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Chicagoans are clearly furious about property tax hike

Monday, May 19, 2014

* My latest column for Crain’s Chicago Business

Chicago property taxes are most likely rising soon. But that doesn’t mean Chicagoans have to be happy about their plight.

I commissioned a poll on May 14 to gauge just how deep the anger really is.

It’s deep. Deep Tunnel deep.

“Despite recent pension reform legislation in Springfield,” respondents were told, “the city of Chicago must still come up with $50 million next year and $250 million a year in five years to fully fund just two of the city’s six pension systems. Mayor Rahm Emanuel says property taxes will likely go up to prevent cutting needed city services. Do you agree with Mayor Emanuel that a property tax increase is probably necessary?”

Click here to read the rest and see the results for this and other polling questions. Subscribers have crosstabs.

* Meanwhile, Greg Hinz has a new Crain’s column entitled “Emanuel’s still strong, but here’s how he could lose in 2015″

In politics, you can get away with not being liked. Or you can be a governmental failure who can’t get much done. But you can’t be both at once and, however Mr. Emanuel defends himself, that’s the narrative that’s increasingly playing around Chicago.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


35 Comments
  1. - A guy... - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 9:28 am:

    One of the things not considered enough in these discussions are how generally unhappy Chicagoans are with their services. That’s a strong consideration. Most feel the police protection and service lacks and their view of education is extremely dire. Raising taxes (even if they are lower than in other places) is unpopular. It’s extremely unpopular when you’re not happy with public services. They aren’t.


  2. - Grandson of Man - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 9:30 am:

    “Or you can be a governmental failure who can’t get much done.”

    I have mixed feelings about Emanuel, but I think he’s been pretty good for business. He brokered a deal with the unions to keep convention business coming to McCormick Place. It would have been very bad to lose convention business.

    I read an article in which private unions have begun supporting Emanuel.

    He’s also reported as working very hard to bring business to Chicago. With the way the state is going, we need to attract business.

    As far as the schools, that’s a tough one. He may have another chance to work better with communities and teachers.

    The problem with defeating Emanuel is likely to be having “nobodies” run against him. Daley wiped out a bunch of candidates who did not have wide prominence in the city. If Preckwinkle decides to run against Emanuel, or someone else with stature, he could lose.


  3. - Demoralized - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 9:30 am:

    Nobody wants their taxes raised. Problem is ask those same people what services they want cut and you’ll get “none” as the answer. The public loves to try to fit square pegs in round holes.


  4. - Mama - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 9:34 am:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought the property tax revenues are supposed to fund the schools. Therefore, the only pension the revenue could be used for would be the teachers pensions.


  5. - Rich Miller - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 9:39 am:

    Mama, you’re wrong. There are different property taxes for different government agencies.

    Please, in the future always use the Google if you find yourself starting a comment with “Correct me if I’m wrong.”


  6. - Bogart - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 9:39 am:

    Demorolized - I don’t want my property taxes raised: and, I don’t need public libraries, or a bloated fire department. or countless press spokespersons and lobbyists working for City Hall, or a new stadium for DePaul, or a new PArk for Maggie Daley, or bodyguards for Aldermen and past Mayors, etc. etc, etc.


  7. - wordslinger - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 9:40 am:

    Emanuel got 55% of the vote last time with strong support in black wards. Like Jane Byrne before him, he hasn’t exactly been cultivating his base since his election.

    But you can’t beat an incumbent with a huge warchest with nobody, as Rich M proved time and again.

    I don’t see anyone but Preckwinkle having a serious chance of beating Emanuel.


  8. - Joan P. - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 9:40 am:

    @ Mama -

    You’re wrong. Yes, schools are funded by property taxes, but the use of those taxes is not restricted to schools. Take a look at your tax bill sometime. If you’re in Chicago, the taxing districts include not only the Board of Ed, but the following:

    Water Reclamation District
    Chicago Park District
    Chicago Community College District
    City of Chicago
    Cook County Forest Preserve District
    County of Cook


  9. - Oswego Willy - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 9:41 am:

    Can’t beat somebody with nobody.

    Preckwinkle or Fioretti seem like good “alternatives” to the Rahm that Chicagoans now know as a Mayor, but being 9 months out, and with Rahm’s War Chest, Emanuel will not go quietly into that goodnight.

    Rahm has huge image and political problems. Heck, he has operatives already pushing negative stories on Preckwinkle. Can Fioretti forged enough alliances to be impactful and raise enough money to shore up those alliances?

    Will “Governor Rauner” help the man he made a millionaire?

    Will Rahm get over the Faux attacks on the property taxes by a Rauner long enough for Bruce to come to Rahm’s rescue?

    Great column, Rich. Got me thinking about those taxes, and how this poll has deep implications, and not just on the property taxes.


  10. - Wensicia - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 9:50 am:

    Emanuel may be a skilled politician, but he’s a poor leader, worse than Quinn in my opinion. Considering he has almost total control of Chicago politics, that’s not good.


  11. - Demoralized - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 9:56 am:

    == I don’t need public libraries==

    Yes, that darn wasteful spending on libraries is killing us. That’s just dopey.


  12. - Toto Riina - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 10:00 am:

    Could this scenario play out? Quinn loses to Rauner, then runs for Mayor against Rahm. Something to chew on.


  13. - Steve - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 10:03 am:

    Rahm will win UNLESS someone credible runs against him. Plus, who wants to run against someone that can bring in Barack Obama to do campaign commercials for them??? It might not mean much somewhere else but in Chicago : it does mean something.


  14. - Upon Further Review - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 10:08 am:

    Rahm Emanuel held a press conference at O’Hare Airport (he was going to catch a plane and leave town once again on the people’s business) and he announced a program to repair the pothole covered city streets. The crews worked hard for a couple of weeks and then, the asphalt work seemed to stop. The slow down seemed to happen as soon as the cameras left. There are still gaping craters on the streets, but it is no longer news.

    The mayor is a fly by night operator.


  15. - wordslinger - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 10:09 am:

    –Plus, who wants to run against someone that can bring in Barack Obama to do campaign commercials for them???–

    Didn’t happen last time. Obama said nice things, but he was just happy to get Emanuel out of the White House.


  16. - Upon Further Review - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 10:13 am:

    @Wordslinger:

    I do not dispute your percentages, but in 2011, Emanuel received the lowest total vote of a winning candidate since 1919 when Thompson won with a plurality over four other opponents.

    That is not necessarily an indicator of strength.


  17. - OldSmoky2 - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 10:26 am:

    It’s worth noting that there is a lot of disenchantment with Emanuel on the North Side, too. Some of it comes from people most would expect to oppose him over issues like his privatization of public schools and his failure to reform the TIF process as he had promised to do. But many who voted for him last time are also unhappy because of things like a 25-percent or more drop in the number of police officers patrolling their neighborhoods and the failure to maintain streets and other infrastructure. When they see Emanuel pay for an expensive new basketball arena for a private university (DePaul) and they can’t get a cop to respond to a 911 call because there simply aren’t any cops available, well, people start looking for alternatives.


  18. - Upon Further Review - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 10:38 am:

    @OldSmoky2:

    Your remarks about the police are quite true. Taxpayers are angry that officers are being moved from their districts to cover other neighborhoods.


  19. - Chris - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 10:52 am:

    “Your remarks about the police are quite true. Taxpayers are angry that officers are being moved from their districts to cover other neighborhoods.”

    And NO credible candidate will say that they will move the cops back to the northside.

    Seriously, everyone complains about what Rahm is doing, and doesn’t give any credit to the “what would *YOU* do if you were Mayor-King, and could do anything you want (limited only by the budget, parking meter deal, etc–basically, limited by the Daley legacy)?”

    First one with a plausible solution that doesn’t involve raising taxes, or cutting pension, or cutting city services is the winner. I’ll hang up and listen.


  20. - VanillaMan - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 10:57 am:

    Rahm can look at Chris Christy to see how a guy can tell his voters what they don’t want to hear, but stay in office.

    Emanuel needs to tell Chicagoans things they don’t want to hear. He got elected based on his reputation for speaking his mind. Since he has been in office, he has tried being nice in the face of people not being nice to him.

    It is time for Mr. Mayor to stop being nice and fight for what he believes will help Chicago.


  21. - 47th Ward - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 11:01 am:

    ===Taxpayers are angry that officers are being moved from their districts to cover other neighborhoods.===

    Meh. I’m not angry that my low crime neighborhood had CPD’s early retirement program closed at Belmont and Western. I’m more angry that Chicago cops never seem to get out of their cars except to walk into a restaurant in my area. Car accident? Self report. Break in? Come down to the station. Grafitti? Call 311. Long ago they stopped traffic enforcement, so now we have red light and speed cameras.

    So yeah, send the police to where the crime is. Ask them to work for a living, to do the job they signed up for. That makes sense to me. And no, I haven’t seen an explosion in crime since the beat realignment. Just a lot of grumbling by cops who don’t seem to want to work too hard.


  22. - Upon Further Review - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 11:07 am:

    @VanillaMan:

    Your basic premise is sound, but Emanuel needs to back up his words and deeds. Quit crying poor and then finding magic money for new high schools and stadiums and the like.

    It is amazing how the pols all cry how the city and state are broke, but their own pet projects are fully funded and not subject to being cut.

    Emanuel announced a brand new Malcolm X College ($217 million) to replace the old Malcolm X College (dedicated in 1971). The mayor promised that the new campus will be a leading institution for training students for nursing and med tech jobs. Forty years earlier, when the new Malcolm X College was dedicated by a former mayor, it was promised that the new college would be a leading institution for nursing and med tech jobs.

    By the way, the nursing programs at Malcolm X College were denied certification by the state because too many graduates failed to pass the licensing test.


  23. - fed up - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 11:28 am:

    I have to admidt mixed feelings on Rahm, I do believe he has been good for Chicago buisness and I like the longer school days. I also feel that the moving police out of so called low crime is a joke, robberies are up double digits percentages near wrigley. Traffic enforcement is non existant. I do question some of the spending, 60 million of Maggie Daley park, it was already a park, Depaul arena, Red light and speed cameras that he ignores. i think he wins but yes he is very vulurable.


  24. - OldSmoky2 - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 11:45 am:

    ==And NO credible candidate will say that they will move the cops back to the northside.

    Seriously, everyone complains about what Rahm is doing, and doesn’t give any credit to the “what would *YOU* do if you were Mayor-King, and could do anything you want (limited only by the budget, parking meter deal, etc–basically, limited by the Daley legacy)?” ==

    The problem is that when he ran for mayor Emanuel said over and over that he would put more police on the streets all over the city. Instead, he’s cut the number of cops all over the city. He also said he would reform the TIF process and restrict the use of TIFs in places that aren’t underdeveloped. Instead, he’s continued to use TIFs to give away tax money for things like the DePaul basketball arena and upscale condo buildings in neighborhoods that are already doing well. As for solutions, many people have pointed out that there are hundreds of millions sitting in the TIF accounts that could be used to hire more police, keep schools open, and make the overdue pension payments Emanuel still wants to put off making. If he’d just do what he repeatedly said he was going to do when he ran for mayor, so many people wouldn’t be so unhappy with Emanuel.


  25. - 47th Ward - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 11:53 am:

    ===robberies are up double digits percentages near wrigley===

    Citation needed.


  26. - Anon - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 12:06 pm:

    http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20140519/ohare/andrew-francis-talkin-chicago-blues-protest-songs-get-new-life


  27. - OldSmoky2 - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 12:29 pm:

    According to the City of Chicago Data Portal, robberies in the police beats around Wrigley (1923, 1924, 1925) are indeed up - there were 168 in 2008, 151 in 2009 and 169 in 2010. Under Emanuel and McCarthy, there were 209 in 2011, 222 in 2011 and 226 in 2013. That police district, by the way, has also gone on RAP (Radio Assignment Pending) status 18 times in 2014 alone. RAP status means that emergency calls cannot be responded to because there are no officers available to respond to them. RAP status in the district lasted almost four and a half hours Feb. 22 and more than three hours on Feb. 14 and May 4. I have friends on the police force in that district and strongly disagree with the notion that most cops “don’t seem to want to work too hard.” It’s a tough, very stressful job - I doubt many of us would last very long if we had to deal with the kind of situations and people they deal with night in and night out.


  28. - OldSmoky2 - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 12:31 pm:

    Oops, typo - that should read “209 in 2011, 222 in 2012 and 226 in 2013.”


  29. - DuPage - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 12:44 pm:

    Chicago taxes are lower in general then areas in DuPage and Kane Counties, possibly other areas as well.


  30. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 1:16 pm:

    I seem to recall early polling in 2006 had Congressman Jackson creaming Mayor Emanuel.

    Unless Emanuel has an opponent, this is all moot.

    I haven’t exactly been the mayor’s biggest cheerleader, but there is a big difference between talking about a campaign and actually running one.


  31. - VanillaMan - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 1:29 pm:

    I’m tired of the game played here on this issue.

    The folks who are furious, didn’t ask for more stuff. The people who wanted more stuff, don’t care who pays for the stuff they wanted. The people justifying their decision to give the folks who want more stuff, more stuff - are trashing the folks who are paying for the other folk’s stuff.

    A majority of the people complaining about their taxes, know that they will need to lose something being provided currently in order to have lower taxes. They still want lower taxes.

    They aren’t stupid. They know they are not getting a good value for their money. It doesn’t matter if their tax rate is lower than someone else’s, they don’t like the feeling they get when they get their tax bills and don’t see where their money is going.

    These voters believe that their lives will not be negatively impacted in a noticeable way if their tax bills are cut. Because they already believe they are negatively impacted in a noticeable way with their taxes as they are.

    Every day, voters stand in lines at markets and see their neighbors get free stuff. Every day. At what point can we imagine that this will start to grate on them - especially when they see that they are the only ones in line paying both their tax bills AND their market bills?

    So yeah - tax payers want to pay less in taxes and yeah - folks who pay nothing in taxes, but still get stuff, want more stuff.

    It is a natural.

    So please stop falling for the argument that voters don’t know what they want, or know where their money goes, or that they are hypocritical. Voters aren’t stupid. They understand taxes and they understand welfare, and they understand or try to imagine the costs of operating a city. YET they are still believing that they are owed a tax cut.

    Because they are.


  32. - Demoralized - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 2:14 pm:

    @VMan

    Poll after poll after poll disputes your argument. They show people want their taxes cut and they also show that people don’t want the budget cut.


  33. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 8:11 pm:

    === Every day, voters stand in lines at markets and see their neighbors get free stuff. Every day. At what point can we imagine that this will start to grate on them - especially when they see that they are the only ones in line paying both their tax bills AND their market bills? ===

    Vman:

    You usually have something interesting to add to the debate. What the heck was that?

    You of all people should realize that Illinois takes in more revenue from the sales tax than income taxes, and that the working poor pay a disproportionate share of their income in sales taxes.

    Also, you of all people should know that SNAP has a work requirement, unless you are caring for a young child, or disabled or otherwise unable to work.

    In fact, 96% of SNAP recipients worked within the year following receiving food stamps, according to this report from the Center on Budget Priorities.

    So please, leave the Bill Bradyish “people are thrilled to be poor” chatter to someone less intelligent than yourself.

    @Demoralized -

    Darn tootin’


  34. - wordslinger - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 8:42 pm:

    …–especially when they see that they are the only ones in line paying both their tax bills AND their market bills? ===

    And for long-winded, sanctimonious state employees with a lot of time on their hands during the word kay.


  35. - funny guy - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 10:22 pm:

    Sell O’Hare and Midway and avoid raising property taxes and reducing pension benefits!!!!!! Unlike parking meters, these airports do not contribute to the City’s budget. Get rid of the patronage concession and construction contracts!!!! Cut the City’s budget because it will no longer have to do airport related work.


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