September Media Tips - Metropolitan Planning Council

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September Media Tips

Tax Increment Finance Districts: the Only Game in Town for Redevelopment

Cook County Board Commissioner Mike Quigley says a widely used economic development tool intended to revitalize blighted areas is being misused, and he’s calling for reform. Among the problems Quigley cites with tax increment financing (TIF) is its overuse and “astounding lack of accountability.” He’s hoping to resolve the latter issue by requiring the county to list taxes collected for TIF on property tax bills. MPC Vice President of External Relations Peter Skosey says that while it’s right to re-examine whether all TIFs are being applied properly (the Illinois General Assembly last amended the TIF statute in 1998 ), the use of TIFs is an important redevelopment tool that should continue to be available to communities in need of renewal. For instance, said Skosey, TIFs have been instrumental in revitalizing Chicago ’s industrial corridors in Pilsen and Calumet Harbor.

“In disinvested communities, TIFs help attract new development and overcome blight by paying for improvements such as new sidewalks, lighting and environmental remediation,” said Skosey. “While it’s sensible to periodically examine whether all TIFs are being applied to truly blighted areas, TIFs are crucial to maintaining our competitive economic edge by making communities more attractive and, therefore, more likely to draw state and federal dollars for future infrastructure improvements.”

MPC contact: Peter Skosey, Vice President of External Relations, 312.863.6004,

A+ Illinois Deciphers Candidates’ Code on School Funding Reform

In the past year, A+ Illinois (co-led by MPC and seven other groups) has played a key role in elevating school funding and property tax reform as a top election-year concern for voters and candidates alike. For the first time in Illinois’ decades-long fight for fair school funding, A+ Illinois has united a broad coalition of civic, education, children’s advocacy, business, labor, civil rights, faith-based, human services, and community organizations under one mission: to change Illinois’ school funding system to reduce the reliance on property taxes and ensure the quality of a child’s education does not depend on where he lives.

By representing the struggles facing rural, suburban and urban school districts – and their surrounding communities – A+ Illinois has become a go-to source for reporters working on stories related to local or statewide school funding and property tax reform. As the election season heats up, A+ Illinois can provide information ranging from policy analyses to real stories of students, teachers and property owners hurt by Illinois ’ broken school funding system. In addition, the campaign recently evaluated the leading gubernatorial candidates’ plans to fund our schools and reduce the burden on local property taxpayers. The verdict: neither Gov. Rod Blagojevich nor Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka has earned acceptable grades for their plans.

“Illinois leaders should be embarrassed that our state ranks 47th in the nation for the state’s share of education funding,” said Bindu Batchu, A+ Illinois campaign manager. “All candidates for state offices must take responsibility for these issues by coming up with sustainable plans for reform.”

MPC contact: MarySue Barrett, President, 312 .863.6001,
Contact: Bindu Batchu, Campaign Manager, A+ Illinois, 312.863.6014,

Mark Your Calendars: MPC Packs Autumn Agenda with Events across the Region

Need fodder for calendar items, story ideas, or a way to nab that elusive source? Pencil us in! Through November, MPC’s calendar is filled with roundtables, workshops and conferences on topics ranging from what’s being done to prevent flooding in our region to how public transit has become a vital part of redeveloping disinvested communities. Upcoming events include the following:

Public-Private Partnerships Workshop
Wednesday, Oct. 4, Union League Club, Chicago
The explosion of interest in public-private partnerships for funding infrastructure in Illinois has prompted many questions on how best to use this valuable tool to maintain our competitive edge. Experts from the public and private sectors will discuss how public-private partnerships can be put to best use at this one-day workshop sponsored by MPC, Business Leaders for Transportation, and the National Council for Public-Private Partnerships. Register here   for the workshop. 


    MPC 2006 Fall Roundtable Series
    This series will feature four distinct sessions, in downtown Chicago, at which expert panels will discuss the chosen topic, followed by a moderated question-and-answer session. Each roundtable begins at noon. Lunch will be served. The series will cover the following topics:
    Friday, Oct. 13: Wanted: Promising, Market-Oriented Rental Housing Strategies
    Friday, Oct. 20: Managing Stormwater and Planning for Water Supply
    Thursday, Nov. 2: A Second Look: Reinvesting in Transit-Rich Communities
    Thursday, Nov. 16: Revival of the Fittest: Is Your Neighborhood Ready?
    Visit MPC's Web calendar to register for these roundtables.


    First Annual Governor’s Conference on Affordable Housing
    Tuesday, Oct. 17, through Wednesday, Oct. 18, Chicago History Museum, Chicago
    This conference will bring together hundreds of practitioners from the diverse fields that make housing development possible in Illinois, ranging from developers to advocates, to build on the statewide momentum to increase the quality and affordability of housing. Visit the Illinois Housing Development Authority's Web site for details.


    Rail~Volution: Building Livable Communities with Transit
    Sunday, Nov. 5, through Wednesday, Nov. 8, Marriott Magnificent Mile Hotel in Chicago and various locations across the tri-state region
    This three-day conference will explore how innovative leaders are connecting jobs, homes, entertainment, and transportation options to create communities that work. Rail~Volution will feature more than 20 mobile workshops that take participants to various locations across the tri-state region, highlighting why metropolitan Chicago is known as "the granddaddy of transit-oriented development." Visit Rail~Volution's Web site to register.

    Media is invited to attend all events free of charge. Details on these and other events – including speakers, exact times and locations, and registration requirements – are available on MPC’s Web calendar, .


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