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Yawn. Another Day, Another Scandal

By vouchey in News on Jan 14, 2005 9:24PM

Money BagsHas all the scandal stuff made you numb yet? City Hall...old governor...current governor...Is everything beginning to blend into one big money and favor-grubbing mess? Chicagoist is beginning to think so. And we have a shocking opinion on it: Voters don't really care about scandals.

Sure, they make for fun news, with pictures of the accused trying to avoid cameras in the Daley Center. And somehow we never tire of hearing large, no-necked white men deny that they ever did anything wrong. Maybe it's part of the bread and circuses demanded by Empiricus Americana.

What's new today? More Hired Truck indictments were handed down yesterday, it turns out the city knew all along that DuffCo was carting salt, and maybe James Duff's lawyer isn't totally on the up and up.

But so what?

What would really get voters in a tizzy is if taxes went up. And we don't mean stuff like the sales taxes -- already on track in Chicago and Cook County to being the highest in the country, 9.25% for sales and 17.4% for hotels -- but the Big Kablooie of taxes: property taxes. Chicago's debt rating, a Moody's A- (that's good) has a negative outlook because of the high debt service, 18% of all annual revenues. The Cook County Board has significantly underfunded pensions, and probably too many employees.

Mayor Richard M. Daley and County Board President John ("I have a hospital named after me.") Stroger have done their best to avoid raising property taxes -- they raised everything else and prayed for growing economies. But could it be that they're running out of moves? Think of it: We've avoided raising property taxes for almost a decade in Chicago. How would voters react? Daley wouldn't be the brilliant financial manager any more, and Stroger would have to defend all his extra county workers. That doesn't sounds good.