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.

VillageOfRobbinsResolution

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.”

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.

 

Governor Rauner Leaves Public in Dark on Swap Agreements

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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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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.

Over 88,000 Petitioners Demand SEC Action on Toxic Swap Deals

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On Thursday, Grassroots Collaborative joined with organizations across the country including Americans for Financial Reform, CREDO Action, Rootstrikers and the Center for Popular Democracy to deliver a petition in which more than 80,000 Americans asked the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to investigate the toxic swap deals squeezing cities and states across the country.

The 80,000 petitions were delivered to the SEC’s Chicago Regional Office. At the delivery, State Representatives Chris Welch and Robert Martwick were joined by Alderman Carlos Rosa. Also present were over a dozen community leaders, teachers, and social service providers.

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.  The state of Illinois has already lost over $684 million to Wall Street banks on these deals and could be on the hook for an additional $870 million on November 27th if action is not taken.

In many cases, it appears that banks misrepresented the risk of these deals to cities, or omitted key information, in violation of fair dealing rules. The SEC has the power to order Wall Street to give back any ill-gotten gains if it finds evidence of wrongdoing. On Thursday, taxpayers and elected officials will ask them to do just that.

“These toxic swap deals have cost taxpayers across the country billions of dollars,” said Saqib Bhatti, Director of the ReFund America Project. “Because elected officials like Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel have refused to lift a finger to recoup losses, the SEC must act as the last line of defense to protect taxpayers’ interests so that we can fully fund services in our communities.”

“Predatory Wall Street deals are costing Chicago and other American cities billions of dollars,” said CREDO Political Director Murshed Zaheed. “It is long past time for the Securities and Exchange Commission to stop sitting on the sidelines and start protecting our communities from big banks.”

“In many places around the country, big banks appear to have violated their legal obligations of ‘fair dealing’ by overstating the benefits and understating the risks of deals that are now leaching billions of dollars from taxpayers and communities,” said Lisa Donner, Executive Director of Americans for Financial Reform. “The SEC should use their authority to investigate these deals, and to order disgorgement of ill-gotten gains if it finds evidence of wrongdoing.”

“The toxic swaps Wall Street peddled to our cities and towns are part of a parasitic business model that drains wealth from the real economy rather than creating value,” said Kurt Walters, campaign director of the Rootstrikers project at Demand Progress. “The SEC must launch an immediate investigation into how these toxic deals were pushed on our cities and towns – and force bankers responsible for fraudulent sales to return all ill-gotten profits back to the public.”

Erica Rangel, with Enlace Chicago, which operates one of two remaining CeaseFire sites operating in the state of Illinois told the crowd, “Right now the state of Illinois is cutting life-saving programs like CeaseFire, LIHEAP, and Senior HomeCare. The money being used to pay out on these toxic swaps isn’t being pulled out of thin air – it is coming from our communities and our programs. We need the SEC to understand the deadly consequences of these swap deals, this last weekend in Chicago we had 64 shootings. How many shootings could funding of vital anti-violence and social services prevented?”

“Across the country, people are calling on the SEC to investigate a small clique of banks that have drained massive public resources through complicated and likely illegal interest rate swap deals,” Illinois State Senator Daniel (D-17) told Grassroots Collaborative prior to the delivery. “Governor Rauner should not voluntarily pay out on these deals and seek to renew letters of credit with the state to ensure that the SEC has enough time to launch a thorough investigation of these deals. Our money should be going to schools and services not Wall Street banks.”

Photos available here

The petition signatures come from:

Community Declares State of Emergency in Illinois

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On Thursday, while legislators in Springfield move towards stop-gap measures, a broad coalition of organizations representing residents being hurt by the continued state budget impasse will rally in support of a budget that fully funds the services and programs communities need.

The last twelve months have devastated the state: after-school programs have closed, summer jobs have been cut, anti-violence programs have been dismantled, public universities are at risk of shutting down, thousands of working families applying for child care assistance are no longer eligible, seniors and those with disabilities who apply are not receiving needed independent living services. The lack of a budget and years of disinvestment from vulnerable populations and communities of color has created a state of emergency in Illinois.

Meanwhile, rich individuals and wealthy corporations continue to profit from the budget impasse. Governor Rauner and his top donors like Ken Griffin have received tens of millions in tax breaks. Ken Griffin’s 2015 tax break alone is enough money to pay to restore funding for the anti-violence program CeaseFire and provide home care for 1,570 seniors. On Thursday, community residents will make clear that taking resources from seniors, children, and Black & Brown communities to pay for tax cuts for the rich is unacceptable.

Failure of Emanuel Administration to Push Through Swap Payments a Victory for Working Families

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The House failed to bring the Fair Tax Amendment (HJRCA 59) to a vote, missing the deadline for placing it on the ballot for the upcoming November elections. The Fair Tax amendment, that would have allowed voters to vote on a constitutional amendment to implement a progressive income tax enjoyed massive public support in both Democratic and Republican districts. By not taking up the amendment, Governor Rauner and House Republicans allowed Illinois to continue to head in the wrong direction.

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The Peoples Agenda, a path to prosperity for all IL families

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The House failed to bring the Fair Tax Amendment (HJRCA 59) to a vote, missing the deadline for placing it on the ballot for the upcoming November elections. The Fair Tax amendment, that would have allowed voters to vote on a constitutional amendment to implement a progressive income tax enjoyed massive public support in both Democratic and Republican districts. By not taking up the amendment, Governor Rauner and House Republicans allowed Illinois to continue to head in the wrong direction.

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