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March 09, 2008


Other Tom

Extraordinary popular delusions and etc.




Did you guys see this? Link under my name.

I am a long time employee of the Cook County Assessor and would like to come clean about personal knowledge relating to an inconsistency in Sen. Obama's property taxes.

Mr. Barack Obama and his wife purchased a house in Hyde Park during the month of June 2005. The total purchase price was $1,650,000. Title was put into a unnamed land trust. I will not publish a pin or address because of obvious security concerns for the Obama family.

The house was reassessed during summer of 2006. All of the surrounding houses were increased by an average of 28%. The Obama residence increased 6%. What is more troubling is that we always attempt to assess houses at about 68% of actual sale prices. The Obama residence is assessed at 90,882 with a market value of 568,012. That is just about one third of the selling price from 2005. When I questioned this assessment, I was transferred to another project in the office. The Obama assessment was then completed by the same person who did the workup for Governor Blagojevich's house, which also was assessed at a lower percentage of surrounding properties and rose at a fraction of the rate of surrouding properties. According to standards set up within the office, the assessment should have been 179,520 and the tax bill should have been almost double in this one assessment cycle alone.

These types of things occur almost weekly. Such is the way of Cook County and Chicago. They probably happen every day but I don't see it because they have me answering the telephone now.


Jane, I thought from the real estate research that Rick and others did, that Barak's house has an 8 year tax moratorium because of its historic designation. If so, it would seem irrelevant what its present tax assessment is..


Sober Democrats are starting to worry, caught between the pet rock of the Obama fad and the hard place of giving the nomination in back-room fashion to Clinton, Inc.— the masters of the much denounced back room.

Steyn me bro

Rick Ballard

More on BHO Manse

The lot next to Sen. Obama's home on Greenwood Av. was sold separately from the built-on lot connected to Mr. Rezko (under investigation in political scandals) has been sold again by a lawyer connected to Rezko and will likely be developed into a number of condo units (6 were planned by Michael Sreenan), some development being inevitable according to HPKCC president George Rumsey. Rumsey disagrees with those who say the tripled asking price (to $1.5 million) is due to uniqueness of the site's being next to Obama's, citing lots of desirability and pressures on HP and Kenwood property prices- gentrification nearby, University growth, Olympics, pressure from the South Loop, CHA change... density and new development are in our future.

and again -

Plans by the new owner (Tony Rezko's lawyer) to build 6 condo units next to Sen. Obama's home in historic landmark district of large, single family homes and near the new Greenwood Row Houses historic district raises ire.

Sen. Obama was steered his new home site by the Rezko's, who are under investigation re filling government jobs and lobbying, and bought 10' from the Rezko's. Recently, Rezko's wife sold their lot to their business lawyer, Michael Sreenan, who has submitted designs for a set of 6 condos. Ald. Preckwinkle has objected first that the developer did not volunteer that he did not have Landmarks Commission approval, second to the designs and possibly in principle to 6 units in a landmark district based on hundred year old single family mansions. Note that the building would be sited on Hyde Park Blvd., which already has such units all along it (as well as Congr. KAM), but is thought inconsistent with Greenwood Ave. extending northward from the site. The Kenwood Open House Committee, which oversees the district for the city, is also concerned but want to see more. Sreenan says he is only vetting concepts at this time and his options are open.

Those appear to be from December, 2007. That's the attorney who asserted that the lot was "unbuildable". I'm not at all sure that the tax abatement applies. The Mo-BHO Show would have had to refile the restriction that the Docs released in order to regain the abatement and a new restriction does not show in the records.

But as Sue noted - just 'cause you can't find it on the website doesn't mean it's not sitting in the Recorder's office.

We need a Chicago Sue to get to the bottom of this.


because of its historic designation.

Obama got burned



I get lost in all the minutia, but why would there be a 6% tax increase if there was a moratorium. Is that typical?

Rick Ballard


A tax reduction or abatement is offered in exchange for acceptance of restrictions in some jurisdictions. The Docs who owned BHO Manse had filed a restriction which they released prior to the sale to BHO. That might have triggered a repayment of forgiven, abated or reduced taxes on the part of the Docs but it certainly would have eliminated the abatement for MO-BHO, unless they refiled the restriction. The Docs restriction may have covered both parcels and the release may have been necessary in order for Rezko to pursue the condo (mini-condo, really) plan.

That's a "best guess" - YMMV and/or coin flips/dartboard may provide a better explanation.

Rick Ballard

"That ought to make the Peakers a bit red faced."


I don't want to muddle the top thread.

I've been mulling over your thoughts on mercantilist influence on commodities as well as BillAZ's comments concerning "loose money" plus reading about Carlyle Capital's fling with oblivion.

We've had three "bubbles" in the past 5-6 years - the market run up prior to the crunch in '03, the housing bubble of '05-'06 and the commodities run up today. All three bubbles depend upon heavy leverage (I'll send a dime to anyone who can provide the leverage formula on a 0 down mortgage).

I had previously discarded the idea that serious investors would engage in such speculation but even serious investors aren't adverse to putting 10% into speculation - 'mad money' bets. So, how much "mad money" is floating around? There is $1 trillion in annual income generated by private retirement accounts and another $2 trillion in income on the "Personal income receipts on assets" line of the BEA Reports. Ten percent of the income would be $300 billion and $300 billion leveraged by X? can move any market.

Make any sense?


You'd think that, but then people invest money with Cramer, and he's certifiable.
Carlyle Capital, like LTCM, Enron, et al
is that really think they are "Masters of
the Universe". Repackaging subprime debt
as marketable bonds wasn't ever going to work; but that didn't stop them from trying.



Make any sense?

That the institutional funds would put some portion of the income to work in a speculative investment class-its something that I've never thought of before to be honest.

I have begun to reject the idea that sovereign funds could be gaming the system a bit (hoarding of resources or bidding ever higher the same ships of oil {750k bbl per ship*100 ships=75 million bbl of oil [about 1 day of global supply], never to reach port}). But it would require so much collusion that I'm doubtful that it could done for very long or at all. One tell that I found interesting was the supply data that came out a few days ago that showed a sharp draw down of inventories-if companies are selling off their inventories I would think that they believe that they aren't going to get a higher price for however long they could keep it in storage.

It is interesting that US institutional funds could have that type of market power and that they could be driven (by education and social network) to all start making the same bets.

I'll send a dime to anyone who can provide the leverage formula on a 0 down mortgage

I'm getting warmer. You'd never believe this, but I was actually looking for this and sort of surprised that it came up in a search of CDO pricing.



I'll have more later: a full day today. I had a few more thoughts regarding my comments on the dead thread and will drop them here when I get them done.

Night all

Rick Ballard

"I'm getting warmer."

Hey! No fair peeking in the black box.

Grains cracked down hard Friday and Asia is slipping again. Another interesting week ahead.

Could that oil inventory drawdown be due to this winter being a tad longer and colder than normal? I know that the gas inventory is typically drawn down in March for the flip to the summer blend but that shouldn't affect the oil inventory.


Soybeans are limit down in the nearby's again overnight. I wish we could get all this fund money out of here before they totally wreck our markets. ADM, Bunge, and Cargill, at least, all quit taking forward contracts for grain last week. When those guys back off, it goes clear back to the local elevator. Basis went in the toilet, and, in effect, all the risk of raising the crop got shifted right back to the producer. We have a very real chance of having production prices double and more of last year with prices the same or lower. That would be a disaster.


Ya know, it really kind of pisses ya off to watch this thing run up and then not be able to sell at what will probably be the top.


Such is the biggest problem of the "continuous campaign" strategy. Fads pass, and long campaigns make fads harder to sustain till the November election.


More testimony expected in the Rezko trial today.

Find the latest in the link under my name.


Pofarmer--I was up late working and happened to have Squawk Box Asia on.
Just caught the last part of a report on folks smuggling wheat into Afghanistan--from shortages or production limitations in that country. Amazing!


From the front page of the WSJ, an update on the IRS troubles facing Obama's church:

Mr. Wright, who will be ending his 36-year tenure as the church's senior pastor in June, has previously been criticized for comments deriding President George Bush and lauding Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam. Now Mr. Wright's and his successor's repeated enthusiastic promotion of their famous parishioner may be running afoul of federal tax law, which says churches can endanger their tax-exempt status by endorsing or opposing candidates for public office.

I wonder if this will go anywhere.


My guess is that it won't. Those are things only democrats pursue.


True, Jane, but that's why I find it interesting. People who would be up in arms if it were a right-leaning church may actualy take notice of this story. But ultimately I agree, not much is likely to happen to the church.

Of course the leftards see Hillary's hand at work...if not Bushhitler. But you knew that.

Other Tom

I'm hearing and reading tittering today about Obama's statement that he won't be a VP candidate. His statement is neither forceful nor unequivocal, and is far less so than many others in the past who routinely issued such disclaimers only to accept the invitation when it was ultimately offered.

The notion has already become current--no doubt with intense goading from the Clintons--that the superdelegates will make their decision based on which candidate appears to have the better chance in the general election. The polls today suggest that that would be Obama. Thus the Clintons' task is clear: from now until the convention, render Obama unelectable, and do it by any means necessary. I have very little doubt that this task will be child's play for them.


Ooooh Elliott Spitzer involved in a prostition ring. Breaking News!

Yes there is a god.


Please do not hesitate to have knight gold . It is funny.

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