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More on Kennedy’s speech

Wednesday, May 31, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Mark Brown

Kennedy declined to characterize his [property tax] proposal as a tax swap, saying he would leave it to individual communities to decide whether or how much to lower property taxes.

So he’s not going the full Netsch/Edgar/Meeks route. Hmm.


If elected governor, Kennedy said he would implement “radical” reforms, like banning the Cook County assessor from leading political parties and stopping elected officials from being property tax lawyers.

These reforms were clearly veiled swipes at Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios, who is the chairman of the Cook County Democratic party, and House Speaker Michael Madigan, whose law firm files appeals to property tax assessments.

But when questioned by reporters, Kennedy insisted his campaign wasn’t about them.

* His quote

Asked afterward by reporters if he was contending that Madigan, Berrios and Burke were part of a corrupt system, Kennedy repeatedly declined to directly answer.

“This isn’t about individuals by any stretch of the imagination. This is about an entire system and it really begins with kids,” said Kennedy, who noted the bulk of public school financing is through local property taxes. “This is about them, not about any elected official.”

* CBS 2

Kennedy was later asked if Berrios, Madigan and Burke are corrupt.

He replied: “The people who are in the system feel like they’re playing by the rules and, as such, they feel like they’re not breaking the rules. I think we need to change the rules so if this conduct continues, it’s against the law.”

* Back to Brown

No current elected officials attended Kennedy’s speech, the first major policy rollout of his campaign.

But former White House Chief of Staff William Daley, former county Assessor James Houlihan, former Board of Review Commissioner Robert Shaw and former Senate President Emil Jones were on hand to lend support.

That’s a weird combination.

* Tribune

Former Democratic state Senate President Emil Jones Jr., a Kennedy backer who attended the speech, was asked if he believed the property tax system was corrupt.

“Yes, it is,” said Jones, served with Madigan. “The system has always been there as far as the (property) taxes are concerned. So those who have access, be it through contributions or wealthy lawyers, the city assessor or his organization — so that, in a sense, is not immediately wrong, but it’s not right, see?”

Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said the veteran House speaker’s outside legal work does not include examples of “anything improper or special treatment.”

“I don’t know what he’s referring to, and I believe others have used that idea as a campaign plank (in the past) and it hasn’t proven successful,” Brown said of Kennedy.

Jones also backed a tax swap of sorts back in the day. He’s also a noted Madigan hater. Houlihan had his own falling out with Madigan.

* Related…

* Chicago Dem Chris Kennedy Touts ‘Radical Change’ Agenda

* Kennedy Talks Business with McDonough County Democrats: He told the crowd of more than 200 people at the V.F.W in Macomb that while president of merchandise mart, he worked to bring businesses to Illinois and help them grow and not one business ever asked about the issues deemed priorities by Governor Rauner’s turnaround agenda.

* Steve Cochran Show 05.31.2017: Chris Kennedy


  1. - cover - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 11:27 am:

    I don’t understand why Kennedy would rail about the unfairness/corruption of the property tax and then not take the next step and propose the tax swap, at least that would have differentiated his campaign from the other Dem contenders.

  2. - Grand Avenue - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 11:29 am:

    Chris Kennedy Steve Cochran interview starts at the 31 minute mark

  3. - Grand Avenue - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 11:36 am:

    Kennedy endorses term limits & redistricting reform in the Cochran interview

  4. - Amalia - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 11:37 am:

    Jim Houlihan is a great guy!

  5. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 11:40 am:

    Let’s break this down…

    ===”The people who are in the system feel like they’re playing by the rules and, as such, they feel like they’re not breaking the rules. I think we need to change the rules so if this conduct continues, it’s against the law.”===


    “The people who are in the system feel like they’re playing by the rules”

    If they are not, say so. If there are rules broken, say so. This is actually the parsing of someone confused if he is going to attack or be honest…

    “and, as such, they feel like they’re not breaking the rules.”

    Again, unless you are willing to point directly that actual rules are actually broken, Kemnedy is just not ready to lose any honest credibility here, also given Kennedy hired Madigan’s firm for his own tax issues.

    ===I think we need to change the rules===

    The only reason, the only one, you start your close like this is if you admit the first two sentences are malarkey, and Kennedy feels being honest to the discussion is the only way to be honest with an unspoken solution… so far.

    “so if this conduct continues,”

    Which Kemnedy has yet to say breaks ANY rules, or cites any rules broken, including in his own tax issues..

    “it’s against the law”

    … which in no way it appears laws were broken, so let’s close by bringing it to an honest idea to a parsed premise based on a presumed and faulty foundation of facts.

    That Kemnedy… lol

  6. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 11:40 am:

    ===Kennedy declined to characterize his [property tax] proposal as a tax swap, saying he would leave it to individual communities to decide whether or how much to lower property taxes.===

    I know he supports the long, arduous and iffy process of changing the constitution to implement a graduated income tax, but did he outline how high state income taxes would need to rise? Depending on the brackets, it sure seems like we’d need a LOT more revenue than a flat 5% would generate. So would most taxpayers see their rates go up higher than 5%? Did anyone ask him?

    The tax swap always sounds good until you see how high income taxes need to be to replace the property taxes. I’m still for the idea, but it’s going to be a tough sell, as it always was.

  7. - T Sowell - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 11:46 am:

    Kennedy is attacking the Dem establishment and proposing to do away with the current property tax system, at the exact time that school district official and other Dem friendly folks, are out fighting for that very property tax system !!

  8. - Anonymous - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 11:47 am:

    Kennedy takes a heroic leap from a small step. OW hits it right. Kennedy trying to perpetuate the ‘magic’ of the name while lacking everything it takes to do so

  9. - Ahoy! - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 11:55 am:

    There is no conflict of interest in drafting and passing property tax laws and then getting paid large amounts of money to represent clients regarding the laws you just drafted and passed. That is just Illinois, not a conflict of interest.

    I like the way Kennedy is going on the campaign, defiantly differentiating himself, it’s almost like he heads Capitol Fax.

  10. - Annonin' - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 11:58 am:

    Hmmm Houli EJ2, Bill Daley
    Thinkin’ they helped sink Claypool

  11. - Anon0091 - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 12:21 pm:

    It seems like Kennedy was prepared for the speech but not prepared to follow through when the inevitable questions came after. For example:

    1) So why throw in the direct reference to Berrios and Madigan if you’re not prepared to name them after the speech???

    2) Why walk right up to the swap but then walk away from it?

    3) Why have no specific policies ready?

    Seems like yet another half-assed effort that wasn’t fully thought through.

  12. - Pangloss - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 12:33 pm:

    California is doing very well on a fiscal level, job creation, etc. Yet they pay up to 11.3% in state income tax, 8.75% sales tax, and you might also pay $500 or more to register a car in California. They also have a higher gas tax. Their property tax rates are lower, but because housing value is so high they pay about the same. The items in their tax structure that are considerably lower is user fees and sin taxes.

  13. - A Jack - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 12:34 pm:

    Kennedy sounds a lot like Rauner: property tax reforms, term limits, corrupt politicians….

    I am not sure that Kennedy would bring the compromise that the state desperately needs to get back on track.

  14. - Chicagonk - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 12:39 pm:

    Kennedy is right that the rules need to be changed. What’s unethical is not always illegal and Illinois has plenty of politicians who know the rules very well.

  15. - Molly Maguire - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 12:40 pm:

    Agree strongly with Anon0091. Not that hard from a policy point of view to propose a tax swap with a progressive income tax that adds up. Politics is another matter though. I don’t think there’s as much juice in this issue politically as our host seems to think (see yesterday’s post on the need for a Dem candidate to take Chicago). It’s very complicated, hard to do, and drawn out — and most importantly we are stuck with the local prop tax system because it works for the communities that can bring in bucks with it. They like having good schools and can afford it, and they aren’t anxious to take a chance on a pig in a poke (and they vote).

  16. - Back to the Mountains - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 12:47 pm:

    I’m going to start a vacation fund by donating 25 cents every time someone running for Governor proposes an action that is not clearly constitutional. I should be able to go anywhere in the world in the next month or so.

    You don’t just get to wave your magic governor wand and say “this elected official can’t be the head of a political party.” You may believe it is corrupt, and you can work within the system to change the corruption, but it’s a lot more complicated and nuanced than “I’m not gonna let this guy run a political party.”

  17. - Cook County Commoner - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 12:58 pm:

    I use Justice Potter Stewart’s rule on identifying porn in identifying “conflicts of interest”, “I know it when I see it”, and governance in IL is blinding due to the sightings.

  18. - blue dog dem - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 1:19 pm:

    What a sap. Looks like old Blue is gonna sit out come Nov ‘18.

  19. - Just Observing - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 1:37 pm:

    There is certainly abuse in the property assessment appeal process, but it’s not just clouted lawyers and politicians that are winning appeals — the average Joe Schmoe wins plenty of appeals even without an attorney. Why? Because the Board of Review loves giving out reductions to everybody, regardless of clout, and pushes average property owners to appeal, appeal, appeal. Small, residential property owners vote.

    That being said, property assessment appeals are only a secondary issue. Local government spending, including the state’s education funding, is the primary reason property tax bills are so high. Anyone that claims property assessment appeals are the cause of high property taxes is disingenuous at best and a liar at worst.

  20. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 1:47 pm:

    Just Observing,

    Exactly right. In fact, one of the untold stories is the great job the Board of Review is doing with modernizing their systems and making appeals accessible to everyone. But if I were Kennedy, I would have hired Madigan’s firm for appealing the Mart’s taxes too. It may not be necessary for ordinary homeowners but it sure can’t hurt!

  21. - Jockey - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 2:31 pm:

    I’m jumping on this horse: Kennedy missing the Dem. NOM and running as a third party candidate.

  22. - Just Observing - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 4:41 pm:

    === I’m jumping on this horse: Kennedy missing the Dem. NOM and running as a third party candidate. ===

    My guess is that that would be considered a slap in the face at the family name and dynasty. The Kennedy’s are Democrats, not independents.

  23. - molly maguire - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 3:23 pm:

    I have appealed my property taxes several times, and gotten sizable reductions every time that line my assessment up with neighbors. I have never hired an attorney, they take about half of the savings as a fee. The Board of Review gives the bigger reductions than the Assessor’s office. I get help from my township on doing the appeal

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