The city of Chicago may have given preferential treatment to the non-profit founded by Mayor Richard Daley's wife, according to a new report from Chicago's inspector general Joseph Ferguson.
Companies that receive subsidies from the city through tax increment financing, or TIF, are supposed to give a share of that to a charitable organization.
According to Chicago's inspector general, between 1985 and 2009, 27 grant agreements directed cash contributions to private non-profits. Of those, 59 percent of the grants went to After School Matters, an organization founded and currently chaired by Maggie Daley. After School Matters received a total of $915,000 through the public benefits clauses. The funds don't include direct city grants.
Only one organization received more total funds than After School Matters. The Leland Apartments Development received a one-time grant of $1.25 million in 2002.
Inspector general Joe Ferguson says the selection of After School Matters gives the appearance of "preferential treatment for an organization with close ties to the city." Ferguson does not question the quality of work done by After School Matters.
The report says the vast majority of TIF recipients say the city unilaterally chose the non-profit to be included in the public benefits clauses.
Ferguson finds the TIF process lacks transparency and that no city representative interviewed for the report could explain the selection process.
The inspector general recommends that the city stop naming private organizations to receive the donations under the public benefits clauses. Or, the city should establish an open and transparent selection process, and TIF recipients can be permitted to help choose an eligible charity to support.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday at an unrelated news conference that he'll review the IG's report. He said he wants to implement changes to the TIF process. The amendments were recommended by a TIF review board that Mayor Emanuel commissioned earlier this year.
In a statement, After School Matters said it's false that developers would have to agree to donate to After School Matters in order to receive TIF assistance.
"It is also an insult to the work that former First Lady and After School Matters Chair Maggie Daley continues to do for the youth of this city," the statement reads.