Depends if the job training is just folded into the construction. Leaving aside the questionable morality of the TIF program in general, it's also not in the mission statement of TIF if what is built isn't actually generating significant tax revenue.
The issue is IMO pretty clear. There's nothing inherently wrong with capital programs designed to boost the City's tax base. That tax base is required to fund job training and other social safety net programs.
It is the lack of transparency and the red tape/administrative overhead with TIF that is the problem. TIF is like the health insurance middleman of municipal financing tools.
"Job training and public works improvements are also identified as eligible expenses.
Doesn't sound like luxury residential high-rises to me."
I would have to agree with Bradley_Buena on this one. The tax-exempt status is based on the idea that the property in question is serving a charitable purpose.
If it is vacant, it clearly is not doing any such thing.
Religious orders can't have this both ways when it comes to real estate IMO. If they are not actively using their property to contribute to the community, they are speculators.
"Letting it sit vacant is an owner's prerogative."
You and your crazy free market talk!
"A good idea in need of capital usually goes hand-in-hand with financiers tripping over themselves for a piece of the action. Might purchase and development of that property be a good idea? Judging the proposals and requests for less and less ($50M, then $32M, and now $14M) in TIF funds, it may be."
"Problem is, there was no there there (no doubt the kids wished they had been assigned the Illinois pension mess or a REAL scandal). "
I think you are missing Matt's point that there was/is plenty of "there" there, the problem is the Tribune's articles came far, far too late to be of any usefulness.
In an alternative reality, the Tribune might have foreseen that non-profits issuing bond debt that was 50%+ of their endowment wasn't prudent. And the Tribune made it sound like the Field Museum was the only organization doing this, which is not the case. The larger issue here is that the boards of Chicago's cultural institutions have been jam-packed with business people, and many of them haven't grasped that principles which work in the for-profit sector do not in the non-profit.
Why this is, is self-explanatory. A business goes belly up, and it declares bankruptcy, and the owners can simply start another business.
A cultural institution or government goes belly up, and they can do no such thing. Their assets are not easily liquidated (what's the going price on a beluga whale, sky show theater or ancient mummy?), as their real value is scientific and educational.
But this is the bottom line:
"Research sure seems to be continuing at the museum."
Well of course it is. And high quality research it will continue to be. But there's a lot less of it than there was before.
Try thinking about how this might apply to a hospital. If it loses half of its doctors to financial mismanagement, the remaining ones will still be practicing their craft, but the pressures are greater and morale is impacted.
No reorganization - no matter how clever and carefully done - can make 1 + 1 = 3.
As for the Trib, funny you mention the presidency of GW Bush and deficits... Who did the Tribune endorse again in 2000? And in the decades before that?
I still applaud Miner for this column, as it is important to give some visibility and to acknowledge the resiliency of institutions which are composed of hard working and poorly paid staff. It's also quite true that the current president was handed a rotten egg as far as the financial condition of the institution, the Tribune made that quite clear.
Where I suspect we all agree is independent of the Field's challenges, the Tribune most certainly deserves the smackdown Miner delivers.
The Tribune claims to be a paper of fiscal conservatism, yet over and over again it has endorsed Republicans who seem to have never met a government budget they couldn't drive deeper in the red. I wish they would get past their clearly-partisan agenda and start reporting on the world in the manner we expect from the 4th branch of government.
Viktor, I agree with you on the poor timing, but the Museum's budget has been cut to the bone and there have been large numbers of staff cutbacks. That is dire. It also isn't mutually exclusive with the remaining staff doing important work, and often generating great press due to that.
By that logic everyone who lives here deserves a tax subsidy. I shop local, eat at restaurants, etc.
A more interesting issue you raise is how many properties are currently held by non-for-profits which aren't paying any taxes. A hospital, a church, a cultural institution, etc are one thing, but the Heartland Institute and other political/lobbying driven think tanks and the likes are another.
"Well, the parcel in question is an abandoned Catholic hospital so who knows exactly how much moolah the city is bringing in from it, but the bottom line is it will produce A LOT MORE REVENUE for the city as an actual building being used by actual people, not to mention, the side benefit of having an extra couple hundred residents in the neighborhood, shopping at local stores, eating at local restaurants, buying city stickers, getting nailed by the red light cameras, etc."
"You have to go deeper to get to the root cause. "
The root cause is the US government has made some plants with historical usage as recreational substances illegal while others aren't.
It's not a coincidence that these plants/substances are ones that browner people enjoyed initially.
I'm not dismissing the rest of your comments, but, this is a horse-and-cart thing. If the substances/plants are decriminalized/legalized, people can't be locked up for them.
Legalizing it by ending Prohibition did not lead to an utopian paradise, but it did mean consumers didn't inadvertently support a violence-riddled black market just to have a drink.
If you want to get way deep, just read up on the Opium Wars.
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