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updated: 2/10/2012 4:12 PM

Sean Morrison: Candidate Profile

Cook Board of Review 1st District (Republican)

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  • Sean Morrison, running for Cook Board of Review 1st District

    Sean Morrison, running for Cook Board of Review 1st District




Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.

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BioKey IssuesQ&A



City: Palos Park


Office sought: Cook Board of Review 1st District

Age: 45

Family: Married with two children

Occupation: Founder and CEO, Morrison Security, Inc.

Education: Moraine Valley College, Business, 2 years

Civic involvement: Pro-bono work Cook County Human Trafficking Task Force LEADS Organization for missing and exploited children Member, Lumen Cordium Society Member, American Society of Industrial Security

Elected offices held: None

Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No.

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

We need campaign finance reform at the Cook County Board of Review. The ongoing solicitation of property tax attorneys that appear before commissioners at the Board of Review creates the appearance of impropriety and sets-up a system of potential abuses.

We also need to limit attorney contributions to $250 per year per attorney.

Key Issue 2

Transparency. In terms of transparency, there needs to be a comprehensive online database of all tax appeals. The system needs to be countywide and able to access information from the Assessor's office, the Cook County Recorder of Deeds, and the County Clerk's office. The database needs to enable the user to query properties, give comprehensive total assessments for a given property, and generate a list of properties that receive significant reduced assessments, including commercial and industrial properties.

We also need to set up a system of checks and balances to ensure there are not abuses at the Cook County Board of Review. In this way, we could guard against situations where commercial properties are granted when, perhaps, they should not be. By reassigning 1-2 current Board of Review employees to verify key factual data on significant properties up for review, we could stop some of the potential abuses to the property tax appeal system.

Key Issue 3

Technology and modernization. New technologies are essential to streamlining any business process. Currently, in order to appeal your property taxes, you either need to be physically present at the hearing or you waive your right to be present. In today's world, inexpensive virtual technologies are readily available. Free teleconferencing is just one example.

We should include property appeal information with the tax bills and also record property tax assessment seminars on video and post the video for all taxpayers to access at their convenience on the Cook County Board of Review website. Finally, the Board of Review should reach out to taxpayers through social media. These are all efficient ways of delivering our services to Cook County residents in and under budget.

Questions & Answers

What changes would you propose in the operation of the Board of Review? Why?

We need to modernize and make operations more transparent at the Board of Review. By implementing inexpensive technologies, we could reduce the need for taxpayers to physically attend a hearing at the Board or Review. This would reduce some of the demands on the day-to-day staff at the Board of Review. We could eliminate the homeowner's costs of taking off a day of work, fees, and travel expenses -- all of which will create a more efficient appeals process.

Rather than cut essential programs, Cook County government needs more people who understand real world business operations and have a proven track record in implementing them. My program would mirror the use of teleconferencing that has been the norm at unemployment hearings before the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

What measures can be taken to trim the influence of firms filing appeals with connections to political figures'

Elected representatives should not be in the business of filing tax appeals for the homeowners or businesses in areas they represent. This should be prohibited across the board for city, county and local, and state government representatives.

How does the Board of Review effectively balance the financial needs of the county with the requests from taxpayers to lower assessments'

The Cook County Board is responsible for setting a budget, proposing honest ways of securing revenue, and working within its budgetary constraints. It is not the function of the Board of Review to balance the financial needs of the county with requests of taxpayers. The Board of Review's purpose is to function as an independent tax review body to ensure taxpayer equity and fairness. It is also the Board of Review's responsibility to function effectively and efficiently and to work within or under its given budget.

Once commissioners consider the need to balance the financial needs of the county with requests from taxpayers to lower their assessments, it is no longer an independent reviewing body.

What improvements should be made to the office's and the county's ethics rules' What is your view of whether employees should be able to donate to you and others elected? What should the office's policy be on nepotism and why?

I believe that the Board of Review should adopt an ethics code which limits campaign contributions to $250 per attorney per year, strictly prohibits contributions from Board of Review employees and their families, and prohibits the hiring of family members.

Can this office meet budget goals set forth by Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle without compromising services' Is so, how? If not, what alternative do you propose?

The Cook County Board of Review can reduce its operating budget by incorporating new and proven technologies. One example would be to implement 100% online digital filing of all appeals, briefs, and evidence. The Board of Review would still need to provide a drop-off or mail-in option for Cook County residents. Currently, at the Board of Review there are many clerks that are paid to look through boxes to retrieve briefs and evidence. The implementation of a electronic filing system, which can accept briefs and evidence, would bring great efficiency to the Board of Review.