No one reminds me of that unctuous Leave it to Beaver ne’er do well Eddie Haskell more than Geneva developer Kent Shodeen. Just like Eddie easily bamboozled clueless 1960s parents with his hyper-smarmy ministrations, Kent uses political clout to get away with same kind of murder.
Though he’s not generally known for it, Kent’s largesse to local politicians is legendary. All it takes is few quick keystrokes on the Illinois State Board of Elections website to reveal he’s doled out almost $100,000 since 1997.
And when it comes to contributing to political coffers, Kent is utterly non-denominational. From Karen McConnaughay to Tom Weisner and Ken Ramsey to Pat Quinn, one might say our overeager real estate mogul likes to hedge his bets.
Sure! Every now and then a municipal/county body will stand up to Shodeen Management, but for the most part, Kent gets his way. You know what they say about that vociferous cash.
Aside from sidling up to candidates of all ilk, Kent’s second-favorite pastime is flying just low enough to come in under the radar. He’s not doing anything illegal, but his business motto is what the public doesn’t know won’t hurt him.
Ah! But Kent’s most recent plans to flit about our fair city like an over-age Swedish ninja were summarily foiled when Geneva Patch noted that Shodeen Management was fighting its Geneva on the Dam building’s property tax assessment to the tune of $460,000.
Should they prevail, that translates into $42,000 less for taxing bodies like the School District and Geneva Township. Now, you know I don’t shed too many tears for the township, but this kind of thing gives credence to District 304’s philosophical difficulty with a zero levy increase. When the bigger fish fight their assessments, it means unexpected red ink.
But what Kent’s really hoping you’ve forgotten is the very thing erudite reader Rod Nelson just judiciously brought to our attention! It was Geneva taxpayers who underwrote that 1982 Geneva on the Dam project. And then we did it again for Shodeen’s Herrington complex in 1986.
Through the magic of TIFs, or tax increment financing districts, sales tax revenue is rerouted from essential city services to a specific development plan in the hopes that the down-the-road revenue will more than offset the initial loss.
While they may work well on paper, more often than not, TIFs are used as rewards for the mayor’s favorite donors and, far more often than not, these projects never live up to their gilded-lily billing which ends up costing the taxpayers even more.
Which brings us back to Geneva on the Dam. While The Herrington certainly seems to be doing fine, in the 15 years I’ve lived out here, that earlier Shodeen endeavor seems to be about as badly mismanaged as an Illinois Republican’s election campaign.
C’mon! If Elgin can make a go of its riverfront, then Sho-Deen Management, with all its money and all Geneva’s "quaint" cred should be able to make the Dam thing work. The plethora of recent Patch pieces on our improved real estate/retail picture makes one wonder if Kent prefers the loss to improve his income-tax return.
So, since once apparently isn’t enough, now Kent’s coming back to the taxpayers for another round of relief! It’s even worse than a nefarious party goer who insists on attacking the salsa after taking a bite out of the Tostito.
“But Jeff! Don’t I recall a previous column in which you claimed to have fought various tax assessments — two of them on Geneva homes — and won?”
Yes! It’s true! Fighting your property tax bill is a God-given right, as American as apple pie and Michael Madigan. But the big difference is, unlike Geneva on the Dam, you didn’t subsidize the purchase of either one of my homes.
The sad thing is, to a man of Kent’s means, 42 grand is a lot like the spare change you and I carelessly throw into that big jar in the laundry room. Perhaps if Kent fought that spendthrift urge to spread around the candidate money, he wouldn’t need so much of ours.
One would hope that our intrepid developer would have the internal moral fiber to say, “I’ve gone to the taxpayers once, so I’m not going to do it again.” Failing that, perhaps he’d be to embarrassed to be caught double dipping.
But not Kent! Nope! Like Wally and the Beav implicitly understood about Eddie all along, Kent Shodeen is out for himself.