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In 43rd Ward Debate, Vickrey Demands Apology from Ald. Smith in Tax Dispute

By Paul Biasco | March 24, 2015 8:39am
 Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) speaks to the audience during a debate at the Public Hotel Monday night.
Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) speaks to the audience during a debate at the Public Hotel Monday night.
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DNAinfo/Paul Biasco

GOLD COAST — The final public debate in the 43rd Ward runoff kicked off with a demand of an apology over a claim of property tax fraud.

Caroline Vickrey, whom Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) accused during a debate last week for improper tax reductions, called on Smith to apologize for claim during her opening remarks.

Vickrey cited a Tribune report that cited a property tax expert and Cook County assessor's office that concluded her home's tax classification was correct.

"These lies were told in order to embarrass me and to throw me off in the campaign and they were also to derail my campaign," Vickrey said.

Smith stuck to her claim Monday that Vickrey improperly classified her home, which is a converted three-flat, and that she should have gone to the assessors to request a change to a single-family home classification.

"I think that's wrong and I still believe that because everyone does have to pay their fair share," Smith said during Monday's debate. "And that's what it's like to be a good and ethical public official."

Pension reform became a major topic of debate during the debate at the Public Hotel Monday night.

Both Smith and Vickrey agreed that reducing the cost-of-living increases for retirees would be one of the most important fixes to solve the estimated $100 billion crisis.

"It's going to be like New York in the early '70s," Smith said. "The city of Chicago today cannot legally file bankruptcy."

New York was on the brink of bankruptcy in 1975 and was bailed out with funds from the teacher's union to back huge loans to the city, according to the New York Times.

"New York was the financial capital of the world. We love Chicago. I adore Chicago. It’s a world class city. It's not the financial capital of the world and there are plenty of investors who would say forget it unless we straighten it out," Smith said of Chicago's debt problems.

Smith said the city could cut its own budget to the bone and would still not be able to continue without a pension fix.

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