To RPBG Members, colleagues and friends:

Helping the homeless or feathering the CTU’s nest? The referendum to increase the transfer tax raises more questions than it answers.

For two years, the western half of a beloved local park in my Rogers Park neighborhood was taken over by a homeless tent encampment, while the City and local authorities looked the other way. In time, reports surfaced of illicit criminal activity, mostly drug related, including many syringes found around the site, and neighborhood residents, including students from the high school across the street, voiced justifiable concerns regarding safety.

Soon, the Park District was forced to cancel their summer youth programs, and the high school, which had used the park for its outdoor sports activities, could no longer allow its students to safely recreate.

This experience highlighted the problem of homelessness, and the need for our government to devote resources to help people, like those occupying the tents, many of whom struggle with mental illness, drug addiction, or are simply undergoing hard times.

Housing activists for the last several years have called for a dedicated revenue stream to address homelessness, proposing an up to a quadruple increase in the tax on real estate transactions exceeding $1 million. Billed as the “mansion tax” by its supporters, Mayor Brandon Johnson’s proposed tax increase affects more than mansions, which comprise a very small portion of the affected properties. It affects every commercial and residential property valued at more than a million dollars. This includes grocery stores, apparel stores, drug stores, and small and mid-sized apartment buildings, which provide the vast majority of naturally occurring affordable housing in the City.

Yes, large downtown office buildings are also affected, but downtown properties, like neighborhood commercial properties, are still suffering from the effects of the pandemic, as vacancy rates are soaring, and the value of properties are plummeting. In short, the downtown real estate market is no longer the “cash cow” it was six years ago when this tax was first conceived.

The CTU is devoting a tremendous number of resources to the campaign to pass the referendum, which is their legal right. Yet we learned this week that, together with other organizations who support the referendum, the CTU planned to throw a “Chicago Power Forum” followed by a “Parade to the Polls” during the school day for CPS students who are of voting age—and the union is asking staff to help turn out students.

As the Chicago Tribune noted in its March 13th editorial to recruit Chicago Public School students to work on her campaign. Encouraging teachers to enlist their students to attend a thinly veiled rally in support of a referendum on a school day is just plain wrong, let alone a violation of CPS policy.

And on Thursday, March 14, the Wall Street Journal also printed an editorial denouncing the CTU for the same reasons – sending a signal nationwide that Chicago’s powerful teacher’s union is using improper strategies to impact the election.

Those of us seeking a fair vote on this issue should be enraged by the CTU’s exploitation of CPS students. This kind of cynical politics must end. It’s wrong, it sets a terrible example for those students. By crossing the line it indicates an “ends justify the means” approach to politics which damages our fragile civil society.

Michael Glasser is President of the Neighborhood Building Owners Alliance and the Rogers Park Builders Group.


Three RPBG beauties attended our February meeting: Frank Vannucci - Qwikkit; Katiana Shovante - Becovic Management; and Baris Yuksel - Supreme Capital.

Having previously won the title of Miss Hawaii, Shovante won the title of Miss Cook County and she will soon be competing for higher titles. RPBG wishes her luck.