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Crain’s calls barring lawyer legislators from property tax appeals work “a no-brainer”

Friday, Jan 11, 2019

* From a Crain’s Chicago Business editorial, which is partially about Ald. Ed Burke and his property tax appeals business

This is why outgoing Gov. Bruce Rauner, for all his faults, wasn’t wrong to advocate for term limits and to suggest that House Speaker Michael Madigan’s day job, like Burke’s, presents such a clear conflict of interest to his role as a public servant that it defies logic. In fact, it is well past time for it to be illegal to do what Burke and Madigan have done for decades—handling property tax appeals for businesses standing to benefit from or be harmed by government actions.

If the city or state were on autopilot, with finances in good shape, it might not matter so much. But with job one for both the newly elected governor and soon-to-be-elected mayor being to fix the city and state’s fiscal house—which likely involves overhauling state and city tax frameworks—they first ought to tackle the ethics issues and conflicts of interest highlighted in the Burke case once and for all.

If our elected leaders are going to go for the type of grand bargain that seems required—more taxes, fewer services—they should offer taxpayers something in return, like good government, or at least better government.

Incoming Gov. J.B. Pritzker would earn goodwill from both parties if he targeted what has now been shown in the starkest manner possible to be indefensible: the ability to represent businesses on their property tax appeals and hold immensely powerful political offices. Start there. It’s a no-brainer.

Regardless of the merits, I’m kinda thinking that if Pritzker wants to get big things done, trying to put Madigan & Getzendanner out of business right out of the gate probably wouldn’t be his most prudent move. But, hey, that’s just me.

* Illinois News Network

[Gov. Bruce Rauner] said there should be controls on property tax appeal lawyers holding elected office. Rauner tried to use an executive order in January 2018 to prohibit state lawmakers from representing clients before the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board.

“I did an executive order so we could at least stop it at the state level … and oh goodness, some legislators on [the Joint Commission on Administrative Rules] said ‘oh no, you can’t do that with an executive order,’ ” Rauner said. “I’m shocked.”

State Rep. Robert Martwick, D-Chicago, who’s also a property tax appeals lawyer, said blocking an entire profession from holding elected office because of one bad actor is wrong.

“One has nothing to do with the other,” Martwick said. “Illinois has a long and storied history of people committing corruption and abusing their public trust and not all of them have been tax lawyers. You can have good lawyers and bad lawyers. You can have good doctors and bad doctors. You can have good journalists and bad journalists.”

Every profession “has a conflict of interest in the state of Illinois. That is what a citizen government does,” Martwick said. “To pick out one and rule [them] out because one person has been overtly corrupt is really the wrong thing to do.”

Martwick said raising the issue is only meant as a political attack against House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, who also is a property tax appeals lawyer.

Rauner has criticized Madigan for having a property tax appeals business while holding the most powerful office in the Illinois House.

Madigan hasn’t commented on Burke’s situation, Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said.

As to Madigan’s perceived conflict of interest being in control of legislation dealing with local property taxes while having a property tax appeals business in Chicago, Brown said “during his career in public service [Madigan] has used a personal code of conduct that prevents any possibility that his public office is used to benefit himself, the law firm or clients of the law firm.”

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

70 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 9:42 am:

    Can you really cherry pick like that? For example, the state regulates the insurance industry — don’t insurance brokers have a conflict?

    The list of professions with a possible conflict is endless.

    It seems to me that Crain’s is ultimately arguing for a full-time GA with a ban on outside income.

    If you like term limits and turnover, that would do the trick.


  2. - Steve - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 9:44 am:

    Crain’s is right. Those who set the tax code shouldn’t be able to benefit some way from it. Another solution is no outside employment for elected public officials. Plus term limits.


  3. - Perrid - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 9:45 am:

    I get slippery slopes are a logical fallacy, but I do think we have to ask why property taxes are different than other work. Can our lawmakers not do any law work? Or any other private business? Would it really be that different if Burke had some other company, construction or something, and had extorted Burger King for that work instead of property taxes?

    Property taxes are ubiquitous, all businesses have to pay them, so my example isn’t the best, but I still think it’s a good point. Unless we demand our legislators have no other source of income while in public office, I see little value in targeting property tax lawyers (besides targeting individuals in power right now, which is no doubt the true motivation here)


  4. - Just Observing - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 9:46 am:

    What Wordslinger says.


  5. - DuPage Saint - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 9:46 am:

    Don’t think this possible but why not bar state elected officials from receiving campaign contributions from those who turn around and ask for favors. Always thought it odd how judges take campaign contributions from those who appear before them.


  6. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 9:48 am:

    ===Those who set the tax code shouldn’t be able to benefit some way from it===

    So… you’re saying that everyone in the General Assembly who pays state and local taxes shouldn’t be allowed to vote to cut taxes?

    You need to think more before posting here.


  7. - Steve - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 9:50 am:

    It’s in Burke and Madigan’s vested interest to have high property taxes so they can be appealed. No other line of work presents such a threat to taxpayers.


  8. - 47th Ward - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 9:51 am:

    Shorter Crains: “Let’s you and him fight.”

    Any governor trying to pass an outside income ban, targeted to one profession or not, is going to face a nasty and politically expensive fight in the General Assembly. How about we simply encourage public officials to put the public first?

    This isn’t the fight this governor needs right now, but if it’ll make the do-gooders happy, he can always pledge to sign the bill once it gets to his desk. Lol.


  9. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 9:53 am:

    The other option is make legislators full time barring them from other job-related income.

    I’m not advocating that, but the point is if you choose to serve in the GA, that is your job while you’re there.

    Of course, some may take a substantial monetary hit, not just lawyers.


  10. - Chicagonk - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 9:55 am:

    It is a no-brainer. In addition, politicians and their immediate family members should be barred from doing business for the state as insurance brokers, attorneys, consultants, accountants, investment advisers, and bankers.


  11. - Ron Burgundy - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 9:56 am:

    You can’t stop people from making a living and Slinger sums it up well. The only real remedy other than going full time is to make sure the politicians who do work in conflict laden areas know, in the immortal words of the last Mayor Daley, like Burke they are gonna get “scrootened” more closely.


  12. - Steve - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 9:56 am:

    - 47th Ward -

    Singling out one slice of a profession probably will cause a legal fight. That’s why the best way to deal with these issues is term limits on politicians and being a committee chairman.


  13. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 9:59 am:

    ===term limits===

    We have term limits. They’re called elections.

    This GA versus the GA four years ago, what do you think was the turnover of legislators in those four years?


  14. - City Zen - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 9:59 am:

    “Every profession has a conflict of interest in the state of Illinois.”

    Sorry, I cannot operate on him. He’s my State Representative.


  15. - Anonymous - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 10:00 am:

    Such a measure would be unconstitutional. The Supreme Court regulates lawyers and the practice of law. The legislature can’t say a lawyer can’t practice a particular type of law because they happen to be a member of the general assembly without violating the separation of powers.


  16. - wordslinger - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 10:06 am:

    –Sorry, I cannot operate on him. He’s my State Representative.–

    You’re confused. The discussion here is about conflicts in inherent conflicts of lawmakers and their professions.

    And I’m pretty sure that the medical profession falls under state licensing and regulation, not to mention the billions in Medicaid dollars that flow to it every year.


  17. - Arsenal - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 10:06 am:

    ==the best way to deal with these issues is term limits==

    Then the guys would just spend their last couple years making nice with Industry X to land a gig there.

    The real solution is to make the legislature full time and ban outside employment. But if we do that, we’ll have to pay them more.


  18. - Bored Chairman - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 10:06 am:

    Didn’t the GA just fire the Tollway Board for “conflicts of interest?”


  19. - Steve - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 10:06 am:

    Several members of Chicago’s City Council’s Progressive Caucus and Lori Lightfoot have made some thoughtful reform proposals .


  20. - Truth - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 10:07 am:

    Everyone that deals with the property tax system knows that it is broken.

    The MAJOR distinction (i.e., compared with insurance, etc.) is that a GOVERNMENT entity sets the rates and assessments and then a GOVERNMENT entity grants or denies reductions. Insurance premiums are not set and then reduced by the state.

    The system as is, prevents a more fair and equitable approach (which is possible)!


  21. - Huh? - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 10:08 am:

    What the Crains article ignores is that the State legislature does not set property tax levies. It is the local government elected officials such as Burke who have the conflict of interest when representing a property tax appeal client.

    I don’t see the conflict for Madigan’s legal practice.


  22. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 10:11 am:

    Chicago aldermen are also… part time.

    I’m sure that is a coincidence

    - Arsenal -,

    Glad you broke the seal, I didn’t want to be the first, but yes, while many argue legislators are “overpaid” (I don’t agree with that) the thought of being a legislator and that pay being the sole income would need to be revised to a higher, reasonable, level.

    Aldermen are paid generously. I’ll leave that there for discussion.


  23. - Misguided - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 10:14 am:

    It is not a no brainer. For anyone who understands the way tax appeals work they would know that legislation cannot impact in any way their chances at prevailing on appeals. The core argument in an appeal is the value of the property. This is a factual, NOT LEGAL, argument. As with everything, Rauner has muddied the waters.


  24. - Lucky Pierre - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 10:15 am:

    “during his career in public service [Madigan] has used a personal code of conduct that prevents any possibility that his public office is used to benefit himself, the law firm or clients of the law firm.”

    “The firm currently represents several hundred properties in the great Chicagoland area, primarily larger commercial, multi-family residential and industrial projects; i.e., office building, hotels, shopping centers, apartments, warehouses and parking garages.”

    The second quote is from the law firms web site.

    He runs the most successful property tax appeal law firm in Chicago.

    The Speaker slated former Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios and his predecessors.

    How can possible claim that had no influence on his property tax appeal business?


  25. - Southside Markie - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 10:18 am:

    Agree with Wordslinger. Congress instituted limitations on earned outside income years ago causing lawyer-legislators to leave their “of counsel” positions with law firms.


  26. - OneMan - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 10:18 am:

    It’s a great idea but I don’t see how you could do it.

    I mean come on, does anyone think it a great thing for democracy that you can get rich while being a legislator by helping people deal with administrative and appeal units of government? Does anyone think that the success of some who decided to serve in government and work in property tax law is not because of the current government service?

    Can a current legislator also be the lawyer you represent you with state agencies?


  27. - Whatever - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 10:20 am:

    Wordslinger said all that needs to be said.


  28. - Long time coming - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 10:21 am:

    This is a no brainer and does not have the potential legal ramifications some people are suggesting. The Supreme Court’s ability to regulate the profession within the state is not a barrier to the State’s general ability to regulate professions. Furthermore, property tax work is not some arbitrary category of legal work, it is inherently tied to the operations of the state. Appeals are against the judgment of the state. We already regulate the ways attorney-legislatures can pursue legal work that implicates the state. Legislators are already barred from representing Illinois Workers’ Comp cases. (5 ILCS 420/2-104)


  29. - 47th Ward - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 10:26 am:

    ===and does not have the potential legal ramifications some people are suggesting.===

    Do you know what else it doesn’t have? Enough votes to pass. And there isn’t anything the new Governor can do to change that. So Crain’s is just wasting ink.


  30. - Just saying - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 10:27 am:

    Rauner was all for term limits and he got it.


  31. - Matt Belcher - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 10:31 am:

    ==Legislators are already barred from representing Illinois Workers’ Comp cases. (5 ILCS 420/2-104)==

    keeping reading…

    Sec. 2-104. No legislator may accept or participate in any way in any representation case, as that term is defined in Section 1-113, before (1) the Court of Claims of this State or (2) before the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, when the State of Illinois is the respondent.
    This Section does not prohibit participation in such a representation case by a person with whom the legislator maintains a close economic association, unless the fact of that association is used to influence or attempt to influence the State agency in the rendering of its decision.


  32. - Blue Dog Dem - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 10:33 am:

    My hope. My dreams. That those wishing to serve do so out of genuinely wanting to make Illinois the greatest state it can be. Like Santa Claus, its gut wrenching to realize its not always the case.


  33. - Long time coming - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 10:35 am:

    @Matt Blecher
    “close economic association” has a meaning. Its a small group of people. They cannot represent citizens or entities generally.


  34. - DarkDante - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 10:37 am:

    I think that banning property tax appeals work at a the local/municipal level makes more sense, and is more palatable considering Madigan’s well known side gig. Aldermen in Chicago have direct power over permitting and have aldermanic privilege vetoes to wield in driving business to their law firms, and are pretty well paid (better paid than State Reps at least, I believe). Several mayoral candidates have been talking about such outside work bans already.


  35. - RNUG - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 10:37 am:

    Let’s approach it from the other end. Make the property assessment process both more transparent and more factual. Get rid of as much subjectivity as possible.

    For residential property, do one valuation based on most recent sale of the home, increased by CPI for the intervening period and add in the value of building permit listed improvements. Do comparison valuation based on square footage, number and type of rooms, and acreage based on the previous years sales. If there is more than a 10% discrepancy, average the two valuations. And then publish which method was used for each property.

    I know, there will always be some subjectivity in valuing real estate. But if you can get to a mostly fact based rating system, that would eliminate a lot of the need for appeals.

    Commercial real estate might need to have a different or third valuation based on potential rental revenue and a specified multiplier.

    Anyway, this won’t put the property tax lawyers out of work, but it could really reduce the amount of work. And you wouldn’t be stuck trying to improperly regulate lawyers.


  36. - JS Mill - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 10:42 am:

    Roughly ten years ago or so(I don not remember the exact date) the state passed a law that required children to have a dental exam for entry into school. The law required schools to collect additional information (10 or 12 items) from parents. That might not sound like a big deal but it took additional time for staff to collect and then review. And we all love to fill out forms, so it also created additional frustration and conflict at school registration.

    That legislation was sponsored be a legislator that just happened to be a dentist.

    So are dentists out too?


  37. - 47th Ward - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 10:52 am:

    ===I know, there will always be some subjectivity in valuing real estate.===

    The problem is deeper than that I think. The current system tries to promote uniformity, which is fair but difficult. For example, I purchased my house about four years ago and paid a lot for it. My next door neighbor has basically an identical bungalow, but bought it many years ago. Same streets, same schools, same everything: why should I pay 50% more in taxes for the same services?

    As long as uniformity is a paramount criterion, appeals aren’t going to go away.


  38. - JS Mill - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 10:56 am:

    =What the Crains article ignores is that the State legislature does not set property tax levies. It is the local government elected officials such as Burke who have the conflict of interest when representing a property tax appeal client.

    I don’t see the conflict for Madigan’s legal practice.=

    @Huh? Nails it. Rauner and others, in typical politician pandering fashion, latch on to property taxes.

    These are local dollars and not run through state hands.

    IF the state handled their responsibilities better local governments would not need to have such high rates. If you look at the rising level of property tax rate, they coincide (with a slight lag) with the states reduction in support for services as well as legislative increases in the property tax exemptions.

    During the Blago years they increased the senior homestead exemption. This was purely political move and when asked if they researched the impact on local government they basically said they didn’t.

    This is a significant reason for the steady rise of property tax rates.

    In reality, you have much more control of how local taxes are used (assuming you actually get involved instead of just complaining on social media). You are at least keeping the money local.

    =It’s in Burke and Madigan’s vested interest to have high property taxes so they can be appealed.=

    Funny you should post that. During discussions on pension cost shift MJM halted any discussion of allowing school districts for levying for the teacher pension cost. He literally walked away and the topic died (back in 2011-2012) and no serious discussion has happened since. Just so you know, schools already levy for social security and IMRF pensions.

    You probably owe Madigan a thank you or something.


  39. - wordslinger - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 10:58 am:

    –Furthermore, property tax work is not some arbitrary category of legal work, it is inherently tied to the operations of the state. Appeals are against the judgment of the state. –

    The state levies and collects a property tax?


  40. - Merica - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 10:59 am:

    You don’t have to bar attorneys from practicing a certain type of law, you only have to limit their practice in a way that resolves the conflict of interest. So, for a property tax appeal attorney that would mean preventing them from representing clients within the geographic area that they represent.

    Don’t forget that Illinois crop land is taxed at the lowest rate in the Midwest. Creating a statewide property tax assessment just for crop land, the proceeds of which go directly to the State’s pension funds could reduce the unfunded pension liability by 50%.


  41. - Griffin - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 11:02 am:

    The “term limits are called elections!” crowd is amusing. It’s very much a variation on capitalism purists who unflinchingly take market outcomes to not only the most efficient, but the most optimal, the most…correct.

    Even for those who live in this world, it is an enormous task to stay abreast and process this information on a daily basis. Information that has already been endlessly and purposefully scrubbed and warped by comms teams, the candidates, and others. And that’s the public information. Many elected officials continue to enjoy exemption from FOIA, though sometimes we are blessed with a nice summary from a wiretap to stay up to date on things we can’t see.

    I too wish families and individuals could have perfect information, somehow gleaned from a system often oriented to conceal it from them in the first place. And that term limits were not a thing we had to grapple with to correct for this.

    I wish for a lot of fanciful things.


  42. - Louis G. Atsaves - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 11:03 am:

    I’m siding with Rep. Martwick on this one as it pertains to a citizen government philosophy. Singling out property tax attorneys or other professions misses the point of ending any potential corruption issues.

    Abstaining from any potential conflicts of interest in voting or committee meetings/assignments. Where Burke allegedly crossed the line was being chatty on his personal cell phone and holding up a remodeling project over a span of months that cost the owner thousands of dollars in income. The public also lost financially during that period in lost sales taxes and other taxes such as income taxes for wages restaurants generate for government.

    Corruption has a price, let’s not pretend otherwise, but using a sledge hammer to excise it as espoused by Crain’s isn’t much of a solution.

    Try more transparency. Making legislators state why they must abstain might be a good start.


  43. - JS Mill - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 11:03 am:

    =So, for a property tax appeal attorney that would mean preventing them from representing clients within the geographic area that they represent.=

    Read the post above yours. The state has nothing to do with property taxes, that is a local revenue source and is levied by local government.

    Your post would only make sense if MJM et al were on a local school board or other local governmental taxing body.


  44. - Willful Ignorance? - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 11:07 am:

    @JS Mill
    You are acting like all property tax work in Illinois is the same. The issue is tied to Chicago and Cook County. To say this is a valid criticism of Burke but not Madigan ignore the fact that Burke doesn’t set the property tax levy either. Why would Burke have a conflict but not State Legislator if neither sets the levy? It doesn’t make sense because you’re ignoring both Cook County’s special place in this debate and the political relationships that actually govern Cook County’s assessments.


  45. - Matt Belcher - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 11:09 am:

    ==@Matt Belcher
    “close economic association” has a meaning. Its a small group of people. They cannot represent citizens or entities generally.==

    Likely my mistake for the lack of clarity:
    Legislators are NOT “already barred from representing Illinois Workers’ Comp cases.”

    They MAY “represent citizens or entities generally.”

    The only exception would be when the legislator would be effectively prosecuting the case against their own employer, the “respondent,” the State of Illinois.

    And even that exception has a “close economic association” exception.

    Back to the subject of the Rich’s original post: Only an honest legislator will abide a ban on outside income and an honest legislator does not need such a ban.


  46. - don the legend - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 11:10 am:

    ===could reduce the unfunded pension liability by 50%. ===

    Merica, please show your work. If the unfunded pension liability is say 150 billion ( Just for this question)how much would the tax be on crop land?


  47. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 11:13 am:

    ===Burke doesn’t set the property tax levy either. Why would Burke have a conflict but not State Legislator if neither sets the levy?===

    Does the city of Chicago have a property tax?

    If so, how did Chicago get it?

    I don’t want to be willfully ignorant to process.


  48. - 47th Ward - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 11:13 am:

    ===To say this is a valid criticism of Burke but not Madigan ignore the fact that Burke doesn’t set the property tax levy either.===

    As an Alderman, and moreover as Chairman of the City Council Finance Committee, Burke is called on to vote on setting the city’s tax levy annually. Madigan, as a state legislator, is not casting such votes. Apples and oranges.


  49. - Annonin' - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 11:24 am:

    Huh and others can also note Madigan recuses himself on prop tax legislation and has voted a zillion times for freezes which are not for those who want higher taxes


  50. - Long time coming - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 11:26 am:

    @Matt Belcher
    I apologize for my tone. I had internalized the requirement that the state is the respondent and wasn’t being clear. My point still stands, that bar to a category of legal work is analogous to the one proposed for property tax work, because assessments are the judgment of the state (not the State of Illinois, small s), so the respondent in an appeal is functionally the state.


  51. - anon2 - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 11:26 am:

    === property tax work..is inherently tied to the operation of the State ===

    Property taxes are collected only by local units of government. It’s only at the final avenue of assessment appeal, the State Property Tax Board, where the State is involved. Few appellants go that far.


  52. - anon2 - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 11:29 am:

    “Conflict of interest” is a general, somewhat vague term, like “corruption.” Partisans have a sharp eye for conflicts and corruption in their opponents, but rarely in themselves.

    It’s doubtful that either party wants prohibit legislators who are lawyers from doing any work, not just tax appeals, in an area affected by State law and policy.


  53. - wordslinger - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 11:31 am:

    –Only an honest legislator will abide a ban on outside income and an honest legislator does not need such a ban.–

    That old gag. You realize that’s an argument against any laws at all?

    –“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature. If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In forming a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” —James Madison, The Federalist No. 51–


  54. - Merica - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 11:33 am:

    Illinois has 27M acres of farmland. Currently, that land is taxed at an average of less than 1/2 of 1% of its FMV per year. So, an acre of high yield farmland, with a value of $10k, would pay $50/yr in property taxes. If you created a statewide crop land property tax, assessed by the State, you could double the current tax and generate about $1.5B a year. If you did 1.5% you would hit almost half the unfunded pension amount (over 30yrs).


  55. - Blue Dog Dem - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 11:43 am:

    Merica. Music to my old ears.


  56. - JS Mill - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 11:46 am:

    =The “term limits are called elections!” crowd is amusing. =

    So you are amused by citizens doing their job? Term limits take the power out of the peoples hands and put it into the hands of lobbyists and big money even more so than our conservative courts already have.

    =You are acting like all property tax work in Illinois is the same. The issue is tied to Chicago and Cook County. =

    Willy and 47 already did a great job responding to this, but I will add that maybe understand how it all works when you post here.

    Besides the City of Chicago levy there is also the TIF issue that Burke can influence and an ALDERMAN. MJM is a STATE Representative.


  57. - qualified someone nobody sent - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 11:49 am:

    Govs investment property gets 3 years of property tax refunds for previous years thanks to a prop tax attorneys help which was categorized as “defrauding” the Cook County Assessor’s office. No one who knows and understands the process of property tax appeals at the Cook County Assessor thinks this was a ONE TIME “FRAUD”. This is only a high profile example of the DAILY work by property tax attorneys including everyone mentioned in this article.


  58. - Chicagonk - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 11:54 am:

    @Merica - I would set up the tax so that the first 100 acres a farmer owned would be taxed at a the current rate and then the remaining acres would be taxed at the higher rate.


  59. - josh - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 12:04 pm:

    Why is tax appeal legal work more of a conflict than much other conflicty conflict work?


  60. - Anonymous - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 12:11 pm:

    New Hampshire has a great system. $200 per two year term and no per diem.


  61. - Anonymous - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 12:13 pm:

    Illinois has some of the highest paid state reps in the nation. We also have the worst run government.


  62. - WestTown - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 2:49 pm:

    Lot of great thoughts here, but making the legislature a full time gig, with limits on outside income earned, seems most reasonable. Ultimately, if you want to be a legislator, you should do it to serve the people…if you are looking for a $$$ pay day then being a legislator isn’t for you.


  63. - Duopoly - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 2:50 pm:

    =Those who set the tax code shouldn’t be able to benefit some way from it.=

    Just by living in IL you could potentially benefit from any tax code change. The only viable solution is to move legislator districts out of state…. this is getting too weird.


  64. - Shevek - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 2:55 pm:

    Odd that no one has mentioned Fritz Kaegi. Assuming he does what he has promised to do since day one of his campaign, i.e. utilize a transparent, fair, assessment program, all those in the property tax appeal business will be out of work. Where the Assessor isn’t monkeying around with property assessments in secret, there is far less room to argue that the assessment is wrong.

    I recently heard from a property tax appeal attorney who said Kaegi is going to be terrible. Now why would he think that?


  65. - Anonymous - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 3:02 pm:

    ==We have term limits. They’re called elections.==

    So say the proponents of machine politics. Nope, term limits are not elections. Political cultural will change with term limits. Quite a few other states have tried this…Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania


  66. - Anonymous - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 3:05 pm:

    WestTown, the legistlature is full time already and highly overcompensated for the work they do.


  67. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 3:06 pm:

    ===So say the proponents of machine politics. Nope, term limits are not elections.===

    Why have elections? With your thinking, let them serve 10 years, then get rid of them? Ugh.

    Explain the turnover these past four years in the GA…


  68. - Thomas Paine - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 3:07 pm:

    Taxing newspapers is also a “no-brainer” but newspapers are exempt from the sales tax…hmmm, wonder why?

    The idea is unconstitutional and it’s never going to happen. There’s some merit to banning outside employment but then we would be effective excluding a lot of folks from the General Assembly.

    Keep in mind as well that the allegations in the City Council don’t stop at Burke; O’Connor has been widely criticized for the perception his wife’s real estate business benefits from his aldermanic office.

    My own view is that it is inevitable that every individual will benefit personally from their office, and they will be personally harmed by it as well, all psssively, without doing anything, certainly without committing a crime.

    There is little question for example that the Chicago Tribune has provided Madigan and Getzendanner with millions in free advertising, and Rauner tens of millions.

    As for the argument Madigan benefits from a system that creates high property taxes, I’d simply point out that Madigan has consistently championed efforts to end our reliance on property taxes. Most notably the millionaires tax, which would have presumably hit quite a few of his law firm clients and possibly even himself squarely in the pocketbook.


  69. - Perrid - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 3:15 pm:

    “Nope, term limits are not elections”

    Well, I think there’s a strong argument to be made that term limits are not democratic. You are prohibiting constituents from having the representatives they wish, because of some fear of hypothetical, eventual, corruption.


  70. - Demoralized - Friday, Jan 11, 19 @ 3:38 pm:

    ==Nope, term limits are not elections==

    Yes, they are. Term limits are for those who simply want to whine that they can’t get those they dislike out of office any other way.


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