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Sunshine Ordinance Passes

By Kate Gardiner in News on Apr 22, 2009 6:00PM

Ald. Flores (left) and Ald. Waguespack (right)
An ordinance submitted by aldermen Manny Flores (1st) and Scott Waguespack (32nd) intended to implement more government transparency in Chicago planning and development passed through city council today by a unanimous 48-0 vote. The ordinance, unprecedented in Chicago, requires all documents related to tax increment financing districts (one of the city's most notoriously murky development funding schemes) to be posted online in an easy-to-use, searchable format.

Yesterday, when the ordinance passed the Committee on Economic, Capital and Technology Development, one of its two sponsors, Ald. Manny Flores (1st) released a statement.

“This ordinance is about the proper stewardship of public trust and investment,” said Flores. “In a time when our economy is struggling and tax revenues are decreasing, we must provide proper taxpayer incentives to do business in the city. Accountable investment of public funds is not only the just thing to do, it’s also the economically sound use of taxpayer dollars.”

Ald. Margaret Laurino told Mick Dumke at the Chicago Reader yesterday that the delay in passing the ordinance was due to concerns about how the site would be structured. “I just didn’t want to overwhelm [the public] with information, and I think that we have a Web site now that is clear,” she said. “I’m sure you visit Web sites several times a day. Some of them are good and some of them are bad. So it was really an issue of presentation.”

Presently, Chicago's TIF fund contains more than $550 million.