April 27, 2011; Source: Chicago Tribune | Looks like Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel needed a little help earlier this week stage managing comments – that he later reversed – about whether the city is considering making nonprofits pay property taxes. Early in the day, speaking onstage at the Goodman Theater, Emanuel responded to a question from the audience of arts patrons, saying that his administration planned to "look more into" whether nonprofits (including the Goodman) should be required to pay property taxes.
The Chicago Tribune noted that the mayor-elect followed by reminding the group of "a campaign trail talking point about how all Chicagoans must bear 'shared sacrifice' as he looks for ways to balance the city's books." More to the point, Emanuel added: "If you think this is a change-free zone, because what we do is so important to the human soul, then obviously I haven't been clear throughout the campaign, not just today."
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Later in the day, the curtain fell on that remark, when an aide, according to the newspaper, said that the incoming administration isn't considering taxing nonprofits. While the suggestion that he was thinking about taxing nonprofits might have caused ripples in the audience, another past campaign pledge he made that the city would charge nonprofits for their water use, and reiterated during the Goodman appearance, shouldn't have been a surprise.
Said Emanuel, "Nonprofits and charitables don't pay for water today. That's going to change. I was clear about that in the campaign." The newspaper neglects to add if there were any dry eyes in the house after that remark.—Bruce Trachtenberg