CHICAGO (December 19, 2017)–After a series of investigative reports exposing gross inequity and the lack of accountability in the Cook County Assessor’s Office, the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR) on Monday issued a set of proposals for repairing the assessment process. Tuesday, progressive Democrat Fritz Kaegi, who is challenging embattled incumbent Assessor Joe Berrios in the March 2018 primary election, committed to implementing ICPR’s recommendations–but notes they do not go far enough to restore real public trust in the office.

“These common sense reforms should have been implemented years ago, but Joe Berrios has gone to extreme lengths to avoid basic oversight over his activities in the office–and it’s no mystery why,” said Kaegi. “He’s been operating a pay-to-play scheme with our tax dollars, hooking up his big campaign donors and well connected property tax attorneys with tax breaks, and passing the burden on to those who can afford it the least.”

Among ICPR’s recommendations for improved oversight over the broken Assessor’s Office:

  • Implementation of internal studies on equity within the assessment process

  • Publication of summary reports on these internal studies

  • Explanation of assessment methods for Cook County properties

  • Acknowledgement of current inequity issues, and establishment of plans to address them

  • Cooperation with the Inspector General’s oversight measures

“If the Cook County Assessor’s office will not begin these processes independently, a Task Force or Oversight Board should be implemented to ensure that critical changes are made. Residents of Cook County expect fair and transparent assessments, and recent findings by prominent local news sources shed a troubling light on a process that has been opaque for many years,” ICPR notes.

“ICPR’s recommendations are an important first step, but without a change at the top, they’ll do little to restore public faith in the office,” said Kaegi. “Berrios has already spent years operating this racket–with at least eight members of his own family on the payroll. We need new, ethical and transparent leadership.”

ICPR’s full report can be found here.

Kaegi’s policy platform can be found here.