Tax-Free Living Not Enough for White and Holzhauer

The bubble effect. It occurs when repeated narratives and beliefs are regurgitated with repetition so often within one’s social circle (“bubble”) that perspective is lost as to how those outside this bubble might view their actions.

Councilmen White and Holzhauer appear to live in a bubble. With regularity they complain about the conduct of others, including their peers on the dais. Holzhauer most recently publicly accused both councilmen Taylor and McBroom of playing politics from the dais. As we covered in our last article, Councilman White recently called Taylor’s well-founded concerns about his possible conflict of interests “BS” and politically motivated.

Councilmen White and Holzhauer would be well served to step outside their respective bubbles. They should consider their own conduct instead of regularly questioning the conduct of others.

In the last council election, it became widespread (and fairly shocking) news that both councilmen had exempted themselves from having to pay real estate taxes. Both councilmen had been claiming –  for years – a very large tax exemption allowable only to severely disabled military veterans. This incentive leads to one’s home receiving a tax bill of $0. Wouldn’t that be nice!  The fact that both councilmen claimed this exemption for many years, an incentive intended for wounded warriors, raised the eyebrows of residents. Both councilmen appear in very strong health and neither disclosed these exemptions while voting on tax levies that everyone else would have to pay.

So is it arrogance or ignorance that stems from a life in the bubble that explains why neither show an ounce of contrition over not only the news of these tax exemptions or other lapses on the dais?

Some residents loved Josh McBroom’s motion for a “migrant sign-up sheet”. Other residents did not.

Some residents loved Holzhauer, and other councilmen, dragging us into sweeping litigation and national news over a completely pointless gun ban that has now been mooted by State law. Other residents did not.

Some residents were appalled by the news of White and Holzhauer’s tax incentives. Others were not.

It all depends which bubble you are in…

Our councilmen would all be well served to step outside each of their respective bubbles. The City should consider rescinding its selective Code of Conduct policy as Holzhauer, and arguably many other councilmen, have violated it (some multiple times) and nothing is ever done about it.

White and Holzhauer should be mindful that – in our view – a strong majority of residents were appalled by their undisclosed, tax-free living. Each carry a very Marie Antoinette-ish look when they regularly questions others while themselves carrying this controversial baggage.

Councilmen White and Holzhauer, please curtail the drama and stop telling everyone else to “go eat cake”….

Show 25 Comments


  1. Mark Urda

    Since the authorities who approved the tax exemptions claimed by Councilmen White and Holzhauer by what right do you have to besmirch their qualifications and reputations. Anyone who knows veterans knows that all injuries are neither physical or readily apparent. Remind us of your service to our country and community as demonstrated by Councilmen White and Holzhauer instead hiding behind your anonymous sniping.

    • Kurt Dorr

      What right does he have to call them out? It’s called free speech. Ever heard of it? So just because YOU don’t like what the Watch Dog said you want to limit his right to speak his mind? Got it.

  2. Kurt Dorr

    Oh please. Neither ever saw combat. Ian was a lawyer in the Air Force for God sake. No tax bill for life? It’s outrageous.

  3. John Georgias

    Great article. White and Holzhauer need to go. If anyone wants to join me to make sure that happens find me on Facebook and/or Nextdoor.

    • Fred Vitale

      Josh McBroom for President!!!

    • james haselhorst

      Why should they go? They have done their jobs on council better then most members. What do you want, competent leadership that does what need to be done to make Naperville a better place to live. Or marginal leadership that is more interested in partisan politics and appearances of political correctness then improving our city?

  4. Pat Berg

    Veterans using the benefits given to them is hardly a let them eat cake moment. Most citizens were appalled (but not surprised) that local conservatives went so low to attack
    Military veterans for political gain. It failed so better luck next time.

    • Kurt Dorr

      When you game a system designed for veterans with real disabilities it’s disgusting. Neither one ever served in combat. Ian was a JAG, what’s his fake injury? Benny never served in combat. Both of them posted countless photos of themselves running marathons, for God’s Sake! Riding their bikes all over the place, etc. No sign of any disabled behavior at all. They took advantage of a system designed for real disabled vets and ut revealed their lack of character. Fortunately, contrary to your statements, voters saw what a fraud Benny was and voted for Scott Wherli.

      • Pat Berg

        Nobody gamed a system. Naperville was never going to elect a black man as mayor.

        Thank you for your service Benny and Ian.

      • james haselhorst

        Define a “real” disabled vet? What makes you more qualified to determine who is and is not a disable vet then the organization that has been doing this for decades? And organization made up of medical professionals and trained counselors who have decades of experience working with disabled vets!

        The reality is there are dozens of disabilities that do not have “visible” signs of a disability. As to running Marathons, this activity is one of the suggested therapies for treating PTSD. Are you saying vets with PTSD are not “real disabled vet” because they run marathons?

        One of my fellow veterans, while serving in the second Gulf War, developed Alopecia over 100% of his body. It was attributed to the stress and physical exhausted his experience while deployed. This is a type of disability that can easily not be recognized and dismissed as not being a disability. It is also the type of medical disability people are uncomfortable sharing with other, which is why he does not talk about his disability… the stigma associated with it.

        Vets make so many sacrifices in service of their country that the majority of citizens don’t even realize or understand. Sacrifices that effect everyone in their lives as well as themselves, emotional, mentally, physically anyone that claims any vet is guilty of “gaming the system” only proves how little they know of what serving thier country cost veterans.

        The fact is that roughly 30% of all veterans are disabled, but less then 15% of military personnel ever see combat. The assumption that only combat veterans can suffer disabilities is a fallacy.

        The reality is the only reason these two are being attacked is politics. The people that want them out of city council can’t find a reason based on their actions as a member of city council significant enough to justify not re-electing them so they go after their personal lives, they go for attempts at character assassination, they go after their family, etc. These petty people do not deserve having any of their petty claims being given any credibility or consideration in an election. Stop encouraging them and giving them attention.

        Somethings are worthy of our communities time and resources to discussion, but this is not.

  5. james haselhorst

    Speaking of not being aware of what’s outside their “bubble” the Watchdog seem to have demonstrated this with this article.

    As a veteran I can tell you veterans do not feel in anyway slighted or cheated by the exceptions taken by Holzhauer and White. These are disabilities determined by the same people using the same process for every veteran that has a disability. To question the validity of their determination for these two veterans is to question the validity of all their determinations of disability for all veterans.

    As to these two veterans not disclosing the nature of their disability, why should they? This is private medical information. Do you require all other elected officials or candidates to disclose their medical history? If not then this is clearly a bias that puts all veteran candidates at a disadvantage.

    Some have stated they show no signs of a disability. So what? Not all disabilities result in visible signs of disability. This applies not just to veteran but all people with disabilities.

    I worked with a veteran for many years that never showed any signs of a disability. He keep up with me step for step despite being 10 years my senior and a disabled veteran. His disability came from a grenade he jumped on during the Vietnam War. He said he was luck because it was an old WWII pineapple style grenade, and his flack jacket took most of the explosion. But he carried around an gut full of shrapnel every day since.

    Another veteran I met got his disability on the football field. He suffered a career ending injury while playing for an academy football team.

    The unit I was attached to during the first Gulf war was a logistics unit operating will outside the combat zone. That did not protect them from the Scud missile that hit a dock piled high with 500lb bombs one day. The idea that only people serving in combat can suffer a debilitating injury is ludicrous as anyone that has served in the military knows.

    I avoided commenting on the last Watchdog article that discussed what happened at the last council meeting. Anyone that has paid attention knows the “conflict of interest” involved here is not uncommon. And White stepping out or recusing himself from this vote was not required under the current standards.

    There have been many times when members voted on matters before the council that benefited people they had working (financial) relationships with but were never called out. One fairly recent example was the granting of a multi year SECA award to the Century Walk Foundation. Several members of the council that voted on this matter have had, for years, close working relationships with the found and manager of this organization. Yet none of them step-down or recused themselves from the discussion or voting. Nor were they required to under the current standards.

    So it is reasonable, especial considering the attacks against White and Holzhauer this last election, to assume it was done this time, out of politics interests and not best interests of the city. Further no one has ever talked about penalizing an organization for the “misbehavior” of a council member on their behave (people calling for denial or reduction of award this time because Kim heads this organization). This only furthers the impression this is more about politics then city policy. Add to this that the person who called this out was Taylor, who had to close down her PAC, because these very people filed a complain that she misused PAC funds during the last election.

    Many new precedence were set by this action on the part of Taylor and others. I hope they are ready when the consequences of this meeting turn to focus on them and their organizational associations. Let see how long it takes them to claim its about politics and not policy.

    • Joan Murray

      Spot on.

      Naperville conservatives have a campaign against Benny and Ian and have since they have been elected. The only fake outrage about this is coming from the vocal minority conservatives in town. It’s the same few people.

    • Concerned Resident

      While I disagree with some of your remarks, you raise one valid point. Councilmen White and Holzhauer both appeared to be following the existing law when they took advantage of a state exemption that exempted them from paying any property taxes for several years. That being said, I also don’t feel it was inappropriate for residents to be curious about the fact that these elected officials – who appear to be able-bodied (athletic even) and never saw combat – were not paying any property taxes whatsoever on their homes because they are classified as severely disabled. Perhaps it is just a coincidence, but it’s my understanding that Councilman Holzhauer now is required to pay his taxes of around $10K per year. Further, if someone running for mayor is classified as severely disabled (more than 70%), it certainly could raise questions as to whether they are up to the task, especially when the disability is not made public.

      Separately, your comment about Councilwoman Taylor and her PAC went over my head. I am not aware of the situation that you described. Are you confusing her with former Councilwoman Theresa Sullivan, whose PAC (Naperville Forward) was shut down following an Illinois Board of Elections Complaint?

  6. Pat Berg

    Watchdog needs to do their homework before they are
    claims that these benefits are only for severely disabled. The amount of the exemption depends on the percentage of the service-connected disability as certified by the United States Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

    Just because you feel it should be for only “severely disabled” veterans, it
    Doesn’t mean that is what the program is for. Be mad at the VA that gives veterans benefits, don’t be mad at the tens of thousands of veterans who get the benefit

    • Concerned Resident

      The disabled veterans’ property tax exemption is provided for under an Illinois statute – no other state offers such a generous benefit, which allows some disabled vets to pay no property taxes whatsoever. I actually have no problem with disabled veterans taking advantage of the state law. I also don’t believe that it’s inappropriate for residents to be curious about elected officials living in expensive homes (in this case, both of whom are athletic and one of whom is a successful lawyer) paying nothing in property taxes because of the severity of their disability being in the most severe range – 70-100%. I would actually be surprised if any run of the mill taxpayer would not interested in knowing about that fact.

      • Pat Berg

        there aren’t supposed to be anonymous comments here. This goes beyond residents just being “curious”. It’s the same few people bringing this up.

        If you have a problem with benefits given to veterans , you should take it up with the state. Not with those who served.

  7. james haselhorst

    As a Veteran I know several disable vets who are classified over 70% disable that have no problem functioning in society.

    Qualifying for a military disability does not make a person in capable of performing in an elected office. In fact we have several severely disable veterans (both Republican & Democrat) currently serving in both our state and federal legislatures.

    Disabled vets in capable of functioning in society are kept at VA facilities that can provided them with the care they need. The that are capable are discharged from the military into the civilian community.

    Statements implying that disable veteran are in some way incapable of doing certain jobs or activities is a golden example of the kind of stigma certain people associate with disabled vets that are the true source of limitations on disable vets.

    We have veterans without limbs (including legs) running marathons in times the vast majority of this country’s citizens could not do. They operated heavy equipment, aircraft, semis, etc. The idea that being a disable veteran disqualifies a person from doing certain jobs is exact the kind of prejudice that this group of veterans struggle against daily. Prejudice that is so widely accepted that people openly practice it without sham or embarrassment.

    Again I worked with a severely disabled veteran, 10 years my senior, for close to a decade and he had not problem keeping up with me and doing everything I was required to do as part of my job.

    Let be clear being qualified as a disable veteran by the military does not mean you are incapable of doing many things, it just means you are not qualified to serve in most posts in the US military. For these veterans that were planning to make the military their career, this is a career ending injure and they are compensated base on this, not on their ability to function in the civilian world or workplace, which they are perfectly capable of.

  8. Rich Dean

    Naperville conservatives are such hypocrites. They love our veterans unless they are a democrat or liberal. This issue has nothing to do with Benny and Ian as veterans using benefits given to them by the government, but it has everything to do with them being liberals.

    • Joan Murray

      Agree. Have lived here for 30 years and have seen it first hand that entire time. Many of the naperville conservatives are hypocrites and are reactionaries, it’s part of their nature. Josh mcbroom is a hypocrite. One of his first posts when he was running for city council talked about how we need to end partisan politics in town. He has done more to divide people
      In town with his partisan politics.

      • Joan Murray

        Yup, according to the government he qualifies for the benefit. Good for him.

      • james haselhorst

        As I pointed out this assumption that a person can only be disabled if they show some physical sign is complete BS. Veteran’s with PTSD run marathons, the fact they can run a marathon does not mean they are not disable.

        This prejudicial view against disabled veteran’s because people can’t “see” their disability is just another struggle these veterans have to deal with on top of their disability simply because stupid prejudices.

        Another prejudice disabled vet face is the fallacy that only people serving in a combat role can be disable. The fact is only 15% of the US forces actually serve in combat roles, the rest serve in support roles. Yet roughly a third of all veterans have qualified as being disabled to some degree by the VA.

        In the case of Ian this is ever worse because these prejudices are being used push a divisive political campaign against him simply because of this position on local issues.

  9. John

    Funny how folks accuse conservatives of being hypocritical, when hypocrisy is part of the platform of today’s far left progressive democrat party. From spending others people’s money and calling that compassion to claiming sanctuary city yet not their city or neighborhood. Or calling illegal immigration compassion when many of them die coming here or help support cartels and sex/drig trafficking to get here. Yes, it is non stop hypocrisy on the left.

  10. james haselhorst

    The conservatives are just as good at spending money on things that benefit their political agenda just look at all the money conservative congress member and administrations sent to authoritarian governments and dictators in countries to our south in the name of the war on drugs. It was the tyrannical regimes these tax-dollars supported that actually created the migrant crisis in these countries.

    It can only be called hypocrisy to support the regimes and the war on drugs that created these immigrants and then label them “illegal” when they apply for asylum and are granted legal status in this country.

  11. Sam Nelson

    There is an obvious coordinated effort by Naperville republicans to smear Ian. Why attack military veterans over benefits given to them by the government?

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