As city finances dwindle, and the mayor rejects tax increases, the practice of pooling tax revenues in some of the city’s most property-tax-generating neighborhoods is beginning to look more than a little inflexible and inefficient in the shadow of mounting debt and understaffed city services. Just for instance, the city’s budget shortfall is $654 million, and in 2008 $60 million of the expiring Central Loop TIF went to the Block 37 Express station, a money pit that seems to have inherited the curse of its terminal location, on top of being a dumb idea.

For years Ben Joravsky has written about how the TIF program is, broadly speaking, a means for the mayor to control the city. As the economy collapses—and the Obama administration is predicting recession levels of unemployment through 2012—it seems that the program is starting to control the mayor.