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It was the Park District's annual make-a-wish night at the Loyola Park Field House Tuesday.
That's when Park District officials -- in this case, Brian Loll and Matt Marino -- hold meetings where the little people parade past and tell them what improvements, additions, expansions, or new programs they'd like to see for their local parks.
Before the meeting began, Loll and Marino assured folks that they would take careful notes and convey suggestions back to parks superintendent Tim Mitchell and other Park District big shots, who were preparing next year's budget.
With that, the peasants made their pleas for money to fix floors and roofs, trim weeds, plant gardens, hire staff, restore cut funding, and even, in one extravagant instance, build a swimming pool.
I was hoping someone might suggest the Park District raise money by selling the Streeterville office it bought for $22 million, but that didn't happen. So for me the highlight came when Lincoln Park resident Tom Tresser played a wild card and called for "a sunset on TIFs ."
Pointing out that the city's 160 or so tax increment financing districts divert about $37 million a year in property taxes away from the Park District alone, Tresser said "We wouldn't be fighting for scraps" if the city stopped creating TIFs. "It's our money," he said. The audience clapped, but neither Loll nor Marino said a word. They didn't bat an eye, just took it all down along with the plea for cleaner bathrooms in the Loyola Park field house.
Personally, I'd love to be there were they to bring this suggestion before Mitchell, a former mayoral chief of staff, who knows as well as anyone how the system works: "Uh, boss, you know the mayor's favorite honey pot -- the one that feeds him $500 million a year in property taxes? Well, some nut on the north side wants us to shut it down."
Actually, I have a funny feeling Tresser's suggestion won't make it to Mitchell, much less Mayor Daley. The mayor gets red in the face over relatively little things, like the foie gras debate. The suggestion of a moratorium on TIFs would probably turn him purple.