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The [Wednesday] Papers

For completists, there was no column on Tuesday. Also, just for the record, there was no column on Friday, nor a Weekend Desk Report.

"Democratic Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, his wife and his brother-in-law are under federal criminal investigation for a dubious residential property tax appeal that dogged him during his gubernatorial campaign last year, WBEZ has learned," the station reports.

"The developments demonstrate that the billionaire governor and his wife may face a serious legal threat arising from their controversial pursuit of a property tax break on a 126-year-old mansion they purchased next to their Gold Coast home."

Really? How is this a federal matter?

"A Cook County inspector general's report, first published by the Chicago Sun-Times, later found MK Pritzker directed workers to remove all toilets from the mansion in order to have it declared 'uninhabitable,' which gave the Pritzkers a huge property tax break."

Yes. the toilets thing.

"The report found the Pritzkers had caused the residence they had purchased next to their home to fall into disrepair, in part, by removing its toilets in October 2015 in order to lower the home's property taxes by having it declared 'vacant and uninhabitable.'

"On that basis, the Pritzkers' lawyers persuaded then-Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios' office to lower the home's market value from more than $6.25 million to slightly less than $1.08 million. That ultimately led to a dramatically lower property tax bill for the mansion.

"According to the report, MK Pritzker had ordered workers to reinstall one working toilet after the house was reassessed at a lower rate, though it's unclear whether that happened."

It was a shitty thing to do - no pun intended; or mostly not intended - and I don't condone or dismiss it, but a federal investigation seems excessive. Something is missing here. Either it's not really an active investigation - no subpoenas appear to have been issued and no one appears to have been interviewed - or there is a piece to it we don't yet know about.

"The confidential Sept. 28, 2018 report by the inspector general characterized the Pritzkers' tax appeal as a 'scheme to defraud' taxpayers. [The inspector general] also connected the scheme to possible violations of state and federal law, including perjury and mail fraud."

Look, I'd like to imprison every rich person who cheats on their taxes. But something seems off here. It's either way bigger or much smaller than we know so far.

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It is nice, though, that Pritzker got this in just under the wire for inclusion in his first 100 days highlight package. Even for Illinois governors, that's impressive.

Hey Feds, Investigate This
"The former Illinois legislative inspector general says the ethics commission that oversaw her work buried a report of alleged misconduct by one of their fellow legislators, just one sign of a system she describes as 'broken,'" the Tribune reports.

"In an Op-Ed published online Tuesday by the Tribune, ex-watchdog Julie Porter said lawmakers have done little to address these longstanding problems despite warnings from her predecessor and a series of high-profile sexual harassment allegations at the Capitol. Porter was appointed interim IG in November 2017 after alleged victims said their complaints went unheard.

"When I agreed to serve as acting legislative inspector general in 2017, I knew that there were structural problems, but never for a minute did I believe that the commission would take any action to thwart my independence," wrote Porter, a former federal prosecutor named to the position to address a backlog of complaints built up while the position was left vacant for three years. "I certainly did not think that the commission would refuse to publish one of my founded summary reports. I was wrong."

Whoa.

"Porter, whose temporary term expired at the end of February, wrote that she issued a report near the end of her tenure that found a legislator had engaged in wrongdoing. But the ethics commission refused her request to publish it."

Why should an inspector general need the permission of an ethics commission made up of legislators from the very body she is tasked to investigate to publish her findings? For just this reason - to bury reports they don't like. That's how the Illinois General Assembly set up this charade at a time when its members - particularly Michael Madigan - were reeling from a series of sexual harassment allegations.

Which isn't to say hiding the capitol's dirty laundry isn't a bipartisan effort.

"State Rep. Avery Bourne, a Republican from downstate Raymond, who chairs the ethics commission, said the bipartisan panel voted unanimously in February not to release the report on alleged misconduct by a lawmaker. Like Porter, she said the law prohibits her from discussing the case.

"Bourne said the commission provides a 'check and balance' on the work of the inspector general and never got in Porter's way.

"I don't think it at all hindered her ability to do the investigations," Bourne said.

Sure, investigate to your heart's delight! We'll just make sure your work doesn't see the light of day.

For The Bridge-And-Tunnel Crowd
Bustos Gathers Ideas For Infrastructure Bill.

Start with toilets and IGs, both of which seem to be collapsing too easily around here.

Trump L'oeil
"There is such a putrid smell surrounding our nation's capital, such a rank odor, that it should come as no shock the stench is emanating from the rotting corpse of American democracy."

- Phil Kadner, Sun-Times

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New on the Beachwood . . .

Chicago, The 51st State
We're ready for the secession, from the Chicagoburg Address to a new flag.

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Illinois' Machiavelli
Inside state legislative politics.

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The Ex-Cub Factor
Boy, do we miss Big Z.

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Things I Wanna Be Besides Sedated
Including cremated, serrated.

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ChicagoReddit

Shout out to 2 heroes yesterday from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Chicago's Pizza With A Twist: Punjabi Pizza | Desi Pizza

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BeachBook

Clothing Brands' Business Practices Fuel Factory Abuses.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood McRibTipLine: Platformed.



Permalink

Posted on April 24, 2019


MUSIC - How Africa Adopted Jimmie Rodgers.
TV - Sinclair, ABC Light AOC On Fire.
POLITICS - SCOTUS's Border Wall Fiasco.
SPORTS - Black Athletes' Underused Trump Card.

BOOKS - The Hidden Places Of World War 2.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Wisconsin Is America's Goatland.


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