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The [Friday] Papers

"Proposed tax breaks for Chicago's financial exchanges, which could cut state tax revenue by as much as $110 million a year, won endorsement from a key Illinois Senate committee Thursday but still face big obstacles," the Tribune reports.

Let's focus now, people, because this is important.

"The measure continues to encounter resistance from Republicans, who are pushing for broader tax relief for all businesses as part of any package."

So the tax breaks are being pushed by the Democrats - the bill is sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton - who agree with the exchanges that it's just not fair that they don't have the same kind of tax code loopholes to exploit that other Illinois corporations do.

And while the Republicans' opposition seems noble, they're simply holding out for more tax breaks across-the-board.

"'I don't want to be part of a perception that we are cherry-picking who we help,' said Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) one of four members of the Senate Executive Committee to vote present."

Among business interests, she means.

"The legislation would slice state corporate income tax bills in half for CME Group Inc., the parent of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade, and CBOE Holdings Inc., parent of the Chicago Board Options Exchange.

"The state's corporate income tax rate applies to profits resulting from in-state sales. For many multinational corporations, this means Illinois' tax applies to only a slice of their income.

"But for the Chicago-based exchanges, the tax applies to all trades, and they have said this is unfair because many trades are placed electronically by out-of-state parties.

"'This bill is an effort to correct that inequity,' Cullerton said Thursday."

It's nice to see Cullerton finally discussing income inequity!

But funny to see how the frame has changed; it's just darn unfair that they are taxed on electronic trades!

Here's what CME chairman Terry Duffy said in June when he first threatened to leave the state:

"Right now, CME Group pays the highest tax of any other company in Illinois," Duffy said Wednesday. He called "unjust" a system of loopholes that has allowed other corporations to avoid paying the full rate.

You know what else Duffy said?

"Our business is doing quite well with the strategy we have put in place the last couple of years."

If the "inequity" of the exchanges' tax scenario in Illinois is truly a problem (hey, that's life, they like to say to the rest of us when it comes to inequity), then the answer is to get rid of the loopholes and make everyone pay their fair share instead of cutting another sweetheart deal for moneyed insiders who can command our government's time, attention and energy at will.

Reinsdorf Redux
Speaking of moneyed insiders exploiting Illinois taxpayers, I spent most of Thursday's column on the Tribune's report about Jerry Reinsdorf's sweetheart ballpark/restaurant deal.

Just to give credit where it's due, Shia Kapos reported in Crain's on Monday that:

"The sweet deal Jerry Reinsdorf has at U.S. Cellular Field is prompting the state agency that runs the ballpark to re-examine its lease agreement, which requires the White Sox owner to pay $1.5 million annually in rent while keeping all proceeds from ticket sales, parking, concessions and his growing merchandise operations."

I missed that.

Here was the key, which the Trib followed up on:

"Plans to re-evaluate the contract come as the White Sox owner prepares to open a retail location across from the South Side ballpark on state-owned property.

"The store, which will sell sports apparel and paraphernalia, represents another revenue stream for Mr. Reinsdorf at the stadium he persuaded the state to build back in 1990. (He had threatened to move the team to Tampa, Fla.) Along with being permitted to retain all the income from the shop, the club owner gets to keep money from the Bacardi at the Park restaurant, which opened next door last spring.

"The arrangement with the new retail venues is an extension of Mr. Reinsdorf's lease agreement, which runs through 2029 and allows all profit on the state-owned property to go to Mr. Reinsdorf.

"The lease agreement came about when James Thompson was governor, and the additions to the agreement - the shop and restaurant - were added when Mr. Thompson was chairman of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority."

Of course, Reinsdorf didn't return Kapos's phone call and a spokesman refused to comment. Because, you know, the public has no right to an explanation of how it's tax dollars are being used to enrich an already rich man.


On Wednesday, Kapos followed up with a report further illuminating just what a nice deal Mr. Thompson made for Mr. Reinsdorf. Hint: It's even worse than we thought.

But how nice it is to have friends in high places.

Occupy The MSM
Seems like the media still hasn't gotten their heads around the significance of the (global) Occupy movement; storylines are only limited by their small imaginations, but I've got plenty of ideas. Just check out The Week in Occupy Chicago to get a taste.

It might even occur to some folks that it has something to do with Cullerton, the CME and Reinsdorf.

Dots, People
"According to city data, there were nearly 15,000 abandoned buildings in Chicago as of Oct. 20, most of them a result of foreclosures," the Chicago News Cooperative reports. "Three neighborhoods account for 20 percent of the total: Englewood, West Englewood and Austin."


"The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois is suing the City of Chicago, alleging unequal police deployment to minority neighborhoods," WBEZ reports.


"While corporations get a cut in their head tax, poor Chicagoans will see the city services they rely on - health centers, child care, workforce development, mental health treatment, library services and the like - get smaller and, in some cases, disappear," Megan Cottrell reports for the Chicago Reporter.

Ghost Votes
"Escalating his war of words with the Legislature, Gov. Pat Quinn Thursday called for an investigation into who cast votes for as many as 18 House members who were off the House floor when utility rate-hike legislation that he opposed passed in the blink of an eye," the Sun-Times reports.

"A spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan insisted there were only 'a couple of instances where people may have been voted contrary to their wishes' and, in those cases, it 'was probably done by seatmates.'"

Oh, so no big deal. I mean, if someone voted for Madigan in his absence contrary to his liking, I'm sure he would have laughed it off.


"Madigan spokesman Steve Brown dismissed the governor's complaint with a chuckle."

Alternate: "Madigan spokesman Steve Brown dismissed the governor's complaint with a chuckle even as his boss once again refused to to meet his responsibilities as Speaker of the Illinois House and actually explain himself to reporters. Brown has explained in the past that the Speaker picks and chooses his media availabilities according to political convenience, even if he likes to complain about the unfairness of stories for which he has refused to comment."

"As thousands of families and trick-or-treaters celebrate Halloween, the Illinois Department of Labor recommends safety tips for those venturing into local haunted houses."

I see one missing, gleaned from the experience of the Beachwood Inn's Lt. Dan a few years ago: Don't punch one of the dudes who jumps out to scare you 'cause you might get arrested. Classic.

The Week in Chicago Rock
Good stuff, people. Check these bands out.

Black Nerd TV
Halloween Special.

Whither Giant Oak?
We'll just have to see.

The Week in WTF
Stella Foster, consummate Chicago journalist.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Consummate.


Posted on October 28, 2011

MUSIC - Millions Of New Guitar Players.
TV - "One America News" is AT&T.
POLITICS - When Wall Street Came To My Mobile Home Park.
SPORTS - Tonyball, Bears On The Run, Eyes On The Sky & More!

BOOKS - China Holding Swedish Publisher.


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