Property tax bills arrive; Assessor Berrios goes yachting
Arriving home from long family weekends today, many Chicago homeowners went from relaxed to girding themselves upon greeting their new, much larger property tax bills in the mail.
News of the specifics of this year's Cook County's big property tax hike came just in time to dampen 2017 Fourth of July celebrations.
But Cook County Assessor himself, Joe Berrios, whose questionable, significantly higher property valuations drove much of the tax spike, doesn't appear stressed.
Berrios was spied spending his 4th of July — a Cook County government holiday — yachting on Lake Michigan, hanging on the "Good Times," an 83-foot luxury boat owned by Chicago corporate lawyer Christopher D. Lueking.
The Good Times, which was docked at the Chicago Yacht Club, holds 24 people and includes three bedrooms. It has its own Facebook page.
Windy City Yachts ranks the "Good Times" as Chicago's fifth-largest.
Lueking has been with Latham & Watkins for 20 years. He is a River Forest native who attended St. Olaf College and the University of Michigan Law School.
His father, Dean Lueking, is Pastor Emeritus of Grace Lutheran Church in River Forest, where he served for 44 years. Chris is still involved there as well, serving on a volunteer committee.
Chris Lueking doesn't practice property tax law and hasn't made campaign donations to Berrios. But he does support Democrat candidates.
According to Federal Election Commission records, he donated $5,400 to Hillary Clinton's Presidential Campaign in 2016.
On Wednesday, Berrios spokesman Tom Shaer said the assessor was celebrating July 4 after business hours.
"Assessor Berrios was on Mr. Lueking’s boat on the Fourth of July because, like most people, he did not work on the holiday, as all government offices were closed," Shaer said. "Tax bills went out last Thursday. Some people received their bill in the mail Friday, most received them on Monday and all had their bills by Wednesday. Assessor Berrios was here in the office on all those non-holidays.