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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mayor Emanuel gives Sara Lee a big, wet, and sloppy $6.5 million TIF kiss

Posted By on 12.13.11 at 10:30 AM

640px-SARA_LEE_Frozen_Pound_Cakes___HK_Wellcome_Shop_Refrigerator_with_Glass_Door_a.jpg
  • Sclaishop/Wikimedia Commons
In honor of Gift Week at the Reader, let's give a shout-out to the most generous gift givers of all—the property taxpayers of Chicago.

Yay, you!

You're apparently so wealthy you can afford to give between $5 million and $6.5 million to Sara Lee, a multibillion dollar food conglomeration.

Actually, most taxpayers in Chicago probably don't even know they're giving Sara Lee all that money.

That's because Mayor Rahm Emanuel is snatching the cash from the shadows of the Tax Increment Financing treasure chest, which is one of those slush funds folks in Chicago still can't figure out.

So to help you keep track of all these slush funds...

This is not the water-sewer slush fund, which Mayor Emanuel and the City Council just fortified with at least $75 million in your water/sewer fees.

This is the slush fund intended to help poor people in poor communities that really need it.

But somehow it winds up helping rich people get richer.

Like the folks at Sara Lee.

Mayor Emanuel's giving them millions in exchange for moving 600 or so jobs from their facilities in Downers Grove to a building at 400 S. Jefferson.

Or, more to the point, Mayor Emanuel's taking property tax dollars from the schools, parks, county, etc and giving it to Sara Lee in exchange for moving those 600 employees to that building on South Jefferson.

Though when all is said and done who knows exactly how many jobs will wind up there. Because, let's face it, it's not like anyone in the city will be counting—a lesson we should have learned from that whole fiasco a few years back with Republic Windows and Doors.

And, just to be clear: Sara Lee's not promising to create new jobs with this handout. Oh, no, just the opposite. They're "cutting as much as half of its staff as it relocates between 500 and 650 employees to the city by early 2013," according to an article in the Tribune by Alejandra Cancino and Emily Bryson York.

Sooooo.....

You might say that Mayor Emanuel's rewarding Sara Lee for cutting those jobs with millions of tax dollars he's taking from the schoolchildren of Chicago.

Thank you, schoolchildren.

Like the mayor says, it's all about the Benjamins—I mean, the kids.

If you're feeling bad 'cause the mayor's not giving you a property-tax gift, head on over to the City Council chambers today for the Community Development Commission meeting at 1 PM.

There you can watch the mayoral-appointed body that oversees TIF deals rubber-stamp this baby while coming up with new and inventive praise for Mayor Emanuel and Sara Lee.

Best of all, the CDC show is free. Well, if you overlook that $5 million to $6.5 million....

Read more from Gift Week:

The 2011 Holiday Gift Guide

"Who wants to own Alot?" by Julia Thiel

"Shameless Joe," by Kate Schmidt

"When picking out gifts, don't do what Mo did," by Mick Dumke

"I'm that drip from the Bleader," by Michael Miner

"In Print: Chicago's Classic Restaurants: Past, Present and Future," by Mike Sula

"What will they think of next? Wood ties, of course," by Kevin Warwick

"Go right to the front of the line, you're special," by Kevin Warwick

"Unquenchable," by Kate Schmidt

"The gift that keeps on killing," by Tal Rosenberg

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