While Rahm Emanuel continues to blame school budget cuts on retirees' pensions, his machine partner Eddie Burke is getting fat ripping off the schools by helping corporate pals avoid paying property taxes. In doing so, Burke has the full cooperation of Rahm and his City Hall legal department which rarely challenges tax appeals from Burke's clients.
14th Ward Alderman Burke, the man we used to call "Slow Eddie", when he and "Fast Eddie" Vrdolyak organized their racist clique against the city's first black mayor, Harold Washington, isn't so slow after all. While the feds finally caught up with Vrdolyak in 2007 and sent him to prison for mail and wire fraud, Burke remained free by figuring out how to rip off the city and public school system, legally.
Sun-Times reports that the mayor is once again resorting to damage control, trying to duck the latest City Hall scandal by putting distance between himself and Burke.
“I can speak for the law department of the city of Chicago. We’re going to pursue every case to make sure that the taxpayers’ interests are protected. . . ." says Rahm.The mayor’s claim to pursue all property tax appeals is contradicted by the facts. The law department rarely challenges the lawsuits that Burke files, with just one court challenge in the past three years, records show. And City Hall is legally barred from contesting the majority of Burke’s appeals to the state — those seeking less than a $1 million cut in property assessment — under a 2002 measure Burke helped to pass in the City Council. The Chicago Sun-Times reported this week that Burke’s boutique law firm has won more than $18.1 million in property tax refunds for Chicago property owners since 2003 and that those refunds have cost the cash-strapped city $3.6 million.
And so it goes.