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.

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


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


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.

Wall Street Accountability

News Source:

Across the country, big wall street banks and financial institutions are making billions off of our cities, states and school districts through predatory (and potentially law-breaking) lending deals. In Illinois, big banks have taken more than $2.4 billion out of our state funds. These funds could have fixed the 2016 CPS budget crisis, provided domestic violence services for 31 years or funded child care for 102,000 Illinois families.

Rahm and Rauner have given the banks a free pass and looked the other way. Neighborhood leaders, parents, seniors, students, and teachers are standing up and demanding an end to this giveaway of our public money. Join us in an exciting campaign to win back hundreds of millions of dollars – we’re taking our money back and putting it into the communities we deserve!


Nothing Found

Sorry, no posts matched your criteria