We’ve recently applied for several grants from the City and the County related to COVID-19 relief for South Loop Strength & Conditioning.

After submitting a grant application, I received an email noting that I needed to fill out an EDS (Economic Disclosure Statement). Sure.

No surprise that the EDS portion of the city’s website looks like it’s from 1998.

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No surprise as well that the process of creating an account was kind of circuitous and challenging — especially if you already have another account created on the City of Chicago website.

Now, once you’ve made it into the EDS system, you’re greeted with page after page of legalese about conflicts of interest.

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I can certainly understand why a variety of laws have been created to attempt to curtail the amount of corruption, nepotism, and self-dealing in awarding city contracts in Chicago, of all places.

And, I can understand the impetus to move the paperwork associated with such contracts to an online portal.

After wading through this mess of questions, it really honestly seems like you’re done and you’ve completed your Economic Disclosure Statement. The final button that you click might even say something like “Submit.”

But! Not so fast!

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A close reading of the EDS instructions — which is a wall-of-text PDF charmingly billed as a “Quick Start Guide” — reveals the following easily missable directive:

For every contract with its own PO, you will need to complete a NEW EDS. I cannot emphasize this enough. To do this, click on “create new” again but this time indicate that this is for a contract and complete the questions accordingly. 

Ah! Foolish traveler!

You thought you had completed your Economic Disclosure Statement by answering dozens of questions and laying bare — nay, disclosing — all of your economic relationships with the City of Chicago and its elected officials!

Rookie mistake! Instead, you’ve completed your EDS Template.

Your economics have not yet been properly disclosed. Please, click on “Create New” for the second time.

When people talk about “systematic oppression,” this is one of the more pernicious types that exists.

What percentage of people who really need the money from these grants are going to have the tech-savvy and the persistence with really crappy computer systems to actually complete this application?

What percentage are going to ignore or not see the email asking to complete an EDS?

What percentage are going to attempt to fill this thing out and get too frustrated by the site to complete the process — especially if they’re doing it on their phone?

What percentage are going to go through the whole process and think that they’re done, without realizing that “I cannot emphasize this enough” — they have only completed their EDS template and not the EDS itself?