IPW 2014 in Chicago April 5-9th
April 4, 2014
6,000 tour operators, suppliers, travel writers and other travel
leaders representing more than 70 countries are in Chicago this week
from April 5 - 9 for IPW 2014. IPW is the travel industry's premier
international marketplace and the largest generator of travel to the
U.S. More than 1,200 international and domestic buyers from more than
70 countries conduct business negotiations that result in the generation
of more than $4.7 billion in future Visit USA travel. At IPW, buyers
and sellers are able to conduct business that would otherwise be
generated only through an exhaustive number of around-the-world trips.
2014 will be held Saturday, April 5, through Wednesday, April 9, at
McCormick Place. Participants will also take part in a number of
sightseeing tours, dining opportunities and local excursions throughout
the city. While the trade showwill take place at McCormick Place, many
activities will occur within the 42nd Ward.
On Sunday, April 6th at 10:00am there will be an International Media Brunch at the John Hancock Center
at The Signature Room at the 95th® and 360 CHICAGO (formerly the John
- Guests will be picked
up and dropped off along Chestnut Street with buses staged along
Chicago Avenue between Lake Shore Drive and Fairbanks. All buses will be monitored by Traffic Control Aides
- IPW Media Tours will depart immediately following the Media Brunch.
is a wonderful opportunity to welcome the international travel
community and to showcase the City of Chicago as a world-class tourism
For logistical information regarding bus routes and shuttle bus staging areas, please see this link.
2014 Chicago Blues and Chicago Jazz Festival Artists Announced
April 4, 2014
31st Annual Chicago Blues Festival
"Blues by the Lake" in Grant Park
Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is pleased to
announce the complete line-up for the 31st Annual Chicago Blues Festival
set for June 13 through June 15 in Grant Park. Click here to read the full press release.
year the festival theme celebrates "Blues by the Lake," with three days
of the finest blues music featuring headliners Carolina Chocolate
Drops, Otis Taylor Band and a special celebration commemorating the
centennial of John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson featuring Billy Boy Arnold
and The Siegel-Schwall Blues Band with Sam Lay. Also headlining, Theo
Huff, Willie Clayton, Bettye LaVette Nikki Hill, Aaron Neville and Dr.
FREE admission Chicago Blues Festival is open from 11am to 9:30pm
daily. The Petrillo Music Shell will feature headliners at 6pm-9:30pm on
Friday, June 13 and Saturday, June 14. The stage will run 5:30pm-9:30pm
on Sunday, June 15.
popular day stages contribute to the festival's reputation as an
internationally acclaimed event. Each stage features local and national
blues musicians celebrating the genres rich tradition and heritage.
Stages and performance times are: Bud Light Crossroads Stage,
11:15am-5:30pm; Jackson Mississippi Rhythm & Blues Stage,
11:30am-7:30pm and Pepsi Front Porch Stage, noon-5:30pm.
this year, blues fans can enjoy the "Meet Me in Memphis Blues Pavilion"
sponsored by the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau. The dining
pavilion will feature live music from 11:30am-4:30pm daily.
up to the Chicago Blues Festival, May is "Blues Month" in Chicago
featuring a number of preview performances at various Chicago Park
District and Chicago Public Library locations throughout the city. Blues
music will also fill the halls of the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E.
Washington St.) during May on select Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon -
and a Blues Festival preview on Daley Plaza is set for Monday, June 9.
The full schedule of preview events will be announced later this month.
For more information about the 31st Annual Chicago Blues Festival, please visit chicagobluesfestival.us. Join the conversation on Facebook (Chicago Blues Festival) and Twitter, @ChicagoDCASE (#ChiBluesFest).
36th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival in Millennium Park
Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events also presents the
headliners performing in Millennium Park for the 36th Annual Chicago
Jazz Festival. The favorite Labor Day Weekend tradition will take place
at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St.) and in Millennium
Park (201 E. Randolph St.), August 28-31, showcasing the very best of
Jazz music from noon to 9:30pm daily.
Park headliners include: Terence Blanchard, Rufus Reid, Gary Burton,
Dave Holland, Cecile McLorin Salvant and the Sun Ra Arkestra. The FREE
admission Chicago Jazz Festival is produced by the Department of
Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and programmed by the Jazz
Institute of Chicago. The complete schedule will be announced at a later
For the latest information on the36th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival, visit chicagojazzfestival.us, Facebook at Chicago Jazz Festival or twitter @ChicagoDCASE. To read the full press release, click here.
IRS Warns of Pervasive Telephone Scam
April 4, 2014
Internal Revenue Service warns consumers about a sophisticated phone
scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, throughout the
Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly
through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses
to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or
suspension of a business or driver's license. In many cases, the caller
becomes hostile and insulting.
Other characteristics of this scam include:
- Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
- Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim's Social Security Number.
- Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it's the IRS calling.
- Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
- Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
threatening victims with jail time or driver's license revocation,
scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the
local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here's what you should do:
- If you know you
owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at
1.800.829.1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a
payment issue - if there really is such an issue.
you know you don't owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe
any taxes (for example, you've never received a bill or the caller made
some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the
incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at
- If you've been targeted by this
scam, you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their
"FTC Complaint Assistant" at FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your complaint.
IRS encourages taxpayers to be vigilant against phone and email scams
that use the IRS as a lure. The IRS does not initiate contact with
taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This
includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and
social media channels. The IRS also does not ask for PINs, passwords or
similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other
financial accounts. Recipients should not open any attachments or click
on any links contained in the message. Instead, forward the e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information on how to report phishing scams involving the IRS is available on the genuine IRS website, IRS.gov.
Free Tax Help Available
April 4, 2014
is running out to take advantage of the City's free income tax
assistance program before the April 15th tax filing deadline.
City of Chicago offers federal and state income tax preparation and
e-filing free of charge for families earning up to $50,000 or
individuals earning up to $25,000 at sites across Chicago.
also find out if you qualify to claim federal and Illinois Earned
Income Tax Credits, the Child Tax Credit, and/or student financial aid
for college. For eligible families, these federal and state
credits could be worth more than $6,000 on their 2013 tax returns! But
without the help of knowledgeable tax preparers, many Chicagoans will
not claim all the income tax credits they deserve.
For more information about how to access the free tax assistance program, Chicagoans can:
The Chicago Park District Needs Summer Lifeguards!
March 28, 2014
The Chicago Park District is now hiring summer lifeguards, with a starting pay of $13.38 an hour. Interested
candidates must complete a swim test to be eligible to enroll in the
Park District's lifeguard training academy. Those who complete the
academy will get an interview for a lifeguard position. Over 90% of
those who complete the training are offered jobs! Start the application process now. Call the Chicago Park District Aquatics Division at (312) 742-5121 or visit www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/
lifeguards. Applications must be completed by April 24, 2014.
Note: Financial assistance is available for the Lifeguard Training Class.
Chicago College Startup Competition to Attract Business Startups to Chicago
March 22, 2014
Emanuel, ThinkChicago and 1871 recently launched the Chicago College
Startup Competition (CCSC) - a new effort to attract the leading
collegiate business startups from around the country to Chicago.
As part of the CCSC, 1871 will provide up to 10 full-time desks at
their 50,000 square-foot networking and business incubation space in The
Merchandise Mart. The spaces will be designated for entrepreneurs who
started their businesses while in college and wish to continue after
graduation by moving to Chicago. The winners of the competition will
receive a full free year of desk space, mentorship services, and all of
the amenities that are made available to startups at the 1871 facility.
and 1871 will work with some of the leading entrepreneurial business
plan competitions at colleges across the country to identify outstanding
businesses that may be selected as the winning businesses. Businesses
can also directly apply to 1871 and ThinkChicago to be considered for
the program. This will ensure businesses that are not involved in
ongoing entrepreneurship competitions can still have a chance to be
offered a place in the program. A panel of current businesses located at
1871 and members of ThinkChicago will evaluate the additional entries
for inclusion in the program.
winners will have same access to all 1871 resources as existing
businesses. 1871 will also create a working group focused specifically
on the unique challenges facing collegiate entrepreneurs to support the
new companies and future collegiate businesses that come to the City of
Interested applicants should visit www.1871.com/CCSC or contact email@example.com for more information. Competition winners will be publicly announced at
ThinkChicago: Lollapalooza during the first week in August. Click here to read the official press release.
CTA and Pace to Complete Transition to Ventra by July 1
March 22, 2014
Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and Pace have announced the transit
systems will complete the transition to the new Ventra fare payment
system by July 1.
The transition calendar has three phases:
- May 1-Customers can no longer buy magnetic stripe cards or autoload/reload Chicago Card/Chicago Card PlusJune 1-Customers can no longer reload magnetic stripe cards or use Chicago Card/Chicago Card Plus
1-Customers can no longer use magnetic stripe cards. Pace customers
paying with cash will no longer be issued a Transfer Card. All customers
will be transitioned to Ventra.
Card Plus customers enrolled in the CTA's Transit Benefits through
their employers and O'Hare employees using the temporary O'Hare smart
card are transitioning the first week of April, and will receive
specific instructions through their employers.
citizens who are enrolled in the Reduced Fare Program should spend down
their available balance on their magnetic swipe cards. Seniors
enrolled in the Reduced Fare Program who have not received a new Ventra
card should call the RTA at 312-913-3110. Seniors who are unable to
spend down their available balance by July 1 can either do a balance
transfer either through the mail or at a balance transfer event, details
of which are below.
assist all other customers who still need to transition, Ventra has a
number of ways to purchase a Ventra card and transfer the balance from a
Chicago Card or Chicago Card Plus to a Ventra Card.
can easily obtain a Ventra Card at vending machines at CTA's 145 rail
stations and at more than 1,000 retail locations in Chicago and the
suburbs. To take advantage of balance protection in the event of a
lost/stolen card and online account management, customers can easily
register their cards at ventrachicago.com and have the one-time card purchase fee of $5 converted to fare value on their Ventra Card.
plans a number of balance transfer events throughout the city over the
next three months. At these events, customers can transfer balances from
valid magnetic-stripe cards and Chicago Cards, obtain and register a
new Ventra Card (with no upfront purchase fee), and have their questions
answered. These events will also assist customers who have been issued
Reduced Fare and Ride Free Permits by the Regional Transportation
transfer customers may bring a maximum of five eligible fare media
cards with a combined minimum of $5 in transit value. Fare media that is
eligible for balance transfers includes CTA and Pace stored value
magnetic stripe full-fare and reduced-fare cards and Chicago Cards.
Unlimited ride 1-day, 3-day, 7-day and 30-day passes, reduced fare
passes, and passes sold in bulk or any expired fare media cannot be
transferred to Ventra cards and must be used up. RTA reduced-fare permit
holders must bring in new Ventra RTA reduced-fare permit for balance
Chicago Card Plus customers who have not yet transitioned to Ventra will be able to do so online at ventrachicago.com.
Later this spring, customers who wish to transfer unused balances on
Chicago Card and magnetic stripe fare cards will have the option of
mailing in their old cards and having any unused balance transferred to
their registered Ventra Card. (Not including unlimited-ride 1-day,
3-day, 7-day and 30-day pass products, which must be used up in advance
of the full transition.) The CTA and RTA will provide more details about
the mail-in option later this spring and information will be published
in Reilly Reports as well.
Customers can visit ventrachicago.com for complete balance transfer rules and event dates, how-to-videos and frequently asked questions.
New Electric Bill Savings Available
March 14, 2014
second half of the City's electricity aggregation agreement with
Integrys Energy Services is expected to save as much as $24 million for
Chicago residents and small businesses, while ensuring that all of
Chicago's energy comes from non-coal sources.
in May, the average participant in the aggregation program will see an
average savings of $34 as compared to the expected ComEd effective rate,
which is set to increase in June. The City's aggregation program has
saved more than 720,000 Chicago households and businesses an average of
$42 on their bills since February 2013, resulting in a total savings of
$32 million to date.
Chicago is the largest city in the country to have purchased
electricity in bulk on behalf of its residents and businesses. Through
this use of bulk buying power, the City secured a coal-free power mix.
This cleaner supply mix has resulted in a 16 percent reduction in the
City's carbon footprint, removing the equivalent of 100,000 cars from
the streets. Additionally, Illinois wind farms will physically generate 5
percent of the electricity provided through the municipal aggregation
The municipal aggregation program has also provided residents and
small businesses with top quality service according to Ameresco, Inc., a
third party validator retained by the City to test and validate
Integrys' performance in administering the program. To view a scorecard of Integrys' performance in 2013, click here.
Customers will have an opportunity to opt out of the program via
phone, mail, or web and return to ComEd. Opt-out letters will be mailed
starting the week of March 17 and customers will have 14 days to decide
whether they would like to opt out of the program before the new rate
takes effect. Additionally, after the initial opt-out period, residents
will still have the opportunity to leave the program at any time without
charge, fee, or penalty. All current Chicago residential and small
commercial members will be automatically enrolled in the program under
the new price, unless they opt-out.
During the second year of Chicago's aggregation program, the
pricing structure will shift to a demand-based electricity supply
approach that is designed to result in lower rates for households that
use less electricity. The new pricing will begin with the May 2014 meter
read and is based on a two-part pricing structure, called "My Balanced
Energy Plan." The plan produces lower rates for smaller electricity
users by setting a low energy fixed price of 5.299 cents per
kilowatt-hour and a monthly customer charge of $22.36 for single-family
customers and $9.06 for multi-family customers. The City estimates that
this structure will deliver the average customer $34 in savings over the
final year of the program.
In addition to delivering savings to Chicagoans, the City's
agreement will continue to offer the same consumer protection and
environmental benefits negotiated under the City's aggregation program,
including no hidden fees or exit fees and non-coal supply.
Integrys Energy Services will also be required to beat or match the
ComEd price. If the Integrys effective rate for the average residential
users rises above the ComEd rate, including the Purchased Electricity
Adjustment (PEA), then Integrys will be required to match the price or
send Chicago customers back to ComEd at the request of the City.
For more information, please go to http://www.integrysenergy.com/
aggregation/il-chicago/ or call 888-802-2885.
Alderman Reilly: Help Us Defeat People's Gas Rate Hike Request!
February 28, 2014
Reilly is strongly encouraging Chicago consumers to mobilize against a
People's Gas proposal that would guarantee higher utility bills and
significantly higher costs to heat homes and small businesses.
People's Gas Cries Poor...Just Months After Winning a $56 Million Rate Hike.
months after securing a $56 million rate increase on consumers last
year, People's Gas is back for more. But this time, they're seeking a
nearly $130 million rate hike. On February 26th, People's Gas announced
their request for a "delivery rate" increase that, if approved, would add an additional $5.00 in costs per month for a typical residential customer. A "delivery rate" hike would significantly increase what People's Gas
is allowed to charge consumers for the delivery of gas to their homes.
utility monopolies like People's Gas are allowed to make a profit off
of the "delivery" charges on bills, but not the cost of the actual gas.
The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) is considering the proposed rate
increase and is now in an 11-month regulatory review process. If the ICC
approves the rate increase, it would take effect in January, 2015.
But Wait, There's More...People's Gas Has "March Surprise" For You.
Gas price increases will impact 829,000 customers as early as next
month and will continue to impact Chicago consumers through the next
year. At the same time People's
Gas announced they would be seeking their rate increase - they also told
consumers they can look forward to an 80% jump in gas prices in March (at approximately 68 cents per therm). March bills would reflect the highest gas prices Chicago has seen since 2010 and promises a much higher gas bill for March (on average, $57.00 higher than February).
Turn Up the Heat on People's Gas: Help Us Fight Against These Rate Hikes!
Reilly is strongly encouraging Chicago consumers to petition the
Illinois Commerce Commission to reject this rate increase. The best way
to impact this ICC decision is to work with the state's leading
non-profit utility watchdog, the Citizens Utility Board (CUB).
Created by the Illinois Legislature, CUB opened its doors in 1984 to
represent the interests of residential and small-business utility
customers. Since then, CUB has saved consumers more than $10 billion by
fighting rate hikes and securing consumer refunds.
get involved and help make a difference, please call CUB's Consumer
Hotline at 1-800-669-5556 or visit CUB's award-winning website, www.CitizensUtilityBoard.org to see how you can help fight monopoly rate hikes!
Crain's Chicago Business
Same-sex Marriage Licenses Now Issued in Cook County
February 28, 2014
County Clerk David Orr is now issuing marriage licenses to same-sex
couples - more than three full months before the June 1 date set by the
Illinois legislature - following a recent federal court order.
licenses are valid from the day after issuance for 60 days. In other
words, couples who obtain a marriage license on March 1 may get married
between March 2 and April 30.
The $60 license fee will be
waived for any couple who already has an Illinois civil union license.
Couples who wish to convert their prior civil union date to a marriage
will have to wait until June 1 because it was not addressed in Judge
An updated Frequently Asked Questions is available regarding marriage equality. For more information, visit, www.cookcountyclerk.com.
Alderman Reilly Visits with 42nd Ward Neighborhood Groups
February 14, 2014
Alderman Reilly recently spoke at the 2014 River North Business Association
(RNBA) Annual Meeting, held February 4th at the Allerton Hotel.
Alderman Reilly was glad to participate in a special surprise bagpiper
procession honoring France Langan, outgoing RNBA Chairman of the Board.
month, Alderman Reilly was also invited by the Fulton River District
Association (FRDA) / Neighbors of West Loop to give a "State of the 42nd
At the January 22nd
event at OVIE Bar and Grill, Alderman Reilly discussed upcoming and
current developments, new infrastructure improvements and other
neighborhood updates in the Fulton River District and West Loop.
A summary of the event was chronicled in a recent FRDA/Neighbors of West Loop newsletter.
Reilly thanks Sharon Romack, RNBA President and CEO, and Larry Gage,
FRDA President for inviting him to speak to their members.
Alderman Reilly votes "NO" on City's $1.9 Billion Borrowing Plan
February 10, 2014
week, the Chicago City Council approved a $1.9 billion borrowing plan
by a 43-4 vote. The vote empowered the Emanuel Administration to issue
up to $900 million in general obligation bonds (backed by property
taxes) and doubled the city's short-term line of credit to $1 billion.
Alderman Reilly was one of the four aldermen who voted against issuing the $1.9 billion in new city debt obligations. Aldermen Robert
Fioretti (2nd), Scott Waguespack (32nd) and John Arena (45th) accounted
for the three other "no" votes against the proposal.
Reilly said he could not support authorizing the additional $1.9
billion in city debt for two reasons: (1) the sheer amount of bonding
authority request was enormous; and (2) the lack of detail on how the
Administration would spend the billions in bond proceeds.
to Reilly, although the Administration provided a broad sketch of how
the proceeds would be spent - it only accounted for how approximately
60% of the proceeds of the $900 million in general obligation bonds
would be spent, leaving roughly $300 to $350 million uncommitted
potential bonding authority without specific earmarks.
of the City Council Budget Committee, Alderman Reilly has worked with
the Emanuel Administration to reform the City Budget, supporting efforts
to: streamline bureaucratic functions; spend tax dollars with an eye
toward "return on investment;" and implementing local pension reform to
keep the system solvent and help restore stability to the City's
his support for many of the Mayor's budget reforms and the targeted use
of bonding authority to support critical infrastructure investments and
refinancing costlier debt obligations - Alderman Reilly could not
support granting the Administration this massive new bonding authority
that saddles future generations of Chicagoans with billions of dollars
of new debt.
Reilly believes we must tackle these difficult fiscal issues today,
rather than "pay forward" this ongoing fiscal crisis to future
generations of mayors, aldermen and Chicago taxpayers.
to Reilly, addressing those challenges will require an honest
discussion about the price of city government, spending priorities and a
full accounting of the real costs to provide basic services taxpayers
expect. In order for Chicago to remain solvent and grow, Reilly believes
we must more narrowly define core services delivered by city government
and be more creative and flexible in how we fund and deliver those
Alderman Reilly is
committed to working with the Emanuel Administration to confront these
unprecedented financial challenges head-on and chart a budget path to
fiscal responsibility and stability. Last week, the
Chicago Tribune ran two compelling editorials regarding the
ramifications of extending Chicago's long-term debt - one on Wednesday's
Editorial Page LINK and another again on Sunday LINK.
City of Chicago Presents New Cultural Tourism Strategy
January 31, 2014
first-ever cultural tourism strategy aims to position the city as a
premier global cultural destination. Based off the findings from an
eight-month analysis, the cultural tourism strategy calls for the
implementation of a neighborhood tourism plan, promotion of cultural
asset infrastructure and enhanced tourism sales efforts.
this strategy in mind, Mayor Emanuel recently announced the goal of
attracting 55 million visitors a year to Chicago by 2020, which will add
an additional 30,000 tourism-related jobs and hundreds of millions of
dollars in revenue into the city of Chicago.
The Chicago Cultural Plan,
released in 2012, included a number of initiatives designed to position
the city as an even more prominent global cultural destination and help
differentiate cultural opportunities in Chicago from those in other
destinations. Leveraging Chicago's distinctive cultural assets is a
critical component of the City's efforts to attract travelers, support
major events and festivals, and increase opportunities for economic
The Chicago Neighborhood website encourages visitors and residents to explore Chicago's neighborhoods
thematically and geographically to raise awareness of the cultural
opportunities present in every Chicago neighborhood.
more about Chicago's cultural tourism strategy, including the work that
went into developing the plan and featured 2014 programing by clicking here.
Small Business Energy Advantage Program
January 31, 2014
Small Business Energy Advantage Program is a new initiative that allows
businesses to join the City's municipal electricity aggregation program
and save on their electricity bills.
program will provide an estimated 40,000 additional small businesses
with the opportunity to opt into the City's program and save up to 12
percent off the ComEd rate from February to June, and an estimated 5%
for the remaining 12 months of the City's agreement with Integrys, based
on historical rates. The City estimates that this would result in
savings between February and June ranging from $100 for the smallest
users to $2,500 for larger users such as a leased office suite in a
addition to delivering savings to Chicago small businesses, the launch
of the Small Business Energy Advantage Program will afford users the
same consumer protection and environmental benefits negotiated under the
City's aggregation program, including no hidden fees or exit fees, and
no coal in the supply mix.
Small Business Energy Advantage Program is designed to offer a savings
opportunity to small businesses that were initially too large to qualify
for the City's aggregation agreement under state law because they use
more than 15,000 kWh annually but are included in ComEd's "0-100 KW" and
"Watt-Hour" delivery classes. Examples of these types of businesses
include small to mid-sized churches, coffee shops, small storefront
restaurants, small storefront retail spaces for service businesses and
individually metered tenant office spaces in commercial buildings.
Small Business Energy Advantage Program is the first program of its
kind in the nation and was included in the aggregation agreement that
the City finalized with Integrys in December 2012. The new savings
opportunity will be promoted jointly by Integrys and by the City's Small
Business Center, housed in the Department of Business Affairs and
For more information and to possibly signup, visit www.integrysenergy.com/
EnergyAdvantage or call 855-310-5440.