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  • Adding to Illinois’ Debacle

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on July 17th, 2014 (All posts by )

    This billboard is in my River North neighborhood in Chicago. It is an advertisement for a mall and entertainment location in Rosemont, a small city near O’Hare airport.

    Rosemont was profiled by the Chicago Tribune in this excellent article. A single family has run Rosemont for generations, and they benefit from a levy on taxi rides from O’Hare and spend this money on no-bid contracts for friends, family and politicians as well as large entertainment complexes underwritten by large amounts of debt.

    The suburb is digging itself deeper into debt to subsidize a new bar district, professional softball stadium and outlet mall. With $370 million in taxpayer-backed loans outstanding, Rosemont has one of the top debt loads in the Chicago region.

    Another Chicago suburb, Bridgeview, hosts a stadium for the Chicago Fire, a major-league soccer team. Their debacle is chronicled here, in a typically great Bloomberg article.

    The mayor of Bridgeview, Illinois, said building a taxpayer-financed arena for the billionaire owner of Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire would bring hotels and restaurants to his suburb. Instead, the town has more than doubled property taxes and may raise them again to pay more than $200 million in stadium debt.

    One of the big problems in Illinois is that we have so many various overlapping public bodies, many with the ability to issue debt and all of whom have expensive board members, employees, and often public contracts doled out to associated cronies. This article, from the “Illinois Policy” web site, describes the myriad overlapping public entities in the State of Illinois and how we dwarf ALL states and especially neighboring (and much better managed) states like Indiana.

    Illinoisans suffer from the second-highest property tax rates in the nation.

    Their state is the third most corrupt in the nation.

    And driving this expensive and corrupt reality on the local level is the fact that Illinois has more units of local government than any other state in the nation. With 6,963 units of local government, Illinois beats its nearest competitor by more than 1,800.

    When Illinois finally hits the wall, and we won’t be able to issue new debt (and thus an immediate fiscal crisis will occur), we will have to have a reckoning with all of these various entities, each of whom has their own debt problems and the ability to create NEW problems by issuing MORE debt. On one hand, the market will constrain their ability to sell debt by the fact that these insolvent entities survive through the “implied” promise that they will be bailed out by some higher power, whether that is a county, state, or Federal government.

    The act of unwinding all of the problems of the inter-related corrupt and insolvent entities will be a herculean task, made even more difficult by the fact that there will be little incentive for the politicians to solve the crisis if the end result is that they won’t have these same public entities for no-bid contracts, jobs for themselves, and their campaign workers and donors once the clean-up is complete.
    The only thing for certain is that the lawyers in the state will feast at the trough of lawsuits from all parties. They just need to make sure that they find a way to get paid themselves on a timely basis…

    Cross posted at LITGM

     

    11 Responses to “Adding to Illinois’ Debacle”

    1. MikeK Says:

      California has some of these small cities and some have gotten into serious trouble, including some prison time .

      Subsequent investigations found atypically high property tax rates, allegations of voter fraud in municipal elections and other irregularities which heightened the ensuing scandal

      California still has Prop 13 in force but every year the rent sellers try to attack it. So far they have lost. If they ever succeeded, all hell would break loose.

      Bell has a high proportion of Spanish speaking residents and many illegals who voted in city elections. They were tricked by corrupt officials. Another reason why Democrats are pushing Hispanic “voters.” They vote right and, like blacks, don’t know what they are doing. Educated blacks are slipping off the plantation.

      Even the Obama voter who thought her troubles were over in 2008, has changed her mind. Larry Elder had her on yesterday and thinks the GOP should invite her to the convention.

    2. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Another reason why Democrats are pushing Hispanic “voters.” They vote right and, like blacks, don’t know what they are doing.

      They think they’re voting to get free stuff other people paid for. To a large degree they’re right. What they don’t understand is what they’re trading away to get that. See any South American or Central American or African country for examples.

    3. Mockingbird Says:

      In the late 80′s I read in the Champaign newspaper that the University of Illinois had the highest rated Accounting School in the nation. Also, the AICPA was based in Chicago at that time(may still be). Sheesh

    4. TMLutas Says:

      Illinois does not have a united list of all its governments. I know because I searched for one and failed to find it. This effectively means that people simply do not know the number and names of all Illinois governments and the number of them all exceeds what is reasonable to expect anyone to keep in their head. You cannot control what you do not know exists. There are very likely potential problems that you simply will not see coming because nobody has assembled this list.

      Yes, this means that it’s probably worse than you think.

      Fixing this is not rocket science. It does require you to do some very basic work so that when everybody’s panicking, we have at least a shot at an orderly solution with the least possible innocent victims in all this. None of the players, so far as I can tell, is doing that basic work.

    5. Bill Brandt Says:

      @Mockingbird: All of the grads must have left the state.

    6. Dan from Madison Says:

      Professional softball is a thing?

    7. Jonathan Says:

      If they can afford to pay people to play they can afford to pay others to watch.

    8. MikeK Says:

      “Professional softball is a thing?”

      When I was a kid, profesional women’s softball was played in Chicago. My father’s friend owned a small stadium on 75th street at Jeffrey on the south side. They played small stadiums like that. I met some of the players and was a bit puzzled until I learned about lesbians later in life. The area is now a park across from South Shore High School. In those days, men played slow pitch softball and women played fast pitch softball like girls do now. I never saw slow pitch softball with the 16 inch ball anywhere except in Chicago.

    9. Grurray Says:

      The street that the stadium is on is named for their most famous and accomplished player, Jennie Finch.
      Google her – not a lesbian.

    10. MikeK Says:

      “their most famous and accomplished player, Jennie Finch.
      Google her – not a lesbian.”

      I was sure there had to be a few.

    11. Death 6 Says:

      Perhaps that accounting school was rated so highly because their grads were so well trained in keeping multiple sets of books! Chicago Mayor interviewing a prospective city accountant, “What is two plus two?” Answer by the winning prospect, “What do you want it to be?”

      Mike