Comptroller’s efforts to manage priorities during times of fiscal distress, should include issuing payments for education and human services before issuing payments for financial services. Provides for a continuing appropriation for funding of public education and human services.

Closing Corporate Loopholes
This bill closes nine corporate tax loopholes and raises $924M in new revenue for Illinois. These loopholes, including profits from offshore oil drilling and money held in off-shore tax havens, allow big corporations to increase their profits at the expense of the people of Illinois.

TIF money for school wrap-around services: HB3720 (Rep. Harper)
The bill creates parameters for TIF surpluses in Chicago and mandates that money is used for school-based social services like social workers and school nurses, and special education services. This measure addresses both deep cuts to special education and the dire need for trauma-informed social services for thousands of Chicago students.

FRIENDLY Act: HB3522 (Rep. Martwick)
The bill establishes clear and increased funding streams for K-12 and higher education, social service providers, and pension obligations through the resetting of sales, property, and income tax rates. It addresses Illinois’ structural deficit, its long-term challenges related to pension funding, and the insufficient and inequitable funding of Illinois’ public schools and universities.

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

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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.

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

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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.”

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Job Posting: Operations and Administrative Manager

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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, hiring@thegrassrootscollaborative.org.  No calls, please.  Position open until filled.

TITLE: Operations and Administrative Manager

SUPERVISED BY: Executive Director

SUPERVISES: n/a

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

QUALIFICATIONS

  • 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

WORK ENVIRONMENT:  

  • 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, hiring@thegrassrootscollaborative.org.  No calls, please.  Position open until filled.

 

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Governor Rauner Leaves Public in Dark on Swap Agreements

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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

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News Source:

 

October 4, 2016

Contacts:

nathan@grassrootscollaborative.org

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.”

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Legislators and Community Leaders Meet With SEC

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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.