Mayor 1% and Parting City Council Leave Behind a Legacy of Economic Segregation

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On Wednesday, despite an outpouring of public opposition, Chicago City Council voted to approve two new megaTIF districts that will impact Chicago for decades to come. Grassroots Collaborative has worked for years to stop the abuses of the TIF program and helped lead a diverse coalition in opposition to the Lincoln Yards and the 78 megaTIFs. The following is a statement from Grassroots Collaborative Executive Director Amisha Patel.

“The decision to move forward these megaTIFs epitomizes a legacy that has been a disaster for working families. Throughout his administration Mayor Emanuel has governed as the mayor of two cities. In one he closed schools, shuttered clinics, and nickled and dimed residents with fees and tickets. In the other, he rolled out the red carpet for the corporate elite, all at the expense of working families.

“Grassroots Collaborative will continue to work towards ending the abuses of the TIF program, and the racial and economic inequality it produces. We will continue to organize for a vibrant city that attracts good jobs and economic development without handing out billions of our tax dollars to the wealthy.”

No Votes About Lincoln Yards and the 78 Until New Mayor and City Council Take Office

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Grassroots Collaborative Statement on the Postponed Vote for Lincoln Yards and the 78 MegaTIFs

CHICAGO – On Tuesday, responding to mounting pressure from a diverse coalition of community organizations, Aldermen, Aldermen-elect, and Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot, Finance Committee Chairman Patrick O’Connor postponed the vote on the Lincoln Yards and 78 MegaTIFs. The following is a statement from Grassroots Collaborative Executive Director Amisha Patel.

“We appreciate the actions by Mayor-elect Lightfoot to delay this vote and Mayor Emanuel’s acquiescence to the will of Chicago voters.  But 48 hours is not a meaningful delay for projects that will impact the city for decades to come.

“The subsidizing of luxury developments is not the right priority for Chicago. The officials that should decide what the right priorities for Chicago will be sworn-in in May and no votes should be happening around these projects until that time.”

 

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Increased Spending on Police Will Not Make Us Safer – Investing in Neighborhoods Will

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Grassroots Collaborative Statement on Proposed Increases to CPD Budget

Chicago, IL – Grassroots Collaborative is a community labor coalition representing tens of thousands of Chicago residents who been hurt by the failed policies of the Emanuel administration. The following is a statement from Amisha Patel, Executive Director of Grassroots Collaborative on Tuesday’s Committee on Budget and Government Operations hearing on the Chicago Police Department (CPD) budget.

“The proposed 2019 budget for the Chicago Police Department is an insult to every resident in this city who has had their school closed, services cut, and property taxes raised. It is especially insulting for Black and Latinx residents who have suffered under a racist and abusive police department. The 2017 Department of Justice investigation documented in detail the  abuses of citizens, use excessive force, unfair treatment of people of color, and a complete lack of oversight. That is not the behavior of a department we should awarded with new funding and shooting ranges.

Despite already receiving 40% of the city’s operating budget, this budget proposes an increase of CPD’s budget by $80,000,000 next year. In addition the budget includes a $17 million transfer from Chicago Public Schools to the Chicago Police Department to pay to put police officers in schools. It is outrageous that money is being taken away from our stretched public schools to pay for officers from a department that we know is deeply racist and is the same department that produced convicted murder Jason Van Dyke.”

Grassroots Collaborative stands with Black youth saying no to the proposed new cop academy and demands no additional revenue be given to the Chicago Police Department. In addition Grassroots Collaborative calls for the following reforms:

  • Erase the CPD Database used to racially profile Black and Latinx youth
  • Expand Sanctuary and strengthen Chicago’s Welcoming City Ordinance
  • Phase CPD out of schools
  • Fund Restorative Justice efforts in neighborhoods and schools
  • Create a Behavioral Health Unit of civilian crisis-intervention teams to support people with behavioral health issues or who are in crisis
  • Make expungement accessible and provide re-entry support services

 

Grassroots Collaborative Statement on Jason Van Dyke Verdict

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It is difficult to feel any real satisfaction at a murder being called a murder. For the communities that we represent it was never a question whether or not Jason Van Dyke murdered Laquan McDonald. The only question was whether or not our court system is capable of holding a white Chicago police officer accountable for killing a young Black man. Today, as is far too often the case, our court system fell short, convicting Jason Van Dyke of 2nd-degree murder instead of 1st-degree murder.

The fact that there was a verdict at all was made possible by the dedication and courage of young people who are part of the Movement for Black Lives who continue to demand justice for Laquan and all victims of police violence. We still have so far to go before real justice is realized. We know that no verdict handed down by jury or judge will end police violence, stamp out white supremacy, or improve the lived realities in our neighborhoods. A guilty verdict can not erase the fact that Chicago failed Laquan McDonald and continues to fail residents across the city, especially in Black and Brown neighborhoods. We must do better.

We can and should honor Laquan by throwing out the old failed policies that are destroying the lives of our young people. Chicago must make a massive reinvestment in our neighborhoods and prioritize the needs of communities over the wants of luxury developers and well connected political donors. We must listen to the voices of Black youth saying no to a new cop academy. Instead of awarding the police department that produced officers like Jon Burge and Jason Van Dyke with a brand new training compound, complete with raid equipment and new shooting range, we should invest those resources in mental health facilities, supportive school-based services like counselors and nurses, affordable housing and a real jobs program.

Together we can create a city where a young man like Laquan can get the education, job, housing, and healthcare that he needs to live a good life.

Statement on Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court Decision

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CHICAGO – Grassroots Collaborative unites labor and community-based organizations representing tens of thousands of Illinois residents whose families and communities will be hurt by today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision. The following is a statement by Grassroots Collaborative Deputy Director, Abbie Illenberger.

“Today’s ruling by Trump’s Supreme Court is the latest in a long series of attacks by billionaires and big business seeking to demolish any and all institutions that give a voice to working people.

These attacks have not been limited to the courthouse or Trump. Governor Rauner made undermining the bargaining rights of Illinois workers a cornerstone of his agenda and devastated our social service sector along the way. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has gutted our neighborhoods by shuttering clinics, closing public schools, and displacing Black residents in droves. The public employees harmed by the actions of Rahm, Rauner and now the Supreme Court are disproportionately women and people of color.

Despite the constant attacks on our people and organizations, we see opportunities for Illinois residents to come together like never before. Instead of letting wealthy elites, like the Koch Brothers, divide us by pitting worker against worker and neighbor against neighbor, Grassroots Collaborative member organizations are bringing people together. Just this year Grassroots Collaborative launched a new initiative in central Illinois. The Peoria People’s Project is uniting union members and other community residents to demand elected officials make their wealthy donors pay taxes for the great public services we deserve.”

 

Following Trump’s Lead, Rauner Protects Wealthy Money Managers in Budget Address

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On Wednesday, Governor Rauner delivered his fourth budget address which was long on rhetoric, but short on solutions. The following is a statement from Amisha Patel, Executive Director of Grassroots Collaborative.

“Today, Governor Rauner again failed to present a budget proposal that would lead Illinois towards stability and prosperity for all. Instead, he proposed that Illinois workers give up more, and invited Illinois taxpayers to play a shell game, one with very serious consequences for our communities, our children, and our state. Just like Trump’s grand infrastructure plan that places the huge burden of payment on local communities, Gov. Rauner’s claims of new investments in education amount to nothing more than forcing new financial burdens on local school districts.

As our state struggles to recover from the damage done by the budget impasse and address the $8.4 billion unpaid bill backlog, our state needs bold leadership. Governor Rauner could have followed the example set by New York’s Governor Cuomo. Facing significant budget challenges, and in anticipation of the fall out that will come from the Federal Tax overhaul, Cuomo presented a budget address that called for new sources of progressive revenue, including one proposal that closes the outrageous carried interest loophole – a proposal that would raise $1 billion annually in Illinois. Governor Rauner, once again demonstrated that he is unwilling to make the hard choice to pass legislation that will ask his peers, including wealthy money managers, to pay their fair share. He is unwilling to bring Illinois in line with our neighboring states, by supporting a graduated income tax.

Today, on Valentine’s Day, Governor Rauner showed no love for the diverse communities that Grassroots Collaborative represents. From Peoria to the West side of Chicago, today’s budget address offered little more than another disappointing example of failed leadership.”

llinois Must Pursue State Level Solutions to Counteract Failures in GOP Tax Bill

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Grassroots Leaders and State Legislators Push to Close Carried Interest Loophole in Illinois Following Passage of GOP Tax Bill

Chicago, IL – As Congress continues to pass legislation and policy that is out of line with the values of the American people, states and cities have jumped in to take action to protect their residents, including city and state action around climate change, net neutrality, and sanctuary status. Now that the GOP has passed its tax bill, it is imperative that Illinois take action to protect our residents by passing legislation to close the egregious carried interest loophole at the state level, generating over $1 billion in new revenue in the first year.

The GOP Tax Bill is especially dangerous to states like Illinois, which has already been destabilized by years of budget crisis and whose communities will be further hurt by changes to state and local tax exemptions. State lawmakers must take action to avoid increased taxes and cuts to local services for working families living in our state. 

State Representative Emanuel Chris Welch (D-HIllside) explained, “The Republicans in Congress have just given the 1% an early Christmas present.  They have chosen to vote for a huge tax break for the wealthy donors to their PACs, instead of protecting the families living in their districts.  We cannot afford to repeat that same mistake here in Illinois. We need to act now and pass legislation that requires the wealthy hedge fund managers who exploit the carried interest loophole to pay their fair share.”

The carried interest loophole is a federal tax loophole that benefits a small, but very wealthy and well-connected group of hedge fund and private equity billionaires. The loophole allows wealthy investors to declare their income as carried interest to receive a lower effective tax rate than kindergarten teachers or truck drivers. Although Trump used the carried interest on the campaign trail as an example of a rigged economic system and promised to close it the GOP tax bill fails to close the loophole.  

Amisha Patel, Executive Director of Grassroots Collaborative, added, “Legislation to close the carried interest loophole (SB 1719) passed the Illinois Senate last year but didn’t make it to the Governor’s desk, as some legislators wanted to wait for the federal government to act instead. The GOP’s tax bill makes it clear that Trump flat-out lied to the American people when he promised to close the carried interest loophole. It is time for Illinois to step up and take action to close the loophole ourselves. We can’t afford to wait.”   

 

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Grassroots Collaborative Response to Mayor Emanuel’s Budget Address

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Chicago, IL – The following is a statement from Amisha Patel, Executive Director of Grassroots Collaborative on Mayor Emanuel’s budget address.

“Today’s budget address shows Mayor Emanuel’s continued commitment to policies that have failed Chicago’s families as he continues to prioritize the interests of city elites over those of working families. The Mayor has continued to raise taxes and fees on everyone and everything with the exception of wealthy individuals and corporations. Instead of pursuing regressive revenue fees that further hurt our city’s working families, the Mayor should be implementing revenue solutions such as reinvesting the TIF Surplus funds and reinstating the corporate head tax.

Rideshare and amusement taxes will not fix our city, neither will doling out taxpayer money to try and woo Amazon. Our city needs to reinvest in schools and Black and Brown neighborhoods. Failure to do so will result in more violence and more residents being pushed out of the city.”

Governor’s $15 Veto Will Hold Back Economy and Increase Economic Inequality in Illinois

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Chicago, IL – On Friday, Governor Rauner vetoed SB 81, which would have gradually raised the state minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022. Grassroots Collaborative is a labor-community coalition representing tens of thousands of Illinois low-income families whose lives and communities would have greatly benefited from the passage of SB 81. The following is a statement from Amisha Patel, Executive Director of Grassroots Collaborative.

“Governor Rauner showed his true allegiances by protecting his wealthy friends at the expense of Illinois working families. By vetoing the bill to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, Rauner denies a desperately needed raise to 40% of all Illinois workers – 46% of all female workers in Illinois, 48% of African American workers, and 61% of all Latino workers. After cutting funding to communities across the state by not passing a budget for two years, Rauner’s veto further devastates these 2.3 million Illinois workers. Bruce Rauner cares only about corporate CEOs and their lobbyists – and millions of workers will be the ones who pay the price.”

Finally. Statement on Override of Governor Rauner’s Budget Veto

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Chicago, IL – Today, the Illinois House joined the Senate in overriding Governor Rauner’s veto of the state budget giving the state its first budget in years. The following is a statement from Amisha Patel, Executive Director of Grassroots Collaborative.

“Finally, state legislators have pushed aside Rauner’s obstructionism to pass a state budget. Community residents have been fighting for years for a fully funded budget and are clear that this is not enough. The budget provides insufficient funding for critical services and asks Illinois families to foot the bill instead of demanding the wealthy pay their fair share by implementing progressive revenue solutions such as closing the carried interest loophole or a financial transaction tax. But it is a budget and it is progress.

At the same time we recognize this step forward, we deplore the lives and livelihoods lost as a result of it taking so long to get to this point. We mourn for every breast cancer screening that came too late, for the jobs lost across the state, and for every resident denied the help they needed as result of this tragic and unnecessary crisis.

Grassroots Collaborative thanks the tens of thousands of Illinois residents who worked to make their voices heard by writing letters, making phone calls, and visiting legislators. We remain committed to fighting for a People’s Agenda that puts the interests of the people of Illinois over those of deep-pocketed political donors.”

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