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Emanuel continues teacher bashing, false claims about schools during TIF reform media event

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel took time out from a media event to promote his TIF reform to take another shot at the 30,000-member Chicago Teachers Union at noon on August 29, 2011, when he stated that by delaying the lengthening of the school day in Chicago, the city's union teachers are "cheating" the children out of necessary instruction time.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (above at podium) surrounded himself with members of his "TIF Reform Commission" for an August 29, 2011 media event in the Logan Square neighborhood on Chicago's northwest side. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Although he was officially announcing his TIF Task Force's proposals at the event in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood, Emanuel took the opportunity again to accuse the city's teachers and the Chicago Teachers Union of "cheating" the children of Chicago because the union's members are refusing to go along with a proposal to lengthen the elementary school day in the majority of the city's elementary schools by 90 minutes, and to lengthen the school year by two weeks. A few weeks earlier, Emanuel had enraged the city's teachers when he stated publicly that the teacher had "shafted" the city's school children because of the shorter school day in Chicago's elementary schools. Although Emanuel began using the word "cheating" (instead of "shafting") by mid-August, no comparable headline has appeared in the major Chicago media to remind teachers of what their mayor is saying about them.

Since the primary election, Emanuel has continually repeated the claim that Chicago's public school children are being "cheated" (lately) or "shafted" by what he claims is the shortest school day and school year in the USA. Nothing on the City of Chicago website or in the mayor's media office verifies the talking points he has been using against the Chicago Teachers Union since before he took office in May 2011.

Officially, the mayor's August 29 media event was to announce the 99-page report of his "TIF Task Force," which has recommended that TIFs continue (in the fact of growing public criticism, must of it organized by CORE and the Chicago Teachers Union). According to Emanuel and his Task Force, TIFs should continue and be improved, not discontinued (so that the quarter million dollars that TIFs take from the Board of Education budget every year go back to the schools). The URL for the TIF Task Force report, for those who can't get the link, is http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/mayor/Press%20Room/Press%20Releases/2011/August/8.29.11TIFReport.pdf

No matter what the topic, however, Emanuel seems to revive his animus towards Chicago teachers at every event Substance covers. The general party line has changed slightly (perhaps in response to some reporters' actually checking Emanuel's numbers, as Eric Zorn of the Tribune has done). THe URL for the Eric Zorn reports for those who can't access hotlinks is: http://blogs.chicagotribune.com/news_columnists_ezorn/2011/04/is-it-time-for-more-time-for-city-students.html

For several months, Emanuel repeated over and over a talking point that claimed that children in Houston Texas received "four more years" of public schooling than children in Chicago. In August 2011 during a Board of Education sponsored "Faith based initiatives" breakfast for sympathetic preachers, Emanuel shifted his talking point. He currently claims that CPS children receive "10,000 hours less" than what he calls the "National Average." On August 29, while discussing TIF reform, Emanuel inserted his claim about 10,000 hours into the discussion at several points. Emanuel's media people refuse to provide the press with any studies verifying the claims he constantly makes. Emanuel also ignores the high schools while discussing his attacks on teachers and the Chicago Teachers Union, and never mentions important variables like class size reduction or the excessive testing that deprives tens of thousands of children children of weeks of instruction during endless testing and test prep during the school year. The actual event, which was held at 2800 N. Milwaukee Ave., as supposed to be to announce the reforms in the city's TIF (Tax Increment Financing) programs.

While Rahm Emanuel looks over her shoulder, TIF Task Force chair Carole Brown speaks to reporters about the recommendations of the Task Force. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The TIF Task Force met several times and held hearings. When questioned about problems with the earlier TIFs, Emanuel claimed that he was not there to "govern while looking in the rear-view mirror" and repeated several times that he was not interested in corruption and other problems with the TIFs that had expanded radically under former Mayor Richard M. Daley. During his discussions of the problems he sees with the city's public schools, Emanuel spends all his time berating the city's public school teachers — and the Chicago Teachers Union — while never mentioning that the schools Emanuel got when he took office in 2011 had been under the complete control of his predecessor, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, since the passage of the Amendatory Act of 1995 by the Illinois General Assembly.

The official city press release stated as follows:

MAYOR EMANUEL ANNOUNCES TAX INCREMENT FINANCING REFORMS. TIF Reform Task Force presents report to Mayor; calls for increase in efficiency, transparency, and accountability

Mayor Rahm Emanuel today received a report from the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Reform Task Force, and called for immediate, substantive reforms to increase transparency, establish accountability and ensure taxpayer dollars are spent in accordance with a new long-term strategic economic development plan.

“I believe TIF is an essential tool to help create jobs and economic growth for the City and its residents and we must ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and on projects that contribute to our long-term economic development goals and job creation,” said Mayor Emanuel. “I commend the members of the Task Force for their strong, comprehensive analysis of the TIF program.”

Reporters are lined up in pre-arranged seating for the media events hosted almost daily by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Most take dictation and rehash the contents of the City Hall press releases, pushing Mayor Emanuel's version of reality into the "news" pages of the papers and in the electronic media with each passing event. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Over the course of 100 days, the Task Force conducted over 40 interviews with experts across the country and received hundreds of ideas from the people of Chicago through a TIF Reform website and at a public hearing earlier this summer. The 100-page report submitted to the Mayor today recommends reforms to ensure efficiency, transparency and accountability.

“The recommendations of the committee reflect three months of careful consideration of this very complicated and important financing tool,” said Carole Brown, who chaired the TIF Task Force. “We are pleased to present the Mayor with these recommendations and commend him on his swift action.”

For efficiency, the panel recommends that the Mayor’s Office work with community stakeholders and the City Council to develop a multi-year economic development plan, which will guide the development of TIF districts and projects. Additionally, the report called for the coordination of TIF with the city’s multi-year capital budget, and encouraged projects to be selected in accordance with these goals.

Mayor Emanuel has tasked World Business Chicago and his Economic Council with crafting a long-term economic development plan in collaboration with the City Council, private sector, and non-profit leaders.

To establish needed transparency and accountability, the TIF Task Force recommends the City establish strict performance metrics and subject all TIF projects to a thorough justification process. Further, the panel called for the City to take swift action, including the potential revocation of TIF funds, in cases where private developers do not meet their obligations in a TIF project. To ensure oversight of TIF, the Task Force also called for the creation of an internal TIF oversight board.

Mayor Emanuel tasked his office with implementing these reforms immediately.

The members of the TIF Task Force are:

· Carole Brown (Panel Chair), Managing Director, Barclays Capital

· Hon. Carrie M. Austin, Alderman, 34th Ward and Chairman, Budget & Government Operations, City of Chicago

· Adela Cepeda, Owner and President, A.C. Advisory, Inc.

· Bruce J. Katz, Vice President, Brookings Institution and founding Director, Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program

· Melinda Kelly, Executive Director, Chatham Business Association Small Business Development, Inc.

· Steve Koch, Vice Chairman, Credit Suisse

· Andrew J. Mooney, Commissioner, Department of Housing and Economic Development, City of Chicago

· Laurence Msall, President, Civic Federation

· Julia Stasch, Vice President, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

· Rachel Weber, Associate Professor, Urban Planning and Policy Program, University of Illinois at Chicago

Chicago contains 163 TIF districts, which cover 30 percent of the city’s area and generate roughly $500 million in incremental tax revenue each year. The TIF Task Force Report is available at the City of Chicago website.



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