Cook County leaders pile on Assessor Joe Berrios

Embattled Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios found no comfort from fellow Democrats holding county office Tuesday.

Berrios defended his office's property assessment practices before the county board Tuesday, weeks after a newspaper investigation showed assessment inequities favoring wealthier property owners and burdening poorer taxpayers. He and a spokesman for his office claimed the results of the Chicago Tribune investigation of over a year and analysis of assessment practices were incorrect.

But both Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and County Clerk David Orr called for independent reviews of the county's property assessment process and demanded changes to assessment practices.

Preckwinkle commissioned the Civic Consulting Alliance, an organization she referred to as "a pro-bono leader in public-private collaboration," to develop a framework to have an independent third party scrutinize every facet of the "property tax system," including the Cook County board of review and the assessor's office.

"The Civic Consulting Alliance has worked with my administration since I took office to sort through complex organizational, operational and policy matters," Preckwinkle said. "I am grateful that they have accepted this project."

Meanwhile, Orr sent a blistering missive to the county board slamming Berrios and his office's handling of assessments and questioning why the assessor hadn't implemented an assessment model Berrios promoted and claimed was being used.

"There has been a lack of transparency from the assessor's office," Orr wrote. "The public cannot afford any delay in implementing real solutions."

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