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Some progress with Sears, but doubts remain

Wednesday, Aug 31, 2011

* Greg Hinz reports that a meeting yesterday between Sears CEO Lou D’Ambrosio and Senate President John Cullerton showed a bit of progress on attempts to keep the company’s corporate headquarters in Illinois

“We certainly want to encourage them to stay in Illinois,” Mr. Cullerton said in a brief phone conversation afterward. “We discussed all of the factors determining where a company should locate.”

Mr. Cullerton said Mr. D’Ambrosio specifically asked for help in passing a bill, which already has cleared the House, that would allow Hoffman Estates to extend the life of a special taxing district that subsidizes Sears’ headquarters complex. Mr. Cullerton said he agreed “to facilitate a vote on that bill” when the Legislature meets for its veto session in October.

Mr. Cullerton said the company promised to give a somewhat longer request list later. He said he’s inclined to help, “but it depends on the details.”

Sears released a statement saying it has “begun to have conversations with elected officials in Illinois and elsewhere” and thanking Mr. Cullerton “and other Illinois lawmakers (who) have taken the time to visit our campus and talk about Sears Holdings’ significance to the state.”

* But there’s a problem in Cullerton’s caucus. Democratic state Sen. Mike Noland, who represents the area, is against that bill

A tax-incentive district created for Sears expires in 2012, and Sears is rumored to be considering moving when that deal is up.

For the record, the Elgin Democrat says he’s against extending that tax-incentive deal. The reason: Carpentersville District 300 wants the property tax money the company would have to pay should the deal lapse.

“That’s $13 million a year the school district has been doing without,” Noland said.

He said he’s a “big fan” of Sears and could favor helping the company out through perhaps a different incentive in order to try to keep it in Hoffman Estates. But the school money, Noland says, is critical.

* Yet Rep. Fred Crespo remains optimistic

State Rep. Fred Crespo, a Hoffman Estates Democrat, said legislation that could address Sears’ tax concerns could be debated when lawmakers return to Springfield in late October and November.

“I hope this veto session, we can get close to closing a deal,” Crespo said.

* Meanwhile, I’m not sure if this is a totally fair comparison, but The Atlantic has a story today about 25 corporate CEOs who were paid more than their company paid in taxes. Some bigtime Illinois CEOs are listed as well

Aon
CEO: Gregory Case
Executive Compensation, 2010: $20,783,301
U.S. Corporate Income Taxes Paid, 2010: $16 million

Boeing
CEO: Jim McNerney
Executive Compensation, 2010: $13,768,019
U.S. Corporate Income Taxes Paid, 2010: $13 million

Motorola Mobility
CEO: Sanjay Jha
Executive Compensation, 2010: $13,016,126
U.S. Corporate Income Taxes Paid, 2010: $12 million

Motorola Systems
CEO: Gregory Q. Brown
Executive Compensation, 2010: $13,732,802
U.S. Corporate Income Taxes Paid, 2010: $7 million

Motorola Mobility received a ten-year, $100 million state subsidy this year. Boeing got some public incentives to move its headquarters to Chicago. Aon’s Greg Case and Motorola Solutions’ Greg Brown both sit on the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago. The group has railed against the high cost of pensions for public employees.

* Related…

* ADDED: Buffett Widens Rift With Republicans by Faulting Tea Party: “I think Mr. Buffett needs a day job,” Representative Joe Walsh, an Illinois Republican elected with Tea Party support, said today in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Inside Track.” “These millionaires and billionaires are the folks that try to create jobs and grow the economy. The last thing we want to do is increase taxes on them right now.”

* Joe Walsh Attacks Buffett For Supporting Tax Hike On The Rich: The controversial politician went on to call Buffett “coddled” and “disingenuous”, adding that he believes Buffett is “heating up his rhetoric because his support for the president is so desperate.”

* VIDEO: Walsh: Buffett needs a day job

* Supt. Garry McCarthy to cut $190M from police budget

* Daley officials’ unused vacation costs taxpayers $9.5M

* Family connections in Rosemont net $2 million in pay

* Illinois farmland prices reach $10,000 an acre for first time

* Investors pitch data center beneath Grant Park

* ComEd not on hot seat at Lincolnshire meeting

* More utility ratepayers sidestepping ComEd, buying in bulk - Growing number of Illinois communities are negotiating for cheaper, and sometimes greener, electricity

* Naperville show puts spotlight on green vehicles

* Zipcar brings its fleet to local colleges

* GoChicago, which helps users organize trips, wins app award

* Justice Department blocks AT&T-T-Mobile merger

* Daily Herald to charge for online subscriptions

* Chicago Tribune drops tabloid edition of paper

- Posted by Rich Miller        


31 Comments
  1. - bdogg - Wednesday, Aug 31, 11 @ 11:59 am:

    And people think welfare fraud is such a big deal… ummm, hello. the corporations are the ones robbing us blind.


  2. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Aug 31, 11 @ 12:06 pm:

    These CEOs really need more tax breaks. The wealthy are the job creators afterall, and Lord knows they’ll create tons more jobs if we let them keep their Bush tax cuts. They’ll “create” more jobs like housekeepers, butlers, gardners, chefs, chauffeurs, yacht crews, etc.

    Imagine how much household help you can hire with an million bucks or so per year. Why should that money go to deficit reduction? Taxes are for suckers.


  3. - Flem Snopes, Inc. - Wednesday, Aug 31, 11 @ 12:15 pm:

    I’m maximizing revinnew by gettin’ some cuzzins to move from cross the river. They can get sekshun 12 money and give it to me to buy more foreclosures.

    Wonder if the big boyz in their publik cummpennies thought up that one yet.


  4. - Cheryl44 - Wednesday, Aug 31, 11 @ 12:18 pm:

    * Zipcar brings its fleet to local colleges

    I-Go has been on Chicago campuses for years now.


  5. - Cook County Commoner - Wednesday, Aug 31, 11 @ 12:19 pm:

    Democratic Senator Noland’s zeal to latch on to any property taxes that will start flowing if and when Sears leaves, along with its jobs, to another state is understandable. He receives most of his funding from government employee unions and associations and those sympathetic to them. This includes teachers. And these folks and their pension plans must be paid. That is why they paid him. And the individual welfare of Sen Noland’s constituents who may work for Sears or otherwise benefit from its Illinois presence is secondary.


  6. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Aug 31, 11 @ 12:28 pm:

    I guess since Joe Walsh finally has a job, he has the zealotry of the recently converted and feels he can tell Warren Buffett to get a job, and lecture him on the economy, creating jobs and fiscal responsibility.

    What a fevered mind he must have. Apparently, the dude cannot be embarrassed. I imagine he gave Buffett stock tips, too.


  7. - Bonsaso - Wednesday, Aug 31, 11 @ 12:29 pm:

    The vacation day issue is the same at the state level.


  8. - Roberto Quintero - Wednesday, Aug 31, 11 @ 12:42 pm:

    I’m with Noland on this one….Illinois is one of the best places to do business in this country. Low taxes, educated work force, small percentage of state workers to population….

    Sears should be begging to stay in Illinois.


  9. - Leroy - Wednesday, Aug 31, 11 @ 12:44 pm:

    “For the record, the Elgin Democrat says he’s against extending that tax-incentive deal. The reason: Carpentersville District 300 wants the property tax money the company would have to pay should the deal lapse.”

    If there was ever an article on CapFax entitled “Cutting Off Your Nose To Spite Your Face”, this is it.


  10. - paddyrollingstone - Wednesday, Aug 31, 11 @ 12:46 pm:

    I’ve known Joe Walsh for a long time but even for him that comment is insane.


  11. - bdogg - Wednesday, Aug 31, 11 @ 12:49 pm:

    oh, and btw. Go Justice Dept! AT&T and T-Mobile merger would be horrible for consumers. Now the FCC is beating the drums of war as well. Yes! Yes! Yes!


  12. - OneMan - Wednesday, Aug 31, 11 @ 1:06 pm:

    Considering the news as of late coming out of Sears I think the amount they save in property taxes is the least of their worries.


  13. - South of I-80 - Wednesday, Aug 31, 11 @ 1:12 pm:

    If Sears does leave and vacates their current headquarters complex, what would then be the market value of the facility? You have to consider that the complex is unique with limited usages, unless you have another corporation willing to purchase and occupy it or chop it up into small office units for sale or rent, but what type of office space demands are there in Hoffman Estates.

    The estimated $13 million per year, that would go to the school districts, is based upon a fully occupied and functioning facility, but if is sitting vacant and you have limited buyers or tenants, the value of the property, in this market, will plummet and the corresponding tax dollars would also do the same.

    Another issue, if Sears does leave, is the impact on the residential market. The employees who would be moving to the new headquarters, in all probably, would be putting their homes up for sale thus increasing the current housing supply and forcing the residential values down further.

    Senator Noland needs to realize that the $13 million figure is on paper and not in the pocket of the school districts!


  14. - Small Town Liberal - Wednesday, Aug 31, 11 @ 1:59 pm:

    - The controversial politician went on to call Buffett “coddled” and “disingenuous” -

    Yeah, that Buffett sure is a hypocrite, asking the government to take more of his hard earned money. What nerve. I’m glad someone with obvious moral superiority like Joe Walsh is willing to call him out. Next thing you know Buffett will be actually paying child support or something.


  15. - mokenavince - Wednesday, Aug 31, 11 @ 2:03 pm:

    When I need finanical advice Joe Walsh is hardly the one I would seek it from.Warren Buffet has forgotten more the Walsh will ever know.As far as
    Sears is concerned I doubt if they will be in business 10 years from today.


  16. - Quinn T. Sential - Wednesday, Aug 31, 11 @ 3:04 pm:

    These CEO’s get a substantial percentage of their compensation based on their performance with respect to bottom line results.

    I am not sure if this is new to some people here or not, but each one of these companies has a corporate treasury department that includes CPA’s and attorneys, plus outside counsel and experts whose sole job is to minimize taxes and maximize profits.


  17. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Aug 31, 11 @ 3:14 pm:

    ===whose sole job is to minimize taxes and maximize profits.===

    Amd it appears they are doing a heck of a job. But tell me, QTS, why can’t the CEOs pay the personal tax rates they paid when Bill Clinton was president? Why do I suspect the GOP to threaten to shut down the government unless these millionaires get to continue receiving a lower tax rate that is helping to bankrupt the country?


  18. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Aug 31, 11 @ 3:16 pm:

    There are trade offs here. Mostly it is small businesses that employ most people - not large conglomerates like Sears (and not the “wealthy” like 47th Ward would have us believe). That $13 mil mentioned would, indeed, be mostly lost if Sears left the purpose built campus (unlike Sears Tower downtown). But human beings walk the halls there. They live nearby, pay property taxes, pay sales taxes in local businesses. If this rep doesn’t realize that he will be losing way much more he is a fool.

    For those businesses to small to extort tax breaks from the state, you know - the ones who employ most folk, it has got to be disheartening to see the tax breaks go to Sears. We should think of them as a kind of anchor store for Illinois. That and Caterpillar, Boeing, ADM and others. I may not like the fact that the engines of our economy, small tho they may be, are not getting the big breaks. We should do what we can to support those empoyers in other ways, reducing regulation, tax breaks for providing some benefits, whatever we can do, we should.

    As a teenager I worked at a Sears in Glen Ellyn. Changed batteries in customers cars, among other things. Got more battery acid holes in my pants that way. Ah, memories.


  19. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Aug 31, 11 @ 3:31 pm:

    –These CEO’s get a substantial percentage of their compensation based on their performance with respect to bottom line results.–

    They get what they can get their buddies on the board to sign off on. If recent-years bottom line considerations ruled, the boys from Motorola wouldn’t be pulling down $13 million a year. That’s Adam Dunn money.


  20. - reformer - Wednesday, Aug 31, 11 @ 3:35 pm:

    Small Town Lib
    Well said about Congressman Fiscal Responsibility.

    DuPage Dan
    Do you suppose the Sears complex would remain vacant if Sears moves to Indiana? If other businesses move in without a tax break, then Dist. 300 would get the property taxes they’ve been deprived of for decades.


  21. - Objective Dem - Wednesday, Aug 31, 11 @ 3:45 pm:

    The US created a lot of jobs in the post war era through the Clinton Administration when taxes on the wealthy were higher. Job creation suffered and lagged since the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans.


  22. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Aug 31, 11 @ 3:50 pm:

    The Sears property is prime real estate and would be highly sought after by developers once our banker friends start lending money again. It wouldn’t languish like some abandoned buggy whip factory.

    I’ve kind of suspected Sears is looking to whack up their assets to maximize value, and that property could be one of them. For the first time ever, they’re allowing their Kenmore, Craftsman and Diehard brands to be sold in other stores.

    Something’s going on.


  23. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Aug 31, 11 @ 4:26 pm:

    reformer,

    I don’t know if you are familiar with the property in question. Due to the layout it would be awkward to subdivide. I suppose a large corp may want the whole place but that is a harder sell - and wouldn’t they just want the same deal Sears had on a tax break to relocate to Illinois?

    Of course you could just rent out to a whole bunch of resale shops and quickie marts but I doubt that would work out.

    I suppose real estate developers would salivate in some future yet to be seen. However, it ain’t just the “banker friends” word talks about that are reluctant to start building again. Just consider all the homes being foreclosed on that would have to be reclaimed, rehabbed and resold? Excessive existing housing stock puts downward pressure on construction. That may very well change but who knows when?


  24. - Fed up - Wednesday, Aug 31, 11 @ 4:40 pm:

    Sears is going to have a hard time making it throu the next 5 years. It is a shrinking company that will never again be a major retail player. It’s headquarters like its stores are on valuable real estate and thats the value of the company Whatever state bends over for Sears will never see a return
    on the investment.


  25. - Logic not emotion - Wednesday, Aug 31, 11 @ 5:13 pm:

    I like the track Dupage Dan suggests. Basically, you make the entire state’s environment business friendly so that you don’t need to give big corporations tax breaks so they can afford to pay their CEOs enough to eat.

    It does seem that its the people / businesses in the middle that get the short end more and more.

    As to Buffet… I’ve been a fan; but that has lessened - greatly. Read in depth about his recent Bank of America purchase and any idle thoughts about him doing it as an altruist act rather than as a shrewd and ruthless businessman quickly fade away.


  26. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Aug 31, 11 @ 5:21 pm:

    ===any idle thoughts about him doing it as an altruist act rather than as a shrewd and ruthless businessman quickly fade away. ===

    Did you really think that Warren Buffet was just a sweet old man? He’s one of the most successful businesspeople in US history. Just because he has a conscience doesn’t mean that he also isn’t shrewd and ruthless.


  27. - sal-says - Wednesday, Aug 31, 11 @ 5:33 pm:

    “…has a story today about 25 corporate CEOs who were paid more than their company paid in taxes.”

    Unfortunately, big money talks a lot louder than individual taxpayers. Surprising, isn’t it?


  28. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Aug 31, 11 @ 7:34 pm:

    Death is not an option:
    Which lasts longer?
    Sears or the Daily Herald behind a pay wall.


  29. - Judgment Day (Road Trip) - Wednesday, Aug 31, 11 @ 8:39 pm:

    Don’t have a problem with Sanjay Jha’s compensation. If the Google acquisition comes through, we’ll be golden. Could easily be worth every penny 10 times over.


  30. - Judgment Day (Road Trip) - Wednesday, Aug 31, 11 @ 8:46 pm:

    “The Sears property is prime real estate and would be highly sought after by developers once our banker friends start lending money again. It wouldn’t languish like some abandoned buggy whip factory.”

    Take a really hard look around at the nationwide Commercial/Corporate HQ marketplace. It’s really, really scary these days. You would not believe what the ’shadow’ RE market for such properties currently looks like.

    There’s lots of “Trophy Properties” in the marketplace these days - and very few buyers.


  31. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Aug 31, 11 @ 9:18 pm:

    –Take a really hard look around at the nationwide Commercial/Corporate HQ marketplace. It’s really, really scary these days. You would not believe what the ’shadow’ RE market for such properties currently looks like.–

    Dude, it’s prime real estate for mixed development, residential and commercial, like North Glenview after they shut down the airbase.

    That property is way underutilized as a corporate hq. Too much grass, daddio.

    They could move those operations downtown for a song, in a building like, I don’t know, the Willis Tower, lol.


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