* Background is here. Jeanne Ives Press release…
On Sunday, the Chicago Tribune published Jason Grotto’s fourth feature article about the mismanaged and corrupt property tax assessment system in Cook County. The headline, “Assessor’s Estimates Defy Logic, Benefit Lawyers” is stunning, yet entirely accurate. The paper’s editorial page followed up with a scathing opinion piece stating Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios is “bad at his job.” In response to the recent calls for Berrios to step down and the report itself, Republican candidate for Governor and State Representative Jeanne Ives issued the following statement:
“Governor Rauner is late to the game. His call for Berrios to step down is little more than political convenience. He is, once again, trying to hide from his record, while I stand on mine. In February, I filed legislation for a property tax task force that would evaluate our system statewide worked to expose and remedy many of the issues we are discussing today. When the Democrat leadership blocked my legislation, I approached the Rauner administration to run the task force through his executive order authority. My request was ignored. Despite his promises of property tax reform, Governor Rauner refused to take charge when he had the chance. He refused to lead on this important issue.
“I filed this legislation because I and my colleagues, including townships assessors, know how inaccurate assessments unfairly affect the school funding formula and unfairly shift the tax burden between different property owners. The fact that this is a statewide problem was revealed during a legislative committee hearing on school funding when I questioned superintendents about their property tax evaluations, one superintendent revealed that his county had not undergone a reassessment in 35 years.”
Governor Rauner looked the other way when he had a chance to effect the change Illinois homeowners desperately need. He could have taken charge in February. He didn’t.
“Today, I join Chris Kennedy in calling for Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios to step down from his position. Under his leadership the Cook County Assessor’s office has an accuracy rating three times worse than the normal range. His office has the highest appeal rate to the state property tax appeal board and the highest rate of those appeals being affirmed in favor of the property owner. His corrupt system failed to use best practices in assessing property, update their computer assisted modeling of assessments, and failed to respond to requests for transparency.
“Governor Rauner will try to tell you our Property Tax System is a ‘broken system.’ That is incorrect. Our property tax system is working exactly as intended by the Chicago Democrats who designed it. It benefits the politically connected at the expense of those in this state without their wealth and clout.
* Meanwhile, earlier today, the Berrios campaign claimed this…
Wall Street Republicans like Bruce Rauner and Fritz Kaegi have been reckless for the role they played in the financial collapse of our economy while profiting off the backs of working families.
From Rebecca Reynolds, campaign manager for the Fritz Kaegi campaign…
“The Berrios campaign has once again issued another obviously false statement. Fritz Kaegi is a lifelong progressive Democrat, and he has been endorsed by Congressional Democrats Robin Kelly, Danny K. Davis and Bill Foster, County Clerk David Orr, Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and many other progressive democratic organizations and local leaders. Suggesting otherwise demonstrates a disregard for the truth, disrespect for the voters of Cook County, and the same lack of honesty and transparency that has plagued Mr. Berrios’ office for many years.”
“No one has made life worse for taxpayers in Illinois than Bruce Rauner, and no one has done more to worsen economic inequality. They have both done lasting damage to the economic futures of low-income communities and communities of color. They should both be relieved of their posts in the 2018 election, or sooner.”
*** UPDATE 1 *** Berrios campaign…
Fritz Kaegi denies that he is a Wall Street Republican but the donations to his campaign tell a different story. He has accepted tens of thousands of dollars from Republican donors, who have directly contributed to Trump and Rauner.
Fritz claims that during his tenure at Columbia Wagner Asset Management he would not have allowed investments in private prisons because he finds them morally reprehensible. He is clearly misleading voters because as a senior portfolio manager of Columbia Acorn Fund (ACRNX) he designed and executed investment strategies for the fund. Most notable are:
$29 million invested in the Corrections Corporation of America, a private prison operator that lobbied for legislation increasing incarcerations in the U.S. Such policies have been shown to unfairly target African Americans, Latinos, and undocumented immigrants.
$44 million invested in DeVry University, which was sued for false advertisements that target lower-income communities
$41 million invested in Celanese Corp, which was Accused of contaminating water with cancer-causing chemicals in 2014
$21 million invested in Centene Corp, Health insurer criticized for refusing to cover surgery for infant with brain tumor
$19 million invested in Navigant Consulting, a consulting firm accused of charging Long Island Port Authority exorbitant fees while assisting with response to Hurricane Sandy
$196 million invested in MB Financial, bailed out by federal government
$52 million invested in TransUnion, Credit tracking agency that settled claims from New York Attorney General that it failed to properly respond to consumer complaints about mistakes in credit reports
Fritz is a Wall Street Republican running as a progressive Democrat with strong ties to the people responsible for crushing our economy to the brink of a depression and causing the housing crisis that we are still recovering from. He will not be a good steward for Cook County residents’ hard earned savings.
We call on Fritz to return the millions of dollars he profited from the incarceration and defrauding of African Americans, Latinos and the undocumented community.
*** UPDATE 2 *** Kaegi campaign…
“The Berrios team’s latest statement about Fritz’s alleged investments in private prisons is replete with blatant lies–hallmarks of Assessor Berrios’ disturbing flagrant perpetuation of economic inequality. This is yet another feeble Berrios attempt to deflect public attention from the Assessor’s own scandal by lying to voters. Their statement this morning calling lifelong progressive Democrat Fritz Kaegi a ‘Wall Street Republican’ would be laughable if the ease with which Berrios’ campaign lies to voters wasn’t so troubling.
“Fritz’s commitment to progressive Democratic issues and his responsible and ethical investment record are all a part of the public record and can easily be found with little effort. However, the current Assessor has shown a shameless disregard for getting the facts right for the taxpayers of Cook County–so it should come as no surprise they didn’t get the facts right in their campaign attacks either.
“We understand that this has been a tough time for Mr. Berrios. Just last week, the ProPublica Illinois-Chicago Tribune analysis of tens of thousands of property records demonstrated conclusively that politically connected law firms got billions of dollars in property tax breaks from Joe Berrios on commercial real estate deals–and that Berrios, in turn, put that tax obligation directly on the backs of Cook County residents.
“Especially in this political climate, voters expect and deserve the truth. We call on Mr. Berrios and his staff to at least try to make their case honestly and treat the voters with respect.”