While writing this blog, I have been careful not to endorse particular candidates. I have certainly told you what I think about particular candidates and I may share who earned my vote after November 2nd, but I certainly am not going to tell someone who to vote for. My goal has never been to get a certain individual elected, but rather to get more people involved and active in politics, hopefully driving ore people to vote.
With respect to one race, I'm breaking that rule. Vote for Forrest Claypool for Cook County Assessor.
Forrest Claypool is running as an independent for Cook County Assessor. He's running primarily against Joe Berrios, the winner of the democratic primary for the post. Also running are Republican Sharon Strobeck-Eckersall and Green Party candidate, Robert Grota. The primary job of the Cook County assessor is to estimate the property value of all of the real estate in the county.
Joe Berrios currently runs the Board of Review, which oversees property tax appeals. Joe Berrios is also the leader of the Cook County Democratic Party and reports directly to the state Democratic Party chairman, none other than Michael Madigan. Mike Madigan and Joe Berrios are in lockstep.
Mike Madigan already runs the state. Now, he wants his guy deciding how much to tax Cook County property owners. I already feel like Mike Madigan (with the help of Mayor Daley) is taking money out of my wallet as I sleep, I don't want him to have the power to do so with property taxes as well. Joe Berrios has provided property tax breaks to his friends--including clients of Michael Madigan's law firm, Madigan and Getzendanner, which handles property tax appeals.
Here's what the Chicago Tribune wrote about Joe Berrios back in June:
Berrios, who sits on the county's property tax appeals board and moonlights as a video poker lobbyist, is a terrible candidate for an office that wields so much power over property valuations. In his current role, Berrios has done plenty to benefit clients of the law firms of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton -- fellow Democrats whom Berrios then lobbies for favors in Springfield.
Isn't that sweet for Berrios, Madigan and Cullerton? Did we mention that Berrios chairs the Cook County Democratic Party and reports to Madigan, who chairs the Illinois Democratic Party? The departing assessor, James Houlihan, has long criticized the overlapped interests of Berrios and Madigan. Houlihan is right.
In an attempt to prove Joe Berrios provides property tax breaks to his friends, Forrest Claypool has recently put up a website-- found at www.forrestclaypool.com-- that shows Joe Berrios has collected over $3 million from tax appeal lawyers who have had their clients' cases heard before Joe Berrios. It shows the 300 largest tax reductions in commercial property tax assessments granted in 2009 and shows every reduction over $1 million. According to the website, there were over $6.2 billion in tax breaks given by Joe Berrios and the board he chairs, which means over $980 million in Cook County property taxes avoided. Those taxes do not just go away, those taxes will be shouldered by the average Joe--you and I.
By the way, usually we would have our tax bills by now; this year, Mike Madigan engineered the coup that we won't receive our tax bills until after November 2nd. I wonder why that was necessary?
If Joe Berrios is elected as Assessor, the person determining the value of all property in Cook County, how much will we, the average Joe, be forced to pay to make up for Joe Berrios' friends who get special treatment? How much will we have to pay for Mike Madigan's friends who get special treatment?
I'd rather not find out. Get out there and vote if you haven't already. If you live in Cook County, a vote for Forrest Claypool is a vote against political corruption and a vote against Mike Madigan.