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All sorts of weirdness

Thursday, Jul 30, 2009

* The very weird circumstances surrounding Rep. Paul Froehlich’s alleged use of helping people with property tax appeals in exchange for campaign assistance have gotten even weirder

Tina decided to do it herself. It’s a simple process. Fill out and sign this form and the Board of Review will decide whether or not you get your taxes lowered. But what happened in Tina’s case is now at the center of an internal investigation at the board.

And here’s the mystery. Tina filled out her tax appeals form as she’s supposed to right up here. But after she handed it in, somebody filled out the bottom of the form claiming to be her attorney. When shown the form, Price said she was surprised, adding: “I’m very concerned, and I have no idea how this came about.”

The attorney who signed Tina’s form is R. Tamara de Silva. On one day in June, she filed a bundle of appeals on behalf of property owners. But here’s the catch, many say they’ve never heard of her.

De Silva did some “work” for Froehlich, according to the story, but it’s not clear if this woman was one of them. From what I’ve heard, de Silva just all of a sudden started showing up at the Board of Review and nobody really knew who she was.

She’s also connected to political operator Victor Santana, who also apparently did work for Froehlich and is tied closely to Board of Review Commissioner Joe Berrios

[Berrios] declined to talk about his former employee, political operative Victor Santana, whose name came up repeatedly when property owners were asked about who they worked with to file appeals, according to hearing transcripts and board staff.

Gray testified in a June review board hearing that Santana’s fee was $1,000 apiece for his work on appeals for 2006 and 2007. But only property owners or attorneys can legally file appeals, board staff says.

That second graf may or may not connect the dots as to why an actual attorney was brought in to deal with these cases. We’ll see. This is all under investigation right now.


The Cook County Board of Review reversed itself Wednesday and took back controversial tax breaks awarded last year to four Schaumburg properties.

In a move officials say is rare, the board increased the assessed value of the properties, which have a connection to either state Rep. Paul Froehlich (D-Schaumburg) or Victor Santana, a political operative with ties to both Froehlich and Board of Review Commissioner Joseph Berrios.

Commissioners have been investigating whether Froehlich used influence through Santana or anyone else to get tax breaks for businesses in Froehlich’s legislative district. Two of the four property owners donated more than $36,000 to Froehlich’s campaign fund.

Walking back the dog?

Very, very weird.

* Our next item is a different sort of weird. GOP gubernatorial candidate Dan Proft has sent out a press release slamming the Democratic General Assembly for failing miserably on the budget, resulting in a downgrading of the state’s bond rating by Fitch. So far, so good. But then

“Rather than advancing system change ideas, if the Springfield political class believes increasing Illinois’ bond debt is sound fiscal policy, then I propose that state legislators be compensated in state bonds.

“Instead of flourishing while Illinois taxpayers are fleeced, it’s time the Springfield politicians feel directly the financial impact of their bad policies, bad choices and general political cowardice.”

Um, huh?

I don’t see how paying legislators with state bonds would hurt them, unless the bonds are impossible to sell. And they won’t be. Here’s the least incendiary aspect of David Ormsby’s response…

…the bonds would be a boon to their income – due to the higher interest rate. Anyone who holds Illinois bonds would earn more money tomorrow than yesterday.

I told Proft yesterday it would be more appropriate to pay legislators as if they were state vendors. That way, their checks would be six months late.

* And then there was this and this tiny bit of breathless weirdness. No comment except a slight smirk and a gentle reminder that I criticized Speaker Madigan within that piece in question

Leader Cross wasn’t the only one putting his party over his state. The House Democratic Speaker refused to push the income tax without significant GOP support because he was so worried that an all-Dem tax hike could cost his party seats in 2010 - even though the Democrats have ten seats to spare.

* This is definitely not weird, but I might get a little weird at the event, depending on how much wine there is. Forewarned is forearmed.

* Heard any other weird things lately?

…Adding… The Washington Post has taken notice of our attempt at helping Amazon’s customers…

Amazon customers are letting their opinions of [Rod Blagojevich] be known by attaching tags to the book to help direct others to the title. You can search books on Amazon by tags, words you type into a tag search box, which take you to books that have been similarly designated.

For instance, the three books appearing under the tag “moron” are: “Joe the Plumber: Fighting for the American Dream” by Samuel J. Wurzelbacher and Thomas N. Tabback, “Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned the Political Establishment Upside Down” by Kaylene Johnson, and Blagojevich’s “The Governor.”

Customers have hit “The Governor” with 78 derisive tags, among them: “delusional,” “crook,” “fraud,” “twit” and “weasel.”


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Six Degrees of Separation - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 2:29 pm:

    I told Proft yesterday it would be more appropriate to pay legislators as if they were state vendors. That way, their checks would be six months late.

    Touchè, Rich.

  2. - Captain Flume - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 2:38 pm:

    It might be more appropriate to pay legislators in direct proportion to the wealth of their districts. You get elected to represent a district around Glencoe, maybe you make a pretty good salary; you get elected to represent a district around Doulton or Harrisburg, maybe not so much. It might even color the way you vote for certain revenue and spending bills.

  3. - Scooby - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 2:46 pm:

    CF are you suggesting we make legislative pay like education?

  4. - Capitol View - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 2:53 pm:

    I’m still working on my proposal to designate Illinois state government a major automobile manufacturer or an investment house. The concept is to get us viewed by the feds as “too big to fail” and they come in with $12 billion to rescue us.

  5. - Ghost - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 3:06 pm:

    Take that new jersey!!


  6. - Captain Flume - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 3:22 pm:

    ==CF are you suggesting we make legislative pay like education? ==

    Interesting consideration, isn’t it? Except without grants that give a base minimum, and no extra stipends for leadership, chairmanships, etc. Somehow, though, I think that kind of compensation arrangement won’t even see a hint of draft legislation at LRB, much less a sponsor.

  7. - Ghost - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 3:25 pm:

    If you want to make a real impact, cut legislative pay by 75% if a balanaced budget is not in place by Sept 1 every year (end of lapse period)

  8. - Anita - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 3:27 pm:

    Tamara di Selva graduated from the University of Chicago at age 16, and now she’s doing property tax appeals? Something here makes no sense at all:

  9. - Anita - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 3:29 pm:

    Here’s from her web site. I guess Rich doesn’t allow html codes?

  10. - George - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 3:29 pm:

    Other weirdness…

    Some guy pitches a game while playing for the White Sox and they call it “Perfect.”

    Not my idea of perfect.

  11. - The Doc - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 3:34 pm:

    The Chicago GOP post in its entirety should be required reading. The paranoia and frustration oozes off the page, complete with an internet slap on the back in comments from none other than Fran Eaton. Good stuff.

  12. - Deep South - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 3:43 pm:

    Looks like she graduated from law school at the age of 20.

  13. - Wumpus - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 3:49 pm:

    If I were in the Board of Appeals, I’d want her around.

  14. - anon - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 3:57 pm:


  15. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 3:58 pm:

    It’s great that you’re at home.

    Could you turn off the caps lock, please? Thanks

  16. - Quinn T. Sential - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 4:10 pm:

    {Walking back the dog)?

    I think you may have glossed over this part too quickly:

    {Commissioners have been investigating whether Froehlich used influence through Santana or anyone else to get tax breaks for businesses in Froehlich’s legislative district.}

    Read that out lound to yourselves a couple of time and try to contain your laughter within rather than just exploding with laughter in an embarrasingly public display; especially of you are reading this on the train, or somewhere else where people can see you.

    It’s Thursday; and Boers and Bernstein are doing “WHO YOU CRAPPIN” at 5:00 p.m. live from McNally’s, and I have to say there has got to be at least an honorable metnion nominee in this story for that program segment.

    Raise your hand if you think that “Commissioners” actually have to investigate what was going on here with Santana; Froelich and company.

    The “Commisioners” themselves are the one’s that have been gaming the system at the Board of Review for decades; going back to when it was just the appointed Board of Tax Appeals with people like Harry Semrow and Wilson Frost. Don Erskine and Tom Lavin were the pre-cursors to the likes of people like Victor Santana, but his role is nothing more than the personification of history repeating itself in the Cook County property tax appeals scheme.

    For a story to suggest that the “Commissioners” are somehow incredulous about this, and are conducting a comprehensive “investigation” to uncover what was happening there, and which they were otherwise in the dark on, could be worthy of a new Second City skit by the time this is over with.

  17. - CircularFiringSquad - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 4:17 pm:

    Tell Proft we should pay legislators in Cicero PO contracts….about 200% over real value….he must be campaigning to take over the Blagoof sociopath mantle

  18. - George - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 4:39 pm:

    More weirdness…

    Judge Mikva continuing to have Blago’s back?

  19. - George - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 4:40 pm:


    There’s a lot of irony in your statement there. Hehe.

  20. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 4:41 pm:

    Actually, George, I think Mikva is right about that one.

  21. - George - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 4:44 pm:

    I know. Just odd for him to bring it up at this time, considering the hard look you are giving him on his blago defense.

  22. - OT - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 4:45 pm:

    Other Weirdness:

    Chicago GOP can’t spell Capitol Fax correctly.

  23. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 4:49 pm:

    And they think I can control my father, which is the biggest hoot of all.

  24. - Mike Ins - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 5:13 pm:

    ANITA -

    Yes, very much the Doogie Howser of the legal world apparently, but it helps when you graduate U of C the same year you get your driver’s license… What the hell?!

    If you take a look at the profile, you will note that at some point between graduating U of C at age 16 and graduating law school at age 20 and practicing since age 21 she found time to work as a trader on the floor. Summer job? Or maybe that explains the year between graduation and when she actually was licensed as an attorney (1997 grad, 1998 license).

    Cute dog though.

  25. - Cheswick - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 5:20 pm:

    You’d think someone who graduated from college at age 16 could have at least graduated from law school by age 17. Maybe that’s when she went to work on the floor of the NYSE or CBOT or wherever.

    Seriously, I am sure Tamara is very smart and a very good lawyer. I can’t imagine how she let her name get on those property tax cases.

  26. - Candellara - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 5:25 pm:

    It looks like the Chicago GOP post bothers you, ahem, maybe a slight bit of truth?

  27. - Mike Ins - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 5:25 pm:

    Cheswick -

    Yes, busy day for the barrister… sun-times article today notes her questioning of Antoine Walker didnt get very far as she was defending, in criminal court, his alleged attacker…

    From the sun-times…

    “Cook County Judge Kenneth J. Wadas wouldn’t let defendant Phillip Allison’s attorney, R. Tamara De Silva grill Walker, sustaining most of the prosecutors’ objections to De Silva’s line of questioning.”

    … anyway, not to get too far afield, but lots of specialities and lots of newsworthy-ness for her today, apparently…

    … as Rich said… “weirdness”. ahem.

  28. - Funny Ed - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 5:28 pm:

    “A surprisingly unimpressive person”

    Hurt your feelings or funny?

  29. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 5:30 pm:

    FE and Candarella, you think my feelings are hurt? Really? lol

  30. - Proft For Governor - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 5:59 pm:

    David Ormsby offered Dan Proft a tutorial on financial matters in his blog post today. This is the same David Ormsby who used to work for Mike Madigan – the man chiefly responsible for our state’s economic crisis today.

    The Chicago 9 and their acolytes have two stock responses to those who threaten their power: “It’s too complicated for a neophyte like you to understand” or “Shut up.” Dan got the daily double.

    Mr. Ormsby suggests that the increased interest that Illinois bonds pay would be a financial boon to Illinois legislators. But he ignores the underlying reason for higher interest that any college freshman would understand: higher interest correlates with higher risk.

    Does Mr. Ormsby think, in our current fiscal and economic climate, that a politician would accept as payment a bond that pays a high rate of interest, but also has a high probability of default? Do the people who issue these bonds truly believe that they will be redeemed at full value? If so, let’s put it to the test.

    The point is to tie legislators to the long-term financial stability of the state. While we’re at it, let’s pay their pensions in state bonds as well. Only when our political class understands that their own retirement depends on their stewardship of their constituents’ retirement will we begin to get meaningful reform.

    Illinois’ credit degradation follows its political degradation. We are now positioned at the low end of investment quality. The recent actions of the General Assembly confirm that Illinois’ governing class suffers from this fiscal shortcoming, derived from their inherent disconnect with the consequences of their reckless actions. The downgrade essentially confirms this recklessness. Which is why we need a new turn-around team in place. Investors just might find our state bonds, and our state itself, a bargain with a high probability for appreciation.

    Proft For Governor

  31. - Cindy Lou - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 6:16 pm:

    It’s going to be a loooong six months.

  32. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 8:10 pm:

    CFS, not sure what a “Cicero PO” is, but I agree with George that your post about overpriced flacking is wildly ironic.

    Cindy Lou, you are soooo right.

  33. - Patrick McDonough - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 8:12 pm:

    Rich, please watch this video. The bricks may tumble on the good ole boy system yet. It is part of an I team story.

  34. - Bookworm - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 8:48 pm:

    Cap’n Fax in the back pocket of the Illinois Democratic Party? That’s the best joke I’ve heard today!

  35. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 9:09 pm:

    ===Do the people who issue these bonds truly believe that they will be redeemed at full value?===

    Why yes, yes they do. But more importantly, the bond buyers believe it too. Because never in the history of general obligation bond financing has a state NOT paid full value. It’s guaranteed in the bond agreements, which are enforced by our courts. And you’d think a candidate for governor would understand something so basic.

    Ormsby and others have already pants’d Proft about this very basic finance 101 concept. Yet his “Profit from Governing™” campaign response repeats this already refuted, nonsensical point.

    Speaking of weirdness, all of this new-found attention from the “Profit from Governing™” campaign must be kind of flattering Rich.

  36. - P. - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 9:43 pm:

    Did anyone else check out de Silva’s law firm’s “images” page? What the … ? Weird.

  37. - The Court Jester - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 9:44 pm:

    Cross didn’t put party over state… he stuck to his guns… Not many Republicans want more taxes

  38. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 9:59 pm:

    No matter your politics, there’s no reason to question whether a state will pay on its GO bond. Lot of history, and they always pay, come rain or come shine.

    Here’s the deal: bonds get paid first. Plenty of what they call “coverage” to take care of the juice and principle.

    Everybody else? They get paid manana. Or whenever we have it. Or whenever.

  39. - Lynn S - Thursday, Jul 30, 09 @ 10:43 pm:

    So I clicked around on Ms. de Silva’s website, and now I have more questions. Is it really a good idea to post your attorney number on your website for the whole world to see? And your birth year?

    With the background she alleges to have, why is she doing property tax appeals? Is it possible this is a case of stolen professional identity? In short, do the signatures on the bottom of the property tax forms match other known signatures of Ms. de Silva?

  40. - IL observer - Friday, Jul 31, 09 @ 12:05 am:

    Take heart Rich, the Chicago GOP is already being sued for slander/libel because of that sewer they operate. It’s a wonder they don’t already have dozens of suits pending against them. It’s a bunch of reckless nobodies who are embarrassing the GOP.

    And there is a reason why the Illinois Review is known as the Crossroads of the Enabler Community. Any GOP incumbent gets cover, no matter how dishonest. Everyone knows for example there are GOP votes for another tax increase (in addition to the one they already passed this year). Jim Durkin for one said so on Chicago Tonight a few weeks ago.

  41. - David Ormsby - Friday, Jul 31, 09 @ 12:46 am:

    Actually, one state has defaulted on its general obligation bonds - Mississippi - 1838. That’s it.

    Proft needs a tutorial from someone.

  42. - Ready to rumble - Friday, Jul 31, 09 @ 9:59 am:

    “Only one state has defaulted on its general obligation bonds”

    Let’s take this at their word. Why don’t we increase the Illinois debt-load four or five or six times. According to David, it’s impossible for a state to default, so why don’t just pay all our vendors and all our bills by increasing the debt? Why don’t we just build that high-speed, mono-rail right now? Why wouldn’t that work?

    Look at Orange county’s history, or check out Detroit today, or California today. When the spending class outspends its tax base, it’s very easy to default. Mike Madigan and his Democrat buddies are ignoring the balance budget requirement of the state constitution and bringing us nearer and nearer bankruptcy, which is why the ratings agencies have downgraded IL bonds.

    David, that’s finance 101.

  43. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jul 31, 09 @ 10:07 am:

    R2R, you need to move beyond 101 classes.

  44. - wordslinger - Friday, Jul 31, 09 @ 10:10 am:

    Ready, states cannot declare bankruptcy, unlike municipalities. It’s not an option.

    The state has any number of means to cure it’s structural deficit, but the GA has chosen not to do so.

    California is in a different category all together. It’s so tied up in knots with citizen initiative mandates that its virtually paralyzed.

    Fitch, in its Illinois downgrade, of course, did not mention bankruptcy. Read the report. Fitch would not have downgraded the state if Quinn’s tax increase had passed.

    Is that what you wanted?

  45. Pingback David Ormsby: GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Dan Proft Proposes Income Hike for State Lawmakers, Grabs Crackpot Crown | - Friday, Jul 31, 09 @ 8:03 pm:

    […] Apparently stung by the exposure of his own unique chuckle-headedness by that observation regarding his bonds-for-compensation idea, Proft continued to dig a deeper hole — and wiped away any doubt that the GOP crackpot mantle had found its home. […]

  46. - CATO - Tuesday, Aug 4, 09 @ 10:09 pm:

    Weirdness or ad hominem attacks aside what about the facts here? Isn’t it a fact that all three Commissioners raise tens of thousands of dollars in donations from the lawyers who plead cases before the same Commissioners? Is there not a manifest conflict of interest, or even the appearance of a conflict, when Commissioners decide cases argued by their biggest donors? Or can we think that it is only legislators and aldermen who are influenced by large campaign contributions? It does not appear that the BOR takes any steps to ensure that the real estate tax attorneys that make campaigns donations to each of the Commissioners do not receive preferential treatment? Many politically influential law firms have huge real estate tax appeal practices? Many of them have made substantial contributions to one or other of the 3 Commissioners? Are we missing the point here or does no one care about the real issues?

  47. - CATO - Tuesday, Aug 4, 09 @ 10:12 pm:

    What about the fact that under IL statute the Commissioners cannot have any other employment than at the BOR? Does Larry Rogers have a law practice? Isnt another one a lobbyist? Do the other 2 Commissioners have outside jobs? Aren’t the taxpayers subsidizing all this?

  48. - rtd - Tuesday, Aug 4, 09 @ 10:37 pm:

    Wow-I hardly thought I was newsworthy-thanks.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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