The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Emanuel: City Will Review Lollapalooza Tax Exemption

By Chuck Sudo in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 3, 2011 2:30PM

2011_07_Lolla_Logo.jpg Monday's Sun-Times story about how C3 Presents LLC, the promoter behind Lollapalooza, has been exempted on paying amusement taxes on tickets sold to the sold out festival, added nothing new to the story except for its timing four days before the fest.

WBEZ's Jim DeRogatis has been banging the drum slowly but loudly about this story for months. With the Sun-Times piece came a media pile-on that, at the very least, vindicated DeRo's earlier reporting.

It also gained the attention of the Fifth Floor of City Hall. Mayoral spokeswoman Tarah Cooper told DeRogatis, “The Administration will carefully review each request to ensure that the process surrounding exemptions is open, accountable, and directly in line with the spirit of the regulations—to promote value for non-profit associations that do work to better the City of Chicago.”

How much money is the city leaving on the table by giving C3 its tax exemption? For this year alone, over $1 million. Multiply that by seven years and that's a significant chunk of change the city lost, which hurts more when we're faced with a budget deficit in excess of $700 million.

Lollapalooza's tax exemption is written into its contract with the city and needs to be renewed annually. For that, the city can thank attorney Mark Vanecko, one of former Mayor Richard M. Daley's nephews. Vanecko helped negotiate C3's deal with the city to bring what DeRogatis calls "WalMart by the Lake" to Chicago through 2018. Vanecko also represents Kevin Killerman of Lollapalooza Festival Services, which handles liquor sales for the festival. Bars owned by Killerman have a litany of underage drinking complaints filed against them.

DeRogatis also noted that even though Cooper said Emanuel seemed receptive to reviewing the tax exemption, Lollapalooza is co-owned by C3 and William Morris Endeavor, the talent agency owned by the mayor's brother Ari. Who knows if this will lead to another epic Twitter discussion between DeRogatis and Time Out Chicago Editor-in-Chief Franks Sennett.