This pampering city. . . | On politics
It’s been about three years since my big reveal on how to force Donald Trump to remove that horrific sign he slapped on his tower.
And guess what? This terrible sign is still there.
Proving once again that Trump has more clout with the Chicago Democrats than I do – the Jan.6 insurgency and all.
The Trump sign has been on my mind thanks to the excellent reporting in the Sun-Times by Tim Novak, who has been relentless on this story. And relentless, that’s what you need to be when you’re up against high-profile players like Trump and Alderman Ed Burke.
A well-known tight, Trump began asking for tax breaks on the tower almost upon its completion in 2009.
To help him defraud taxpayers, Trump hired Burke, who, in addition to leading the council’s finance committee, ran a law firm specializing in property tax appeals.
As chairman of the finance committee, Burke oversaw the spending of billions and billions of dollars.
So on the one hand, Burke was increasing your property taxes by giving the green light to TIF deals. And on the other hand, he was raising your property taxes by fighting to get Donald Trump to pay less property taxes. After all, the less Trump pays, the more you have to pay to catch up with him.
According to Novak’s calculations, Burke has earned around $ 14 million in property tax breaks for the Trump Tower over the years.
Here is a brief lesson on how it works. . .
Your property tax is determined by multiplying the tax rate by the assessed value of your property as calculated by the Cook County assessor.
Oh, my God, this is boring. I have probably lost all readers’ interest in Reader Earth. No wonder Burke and Trump can get away with their bullshit.
Since the tax rate is the same everywhere, the big variable is the valuation of a property. The lower the valuation, the less tax you pay. If you think the appraiser has overstated the value of your property, you can appeal. As Burke has done several times for Trump.
And it is here that the Trump / Burke alliance heads to the land of chutzpah – a distant universe where shameless nerve is rewarded and integrity is punished.
Burke argued that Trump should pay less property taxes because the value of the retail and hotel operations in the Trump Tower is worth less than what the appraiser assesses.
Burke says it’s worth less because Trump can’t hire him. However . . .
I contend that Burke’s argument is based on the mistake that Trump and his business accomplices are doing all they can to rent their property. But, of course, that’s not true because. . .
One of the biggest detours to renting space in the Trump Tower – if not the biggest detour – is the spooky sign on the front of the building. You know, the one that says TRUMP.
Politically speaking, I would say Trump is Chicago’s most vilified name. So what self-respecting merchant would want to move into a building in Trump’s name?
It’s like trying to rent a building on the south side that has the letters KKK on the front.
Or try renting a building in Skokie with the name Goebbels on the front.
Or try to praise. . . oh you get the idea.
It kind of reminds me of when JB Pritzker – before he was governor – removed the toilet from his Gold Coast mansion and called for land tax relief on the grounds that his mansion was uninhabitable.
When the story broke, Pritzker refunded the property tax relief he had received. But since then, Republicans have been roaring with indignation.
Oddly enough, when it comes to Trump looking for tax break even with this sign, Republicans have nothing to say.
This is because Trump controls MAGA and MAGA controls the Republican Party. And the official position of any Illinois Republican (not named Adam Kinzinger) is that Trump is king.
That’s why all the Republican gubernatorial candidates are too assholes to speak out against Trump for stoking the Jan.6 insurgency.
I should note that Burke: 1) abandoned Trump as a client; 2) lost his position as president of finance; 3) has given up its property tax activity; and 4) was indicted by the federal government for allegedly trying to force developers looking for TIF documents to hire his property tax appeal company.
But in general, the Burke / Trump alliance points to a painful irony about Chicago. We pamper Trump.
He laughs at us and slanders us, and yet we give him gifts. We are raising our taxes and lowering their taxes. We pay more so he pays less. He’s so mean to us. And we’re so nice to him.
It’s almost enough to make me wish Mayor Daley would come back to power to send city workers to tear this sign off Trump’s tower in the middle of the night. Just as he had Meigs Field demolished in the middle of the night by city employees.
But I remember it was Daley who installed Burke as president of finance. Much like Daley looked away when Burke began filing property tax appeals on Trump’s behalf.
So Daley is about as useless in this fight as Mayor Rahm, who was the mayor who let Trump install this sign without a fight. After he, Rahm, received a campaign contribution of $ 50,000 from Trump in 2010.
Either way, thanks to Novak, we know that the Illinois Land Tax Appeal Board decided to reward Trump with a $ 1 million property tax refund.
But Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx has appealed. The case could go to the Illinois Supreme Court. One of the judges is Anne Burke, wife of Ed Burke. Which town. Which state.
Let’s see what matters most to Trump: his ego or his wallet?
In other words, here’s your choice, Donnie: The sign or the tax break. If you get one, you can’t have the other. v