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Roger Keats flees to Texas

Monday, Mar 21, 2011

* Republican Roger Keats scored just 26 percent against Toni Preckwinkle in last year’s Cook County Board President’s race. Now, he’s leaving the state in a huff

We are moving to Texas where there is no income tax while Illinois’ just went up 67%. Texas’ sales tax is ½ of ours, which is the highest in the nation. Southern states are supportive of job producers, tax payers and folks who offer opportunities to their residents. Illinois shakes them down for every penny that can be extorted from them.

In The Hill Country of Texas (near Austin and San Antonio) we bought a gracious home on almost 2 acres with a swimming pool. It is new, will cost us around 40% of what our home in Wilmette just sold for and the property taxes are 1/3rd of what they are here. Crook County’s property tax system is a disaster: Wilmette homes near ours sell for 50% more and their property taxes are ½ of ours. Our assessed home value was 50% higher than the sales price. The system is unfair and incompetent.

Our home value is down 40%, our property taxes are up 20% and our local schools have still another referendum on the ballot to increase taxes over 20% in one year. I could go on, but enough is enough. I feel as if we are standing on the deck of the Titanic and I can see the icebergs right in front of us. I will miss our friends a great deal. I have called Illinois home for essentially my entire life. But it is time to go where there is honest, competent and cost effective government. We have chosen to vote with our feet and our wallets. My best to all of you and Good luck!


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- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - 42nd Ward - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 4:16 am:

    I’m sorty that you see hin only as a loser in a sui use run he agrred to maje after hus first choice, Paul Vallas, dropped out. Roger is a whole lot more than that.

    Roger Keats was a State Senator 16 years, and led the struggle for passage of historic legislation in Illinois, such as establishment of judicial sub-circuits that allow minorities to elect judges, reform of the banking system, and fundamental reform of public transit for the better.

    It is a sad day for Illinois that he is leaving, and why.

  2. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 5:07 am:

    What if Keats somehow became Cook Board Prez, would he have run off then? If he’s concerned about our state, he should stay, man up, and fight to make this a better place to live.

  3. - Nice kid - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 6:54 am:

    We didn’t want him ’round these here parts anyway!

  4. - wordslinger - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 7:04 am:

    Godspeed, Roger Keats. Your long nightmare of scratching out a pauper’s existence in the backwater of Illinois and surviving on the mean streets of Wilmette is finally over.

    The Hill Country is beautiful and a very popular retirement destination. The soil is such that you can’t really grow a crop there, which broke a lot of dirt farmers back in the day.

    But it’s been very livable ever since one of its favorite sons, LBJ, brought in federal rural electrification, road and water projects as FDRs point man for New Deal projects. The University of Texas blossomed from federal building and research projects during LBJs time in Washington, as well.

    To paraphrase Mr. Keats, Southern states have always been supportive of job-producing federally funded projects.

    For an account of the hard life of the Hill Country people prior to massive federal intervention and how it changed for the better afterwards, read Robert Caro’s “The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Means of Ascent.”

  5. - Michelle Flaherty - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 7:25 am:

    Is Keats taking an Illinois public pension with him or is he giving that up too?

  6. - Bill - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 7:49 am:

    Does Keats have to pay state income tax on his lavish, bloated, cadillac, state pension if he moves out of state?

  7. - John A Logan - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 8:26 am:

    Good for Him, but he could have left without saying anything. I don’t need another reminder that Illinois sucks.

  8. - Jack S. - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 8:32 am:

    RE: Affluent school districts on the North Shore…

    Funny how the article fails to mention the Lake Forest district superintendent’s bloated annual salary that add up to the tune of $409,029 plus bonus & perks, not to mention his sweetheart pension deal.

  9. - MrJM - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 8:56 am:

    Is there anything sadder than the trials and tribulations of someone selling his Wilmette mansion?

    – MrJM

  10. - Jose Jiminez - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 9:06 am:

    I’m really digging the plethora of “People leaving Illinois in a huff” stories of late. Keep ‘em coming!

  11. - Andrew Davis - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 9:06 am:

    Rich, MAP application window has been extended until this Friday the 25th of March. After that time students should STILL fill out FAFSA as Federal grants will continue to be funded.

  12. - lost in translation - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 9:15 am:

    Is Texas in a better position that IL? They have a budget deficit that is projected to be as high as $27 billion.

    It may be a great place if you are a high roller, but middle incomes and lower are going to take a heck of a hit in public services, including public schools and higher ed.

  13. - Are Ya Kiddin' Me? - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 9:19 am:

    Like him or hate him, Repub or Dem…..He’s right about the Property Tax system in Ill.

  14. - Fed up - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 9:20 am:

    Yeah the state of Illinois will really be better off when all the residents of willmete and other nice suburbs leave the state. I mean really we could use a few more towns to turn into Harvey, Robbins maywood another east St louis would make the state complete.

  15. - reformer - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 9:21 am:

    Talk about a sore loser! Losing in such a landslide to a Chicago alderman must be humiliating. And 26% is only slightly more than any Joe Blow on the ballot would get.

  16. - zatoichi - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 9:30 am:

    Keats could have moved to rural central Illinois, hit most of those home numbers, and stayed in the state. Local paper has a 2 acre lot, 4 bedroom home, in ground pool, second large building for $165,000. He could have paid cash, lived large off the proceeds of the Wilmette house, and stuck around to help fix Illinois. Much easier to make the dramatic news piece on moving to Texas.

  17. - piling on - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 9:34 am:

    Yeah, Wilmette is just a Roger Keats away from turning into East St. Louis. Sheesh.

  18. - overcooked - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 10:23 am:

    Roger did not run for President of the Cook County Board, he had his name put on the ballot with the outside shot that Todd Stroger would win a primary. When Todd got crushed, Roger waged a campaign in name only.

  19. - Bemused - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 10:29 am:

    I ended up in the great state of Texas during the Reagan years. Not because I wanted to, more because my new bride kinda expected me to be gainfully employed and the work was not here. Texas is not a bad place and is somewhere I could retire. Hill country and the Corpus area are about the only places I would go. After 8 years there I had to leave when King Oil went from $35 a barrel to $10. As someone said I found cost of living compares to mid-IL. The Texans believe the cost of living up here is like that in Chi-Town. Also as said by others, my impression was the middle class was a smaller group. I was on average making about 60% of what I could make here. The labor pool from south of there does keep labor costs down. Very non-union, they really buy into the independant cowboy thing. If your were not born in Texas you would need to be a Bush to become Texan. If you were born up here you are and always will be a Yankee. Some down there are doing very well. Some of those put in a whole lot of hours to do that. Since there were so many of us down there at that time a funny bumper sticker at the time was” Welcome to Texas, Now go home”.

  20. - Dirt Digger - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 10:35 am:

    If his home value is down 40 percent it is a pretty crummy time to sell…

  21. - CircularFiringSquad - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 10:54 am:

    Gee, does this mean we missed the Keats Going Away Prty?
    Of course, he and someone named Kristina Keats pocketed about %150K in consulting work for campaigns largely associated with Billboard Cross &Co. Maybe they are fleeing to avoid the likely refund request? Actually the rerquset could come from the murky shadows of Two Party System.
    TTFN Rog & Krissy

  22. - Just Observing - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 11:03 am:

    MrJM: Not all homes in Wilmette are mansions — in fact, few are.

    The one flaw in his letter is his analysis that Illinois’ population is declining to the point that we have lost so many Congresspersons. Well, its really only because of the growth explosion in western states.

  23. - just sayin' - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 11:08 am:

    Roger Keats = Quitter.

    He didn’t run a serious campaign last year and for years he never said a peep about the corruption in both parties. In fact didn’t he have a scandal of his own when he was in the state senate? Hasn’t he been part of the problem in Illinois?

  24. - steve schnorf - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 11:12 am:

    Illinois’ population isn’t declining

  25. - just sayin' - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 11:28 am:

    Keats added, “And you kids stay out of my yard!!”

  26. - Northsider - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 11:48 am:

    Roger who?


  27. - justsickofit - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 11:48 am:

    Since we all have pretty much lost value in our homes, do you think we will see an automatic decrease in assessed values when our tax bill comes? I own two real estate parcels in a southeastern state, and I just got my bill. One went down 60%, and one went down 32%; I’d have to fight for a decrease in assessed value, here.
    Friends with property in Florida also saw an automatic decrease in assesed value.

  28. - D.P. Gumby - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 12:19 pm:

    What a swell guy. Taking his cushy pension from his years in state senate where he contributed to the fiscal mess. Complaining about the housing crash hastened and worsened by the 8 years of his president W. Moving to a state w/ an even bigger fiscal mess, worse schools, and a gov. that is an even bigger wacko than W because he keeps clinging to “favor the rich, screw the rest” policies. I’d say he’s the heart and soul of the part of America I find most disturbing.

  29. - Cook County Commoner - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 12:28 pm:

    He’s right about one thing: Illinois residential property taxes, especially in Cook County. I’m unaware of any studies on how this tax contributed to foreclosures. But I don’t think it’s a stretch to guess that quite a few foreclosures could have been avoided if property taxes were in line with what Mr. Keats describes or even Palm Springs, CA which taxes realty at a much lower rate. And no change is in site. The majority of my property taxes goes to public education, which then goes back to the politicians to maintain the status quo. There’s no hiding from this tax, and that’s the way our public education overlords want it.

  30. - Anonymous Texan - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 12:38 pm:

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the famous Davy Crockett yet, “you may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas”

  31. - Small Town Liberal - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 1:04 pm:

    - I’m surprised no one has mentioned the famous Davy Crockett yet -

    Keats better watch out, it didn’t turn out so well for Davy.

  32. - David W. Aubrey - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 1:45 pm:

    Texas may seem like a nice escape, but it is coming into its own budget realities. Cutting taxes & spending for decades has not been enough to avoid a deficit that is one of the worst in the nation. Texas’s finances are now worse than New Jersey’s, but unlike New Jersey, there is little government left to cut. The worst part is that 10% of America’s future workforce lives in Texas, but will receive little education.

  33. - Nearly Normal - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 1:51 pm:

    Tens of thousands of Texas teachers have received layoff notices. Class sizes will almost double. The Texas legislature is also cutting a lot of other social programs in order to balance their budget.

    High school football is big in Texas–so big that parents often hold a child back in grade school so they will be bigger and older in high school to play the sport. Now, with the financial crunch will districts want to deny those types of detentions in the lower grades?


    Football is that important.

  34. - Bigtwich - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 2:17 pm:

    As sometimes Chicago resident General Philip Sheridan said: ‘If I owned hell and Texas, I’d live in hell and rent out Texas.’

  35. - wordslinger - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 2:34 pm:

    –High school football is big in Texas–so big that parents often hold a child back in grade school so they will be bigger and older in high school to play the sport.–

    Parents do that everywhere, believe me. I can think of five kids in my social network off the top of my head. And another six whose kids blew out their arms throwing curveballs when they were 10, with their parents’ encouragement.

    When it comes to youth sports, parental lunacy is universal — it’s just a matter of degree. Like anything else with kids, your best tool is the willingness to say “no” and be the bad guy. Make that your friend, and you’ll always have one.

  36. - MrJM - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 2:43 pm:

    @Just Observing - Where I come from, a “stately brick home” — “located on prestigious Sheridan Road” — with a “welcoming marble entryway,” a “huge master suite” and “five very spacious secondary bedrooms” is a mansion.

    – MrJM

  37. - wordslinger - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 2:48 pm:

    –@Just Observing - Where I come from, a “stately brick home” — “located on prestigious Sheridan Road” — with a “welcoming marble entryway,” a “huge master suite” and “five very spacious secondary bedrooms” is a mansion.–

    MrJM, you must be one of those Clampetts or Bodines from Bugtussel. The house you describe makes no mention of cement pond or fancy, green felt dinner table with long wooden pot-passers.

    The definition of mansion on the North Shore is way different.

  38. - Jack S. - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 4:04 pm:

    I think we’re taking the wrong tack here, gang. If we make Texas look too bad, ole Roger change his mind & decide to stay.

    I think Texas is exactly the right place for Keats. Either there or Arizona.

  39. - Judgment Day - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 6:47 pm:

    Re: TIF

    I just happen to know of a particular case where a Village Manager (approx. 23k population) in the West Chicagoland area who resigned his position to become the community’s Director of Tax Increment Financing (for a total of 8 TIF districts), and everybody “in the know” said it was a promotion. And he was making over $100k per year at the time.

    As for improvements in record keeping, who are “the suits” kidding? LaSalle County (from the article) just happens to have like 45++ TIF districts. Virtually every commerical center in and around the County has been TIFomized by local municipalities.

    I happen to know that the LaSalle County Clerk’s office has all the TIF materials for each TIF district indexed and scanned every which way possible. It’s great, and in terms of controlling these things, it’s meaningless.

  40. - wordslinger - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 8:12 pm:

    –Re: TIF–

    I remember a day back in the Capitol Blue Room in the 80s when a younger candidate for mayor of Springfield, Mike Houston, was the lead proponent, along with Phil Rock, of instituting Illinois’ first TIF legislation.

    Phil’s out of the game now. I wonder what Houston thinks about what TIF has become.

  41. - Way Northsider - Monday, Mar 21, 11 @ 9:56 pm:

    Happy to see him go. Texas can have him!

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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