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Monday, April 4, 2011

Guest Blogger Carol: Jake Zimmerman is Not Right for St. Louis County

A reader named Carol submitted this Article to me. I loved it enough to share it, here it is:

Jake Zimmerman is Not Right for St. Louis County

Jake Zimmerman has a new ad out where he tries to tug at your heart strings with the story of an elderly friend of his (progressive activist Margaret Hasse) having to pay more than $4000 a year in real estate taxes on a fixed income. This ad is part of his new strategy, which is to appeal to elderly voters and pretend he can help them with taxes, instead of focusing on the actual job of the county assessor.

Maybe Jake doesn't understand how the assessor's office works, or maybe he just thought that the picture of a little old lady was all he needed to pretend to be sympathetic, but the victim, Margaret, hasn't seen the assessment of her home rise since 2007 .

According to those same county records we used to expose the $115,000 drop Jake's father got, you can look up and see that in 2009, the "victim," Margaret, saw no change in her assessment. The preliminary assessment for 2011 goes down as well, which means that Margaret hasn't been a victim of anything the assessor's office has been in charge of.

She is paying substantially more in taxes, but that isn't the fault of the assessor's office. Local taxing entities raised rates to prepare for drops in assessments, leading to a growth in taxes paid in 2009 and 2010. In other words, Jake's statement that he wants to see Margaret keep her home rather than be assessed at an unfair rate has nothing to do with the office he runs for. Furthermore, there's nothing he can do about it as assessor. He isn't in charge of tax rates, which are raised as assessments fall to shore up local funding.

You'd think an assessor candidate would know this, but again, Jake is all about privilege and connections, not understanding where money comes from and where it goes. His use of this woman as an object of sympathy is nothing more than a typical cynical campaign ploy. He wants seniors vote, so he pretends that he can do something for them.

It would be bad enough if it stopped with Jake's lack of information on the job he's running for. The house Jake references in the commercial is not owned by Margaret in the same way that you and I own our homes. She is a trustee for the house, which is most likely a family trust designed to provide tax-free alternatives to her inheritors. It's a tax avoidance trust. There's nothing wrong with that, but it is even more ridiculous to claim Margaret is going to be thrown out of her home because of rising rates if the home they're referencing is held in trust to save on taxes down the road.

See what I mean about privileges and connections? Democrats like to pretend they pass laws in fairness, but the lawyers spend their days figuring out how to get around those laws. Margaret is a longtime progressive activist, but when it comes down to her property and her family, she does her best to avoid paying what Democrats claim is her fair share. How many Zimmerman voters have access to that kind of legal advice?

Zimmerman has loads of money, the support of the local media, and a county with a heavy Democrat voter registration. He is trying to use this office as a stepping stone, and his ability to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for an assessor's race is troubling. If he wins next week, no one will be surprised. But the result won't do much for property assessments. Voters will have replaced a Dooley-appointed assessor with a Dooley-approved assessor.

The good news is that the assessor is a job for a workhorse, not a social climber. Or maybe that's the bad news. We'll find out on April 5th.

If you don't vote, you don't get to cry about it later.


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