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Interview with Crazy Riot Show

Posted by Vance D. Wyatt on March 28, 2019 at 12:05 PM

Quick interview with the Crazy Riot Show following the #justdoit_vote Candidate Meet and Greet.


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Ballot measures target theoretical property tax

Posted by Vance D. Wyatt on October 25, 2018 at 9:30 AM

Are referendums in several suburbs pertaining to a statewide levy setting up a straw man on the issue?

DENNIS RODKIN


On their Nov. 6 ballots, voters in many parts of the suburbs will spot an opportunity to sound off about high property taxes.

In DuPage, Kane and Lake counties, and in Hanover Township in Cook County, ballots include advisory referendums about a potential new statewide property tax. The language varies, but what the referendums have in common is that they ask voters whether the state should be prohibited from creating such a tax. 

"The public outcry will be strong," said State Sen. Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove. Voters, he said, "know we have some of the highest property taxes in the country. They're going to speak up about this." 

In Lake County, the ballot asks, "Shall the Illinois General Assembly amend the State Constitution to ban the creation of a new statewide property tax?" In the other three areas, there's a specific figure for the new tax: 1 percent of home value. 

There is no statewide property tax, 1 percent or otherwise, on the table in Springfield, though the ballot language may lead voters to believe there is. 

In May, a trio of economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago released a paper that argued Illinois could pay off its $129.1 billion in unfunded pension obligations with a statewide property tax of 1 percent for 30 years, as Crain's reported at the time.

That's as far as the idea got, but it was far enough to convince some county and township boards to put a referendum on the ballot that lets voters say whether they want to block the state from moving on the idea.


By voting to block the tax, even though it's only hypothetical, "we're giving the state legislature advice," said Kurt Kojzarek, a Kane County Board member representing District 19 (Gilberts). "They got advice from the Fed and now they'll get advice from the voters on whether it's a good idea." 

(By the way, because of the way the referendums are worded, people who want to vote "no" on a new tax should vote "yes" on the referendum, and vice versa.)

Brian McGuire, Hanover Township supervisor, said that while a statewide property tax is a phantom at the moment, "it's always good to have residents voice their opinion on an issue," particularly one that "is on everybody's mind."

Some county board members consider the referendum meaningless.  

"It's like somebody is breaking into your house and you're handed a gun to shoot at them," said Vance Wyatt, a Lake County Board member representing District 14 (North Chicago). "It only shoots blanks, but it makes some noise, and you think the noise will stop them."   


Wyatt, who represents an area that is both among the county's poorest and subject to some of the county's highest property tax rates, said that in talks with constituents, he's found rampant confusion about the referendum. "Most people really do believe that if they vote against the new tax, it will keep their property taxes from going up," he said. "But it won't." 

Suburban real estate agents have been lighting up social media with exhortations about the referendum in the past week. Among them is Pam Weinert, an agent at Re/Max of Barrington, who said she hadn't heard of the referendum until she spotted it on the early-voting ballot. 

Weinert said the referendum "isn't solving the property tax problem, it's exacerbating it, making people even madder" by setting up a straw man, the hypothetical state tax, that voters can throw punches at. 

"I'd rather see some real possibilities for solving Illinois' problems put on the ballot," Weinert said. 

Lift The Ban Coaliton Forum 8/4/18 Trinity AME Waukegan, IL

Posted by Vance D. Wyatt on September 28, 2018 at 12:10 PM

Lift The Ban Coalition: Forum at Trinity AME Church August 4, 2018. Waukegan, IL. Co-organizers: Vance Wyatt, Robin Peterson, Jawanza Malone, and Adam Broad

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Employees 'feeling betrayed' over Lake County's cuts to insurance contributions, circuit clerk says

Posted by Vance D. Wyatt on September 14, 2018 at 2:35 PM

Frank Abderholden

September 14, 2018, 1:35 pm

The passage of a new health insurance plan by the Lake County Board this week drew warnings from the circuit court clerk and the union representing employees in that department to reconsider part of the plan or face an unfair labor practice charge.

Circuit Court Clerk Erin Cartwright Weinstein called on the board to reject the plan because many of her employees had been encouraged to open a Health Savings Account (HSA) as part of their insurance coverage because it would cost the county less.

 

Under the new proposal, the county’s contribution to the HSA would be reduced by $50 for single coverage and $100 for family coverage for the second year in a row. The county presently pays $1,200 for single coverage and $2,400 for family.

“My employees have come to me feeling betrayed that they were made a promise that the deductible was going to be given to them in exchange for the county being able to use a health insurance plan that would be less expensive to the county overall,” Weinstein said at Tuesday’s County Board meeting.

“My employees are basically being paid barely a living wage. This $50 and $100 annually towards their health care is a big deal. It’s a huge impact,” she added. “How do we justify $293,000 to maintain native plants along county highways, but not take care of our employees?”

Referring to similar comments she offered at a board committee meeting last week, Weinstein added that she was “discouraged (that) the only response from County Board members at the time was concern over the cost of a potential lawsuit.”

Colin Theis, a staff representative with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31 — which represents around 105 circuit court employees who are not managers or supervisors, along with employees of the coroner’s office — also warned that any unilateral changes without negotiations would be considered an unfair labor practice.

“We have six months to file an unfair labor practice (charge), and we have some negotiation sessions coming up. We’re getting close,” he said when asked Thursday when the charge would be filed.

Theis thanked Weinstein “for standing up for her employees” in front of the County Board. He said the cost savings of the measure was $50,000 to $75,000, and considering the county’s 2018 budget is $437 million, he added that the change is literally a fraction of a percent of the overall budget.

Some of the other changes in the insurance plan included a 5.7 percent increase in premiums for all employees and an additional 2 percent increase for those choosing a premium Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) health plan.

The plan also calls for a premium subsidy for part-time employees of 25 percent if they work between 12 to 24 hours per week and a 50 percent subsidy for those working 25 hours to 37.5 hours per week.

County Board Member Sandy Hart of Lake Bluff voted against the health plan, but thanked the board for taking care of part-time employees, which county board members are also considered to be.

“Since we are part time staff, I’m thankful that it’s going to be offered to other part-time employees,” Hart said, adding that she would still be voting against the plan because of the other objections made by Weinstein. Both Hart and Weinstein are Democrats.

Theis said the increase in the HSA cost was the biggest problem, because even the 5.7 percent premium increase for a simple HMO “would be under $10 a month,” he said.

“Some employees make $25,000 per year, and that is not sustainable for the family in Lake County,” Theis added. “Court clerks are some of the lowest paid (employees) in the county — that’s why they joined a union. That, and they wanted everyone treated fairly.”

AFSCME won the right to represent the court clerks in August of 2014, but the union was unable to negotiate a contract with former clerk of the circuit court, Keith Brin. He then lost the election to Weinstein in the fall of 2016.

Besides Hart, board members Judy Martini of Fox Lake, Terry Wilke of Round Lake and Vance D. Wyatt of North Chicago voted against the health plan. Paul Frank of Highland Park recused himself from the vote for personal reasons.

County Administrator Barry Burton said Friday that the HSA account policy started with large contributions by the county, but the payments have been been scaling it back so they are more in line with the industry standards.

“We have had increased health insurance costs, but it is well below the national average,” he said.

He said most of the employees use the HMO option, which has a cap of $5,000 for out-of-pocket expenses, then everything is covered after that. The county self-insures, but contracts Blue Cross Blue Shield to administer the plan.

The single employee pays $61 per month and the county covers the remaining $686 of the premium. The employee pays 10.2 percent of the premium for a single under the Consumer Driven Health Plan and a family plan pays 14 percent of the premium.

“We want to be competitive and be a good employer,” Burton said.

fabderholden@tribpub.com

Twitter @abderholden

 

Lake County Board members disagrees with proposed statewide property tax hike

Posted by Vance D. Wyatt on August 27, 2018 at 11:55 AM

by Karen Kidd

An outgoing county board member says he's against a proposed a statewide property tax that could raise levies by almost 50 percent for the next 30 years, though he voted against placing an question about the measure on the ballot for Lake County voters to consider in November's election.

"I voted against putting the question on the Ballot since it will have no impact," Lake County Board District 14 representative Vance D. Wyatt told the Lake County Gazette. "As I stated on the floor at our August County Board Meeting, I believe that it will pass overwhelming and I think it's just a political maneuver."

His opposition to having the question on the ballot doesn't mean he supports the proposal behind it, Wyatt asserted.

"I don't agree with the proposal by the Federal Reserve as an avenue to solve the state's pension issues," he said. "Illinois has had major issues with spending over the years, which has caused unnecessary burdens on local governments that rely mostly on property taxes."

The tax burden carried by Lake County residents is already high, Wyatt said.

"In the 14th District which I represent, the property tax rate, for the most part, falls as follows," he said. "North Chicago 18 percent, Waukegan 16 percent, Lake Bluff 12 percent, Park City 11 percent, and Gurnee 10 percent. My district happens to have some of the highest property taxes not only in Lake County but in the state of Illinois. Further increasing the tax rate not only at the local level but now at the state level would cause further economic damage to our community."

The Lake County Board voted earlier this month to place the non-binding referendum for a ban on a statewide property tax on the ballot for Lake County residents in November's general election.

Wyatt, a Democrat and a CVS Health financial analyst, was appointed in June 2017 to fill the seat left vacant by the death of longtime board member Audrey Nixon. Wyatt lost his bid for a full term in the seat during the Democrat primary in March to former board member Angelo D. Kyle. Kyle is running unopposed in November's General Election.

Lake County's 14th District includes Park City and portions of North Chicago, Waukegan Gurnee and Lake Bluff.

The Lake County ballot question follows a proposal by the Chicago Civic Federation and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in April when a Chicago Federation speaker proposed an across-the-state tax levy. The tax would be a special property assessment estimated at about 1 percent of actual property value each year for the next three decades. That special property assessment would be in addition to current property taxes Illinois.

It's a proposal that Illinoisans cannot afford, Wyatt said.

"The citizens and Business can't afford this a new property tax from the state," he said. "Of course, we should be looking at ways that could cut cost at the local level. Every year there is talk about getting rid of townships. This could save myself about $60 on my tax bill. But, if we had a legitimate discussion on consolidation of school districts we would see a much larger share of savings."

The first step toward a better solution would be to address the line item that takes "the largest share" or property taxes, Wyatt said.

"Schools account for 55 percent to 70 percent of the tax bill around Lake County," he said. "Looking at eliminating some of the 52 different school districts that don't always match up to local city and village boundaries would be the kick we all need."

Wyatt said he understood the apprehension that idea could cause school board members.

"I share that same apprehension when you discuss going to a county library or park system since I served as both a library trustee and park commissioner," he said. "But, we all have to admit that we have to do something before no one can afford to live in our community.”

Lake County Board approves advisory referendum about potential statewide property tax

Posted by Vance D. Wyatt on August 14, 2018 at 6:25 PM

Frank Abderholden

August 14, 2018, 5:25 pm


T he Lake County Board passed a resolution to put a non-binding referendum on the November ballot asking residents if they support amending the state Constitution to ban the implementation of a statewide property tax.

Board members argued over whether or not that type of referendum was necessary given that no such tax proposal is pending, but an article in Crain’s Chicago Business in May reported that three members of the Federal Reserve Board had made such a suggestion as a way to fund state pension liabilities.

Voters will be asked to answer the following question: “Shall the Illinois General Assembly amend the State Constitution to ban the creation of a new statewide property tax?” Underneath the question is the statement “Ballot for banning the creation of a statewide property tax.”

“We’ve had two changes here at this meeting,” said Sandy Hart, District 13, at Tuesday’s board meeting. “I’m concerned this has been brought forth haphazardly.”

The referendum was discussed at a committee meeting last week.

“It’s a clear violation of our rules,” she said. “There’s been no bill introduced. You’re putting things on the ballot that was taken out of thin air, and I have a real problem with that.”

Paul Frank, District 11, said the board’s longstanding policy is not to create referendum questions unless they have to do with the County Board.

“This is not germane to county business,” he said. “It’s based on a newspaper article. It’s kinda of a joke here, and we are setting a bad precedent.”

Michael Danforth, District 17, defended the measure saying, “This allows constituents a voice. Let’s give them the opportunity to speak to Springfield. This also speaks to the taxing districts. People are paying enough taxes.”

Judy Martini, District 5, said she has no problem with putting the referendum on the ballot. “I want to make it clear the County Board is not voting to support. We’re just putting it on the ballot. We are not taking a position on this.

“Let the voters decide,” she continued. “Democracy works best when you empower voters.”

Sidney Mathias, District 20, said he doesn’t believe this opens the door to more referendums, nor break the board’s policy of only having referendums that have to do with county business.

“We do levy a property tax and they made an issue of property taxes,” he said, referring to the state’s Property Tax Extension Limitation Law, which is also mentioned in the resolution for the referendum. “We can debate this endlessly.”

Steve Carlson, District 7, said he felt the referendum was meaningless. In fact, he added, “It’s an expense to taxpayers to put it on the ballot. This is a waste of time folks.

“It’s unfortunate. It’s politics. It’s meaningless,” he said.

Carlson said by circumventing the boards policy and rules not to have referendum questions that are not germane to Lake County government, board members are opening themselves up to others, like questions about Second Amendment rights or building a wall along the Mexican border.

“Do we vote on that?” he asked.

Both Mary Ross Cunningham, District 9, and Vance D. Wyatt, District 14, said the referendum will have no impact.

“I’m voting no either way,” Cunningham said. “It’s not going to stop taxes from going up.”

Wyatt said, “This is not going to freeze property taxes. It’s not going to do anything. It’s not going to solve anything with our property tax bills.”

The measure passed by a vote of 11 to 7.

fabderholden@tribpub.com

Twitter @abderholden

 

Wyatt committee reports nearly $10K in contributions during first quarter

Posted by Vance D. Wyatt on August 12, 2018 at 11:50 AM

by Local Labs News Service

Vance Wyatt Election Campaign, a candidate committee, reported receiving $9,986.10 from Jan. 1 through March 31, according to its first quarter report to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Vance Wyatt is an Independent.

The committee reported $3,800 in individual contributions and $5,518.10 in loans. It also reported $668 in in-kind contributions.

The following table lists all contributions reported by the committee.

Amount

Contributor

Date

Contribution type

$2,000

Aprile, Frances

2018-02-28

Individual Contribution

$1,700

Wyatt, Vance

2018-01-19

Loan Received

$1,500

Friends of Terry Link

2018-03-21

Individual Contribution

$940

Wyatt, Vance

2018-02-12

Loan Received

$668

Sierra Club Illinois Chapter PAC

2018-03-31

In-kind Contribution

$639.05

Wyatt, Vance

2018-01-29

Loan Received

$639.05

Wyatt, Vance

2018-03-01

Loan Received

$600

Wyatt, Vance

2018-03-19

Loan Received

$440

Wyatt, Vance

2018-02-05

Loan Received

$250

Broad, Adam

2018-01-27

Individual Contribution

$200

Wyatt, Vance

2018-03-13

Loan Received

$140

Wyatt, Vance

2018-01-16

Loan Received

$120

Wyatt, Vance

2018-01-02

Loan Received

$100

Wyatt, Vance

2018-01-04

Loan Received

$50

Broad, Adam

2018-01-05

Individual Contribution

 

 

Lake County board ask Rauner not to sign assessor bill

Posted by Vance D. Wyatt on July 18, 2018 at 3:55 PM

Lake County board ask Rauner not to sign assessor bill

By Gregory Harutunian For Chronicle Media — July 18, 2018

The Lake County Board approved a resolution requesting Gov. Bruce Rauner to use his amendatory veto power and not sign a bill forwarding a binding referendum question that would turn the county’s Chief Assessment Official into an elected position, rather than one of appointment. The 14-5 vote, with two absentees, came during the July 10 board meeting, after public comment from residents and several township assessors.

 

Senate Bill 2544, which passed both houses, awaits signature by Rauner. The legislation seeks to place a referendum question on the Nov. 6 general election ballot asking Lake County voters whether the CCAO should become an elected position. If passed, it would become effective November 2020.

 

The resolution states, in part, “Currently, approximately 60 of 102 counties in Illinois select its County Board Chairman and appoint the CCAO in the same manner as Lake County. However, SB 2544 applies only to Lake County in violation of the state constitutional prohibition against special legislation. Similar to the positions of County Engineer and County Auditor, the CCAO is one of the most technical in county government that requires significant qualifications.

 

“Following public input at both the June 27 Ad Hoc Legislative Committee (3-2 vote) and Financial and Administrative Committee (unanimous vote) meetings, respectively, both bodies moved to support a County Board resolution requesting that Rauner exercise his amendatory veto power on SB 2544.”

 

Since 2003, the CCAO is Martin Paulson, who has an M.B.A. and M.S. degree, according to the county website. His office was also the defendant in two civil lawsuits initiated by county township assessors over the alleged disregard of their valuation assessments, resulting in blanket tax rate increases.

 

Several county township assessors appeared at the board meeting and included several that were litigants in the civil actions. Grant Township Assessor Jeri Barr later said, of speaking at the board session, “At the first committee meeting, District 12 member S. Michael Rummel said ‘we have to stand up for our employees,’ referring to Mr. Paulson … and I said he should be standing up for his constituents, the voters.”

 

Barr later said Paulson has reversed the submitted valuations in Grant Township for three consecutive years with increases of 7 percent (2016), 9 percent 2017), and 8 percent (2018).

 

“The Lake County judges dismissed our cases because they said we, the township assessors, had no standing,” she said. “Isn’t this about protecting the ability to appoint? I think the board came up with a lot of excuses for not letting the voters decide this.”

 

The five board members voting against the resolution were Paul Frank (District 11) Vance Wyatt (District 14), Sandy Hart (District 13), Jeff Werfel (District 6), and Judy Martini (District 5).

 

“I think what happened in Cook County was a good thing,” said Hart, in her statement. “Just because it’s an elected position doesn’t mean there will be an impact from campaign contributions, if the referendum were to pass. As a member of the board, I do agree with giving voters an opportunity to vote, and I will be voting against this resolution.”

 

The Cook County Assessor’s Office was compelled by the Illinois Appellate Court’s First District judges to disclose its valuation methodology for residential, commercial and industrial properties in a June 29 ruling.

 

The Cook County Assessor Democratic nominee, Fritz Kaegi, noted, in a statement, “An Illinois appellate court ruled that the Cook County Assessor’s Office must be transparent in its methodology and practices for valuing residential, commercial and industrial property. This unanimous decision affirms that the public has a right to know.”

 

District 10 board member Charles Bartels said, “If you look at the assessor, he is the primary value setter for property, and changing this position would be a good idea … if only to get people to go out, and vote. I think, unfortunately, they sold this as a tax bill. It’s like, ‘let’s hire a new coroner because there will be less accidents.’”

 

The bi-partisan sponsors of the bill included Democrats Sen. Terry Link (30th, Gurnee), Sen. Cristina Castro (22nd, Elgin), Sen. Thomas Cullerton (23rd, Villa Park), Sen Dan McConchie (26th, Lake Zurich), Rep. Sam Yingling (62nd, Round Lake Beach), Rep. Rita Mayfield (60th, Waukegan), Rep. Carol Sente (59th, Buffalo Grove), and Republican Rep. David McSweeney (52nd, Cary).

 

The legislation was sent to Rauner’s office June 29, although no timetable for signatory authorization has been issued.

 

 

–Lake County board ask Rauner not to sign assessor bill–

Lake County Board wants Rauner to alter legislation targeting chief assessment officer

Posted by Vance D. Wyatt on July 10, 2018 at 8:00 PM

Written by Russell Lissau

After much debate, a divided Lake County Board voted Tuesday to ask Gov. Bruce Rauner to alter legislation that could change how the county's chief assessment officer is chosen.

A bill that would let voters decide if the officer should be an elected position awaits Rauner's signature. It's a board-appointed post and has been held by Marty Paulson since 2003.

If Rauner signs, a binding question would appear on Nov. 6 ballots in Lake County. The post would be up for election starting in 2020 if voters approve the plan.

The county board voted 14-5 to ask Rauner to use his amendatory veto power to expand the legislation so the same question appears on ballots for the roughly 60 Illinois counties that have board-appointed assessment officers and board-chosen chairmen, just as Lake does.

The assessment officer coordinates property tax assessment activity throughout the county. Proponents of the state legislation have complained about Lake's high property taxes and have said electing the chief assessment officer would give residents more control over those taxes.

Opponents say the bill illegally singles out Lake County. They also say the assessment officer has little control over the amount of property taxes homeowners pay because tax levies are set by local government boards.

Some critics also have complained the plan was rushed through the General Assembly without giving county officials an opportunity to give input.

"It's just the way it got here and how it was done," said county Commissioner Mike Rummel, a Lake Forest Republican.

A crowd of county residents concerned about the issue attended Tuesday's meeting in Waukegan, and they overwhelmingly supported the legislation as written. They included Zion activist Clyde McLemore, who said giving voters the ability to elect the assessment officer "takes control away from this board" and improves government transparency.

The meeting got a little wild when McLemore made an unrelated remark about Commissioner Mary Ross Cunningham of Waukegan, leading to a heated exchange between McLemore and board Chairman Aaron Lawlor in which Lawlor repeatedly told McLemore to sit down.

County commissioners spoke at length on both sides of the issue.

Highland Park Democrat Paul Frank was among those who supported the bill as written.

"I don't think we should be standing in the way of voters," Frank said.

Fox Lake Republican Judy Martini criticized the county resolution, too. Lake County's high property taxes are a problem, Martini said, "and we've got to address that problem."

Joining Frank and Martini in voting against the county resolution were Lake Bluff Democrat Sandy Hart, North Chicago Democrat Vance Wyatt and Grayslake Republican Jeff Werfel.

On the other side, Lincolnshire Republican Ann Maine said she was fine with giving voters the ability to decide whether the assessment officer is elected or appointed. But Maine also criticized the bill for singling out Lake County, and she backed asking Rauner to amend it.

Fox River Grove Republican Michael Danforth was harsher, calling the legislation disingenuous. Electing the assessment officer will not affect property taxes, he said.

"We have the skin of the truth stuffed with a lie," Danforth said. "And that's not a sausage the guy in this chair is going to eat."

A Rauner spokeswoman said the governor is reviewing the legislation but declined to say whether he plans to sign or veto the proposal.

The bill is the third piece of state legislation in the last five years to target Lake County government.

In 2013, the General Assembly stripped election oversight from the county clerk and created a Lake County election commission. A judge declared the law unconstitutional.

Last year, legislators approved a plan to let voters elect the county board's chairman, rather than continuing to have members choose their leader. Rauner vetoed it.

 



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