Capitol Fax.com - Your Illinois News Radar » Rauner campaign claims Pritzker “refuses to call out corruption, whether in the office of Mike Madigan or Joe Berrios”
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Rauner campaign claims Pritzker “refuses to call out corruption, whether in the office of Mike Madigan or Joe Berrios”

Wednesday, Mar 7, 2018

* Rauner campaign…

“JB Pritzker has demonstrated time and again that he’s unwilling or unable to stand up to the powers that be in the Democratic Party. He refuses to call out corruption, whether in the office of Mike Madigan or Joe Berrios. That’s not leadership. It’s more of the same self-dealing that has held Illinois back for decades and benefitted the insiders who profit on the backs of hardworking families.” - Rauner Campaign Communications Director Will Allison

Yet another Berrios scandal emerged on Wednesday highlighting a tax break worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and the next in a long series of conflicts of interest for the Cook County Assessor. Altria, a tobacco producer represented by Berrios’ lobbying firm (separate from his role as Assessor and Cook County Democratic Party Chair), received an assesment from Berrios’ Assessor’s office that reduced their property tax bill by $370,000.

It seems everyone in Cook County has seen and made note of the corruption that runs rampant in the Assessor’s Office.

Everyone except JB Pritzker that is.

In December, Pritzker made it clear he wouldn’t be criticizing Berrios: “I don’t think it’s my job to foment a war between Democrats”

A month later, in January, he still couldn’t muster the courage to condemn Berrios: “Calling people out individually for their failures is, you know, not productive, and I’m involved in my own primary, not other people’s.”

JB Pritzker has avoided criticizing corruption in Illinois, whether it be Madigan or Berrios. His silence shows that he is part of the same, broken status quo.

* The press release references this BGA story about a property tax reduction

Tobacco giant Altria won a lucrative property tax break last year on a Franklin Park factory from the office of Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios, who also is the co-owner of a lobbying firm that counts Altria among its longtime clients.

In September, Berrios’ office slashed the real estate assessment on a 500,000-square-foot chewing tobacco warehouse and manufacturing facility owned by the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company, part of the Altria Group which is best known for its Philip Morris cigarette brand.

The action shaved about $370,000 off the factory’s 2017 property tax bill. And the value of the break could potentially be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars more. Records show the warehouse was under contract to sell for double the value that Berrios’ office assigned, despite the legal requirement that the standard for such determination is 100 percent of fair market value.

The Berrios lobbying firm, B-P Consultants, has represented the interests of Altria and its subsidiaries in Springfield since 2009, state lobbyist registration records show.

In a brief telephone interview, Berrios told the Better Government Association he “wasn’t involved” in the Altria tax appeal. At the same time, Berrios said he believed the assessment reduction granted to Altria was justified.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

26 Comments
  1. - Sideline Watcher - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 12:10 pm:

    What is the connection between the Cook County Board of Appeals and the Cook County Assessor? When you appeal, don’t you go to the Board of Appeal? Someone please help?


  2. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 12:16 pm:

    Rauner setting the clock forward to March 21 again I see.


  3. - Retired Educator - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 12:19 pm:

    He has called out a lot of corruption in the Governor’s office. There is so much mismanagement, maybe he is having trouble moving on. Another attempt by the Governor to deflect from his terrible record of mismanagement.


  4. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 12:22 pm:

    Either Rauner is full of it, or the country’s most ineffectual governor, unable to halt corruption he sees.

    Which is it, fabricator or incompetent?
    Who’s governor, Bruce?
    Governors attack corruption, not whine about it.


  5. - Lucky Pierre - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 12:35 pm:

    “Calling people out individually for their failures is, you know, not productive”

    Unless it is a Republican I guess.

    in that case they are solely responsible for every crisis in Illinois despite the fact we have divided Government and the Democrats will not compromise with the Governor on anything.


  6. - Juvenal - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 12:37 pm:

    “Bruce Rauner refuses to call out corruption, whether it is in the Trump administration or his own.”

    This game is so simple, two can play.


  7. - Stand Tall - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 12:47 pm:

    Pritzker used this corrupt office to lower his own property taxes in a corrupt manner.


  8. - Cheryl44 - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 12:48 pm:

    Hey, the Governor learned the name of another elected official!

    Baby steps.


  9. - Norseman - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 1:03 pm:

    Pritzker is calling for action to rid Illinois of its most serious problem - Bruce Rauner.


  10. - anon2 - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 1:05 pm:

    Property owners may appeal directly to the Assessor’s office, then to the Board of Review.


  11. - anon2 - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 1:06 pm:

    Rauner criticises Pritzker for not calling out Berrios. I think Pritzker has been every bit as critical of Berrios as Rauner has been of Trump.


  12. - NeverPoliticallyCorrect - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 1:08 pm:

    People, the issue is Rauner. The issue is the pervasive, back door political system that has afflicted Illinois for decades. Each party has had it’s bad actors. When candidates refuse to stand up against these self-serving elected officials then they are tacitly supporting them. One would hope the public would not reward candidates who refuse to call out corruption but given the history of IL we have no reason to hope for real change. Berrios might lose but most of those who supported him will win which means the culture will remain. And how is Rauner expected to halt the corruption in the Assessors office. Ask the Democratic Attorney General to investigate and prosecute? Good luck with getting Lisa M. to stand up for all of us little people.


  13. - Because I said so.... - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 1:25 pm:

    =He refuses to call out corruption, whether in the office of Mike Madigan or Joe Berrios. That’s not leadership.=
    From the sitting governor who says he’s not in charge. Yea, that’s leadership.


  14. - Annonin' - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 1:27 pm:

    Of Course GovJunk and his posse are National Poster boys & girls for not talkin’ about stuff…Trump, pro-life issue, Trump, warehouse deals, departed, lawyers On and On


  15. - Boone's is Back - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 1:35 pm:

    That BGA story is incredibly misleading. Buried at the end of the piece is this:

    “…the building was emptying out and, on average, was 45 percent vacant for the year, records show.”

    Vacancy relief in Cook County doesn’t change the valuation assigned to the property. It’s temporary, 1 year relief based upon the property being VACANT. It’s not a tax break and is something frequently used by both commercial and residential owners.


  16. - Boone's is Back - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 1:37 pm:

    ===What is the connection between the Cook County Board of Appeals and the Cook County Assessor===

    Property owners get their first chance to appeal at the Assessor. If they don’t like their result, or missed their chance with the Assessor, they can file at the Board of Review.


  17. - nadia - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 1:43 pm:

    What corruption in Speaker Madigan’s office? Only the alleged stuff? Or only the stuff he has never been arrested for or charged with, indicted for and proven guilty of?


  18. - SSL - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 1:45 pm:

    Have we gone so far downhill in this state that we won’t call Berrios out as the corrupt official he is. Simply because Rauner said it? Or because Rauner hasn’t called out Trump?

    Rauner has been ineffective as governor. He doesn’t deserve a second term.

    And Berrios should be booted from office as well.


  19. - Sue - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 1:51 pm:

    This says a lot about how J.B. would govern. The guy would get more support then he would lose distancing himself from Berrios and Madigan


  20. - Lucky Pierre - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 1:59 pm:

    SSL, Is that all who should be “booted from office” for ineffectiveness?

    is it your contention that the legislature led by Speaker Madigan since 1983 and John Cullerton since 2009 have done an effective job solving Illinois problems and submitting balanced budgets?


  21. - Tim Snopes - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 2:30 pm:

    These days, Rauner’s use of corruption is overly broad, and dare I say, libelous.


  22. - Sue - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 2:49 pm:

    Tim- read Sullivan v NYT. Hard to imagine that Rauner is defaming Madigan


  23. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 2:52 pm:

    ===It’s not a tax break and is something frequently used by both commercial and residential owners. ===

    Yeah. Just ask JB.

    lol


  24. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 3:02 pm:

    Good thing Pritzker has that Quincy Veterans’ Home attack ad rolling… oh, and that 30 second scathing ad “blind trust - broken trust” ad in rotation too.

    The Pritzker Crew is a puzzling lot.

    You have $60 million to tamp down on 4 candidates and they are under water, and not engaging Rauner to punch back.

    Head scratching.

    Not to worry, it’s only the under water numbers we’re talking about.


  25. - SSL - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 3:20 pm:

    LP, my feelings on Madigan and Cullerton are the same. No sense beating the horse dead, though that is the popular thing to do in these parts.


  26. - Ron - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 4:21 pm:

    Illinois’ primary problem is a declining population, near worst in the nation job growth and one of the highest state and local tax burdens in the country.


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