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Pritzker finally lists IG report’s “inaccuracies”

Tuesday, Oct 9, 2018

* JB Pritzker complained during and after last week’s debate of inaccuracies in the Cook County Inspector General’s report about his reassessment, but wouldn’t say what those were. He was asked again after the Sun-Times editorial board meeting today by reporters

Pritzker: I’d guess I’d point to the fact that numerous people have said that the designation was proper. Um, and that was somewhat ignored in the report.

Reporter: Who would that be?

Pritzker: Well, in the report you can see. And actually they sort of cite it but they don’t emphasize it. Uh, and then in another part of the report they talk about some of the other items of disrepair, but again don’t emphasize it, seem to overlook it. So those are some of the inaccuracies.

* I asked the Pritzker campaign for a citation in the IG report where people said the uninhabitable designation was proper. I was directed to page 12

[The Appraisal Firm President] said he recalled that the property was in very poor condition, with the staircase pitched in such a way that it was dangerous. The Appraisal Firm President opined that property was a ‘gut rehab.’ He related that had he been informed that the toilets were in place on January 1, 2015 [the date of the retrospective appraisal] he would have documented the information in the appraisal report although it would not have changed his opinion of the property’s value.

* And page 13

The Associate Appraiser related that aside from the missing toilets, from what he saw, he believes the residence was still uninhabitable because there were other things wrong with it. For example, the Associate Appraiser said the main staircase looked structurally unsound.

* And page 21

The Valuation/Appeals Deputy was asked, ‘How would the Assessor view the fact that a homeowner removed all the toilets from the residence for purposes of arguing that it was uninhabitable?’ He replied, ‘If that were solely in isolation, which reminds me of a political commercial which implies that that’s what it is, that’s a different situation than if I’m talking about a stairwell that is under bracing, mold in the basement, 2,300 square feet that’s not livable, and a bunch of other things. … A person that was trying to do something solely to do one thing as a technicality in the hope they would get relief is a different situation than in the totality of circumstances, toilets are removed with a whole bunch of other stuff. So I can’t tell you what would happen if we confronted just that one oddball thing, but it doesn’t appear that’s what this is here, that we had here. We have a whole bunch of things in this building, okay.’

I’ve asked the IG for a response.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

56 Comments »
  1. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 11:50 am:

    The mansion was still habitable. Just don’t walk near the staircase, don’t breath the mold and use chamber pots.


  2. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 11:51 am:

    Dear JB and Crew…

    “Pay the $2.00”

    Capiche?


  3. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 11:58 am:

    So much time and energy wasted, trying to spin and discuss and parse and explain…

    Have they even paid the $330+K?

    Can they? Will they?

    Why is this still even going on… since March, April, May…


  4. - Perrid - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 12:05 pm:

    Pretty strong statements from the appraiser(s). Interesting that the IG seems to ignore all of those statements.


  5. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 12:07 pm:

    Besides just paying the money JB has raised some good points by showing these inaccuracies. That leads me to question the motivations of the IG who released a report containing inaccuracies.


  6. - Real - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 12:08 pm:

    @12:07 was me.


  7. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 12:13 pm:

    The appraisers and the assessor’s office both say it wasn’t simply the missing toilets that made it uninhabitable. That’s the ballgame. The Pritzkers are vindicated.

    Except voters don’t do nuance and facts no longer matter.


  8. - qualified someone nobody sent - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 12:15 pm:

    Don’t assume “everything” is in this report. Any kind of official misconduct wouldn’t be included here; instead referred to the Cook County States Attorney office for criminal investigation of that and any evidence the IG couldn’t legally obtain. I. E. attorneys records, etc.


  9. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 12:17 pm:

    ===Except voters don’t do nuance and facts no longer matter.===

    Yep. That’s why, in February, March, April…

    “We paid the money. We want no hint of inproprietary, it’s done. We’ve moved on.”

    Question asked again?

    “Asked and answered… and paid”

    But, let’s argue nuance, and parse, and…


  10. - cannon649 - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 12:18 pm:

    Does buzz word billionaire JB really want to governor?

    Why has he not fixed this long ago?

    $330k is couple years of the governor’s salary but come on–

    I fear this guy with power


  11. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 12:19 pm:

    Don’t assume “everything” is in this report. Any kind of official misconduct wouldn’t be included here; instead referred to the Cook County States Attorney office for criminal investigation of that and any evidence the IG couldn’t legally obtain. I. E. attorneys records, etc

    -The IG report is what Rauner and the media are gassed up on.. So we are focusing on that and not assuming there is more secret info out there.


  12. - Anon0091 - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 12:25 pm:

    “The appraisers and the assessor’s office both say it wasn’t simply the missing toilets that made it uninhabitable. That’s the ballgame. The Pritzkers are vindicated.”

    Yup. The report looks less like an unbiased assessment and more like a hit job, especially given that we now know it was leaked by a Rauner appointee. I am an enthusiastic supporter of Inspectors General and it is not helpful when they discredit themselves this way. I just don’t know how they can justify ignoring the findings of the appraiser and the findings of the assessor.


  13. - qualified someone nobody sent - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 12:26 pm:

    Focusing on what Rauner wants is the press being “Trumped”. Follow the money and remember who benefits from this “fraud” the press is gassed up on. More to come from this after Novemeber 6 is my educated guess.


  14. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 12:27 pm:

    ===we now know===

    No we don’t. It’s speculated as such, not confirmed.

    Good try, but no.


  15. - Retired Educator - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 12:33 pm:

    Pritzker asked for a reassessment, it was granted. They could have said no. Anyone can ask, not all are granted. It seems to me, if there is a problem, it is with the people who do the value calculation. They said it was proper, and granted the decrease. End of story.


  16. - A Jack - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 12:36 pm:

    The other wrinkle is that this is a corporation that owns the house, not JB directly. The corporation cashed the refund checks. If there was fraud, which is pretty remote, given the flimsy IG report, the corporation would have to be charged and it’s highly unlikely that any shareholders would be individually charged unless that shareholder participated materially in the fraud. This is pretty much like trying to charge the board of Tesla with fraud because of Elon Musk’s tweet.


  17. - Anon0091 - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 12:40 pm:

    “No we don’t. It’s speculated as such, not confirmed.”

    Well Greg Hinz has reported it as such with a direct source and a secondary source. And FWIW, they are consistent with what I heard from when the report came out. So sure, I’ll downgrade “we now know” to “it has been reported.”


  18. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 12:42 pm:

    ===So sure, I’ll downgrade “we now know” to “it has been reported.”===

    … to be accurate and less of a partisan.. sure… lol


  19. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 12:55 pm:

    Obviously, Pritzker was not actively planning to run for governor or any office when this nonsense took place.

    If he was, he would have gladly wrote checks for $330K to the treasurer to avoid this headache.

    You don’t get sneaky to save $330K when it jeopardizes your $150 million investment in winning the office.


  20. - A Jack - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 1:05 pm:

    This property has been under rehab for a number of years. Astor Street LLC bought the property in 2013 and had one contractor sue them because they weren’t paid for shoddy work. I am surprised the IG did not mention that in his report since that seems material in the property being rehabilitated. But the property had been under other rehab projects in the past that had been abandoned before Astor Street LLC purchased it.


  21. - siualum - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 1:10 pm:

    All I need to know: it ain’t just toilets we’re talking about: “… that’s a different situation than if I’m talking about a stairwell that is under bracing, mold in the basement, 2,300 square feet that’s not livable, and a bunch of other things.”


  22. - Nagidam - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 1:18 pm:

    Here I believe is the applicable state statute dealing with the assessment issue for JB:

    (35 ILCS 200/9-180)
    Sec. 9-180.
    (Second Paragraph)
    When, during the previous calendar year, any buildings, structures or other improvements on the property were destroyed and rendered uninhabitable or otherwise unfit for occupancy or for customary use by accidental means (excluding destruction resulting from the willful misconduct of the owner of such property), the owner of the property on January 1 shall be entitled, on a proportionate basis, to a diminution of assessed valuation for such period during which the improvements were uninhabitable or unfit for occupancy or for customary use. The owner of property entitled to a diminution of assessed valuation shall, on a form prescribed by the assessor, within 90 days after the destruction of any improvements or, in counties with less than 3,000,000 inhabitants within 90 days after the township or multi-township assessor has mailed the application form as required by Section 9-190, file with the assessor for the decrease of assessed valuation. Upon failure so to do within the 90 day period, no diminution of assessed valuation shall be attributable to the property.

    Problems as I see it as it relates to the law:

    1.) (excluding destruction resulting from the willful misconduct of the owner of such property)
    –Ordering the toilets removed ahead of an inspection seems to fall into willful misconduct.

    2.) Based on the assessment break it looks like the assessor reduced the value of the home by 82.5%. This reduction stayed in place for 6 years. Sorry but toilets and a staircase don’t make up 82.5% of the home and it certainty does not take 6 years to fix these items.


  23. - A Jack - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 1:21 pm:

    After my research into this, it looks like the only thing Pritzker is guilty of doing is trying to rehab a beautiful old money pit. That seems like a perfect qualification to be Governor Of Illinois.


  24. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 1:25 pm:

    “Willful misconduct” would be arson, or something like that. It wouldn’t be renovation. Here is Tom Shaer on the assessor’ s office view of renovation in the Suntimes:

    “Shaer says Berrios is continuing the county’s longstanding policy of lowering assessments on vacant homes deemed uninhabitable because that “encourages rehab” by providing homeowners and contractors with tax breaks.”


  25. - Nagidam - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 1:32 pm:

    Da Big Bad Wolf,

    In this case willful misconduct is spelled out in an email exchange where the toilets should be removed ahead of the inspection. There is no way around that email that the IG has from the contractor.

    My second point is that ow long does it take to rehab these issues? Six years is way to long and there is no way the rehab work accounted for 82.5% of the value of the home. Rep. Martwick had a bill to deal with the issue of vacancy in commercial buildings that I think would fit this issue as well. Similar to the Leader Durkin bill that was just filed.


  26. - Grandson of Man - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 1:34 pm:

    ‘If that were solely in isolation, which reminds me of a political commercial which implies that that’s what it is”

    Lol.


  27. - Louis G. Atsaves - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 1:43 pm:

    Went to the cited pages by Pritzker’s campaign. Found this:

    ” . . . it is not the responsibility of an appraiser to declare that a property is habitable or inhabitable.”

    ” . . . they (appraisers) avoid making statements that are legal in nature and they do not make legal determinations.”

    ” . . . for 1431, he considered it unoccupied but functional and it could be habitable . . . appraisal is not science . . .”

    ” . . . with no toilets, the residence was uninhabitable because the owner would not have gotten an ‘occupancy permit’ from the City since the residence wouldn’t be ‘up to code.’

    Between that and the contractor’s statement summarizing Pritzker’s wife’s statements, it still sounds like a Scheme to Defraud.


  28. - Nagidam - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 1:43 pm:

    Here is the Martwick bill: HB2517

    Synopsis As Introduced
    Creates the Vacancy Fraud Act. Allows a taxing body or representative of a taxing body to file a vacancy fraud complaint with the county board of review if property is receiving vacancy relief and the property owner is not actively attempting to lease, sell, or alter the property. Sets forth factors in determining whether or not vacancy fraud has occurred. Sets forth penalties. Effective immediately.

    The bill was intended for the problem of vacant storefronts and the loss of assessed value to the taxing bodies. In reading the bill I think it most certainly can apply here. And Leader Durkin is a co-sponsor. Maybe the two of them were a little forward thinking and have a solution to this problem.


  29. - A guy - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 1:44 pm:

    If it was otherwise uninhabitable…why yank the thrones? Shut off the water and flush once.

    Too easy.


  30. - Anon0091 - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 1:44 pm:

    “My second point is that ow long does it take to rehab these issues?”

    Irrespective of this situation, that would be a pretty big government intrusion.

    What if an owner changes their minds? What if they decide to go in a different direction? What if an owner has changed circumstances and decides to wait. As a property owner myself, I really hope the government doesn’t get to decide how quickly I must rehab my property.


  31. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 1:47 pm:

    –Between that and the contractor’s statement summarizing Pritzker’s wife’s statements, it still sounds like a Scheme to Defraud.–

    So what’s the charge, counselor?

    You come across a lot of criminal charges in situations like this over the years?


  32. - Perrid - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 1:47 pm:

    @Nagidam, I think that’s technically hearsay. The contractor says Mrs. Pritzker said the reason she wanted them gone was the assessment.

    Also, maybe she wanted them gone anyway, and asked for the timetable to be moved up for the assessment. We don’t know.


  33. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 1:48 pm:

    ===Went to the cited pages===

    Peter Karahalios gave you a copy too?


  34. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 1:54 pm:

    ===it still sounds like a Scheme to Defraud.===

    Filing more than one homeowner’s exemption is OK though, right Louis?


  35. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 1:57 pm:

    ==…why yank the thrones?==
    According to the report the floor needed to be repaired.


  36. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 1:58 pm:

    - Louis G Atsaves -

    Let’s say… someone says they use a homeowner exemption, where you get relief as your residence… in, oh, Winnetka.

    So you live in Winnetka.

    How can you tell the taxing body “I live in Winnetka”… then tell CPS… “We live in Chicago, our child should go to a CPS school”?

    Is that a scheme… or…


  37. - low level - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 1:58 pm:

    As YDD pointed out last week, Inspector Generals are notorious for hyping up whatever they feel is wrongdoing and downplaying the rest.


  38. - qualified someone nobody sent - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 2:02 pm:

    Shaer’s quaote is laughable. Giving continuous, multiple years of relief is a disincentive to rehab any improvement on the parcel. Why improve it when you’re only assessed @ 10% of the building value and the entire land value? This goes on is ALL areas of Cook County. Additionally, appraisal was back dated to Jan 1, 2015 in order to comply with County Assessor/BOR rules. Official date of valuation for County jan 1 each year regardless of appeal dates. Why would JB’s crew want a high opinion of value? Appraisal was for an APPEAL of the 2015 assessment after all. Appraisal is suspect as many created for assessment appeal purposes.


  39. - A guy - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 2:16 pm:

    ==According to the report the floor needed to be repaired.==

    Has the floor been repaired? All the floors, but the one where the throne was re-installed that is?
    It’s not like these folks have to wait for a windfall tax return to start the rehab job.
    Too cute by half. That’s all. And not cute enough when he decided to run and could’ve come clean and paid up. You know, before the IG forced him to. Eek.


  40. - Moby - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 2:17 pm:

    = “Between that and the contractor’s statement summarizing Pritzker’s wife’s statements, it still sounds like a Scheme to Defraud.” =

    Raunerbot


  41. - Nagidam - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 2:30 pm:

    @Perrid,
    And this is why there should be an investigation

    @OW,
    Rauner has his own little problem on the exemptiongate. Having multiple exemptions is one thing. It happens quite a bit and is not really criminal. But, an exemption to qualify your child for resident status to get into an elite school is a form of fraud in my opinion as well.


  42. - A Jack - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 2:34 pm:

    Commenters seem hung up on the time frame, yet it took about four years to rehab the Executive Mansion. And it apparently was not inhabitable while the renovation occurred since Rauner moved out. So if the mansion in question was larger and in worse shape, why not take six years?


  43. - Jibba - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 2:35 pm:

    Nagidam…seriously? Having multiple exemptions “happens quite a bit”? Never to me, brother. And “not really criminal”? If anything, it is far worse than Pritzker. You can have only one. The law is clear, and you bet it is tax fraud.

    In Pritzker’s case, we’re arguing about proper evidence of uninhabitability (and when). If the CCAO approved it, it is on them, especially when evidence of multiple problems has been provided.


  44. - A guy - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 2:38 pm:

    ==yet it took about four years to rehab the Executive Mansion==

    Might want to check your math on this. Plus, the Gov. Mansion is quite a bit bigger than the toilet-less mansion on Ascot.


  45. - A Jack - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 2:43 pm:

    So why did Rauner move out of the Executive Mansion during that rehab? Did Rauner remove the toilets? If not, why didn’t Rauner continue living in the Executive Mansion? Instead Rauner was living in the Director’s house out at the fairgrounds and costing taxpayers for maintenance of two residences. Although that sounds like standard Rauner procedure.


  46. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 3:05 pm:

    –Instead Rauner was living in the Director’s house out at the fairgrounds and costing taxpayers for maintenance of two residences.–

    Sure he was. Quite a commute to his office in the Thompson Center, where he and all his senior staff spend most of their working days.


  47. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 3:17 pm:

    ==Shaer’s quote is laughable.==

    Shaer doesn’t write the law. Nor does Berros. They are telling the Sun-Times the current policy. Legislators write the laws.

    Martwick sponsored a bill to address this, and it languished in the rules committee before it died.


  48. - Nagidam - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 3:18 pm:

    @Jibba,
    ===Nagidam…seriously? Having multiple exemptions “happens quite a bit”? Never to me, brother. And “not really criminal”? If anything, it is far worse than Pritzker. You can have only one. The law is clear, and you bet it is tax fraud.===

    Multiple exemptions quite often are a result of clerical errors based on people selling/buying homes. Yes there are those that use them to evade taxes. There is also state law that counties use to penalize offenders through fines. I did say that in Rauner’s case that I believe there was fraud in his faulty exemption to get residency for his kids school.

    At this point, without and investigation. JB just can’t get passed the contractors email that says they removed the toilets to reduce the assessed value. That seems to be fraud. Maybe an investigation will prove otherwise.


  49. - Louis G. Atsaves - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 3:31 pm:

    ===So what’s the charge, counselor?===

    We’ll find out when the State’s Attorney or Federal Prosecutors finish up the investigation that the Inspector General started. I am assuming the IG does not have much in the way of police or subpoena powers or a sizable staff able to gather any additional evidence that may be out there.

    All actions thus far appear to be performed by private citizens, including Pritzker and his clan who involved themselves with the planning, unless the investigation expands to those in Berrios’ office who have the authority to make decisions either supporting or rejecting the scheme to defraud.

    The IG report also makes reference to an interview over past referrals for prosecution, which seem very scant. It will depend upon how deep they (prosecutors) dig with reference to the Pritzker neighboring mansion.


  50. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 3:33 pm:

    ===We’ll find out when the State’s Attorney or Federal Prosecutors finish up the investigation that the Inspector General started. I am assuming the IG does not have much in the way of police or subpoena powers or a sizable staff able to gather any additional evidence that may be out there.

    All actions thus far appear to be performed by private citizens, including Pritzker and his clan who involved themselves with the planning, unless the investigation expands to those in Berrios’ office who have the authority to make decisions either supporting or rejecting the scheme to defraud.

    The IG report also makes reference to an interview over past referrals for prosecution, which seem very scant. It will depend upon how deep they (prosecutors) dig with reference to the Pritzker neighboring mansion.===

    Save the typing next time.

    Just say… “I don’t know”

    LOL


  51. - Louis G. Atsaves - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 3:34 pm:

    I should have added to my last comment, once the dust settles with any additional, maybe there will be no criminal charges. Let’s be fair, that possibility could also exist.


  52. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 3:38 pm:

    ===I should have added to my last comment, once the dust settles with any additional, maybe there will be no criminal charges. Let’s be fair, that possibility could also exist.===

    So, counselor, it could be nothing too?

    Yikes, man. Maybe you should sit out a few plays, clear your head… lol


  53. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 3:55 pm:

    =Went to the cited pages by Pritzker’s campaign. Found this:=

    Since you like to do research so much maybe you can find all that “waste, fraud, and abuse” that was touted by the incumbent 4 years ago.

    Much more meaningful for the citizens of Illinois.


  54. - Jibba - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 6:52 pm:

    Nagidan: ==At this point, without and investigation. JB just can’t get passed the contractors email that says they removed the toilets to reduce the assessed value===

    Welp, that email is pretty irrelevant for two reasons.

    1) There were multiple other reasons that the house got the tax break. CCAO said toilets alone is not enough.
    2) The 2015 appeal accompanied by a new appraisal was denied by the CCAO, so the value given by the appraiser is irrelevant, and therefore the presence or absence of toilets was irrelevant. The 10% tax break was approved back to 2012 based on the photos and descriptions in the appraisal, which showed multiple problems making it uninhabitable.

    JB’s wife’s email directing them to reinstall the toilet after the appraisal was also irrelevant because it never happened, as per the contractor. What else ya got?


  55. - anon2 - Tuesday, Oct 9, 18 @ 9:27 pm:

    == That possibility also exists (that there will be no indictment of JB). ==

    Four years ago, Rauner supporters predicted that Gov. Quinn would be indicted for illegal hiring. I predict that Rauner’s JB = jail bird accusation falls into the same category. It’s highly unlikely a criminal indictment will occur on a case with so much evidence the house was uninhabitable even with toilets.


  56. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Wednesday, Oct 10, 18 @ 7:38 am:

    ==Giving continuous, multiple years of relief is a disincentive to rehab any improvement on the parcel.==

    The lost income on a vacant building or storefront is far greater than the property tax savings. So there is no “disincentive”.

    I’m not against the Martwick bill, or a bill to put a time limit on vacancy, but in many cases there is a reason for an owner would just let a building sit, sometimes he or she is too elderly or sick to manage it, for example This is probably why Martwick’s bill failed.


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