Ben Joravsky, city planner | Bleader

Ben Joravsky, city planner

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Could it be that the city's stealing my ideas?

In the March 16 Reader I predicted that the mayor would try to finance a large chunk of the Olympics with property taxes taken from several tax increment financing districts, noting that there was one ripe for the creating in the rapidly developing stretch along Vincennes and King Drive between 41st and 35th.

Sure enough, at a Tuesday meeting of the Community Development Commission meeting (the appointed body that's supposed to oversee TIFs), the CDC recommended approval of the so-called Pershing/King TIF district, which would run roughly between 39th and 41st and King and Vincennes. Lame-duck alderman Dorothy Tillman endorsed the TIF without giving any indication of exactly how the money would be spent.

After the meeting I called her successor in the Third Ward, alderman-elect Pat Dowell. Dowell said she wasn't sure what the TIF was intended to fund, but she didn't think it had anything to do with the Olympics--it's been in the works for a while, she said. I asked whether she'd support the TIF when it came before the City Council, and she said she'd have to look into what residents thought before making that decision.

The City Council generally follows the CDC's lead when it comes to TIF proposals. But then the CDC's generally following the local alderman's lead when it makes its recommendations -- in effect, one body rubber-stamps the other. So this TIF proposal presents us with an interesting situation. If Dowell comes out against the Pershing/King TIF, will the City Council side with her and override the CDC? Or will it follow the CDC, effectively taking the side of an ousted alderman?

You know which way I'm leaning.

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