Da Mare’s Private Road to McCormick Place

A $43 million busway built to whisk conventioneers between downtown hotels and McCormick Place has turned into “the mayor’s road” and should be opened to taxicabs in exchange for a surcharge, Ald. Robert Fioretti, 2nd said Monday.

Fioretti suggested turning the 2.5-mile busway into a money-maker after Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg lifted the veil on a shortcut politicians and contractors enjoy, but everyday Chicagoans know little or nothing about.  …

“I was told by some of the people in Planning that it was a good idea. But then, they came back and said, `No. It’s the mayor’s road.’ That’s what I was hit with,” [Fioretti] said without identifying the city planners by name.

Fioretti said when he argued that Chicago could not afford to maintain a “clout road” for VIP politicians, he was told there were “security reasons” for keeping the road closed to other vehicles. But he was never told precisely what those “security reasons” were.

In Monday’s column, [Chicago Sun-Times columists] Steinberg talked about his ride with County Board President Toni Preckwinkle on the road Mayor Rahm Emanuel calls the “Bat Cave” and Preckwinkle calls the “Magic Road.”

It is accessed only by those fortunate enough to be issued a plastic card that opens a steel gate to the busway that runs along Illinois Central right of way parallel to Michigan Avenue.

Built in 2002 by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, the 2.5-mile roadway was billed as a speedy shortcut for conventioneers staying in downtown hotels and attending McCormick Place conventions.

As Steinberg noted, a trip that takes 25 minutes in traffic up Lake Shore Drive can be completed in just eight minutes.

via Chicago Sun-Times.

I’ve known about this “road” since forever as I used to walk by the entrance regularly.  There are a few “secret” entrances in the South Loop where the gates are almost always up.  I’m surprised folks on bikes are not on this thing all the time.

Regardless, nice to see the mayor serving no one but himself.

Cook County’s New Business Killers, a/k/a Taxes

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s proposed budget calls for a 1.25 percent tax on businesses that buy “non-titled” items like office supplies, equipment, building materials and even artwork from outside the county’s borders.  …

County businesses would be allowed to purchase these goods up to $2,500 without any penalty, county officials said. The businesses are responsible for self-reporting the purchases to the county’s revenue department. A Preckwinkle spokesman said the county expects most businesses will comply.  …

The tax is among several initiatives Preckwinkle announced Thursday during a budget presentation, which also called for an additional $1 tax per pack on cigarettes, a 5-cent tax on bullets and an additional $25 tax on gun purchases.

“We’re proposing (these taxes) to subsidize health care,” Preckwinkle said. “Cigarette smoking is the No. 1 cause of preventable disease and gun violence is incredibly expensive.”

The cigarette tax is expected to generate $25.6 million additional revenue in the coming year, and the taxes on guns and bullets are anticipated to bring the county an extra $1 million over the course of 2013.

via Daily Herald.

Shear insanity.  There are so many problems here it’s hard to know where to begin.

As to the increase in the cigarette tax… this is a proven loser.  In 2006 the county earned over $200 million annually from cigarette taxes.  Then they doubled the tax.  Revenue fell to around $131 million.  Now she wants to raise the tax again… that’s the worst thing you can do.  If you want more revenue from cigarettes you need to LOWER the tax rate, not raise it.  The problem here is that Preckwinkle, like all Democrats, do not understand or even believe in the Laffer Curve.  They’re honestly just dumb that way.

How about this tax on bullets?  Well I currently buy a box of 100 rounds out at the Wal-Mart in Villa Park for about $30 + sales tax, or around $33.  Now Preckwinkle wants to add $5 to that box.  Guess what Toni?  I will NOT be buying my ammo in Cook County anymore.  So you’re not going to raise $5 from me… you’re going to lose the $3 in sales tax.  Your “bullet tax” is going to cost the County money…. Lots of money.  Like the cigarette tax, this idea is a net loser.  You know what else, you won’t even be able to claim that I “use” the product (in this case bullets) in Cook County b/c pretty soon all the shooting ranges in the county will go out of business.  So I’ll go shoot in Indiana.  That will be more tax revenue lost.

Lastly, what is up with this office supply tax?  Preckwinkle actually has the stones to call this tax “pro-business” thinking that people will simply comply and buy all there stuff from within the county.  That’s laughable.  She’s such a fool.  How about this Toni; ya think that someone might just open their business in Will, DuPage, or Lake county instead of Cook County?  Guess what Toni, you just made all the office buildings on the North side of Lake Cook road more valuable than the ones on the South side.  Same goes for 191st Street on the south.  You’re now creating another incentive for people to (a) open their businesses outside the county, and (b) move their businesses outside the county.  This tax will cost many many times more than whatever revenue it brings in.

Cook County needs new leadership or it’s going to die.


FYI, You CAN Cheat on Your Property Taxes

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Assessor Joe Berrios on Tuesday urged state lawmakers to give them more power to go after property owners who improperly claim tax breaks, saying they could recover more than $150 million in three years with the new authority.

Under legislation pending in Springfield, counties could go after back taxes from people who have wrongly received homestead exemptions. The tax break should only be applied to a property owner’s primary residence, but people often also claim it for rental properties, vacation homes and secondary residences. Other property owners get inappropriate property tax reductions for being a senior citizen, disabled person or disabled veteran.

People who claimed multiple improper homestead exemptions also would be fined a percentage of their unpaid taxes, and the county could place liens on the properties to try to compel property owners to pay up.

via Chicago Tribune.


So let me get this straight… right now, I could file for a homestead and senior freeze exemptions on properties I own but don’t live at and despite the fact that I’m not a senior?

How stupid are the politicians in Springfield?  They grant all these exemptions but provide no way to enforce them.  This would be funny if not so sad.

Of course, there is someone who can do something about it; two in fact.  Both women… both lawyers… both elected to put bad people — like people who lie on government documents — in jail and fine them.

So rather than pushing for new laws, why doesn’t the county just ask Anita Alvarez to file charges against these people?  And if she’s too busy, Lisa Madigan could take some of the cases.

Of course both Alvarez and Madigan are too busy doing nothing.
So instead Preckwinkle and Berrios are asking for another new law so they can hire more government workers to police this new law.

$50 million a year in new revenue… $50 million a year in new expenses for staff and pensions.  The taxpayer will end up with nothing.