The faces of the ‘1 percent’

The news: Occupy Chicago, rallying behind its slogan, “We are the 99 percent,” entered a fourth month of protesting. Behind the news: Nationwide, white households are three times more likely to earn more than $200,000—the highest income bracket tracked by the U.S. Census Bureau—than black households. In Chicago, the disparity is even greater with white households being eight times more likely to be in the top bracket than their black counterparts, shows a Chicago Reporter analysis of census data. For every 10,000 white households in the country, 475 make it into the top income bracket, but in Chicago, the number jumps to 868. For every 10,000 black households in the country, 113 make more than $200,000 compared with 96 in Chicago.

Property tax process sounds appealing, but …

The news: Taxpayers recently received a bill to pay the second installment of their 2010 property taxes. Behind the news: For property owners with higher tax bills, or who were required to pay more than what their neighbors paid, the Board of Review offers a chance to appeal—the first step in reducing a tax bill.Preparing the appeal can be a headache. But for Cook County property owners up for the challenge, their chances of success are fairly good. Nearly seven out of every 10 people from 2006 to 2010 had a successful tax appeal, according to a Chicago Reporter analysis. 
A successful tax appeal means that the first value the Cook County Assessor’s Office gave a property was too high. That’s important because the value is one factor in determining a tax bill.

Lotto sales up in poorer areas

The news: In August, the Illinois Lottery announced record-breaking sales of nearly $2.3 billion in fiscal year 2011, up 3 percent from last year. Behind the news: The highest sales in Chicago, on a per-capita basis, came from predominantly African-American and Hispanic areas on the South and Southwest sides, shows a Chicago Reporter analysis of lottery sales data. A combined amount of more than $87 million in lottery sales was recorded in five ZIP codes—60612, 60616, 60619, 60636 and 60651—that had the highest per-capita sales, which ranged from $287 to $425. The median household income for each of these ZIP codes was below the citywide median of $38,625, according to the 2000 Census. Sales from ZIP code 60619 alone generated more than $26 million—a per-capita spending of $425.