Monday, February 6, 2012

Teach the children: Taking TIFs to high school students

Posted By on 02.06.12 at 11:30 AM

As part of my plan to talk about TIFs to everybody everywhere, I go to a north-side neighborhood high school to explain how this sucker works.

The Tax Increment Financing program, as you know, is the ongoing $500 million dollar a year scam in which the mayor diverts the aforementioned $500 million out of the property taxes you pay.

As a matter of fact—just got my property tax bill in the mail. Oh, joy.

And then he tells you he's not diverting money.

So that you—ignorant little people of Chicago—thinks it's magic money that magically appears thanks to the magic moneymaking abilities of our great Mayor Magician.

Instead, of 500 million property tax dollars that you pay.

As you also must know, I've been writing about this scam for close to 5,000 years. I'll continue to write about it for another 5,000 years.

I'm not proud.

Just want to see what comes first. Me dropping to the curb in exhaustion. Or the city actually ending the scam.

Now taking bets....

Anyway, I was at the school as a guest of a teacher who I will not mention cause the way things are going Mayor Emanuel will probably slap her with a do-not-hire rating and exile her from the system.

At which point, she'll be hired by a charter school and everyone in Charterville will praise her as a great and noble public servant.

An incongruity I'll get into at a later time.

I start my talk with a give-and-take that goes like this....

Me: Your property tax is the product of your house's value times the tax rate. Get it?

Students: Yes!

Me: If your house is worth $10,000 and the tax rate is 10 percent, you pay how much in property taxes?

Students: $1,000.

Me: OK. TIFs divert a portion of that money from schools and parks and stuff to bank accounts controlled by the mayor. So if the TIFs divert—say—ten percent of that $1,000, how much do the TIFs take?

Students: $100.

Me: And that leaves how much for the schools and parks and other stuff?

Students: $900.

Me: Congratulations—you now know more about TIFs than the mayor's City Council floor leader!

Students: Yay, whee, whoo!

Me: That $100 goes into the TIF slush fund, which the mayor is free to spend as he wants.

Then I start to write "slush fund" on the white board with a Magic Marker. But the Magic Marker doesn't work 'cause it's out of ink. Which gives me the opportunity to tell the kids that TIFs are diverting so much money from the schools, they can't even afford a Magic Marker that works.

Which gets a pretty big laugh, if I must say so myself.

Afterward, I head home to pour myself a giant glass of chocolate milk to celebrate a job well done. Only to discover that....

I still have the Magic Marker, having inadvertently put it in my pocket.

Please don't tell the mayor—he'll probably launch an investigation.

It was all an innocent mistake—I swear. Unlike those TIFs, nothing innocent about them.

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