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Buried under the hype

Wednesday, Oct 27, 2010

* The candidate who may have been “hurt” the most by the Daley/Rahm/etc. mayoral drama is Forrest Claypool. He was most certainly counting on a ton of earned media before the election, but editors have been too busy focusing on 2011 to care much about next Tuesday.

Today is a good case in point. Claypool held a press conference this morning at 10:30 to unveil some new information. Unfortunately for him, Sheriff Dart’s “I’m not running for mayor” presser was held exactly the same time. So, Claypool gets buried once again.

Luckily for us, Greg Hinz attended the Claypool event

In a revealing look inside county government that is both more and less than it appears to be, assessor hopeful Forrest Claypool released a detailed study that he said shows a connection between campaign cash and government decisions. […]

The findings: Of $6.2 billion in assessment cuts awarded by the board this year to all property owners — residential, commercial and industrial — 92%, or $5.7 billion, went to those who used a lawyer who has donated to Mr. Berrios, Mr. Claypool said.

That translates to just under $1 billion in taxes that were shifted to other property owners, Mr. Claypool said.

Mr. Claypool has promised not to accept campaign donations from property tax lawyers. Doing so is like “the judge taking cash from the litigant in front of him, and then making a decision.”

Claypool also said he would recuse himself as assessor from ruling on assessments if he accepted campaign contributions. He’s taken money from some bigtime land owners.

* Berrios responded via press release…

“It’s almost laughable because he obviously doesn’t know how the office operates,” said Joe Berrios, Democratic candidate for assessor. “The assessor sets the assessments. He is required by law to do so. To hire a third-party or assign the duty to someone else would require legislative approval and ultimately cost taxpayers.” […]

Claypool not only accepts money from the likes of the Pritzkers and Sam Zell, but from Houlihan, which is pure evidence of his hypocrisy and double-standard, Berrios said. “Houlihan takes contributions from anyone – including property attorneys and real estate developers — and he then turns that money over to Claypool. Allowing Houlihan to be one of the largest funders demonstrates that Claypool isn’t being straight with voters,” Berrios said.

You can see the Claypool handiwork by clicking here.

* By the way, would it have really been so difficult for Dart to wait until after Tuesday to make this announcement? Seriously. It’s only a week.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - OneMan - Wednesday, Oct 27, 10 @ 3:30 pm:

    Played with it when the tweet came, cool tool, don’t know how much play it will get, but a great idea.

  2. - Tom B. - Wednesday, Oct 27, 10 @ 3:31 pm:

    To clarify for Capitol Fax readers, what he was referencing was appeals that are done at the Assessor’s office.

    Oh, and Scott, Jesse, Kelly, you still didn’t file the correct disclosures for donors. See you at the Thompson center tomorrow.

  3. - Been There - Wednesday, Oct 27, 10 @ 3:37 pm:

    * By the way, would it have really been so difficult for Dart to wait until after Tuesday to make this announcement? Seriously. It’s only a week.===
    Yea but us grunts going out collecting signatures or trying to raise money for him are glad he did it today rather than wait. Actually only have to go help with a House race now instead doing both.

  4. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Oct 27, 10 @ 3:49 pm:

    I’m guessing when Claypool was a kid he never found a chair when the music stopped.

  5. - Quinn T. Sential - Wednesday, Oct 27, 10 @ 3:49 pm:

    So the question is; what’s in it for Dart anyway?

    U.S. Attorney in late 2011 after the election?

    Senator Dart replaces Durbin if there is an R majority?

    I smell a deal, but I just can’t sniff out the details yet?

  6. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Oct 27, 10 @ 3:54 pm:

    Sometimes, you just need to take it for what it is.

  7. - Who Cares - Wednesday, Oct 27, 10 @ 3:57 pm:

    I’m sure Dart didn’t cut a deal with anyone. I’m sure his family is part of his decosion but raising the kind of dough to compete with Rahm would have been a huge uphill battle.

    I’d bet Claypool would rather have run for mayor than assessor. Probably a few folks are kicking themselves for not getting in or staying in the mayoral race now that Dart is out.

  8. - Thoughts... - Wednesday, Oct 27, 10 @ 3:58 pm:

    Wow, it only took five comments for the conspiracy theories to start, unbelievable.

    US Atty in late ‘11? What? For one year unless Obama is re-elected?

    Sen. Dart? Nope, the federal courts say there has to be a special election now - no appointments.

    Dart is one of the more genuine pols I’ve ever known. Here’s the “deal” - dude has five kids under 10 years of age - he wants to raise his family. Please, out the tinfoil hat away.

  9. - Jeff - Wednesday, Oct 27, 10 @ 4:04 pm:

    Claypool could have called me and 3 neighbors on my block and found exactly the same result. All of us have tried to appeal our taxes without an attorney to no avail. Hire an attorney? 100% success rate. As one neighbor said it is not right but what are you going to do?

  10. - OneMan - Wednesday, Oct 27, 10 @ 4:05 pm:


    That’s all likely true, but
    A) This is Chicago
    B) He had 5 kids under 10 before Daley announced he wasn’t running again

    So therefore it’s going to spawn speculation

  11. - North shore - Wednesday, Oct 27, 10 @ 4:10 pm:

    Yesterday, we got a letter from a tax attorney we used asking us to vote for Berrios. Guess that says it.

  12. - R.C. - Wednesday, Oct 27, 10 @ 4:12 pm:

    *I’m guessing when Claypool was a kid he never found a chair when the music stopped.===

    Hey word, didn’t your mother ever tell you “if you don’t have anything relevant to say, don’t say anything at all.”

  13. - Politicalady - Wednesday, Oct 27, 10 @ 4:13 pm:

    Admittedly missing the forest here (no pun intended)…I don’t care for the tone of Berrios’ response. I think it’s overly aggressive, unprofessional and off-putting.

  14. - Nick42 - Wednesday, Oct 27, 10 @ 4:15 pm:

    “* By the way, would it have really been so difficult for Dart to wait until after Tuesday to make this announcement? Seriously. It’s only a week. ”

    I wish, but he wanted to be fair to his supporters.

    Fundraisers were planned (including a big one tonight, and one on Nov. 3). He wanted to be fair and let these guys off the hook. It also gives the Stop Rahm guys (READ: his supporters) time to regroup and think of a plan, because one week after Nov 2 if there is no recount, the attention REALLY starts to shift to the mayor race. If he dropped out then, they’d be in complete disarray (which is what still may happen, but that’s not his fault!)

  15. - justbabs - Wednesday, Oct 27, 10 @ 4:22 pm:

    There has been an undercurrent in Chicago that no one was happy with candidates on the ballot next week who planned to run for something else in February.

  16. - CircularFiringSquad - Wednesday, Oct 27, 10 @ 4:23 pm:

    Guessing Gump looked at zero files to see the documents do justify the reductions in assessments
    That is how it is done. One would think he would have a handful of exmaples….maybe he tried and like the Tribune found the special treatment does not exist.
    Bye Bye Gump

  17. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Oct 27, 10 @ 4:31 pm:

    –Hey word, didn’t your mother ever tell you “if you don’t have anything relevant to say, don’t say anything at all.”–

    Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleadings I denied. That leaves no one else to blame, but mama tried.

  18. - R.C. - Wednesday, Oct 27, 10 @ 4:44 pm:

    Hahahaha. Well played.

  19. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Oct 27, 10 @ 4:56 pm:

    ===to see the documents do justify the reductions in assessments===

    CFS, stop trying to prop up Berrios. It’s unbecoming of you. As another commenter noted, citizens who file appeals without an attorney get nada, and the Board has plenty of documents to justify those denials. What matters is which documents get used, and therein lies the magic.

    I did my own appeal and found 4 comparable properties within one block of my home with lower assessments than mine. The Board came back with 3 comparables from more than a mile away with similar assessments as mine. I was denied based on properties they found much further away rather than on properties I found that were, in one case, 2 doors down.

    Figures don’t lie, but liars sure can figure. Documents, schmocuments. It’s rigged to favor attorneys, keeping them in business. The attorneys contribute dough to keep the pols in business. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    Forrest isn’t a saint, and he isn’t much of a reformer, but he just pulled the curtain back from the whole sorry spectacle. The dirty little secret is out, and hopefully Joe Berrios will be put out next Tuesday.

  20. - CLJ - Wednesday, Oct 27, 10 @ 4:59 pm:

    I always feel like Forrest is really running against Houlihan when he makes statements such as these.
    What are the odds that Forrest runs for Mayor if he wins Assessor? That would be the move of a real progressive.

  21. - He gone... - Wednesday, Oct 27, 10 @ 5:09 pm:

    Forrest should have just ran for Mayor, but no, he is so anxious to get back to the public watering hole that he will run for anything. I hope this guy loses, he is a Hypocrite.

  22. - Ivory-billed Woodpecker - Wednesday, Oct 27, 10 @ 5:29 pm:

    Adding to Nick42 -

    Campaigns will want to collect signatures Tuesday as actual registered voters leave the polls. Announcing now gave Dart supporters a few days to decide who they might want to switch to.

  23. - Just Observing - Wednesday, Oct 27, 10 @ 5:46 pm:

    Claypool’s figures are deceiving because his claim is that “of $6.2 billion in assessment cuts awarded by the board this year to all property owners — residential, commercial and industrial — 92%, or $5.7 billion, went to those who used a lawyer who has donated to Mr. Berrios.”

    Well the biggest cuts are going to go to corporate owned properties (e.g. the Sears Tower, Merchandise Mart, Allstate etc.) because their properties are the biggest and we are dealing with big figures there. Corporations are required to use attorneys before the Board of Review — not to mention those appeals are pretty complicated. There are only a handful of attorneys that specialize in this field. Most if not contribute to Berrios and the other two Board of Review Commissioners. Therefore, Claypools numbers add up but don’t really tell the whole story.

    By the way, those that complain that homeowners appealing without an attorney don’t get a fair shake are wrong. The Board of Review gives reductions to well over 50 percent of homeowners that appeal on their own. Now if you want to make the case that the Board of Review gives out too many unwarranted reductions to both commercial and residential property, I would agree with you there.

  24. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Wednesday, Oct 27, 10 @ 7:23 pm:

    Was there any polling done for the Assessor race?

    BTW, I have removed my tinfoil hat but if Dart gets some Federal gig in next year or so it goes back on.

  25. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Oct 27, 10 @ 9:17 pm:

    ===The Board of Review gives reductions to well over 50 percent of homeowners that appeal on their own.===

    OK, I don’t know if that’s true, but I’ll stipulate that your figure is in the ballpark. And because I have a sense of the process, I’d say that is explained by those who have a political connection understand the appeal process. They also understand that a call to a political patron can facilitate the process too.

    In some ways, just like an other public office, if you know somebody who works there, it makes things easier. And if you’re politically connected, that’s as good as hiring a lawyer in this town.

    So yeah, I have no doubt that going the attorney route isn’t the only way for taxpayers to appeal their assessments. They can also go to their committeeman if they aren’t lucky enough to know someone on the inside.

    Seriously, Berrios and the Machine guys think the rest of us are schmucks. How many homeowners in Cook County get a letter from one or two law firms right after the triennial assessments? Every three years, the same lawyers spread chum in their wake, hoping to attract a few guppies.

    Last I checked, County Assessor is a public office. That means it’s supposed to work for us. Does anybody think Joe Berrios really wants to work for us? Me neither.

  26. - Dr Kilovolt - Wednesday, Oct 27, 10 @ 10:48 pm:

    Re Dart waiting until after Tuesday, would it be asking too much to schedule the municipal election cycle so that it doesn’t effectively overlap the general election?

  27. - GoodDay - Thursday, Oct 28, 10 @ 9:43 am:

    Everyone says the office of Assessor is suppose to work for us and Joe Berrios wont work for us. If you look at the numbers Houlihan has raised our Market Value every year since becoming assessor, im sorry but my house isnt worth 350,000 when my neighbor just bought his home for 100,000. So I cant sell my house for what im being taxed and i have lived here for 20+ years, but our current Assessor is doing such a good job of raising our taxes that he hand picks his successor to run in the general and makes sure he doesnt vote in the primary. When the air smells like fish something fishy must be going on.

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