Monday, February 27, 2012
Friday, February 24, 2012
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
The Cook County “Board of Whatever”
By Ray Hanania
They changed the name of the Board of Tax Appeals a long time ago because in the old days, the incumbents didn’t like the fact that many taxpayers only associated their property tax increases with that office.
So they changed it to the Board of Review, to get rid of that annoying word “Tax.”
It’s one of the most significant things the body has done, besides take money from attorneys who milk property owners to submit the complex appeals.
This year, one candidate seems to want to change it all. He wants to make it easier for property owners to file their own appeals, rather than go through the lawyers who donate heavily to the three member “Board of Whatever?”
Sean Morrison has some great ideas. He says that he wants to put the appeal process online so that regular property tax owners like you and me can scan our documents, submit them online and instead of taking time off from our workday or paying the attorneys to do it all for us, we can conduct a hearing using Skype.
Morrison notes that right now, most property tax owners don’t get big breaks and they go through lawyers who specialize in this appeal process. When you hire a lawyer, the lawyer takes 50 percent of the savings “upfront.” That’s painful because most property taxes are not paid until a year later so you’d still pay the high taxes the year you appeal, plus pay half to the attorney, and you wouldn’t feel it until the following year.
Morrison also notes that most property owners who appeal only save a few hundred dollars. The real savings seem to lean towards the commercial properties and big businesses that can afford to have attorneys on their staffs fulltime and mount more aggressive challenges.
“Homeowners don’t really need attorneys, but right now the system makes it hard for them to do it themselves,” Morrison explains. “But when you look at the data, 65 percent of the applicants for a property tax reduction only get a few hundred dollars knocked off their bills. The system is set up to make the voter, not the property owner, feel like someone cares or that the system is working. They don’t and the system is not working the way it should.”
I remember appealing my taxes at one of those pre-election campaign events called Seminars to Appeal your Taxes” where the incumbents on the three-member board go out and basically beg for your votes. I filled out the paperwork but the board flat out rejected my appeal, even though the house had been damaged by flooding. I’d written several columns hammering the worthless board in the past so I figure anyone of them could have kicked my paperwork behind a desk.
But Morrison gives me some hope. I like his ideas, putting the process online. Morrison ran for this seat in 2010. The three commissioners run from three districts, two in Chicago (end up being Democrats) and one in the suburbs (where Republicans can grab one seat). He lost to Republican Dan Patlak but is making a second charge.
Morrison says he has tried but been denied FOIA requests for data tracking how much the lawyers who appear before the board get for their clients, so we can see real facts on how the system favors big commercial properties. But the Board of Tax Review doesn’t keep that incriminating evidence.
If Morrison is elected, in addition to bringing the “Board of Whatever” into the 21st Century as the Board of Review, he’ll also start documenting data on that very important point. Something the incumbents really don’t want you to know.
(Listen to Ray Hanania every Sunday on WSBC AM 1240 Radio from 8 until 11 am. www.RadioChicagoland.com.)
Morrison has some great ideas. Why doesn't the Board of Review include applications in the Cook County Tax bills that go out to all residential homes allowing them to apply for a tax review and reduction themselves?
Seems like a simple thing to do, that isn't being done.
One reason is that the Board of Tax Review seems to be pandering to the big commercial businesses and properties that donate huge money to their political campaign funds.
Morrison also says he wants to reduce the number of big commercial properties that are getting tax cuts. Seriously, you have to ask why are we cutting down the property tax bills of big companies? When we do, as Morrison points out, we're just punishing the single family homeowner because they're the ones who have to pick up the lost property tax slack when businesses get big discounts. And, businesses are getting BIGGER discounts on their properties than homeowners are getting. That tells you where the concern of the Board of "Whatever" is really at.
They don't care about the little guy, you or me. They don't care about property taxes on homes. They care about big business. It's obvious.
And it's even more obvious that needs to change.
-- Ray Hanania
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Del Galdo Law Group receives legal industry’s top honors
Berwyn/Il – Super Lawyers Magazine, one of the legal industry’s leading publications, recognized two members of the Del Galdo Law Group in their annual "Super Lawyers" honor which recognizes the State's top attorneys in their field.
The magazine named Del Galdo Law Group LLC principal Michael Del Galdo and James M. Vasselli as recipients of the 2012 “Rising Stars” distinction.
This is the third year Michael Del Galdo has been recognized by Super Lawyers as a Rising Star in the legal profession. It is rare to have two members of the same law firm honored.
“I am very proud to again receive this recognition,” said Del Galdo who was also recognized by Super Lawyers in 2010 and 2011.
“My priority is to provide the highest quality of professional legal services for my clients and to contribute in a positive way towards the betterment of the cities in which I work.”
Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in any state receive this honor. Super Lawyers Magazine, a Thomson Reuters business, selects lawyers for this distinction using a rigorous multi-phased process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area.
Del Galdo praised Jim Vasselli noting that the recognition by Super Lawyer Magazine reflects the high esteem that members of Illinois’ legal profession have for the award recipients.
"Mr. Vasselli's work at our firm and for our clients has always been internally recognized as of the highest caliber and I am proud that the legal community has also recognized this fact,” Del Galdo said.
Del Galdo is the founding attorney and managing member of Del Galdo Law Group, LLC and James Vasselli Chairs the Real Estate and Public Finance Practice Groups at the Firm. Del Galdo Law Group, LLC is comprised of 16 attorneys concentrating in the governmental and public sector practice areas, including Municipal Law; School Law; Zoning & Land Use; Real Estate; Economic Development; Litigation; Transactional; and, Government Affairs. The Firm's clients include some of the largest school districts and municipalities in Chicagoland.
A graduate of DePaul University College of Law, Del Galdo is also a frequent lecturer on municipal government.
Vasselli is a graduate of DePaul University College of Law and holds an MBA from The Charles H. Kellstadt Graduate School of Business at DePaul University.
Saturday, February 4, 2012
Thursday, February 2, 2012
The excuses and even lies about how Lyvita Gomes, a native of India who reportedly had mental illness issues, managed to die while in custody at the Lake County Jail.
It's hard to beleive Lake County officials are not responsible and they should be held accountable. This issue deserves an intense and detailed investigation into how Lake County officials acted and exactly what they did and did not do.
Her crime? Gomes failed to show up for a jury summons. Ironically, as a non-citizen, she shouldn't have been hassled by the system.
Hundreds of people turned out at funeral services Wednesday for Lyvita Gomes, a native of India who died after a hunger strike in Lake County Jail.
About 200 people attended Mass in Most Blessed Trinity Catholic Church in Waukegan, where the Chicago Tribune reports Rev. Daniel Hartnett posed questions about Gomes' death while offering spiritual comfort to her family. Indian Catholic community leaders, immigration reform activists and others joined about 500 who attended a visitation Tuesday night.
About 120 people, including 20 local pastors, signed a "statement of concern" that will be presented to Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran and asks a set of questions about Gomes' treatment before and during her incarceration.
What is Curran's response? He needs to take this incident seriously and so should the U.S. Justice Department.
This is the story of the person who is wrongly arrested and then while being processed or hunted down, is pushed into a "crime" by the people trying to arrest her. The police harassed her because they were too ignorant or maybe even biased and bigoted to see past her ethnicity.
Gomes was a former Delta Air Lines trainer. She lived in Vernon Hills. She died on Jan. 3 at Waukegan Vista Medical Center East after going on a hunger-strike that lasted 15-days WHILE she was in Lake County custody.
Are you telling me there isn't one intelligent official in Lake County who sees the injustice here? Are they all blind or uncaring or worse, irresponsible?
Curran can't defend his actions simply saying she was given care. She was the victim of a screwed up ugly system that considers people guilty until proven innocent. She was innocent. She did nothing wrong. And now there is a scramble to come up with excuses to cover up the failed leadership in Lake County which apparently is some kind of Gulag prison system where innocent people become the victims of political and racial bigotry.
As a non-citizen, Gomes wasn't eligible to serve on a jury. But she was arrested when she ignored the summons. That's when a Lake County deputy showed up at her door, as ordered by a judge, to get her to explain her absence. And she was arrested!!!!
That's OUTRAGEOUS and the person who arrested her should be fired and even charged.
Gomes spent two days in the County Jail, where officials learned her visa had expired.
Why didn't Lake County drop the resisting arrest charge given the obvious simple facts of this case? That's the issue. That's the problem.
Yes, Gomes got caught up in a tricky situation. But the real crime is that it happened in Lake County, a place, apparently, where facts mean nothing and life means even less.
-- Ray Hanania
Wednesday, February 1, 2012