A reader of this blog wrote to me insisting that my criticism of the billion dollar Pritzker family was unfair. Investigators from Unite Here, the union that represents Hyatt Hotel employees had uncovered that the Pritzker family doesn’t pay their fair share of property taxes in Chicago. Penny and the Pritzker family own majority shares in Hyatt.
The reader chided me because the Pritzkers give money to some Chicago charities and to Millennium Park.
Penny Pritzker sits on the Chicago school board that just voted to close 17 Chicago schools. Her husband sits on the board of the Park District.
One of the organizations she donates to is the Civic Committee, which advocates against public employee pensions.
Does her charitable giving make up for her anti-civic deeds?
David Moberg writing for In These Times:
The Pritzkers have a reputation for their charitable giving, but that is part as well of their gaming the system–whatever the good intentions or even results. The family empire relied repeatedly on favorable governmental deals, from tax breaks to subsidies, and exploited every loophole. But its charitable giving helps innoculate it from attack when ventures go over the line, and they are projects that glorify the Pritzkers doing things they want to do (even if there are often public benefits).
Meanwhile, they shirk their share of public responsibility and try to shortchange the people who create their wealth. “When billionaires pay less taxes, we all pay the price,” says Linda O’Neal, a hotel server, homeowner, and parent of public school students. “I don’t make the kind of money the Pritzkers make, but I pay my fair share of taxes. It’s time for Chicago’s wealthiest family to stand up and stop hurting our communities.”