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Judge rules Bring Chicago Home referendum should be struck from ballot (Updated x2)

Friday, Feb 23, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The Sun-Times has edited its story, so I updated my headline and here’s the revised version

A Cook County judge Friday ruled that a referendum question funding homelessness prevention in Chicago via a real estate transfer tax increase should be struck from the March primary ballot, dealing a major political blow to the measure’s biggest proponent, Mayor Brandon Johnson.

The ruling represents a big win for the real estate industry and development groups that sued to block the ballot measure.

Judge Kathleen Burke also rejected the Chicago Board of Elections’ efforts to dismiss the case and she also denied a motion by the city to intervene in the case.

While the referendum question was in flux, voters were already weighing in through mail ballots and in-person early voting. A spokesman for the Chicago Board of Elections previously said the results of any votes already cast would not be made public if the referendum question were to be struck down. […]

The suit asserted the referendum measure is a “textbook example” of a time-honored legislative tactic known as “log-rolling” — combining a politically unpopular proposal with a popular one to sugar-coat and, therefore, convince voters to swallow the bitter pill.

I assume there will be an appeal, but the clock is ticking.

…Adding… Daily Line…

…Adding… Crain’s

A Cook County judge ruled today that votes on the March 19 city ballot measure to increase the real estate transfer tax on properties over a $1 million will not be counted.

Even so, the measure’s proponents are still telling voters to go to the polls.

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Burke ruled in favor of the Chicago Building Owners & Managers Association, who sought to block the Bring Chicago Home initiative, which would have used revenue from the higher transfer tax to fund programs for homeless people. As a result of her ruling, the question will remain on the ballot but the votes will not be counted.

Burke did not elaborate on her reasoning and abruptly left the court after a two-hour session. Advocates for the transfer tax proposal, dubbed Bring Chicago Home, say they plan to appeal.

       

12 Comments
  1. - Unanimous Choice - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 3:46 pm:

    Yikes! The city’s lawyers should have never gotten involved. They legitimized the complaint.


  2. - Wowie - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 3:55 pm:

    Lol. This is almost too on the nose for the Johnson admin


  3. - Halfback Option - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 3:56 pm:

    So did she rule it won’t be binding? Mike’s tweet is unclear.


  4. - Hannibal Lecter - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 4:01 pm:

    I guess this lawsuit wasn’t frivolous after all, Alderman Ramirez-Rosa, was it?


  5. - Hannibal Lecter - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 4:02 pm:

    === So did she rule it won’t be binding? ===

    She ruled it shouldn’t even be on the ballot so there would be no results published for this referendum unless a higher court reverses her decision.


  6. - Wally - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 4:03 pm:

    Is Brandon’s middle name Lawrence? It should be, cause he’s got a big ole stinking L in between his name.

    Seriously though, he can’t secure a single win. Governing is a lot harder than repeating talking lines


  7. - BC - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 4:06 pm:

    == “log-rolling” — combining a politically unpopular proposal with a popular one to sugar-coat and, therefore, convince voters to swallow the bitter pill. ==

    Allow me to play language police here. I have never heard the term “log-rolling” used in this context. Log rolling describes the practice of exchanging political favors — like, you vote for my bill and I’ll vote for yours. It’s derived from the old custom of neighbors agreeing to help each other move logs for home construction after cutting down a tree.


  8. - JC - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 4:13 pm:

    Genuinely do not understand how making a change form a flat tax structure to a progressive one constitutes “log rolling” as defined here? Seems to imply that you’d need to pass a separate referendum for each different tax bracket being created, which is absurd.


  9. - Donnie Elgin - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 4:13 pm:

    log Rolling

    Well, there certainly is an exchange of favors - between the Chicago city council that voted 32-16 to approve the referendum, and the votes they hoped to continue getting by transferring the real estate tax into a popular entitlement. The judge operates outside that influence sphere

    1. the practice of exchanging favors, especially in politics by reciprocal voting for each other’s proposed legislation. Mutual aid and vote trading among legislators.


  10. - fs - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 4:24 pm:

    == Genuinely do not understand how making a change form a flat tax structure to a progressive one constitutes “log rolling” as defined here? Seems to imply that you’d need to pass a separate referendum for each different tax bracket being created, which is absurd.==

    I’m not sure what the exact arguments were, but while State law requires you to have a referendum if you want to raise taxes, it does not require a referendum if you want to lower taxes. In other words, the third question isn’t legally required, and its only purpose might seem to be to influence the answers to the first two questions.


  11. - BC - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 4:24 pm:

    Checking the Google machine…seems the practice of attaching an unpopular item to a popular one is more frequently referred to as “adding a rider.”


  12. - Keyrock - Friday, Feb 23, 24 @ 4:29 pm:

    “Did not elaborate on her reasoning?” If that’s accurate, that is shamefully inappropriate. It would be fine to issue a full opinion later, but deciding a case of public importance without an explanation is never proper.


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