July 7, 2012
In this July 5, 2012 photo, Amisha Patel, director of Grassroots Collaborative, a community-labor coalition, stands outside of Emmet Elementary School on Chicago's West Side. Patel is among skeptics who worry that investor-funded projects under the Chicago Infrastructure Trust could end up costing taxpayers more, and could skip over poorer neighborhoods where private firms may see less profit.
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For cities and states buried under mountains of debt, it has become a tantalizing proposition: invite private financial institutions to put up the money to fix aging schools, dilapidated rail lines and beat-up roads. Offer investors steady returns on the projects. And give the public the modern services its governments can no longer afford.