Updates

Report | Illinois PIRG | Consumer Protection

Trouble in Toyland

The 2012 Trouble in Toyland report is the 27th annual Illinois Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) survey of toy safety. In this report, Illinois PIRG provides safety guidelines for consumers when purchasing toys for small children and provides examples of toys currently on store shelves that may pose potential safety hazards.

Over the past twenty-seven years, the Illinois PIRG report has identified hazards in toys and children’s products that could cause acute injuries, from small parts that pose a choking hazard, to strangulation hazards from cords on pull toys, to laceration hazards from edges that are too sharp, to toxic hazards posed by chemicals in toys.  Our report has led to at least 150 recalls and other regulatory actions over the years, and has helped us educate the public and policymakers on the need for stronger public health and consumer safety standards and for stronger federal laws to protect children from unsafe products. This report continues to be an important endeavor in keeping children - particularly babies and toddlers - safe, as the majority of all injuries happen to children in the 0-2 age range.

Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Democracy

Million Dollar Megaphones

A new analysis of data through Election Day from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and other sources by U.S. PIRG and Demos shows how big outside spenders drowned out small contributions in 2012: just 61 large donors to Super PACs giving on average $4.7 million each matched the $285.1 million in grassroots contributions from more than 1,425,500 small donors to the major party presidential candidates.

News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Democracy

New Analysis: Tiny Number of Wealthy Contributors Match Millions of Small Donors, Will Continue to Set Agenda In Washington

A new analysis of data through Election Day from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and other sources by Illinois PIRG Education Fund and Demos shows how big outside spenders drowned out small contributions in 2012: just 61 large donors to Super PACs giving on average $4.7 million each matched the $285.1 million in grassroots contributions from more than 1,425,500 small donors to presidential candidates.

 

News Release | Illinois PIRG | Democracy

Distorted Democracy: Big Money and Dark Money in the 2012 Elections

A new analysis of pre-election data from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and other sources by Illinois PIRG and Demos shows that outside spending in the first presidential election since Citizens United is living up to its hype: new waves of “outside spending” have been fueled by dark money and unlimited fundraising from a small number of wealthy donors.

News Release | Illinois PIRG | Food

Small Farmers and Citizens Speak Out Against Agricultural Subsidies in Farm Bill

Small farmers and ordinary citizens across the country are taking a stand against wasteful agricultural subsidies in the federal Farm Bill.  Though Congress was unable to pass a farm bill before recessing for the November election, reauthorizing or extending the Farm Bill should be one of Congress’s top priorities when they return.

News Release | Illinois PIRG | Tax

Study Finds Only 52% of TIF-Related Job Creation Confirmed in Chicago

A new report released today found little tracking or enforcement of taxpayer subsidized private development projects that had promised job creation.  The analysis by the watchdog group Illinois PIRG comes one year after Mayor Emanuel’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Reform Panel released recommendations for how to fix the wasteful economic development program and underscores the need to implement reform to protect taxpayers.

Report | Illinois PIRG | Tax

Jobs and TIF

Illinois PIRG’s report “Jobs and TIF: An Analysis of Job Creation and Tax Increment Financing” analyzes the records of 21 TIF-funded projects from the last decade with the biggest number of promised jobs – each project examined was required to create at least 200 jobs. The report checked to see whether the city is making sure developers are living up to their promises. 

Since TIF projects are typically justified byusing their purported job-creation benefits, and because the number of jobs created is relatively easy for the city to track, we obtained and examined records on projects with job-creations requirements above 200 from in the years 2000 through 2010. These projects should ought to be the most scrutinized TIF projects in the city. The results suggest, however, that Chicago’s TIF programs remain largely impervious to scrutiny and unaccountable to the public.  The findings show that among projects that promised to create the most jobs, there are unacceptably low levels of tracking and enforcement:

• The city could demonstrate consistent tracking of job-creation for only three (14 percent%) of these major TIF projects

• Out of 21 projects with some kind of jobs goal, 15 (71 percent%) did not provide annual evidence that the jobs goals were being met, but the city only asked only two2 of the projects to give money back.

• Not a single project complies with existing the 2009 “Sunshine Ordinance” that requires posting of five5 major documents online; most projects provide less than half.

• A significant number of projects (19 percent%) did not even have specific job-creation goals in their official agreements with the city.

To show the relative degree of overall transparency and accountability for each project, we created a scorecard to assign each a letter grade from “A” to “F” based on four criteria: whether enforceable standards were created, whether the developers hit their jobs goals and reported it to the city, whether the city reclaimed the TIF funds in instances where developers failed to hit their jobs goals, and whether all the information required to be available to the public is accessible.        

 

 

Unaccountability in the TIF program

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If an economic development project is supposed to create jobs, but no one is around to monitor it, should they still get our tax dollars?

News Release | Illinois PIRG | Consumer Protection

Passage of H.R. 4078 Would Shut Down Public Health and Consumer Safeguards and Put All Americans at Risk

The House’s passage of H.R. 4078 would shut down the U.S. regulatory system as we know it, delaying virtually all rule making and public health protections.

News Release | Illinois PIRG | Food

Ag Subsidies Pay for 21 Twinkies per Taxpayer, But Only Half of an Apple Apiece

Federal subsidies for commodity crops are subsidizing junk food additives like high fructose corn syrup, enough to pay for 21 Twinkies per taxpayer every year, according to Illinois PIRG’s new report, Apples to Twinkies 2012. Meanwhile, limited subsidies for fresh fruits and vegetables would buy one half of an apple per taxpayer.

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