Mayoral challenger Ja’Mal Green proposes 1% sales tax on luxury vehicles to replace revenue lost if boot gets banned

Calling booting “inhumane,” Green says the practice is driving people into poverty, and he pledges to make it illegal.

SHARE Mayoral challenger Ja’Mal Green proposes 1% sales tax on luxury vehicles to replace revenue lost if boot gets banned
Mayoral candidate Ja’Mal Green.

Mayoral candidate Ja’Mal Green, who drives a Tesla, said he’d gladly pay the luxury tax to replace revenue lost by banning the boot.

Ashlee Rezin / Sun-Times file

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Mayoral challengers have talked a lot about raising the real estate transfer tax on high-end home sales to create a dedicated funding source to confront homelessness, as Mayor Lori Lightfoot promised but failed to do.

Now, community activist Ja’Mal Green wants to apply the same approach to the sale of luxury vehicles to stop the cycle of booting and ticketing that he claims is driving motorists into bankruptcy.

By slapping a 1% tax on the sale of vehicles with a sticker price of $75,000 or more, Green predicted Chicago could generate $100 million in revenue.

He said that would be more than enough to replace the revenue the city would lose by banning the Denver boot, eliminating red-light cameras and raising the threshold for speed camera tickets from 6 mph over the posted speed limit to 10 mph.

Green drives a Tesla that he acknowledged cost more than $75,000.

“I would qualify for that tax, and I’ll pay it 100%,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Green’s proposal to ban the wheel-locking Denver boot would apply to both city crews and private towing companies retailers hire to police their lots for motorists who take parking spaces but don’t shop at their stores.

“Booting is inhumane. It should be illegal. Folks are getting driven into poverty. ... You double the ticket. There’s an extra $100 boot fee. You take the vehicle. Now, you have a fee for seizing [and storing] that vehicle. With just a couple of tickets, you’re at $1,000 or $1,500. A lot of people don’t have that type of money. It increases each and every day to the point where they just say, ‘Forget it’ and file for bankruptcy. It’s insane,” Green said.

“It should be illegal — and we’re gonna make it so,” he said.

Innovative Parking Solutions, a private booting company that has lathered the City Council with campaign contributions, has been trying to get the go-ahead to expand its operations from 34 wards to all 50.

If Green has his way, the company that hired former Ald. Joe Moore (49th) as its chief lobbyist would be forced to cease operations in Chicago.

How, then, would retailers keep their parking spaces open and available for customers?

“We’ve got to find better ways to change people’s behavior. It’s not by booting and towing vehicles. That does not change behavior. It’s a money grab that sends people into bankruptcy,” he said.

Lightfoot campaigned on a promise to abolish city stickers along with the office that sells them. She also promised to raise the boot threshold and eliminate a hefty chunk of red-light cameras if those cameras were used to generate revenue — not make Chicago streets safer.

None of those promises were kept.

Green is making even bigger and more costly promises that he said he plans to keep.

“We want to get rid of red-light cameras. We’re gonna change the speed camera [ticket threshold] from 6 miles an hour back to 10 miles an hour. We’re also gonna allow for low-income folks to have community service to pay for their tickets. And if you pay for your ticket within 10 days, you only have to pay half of your ticket,” Green said.

Estimating that $1.8 billion in outstanding tickets remain unpaid, Green also proposed an amnesty program that would last up to a year. It would waive all of the penalties associated with those outstanding tickets and allow scofflaws who pay half of their outstanding debt to wipe the slate clean.

Last summer, the City Council’s Finance Committee voted 16-15 to raise the ticket threshold from 6 mph to 10 mph above the posted speed limit.

Lightfoot responded to that vote by calling out all 16 “yes” votes and challenging Chicagoans to “remember their names” when they go to the polls Feb. 28.

She also argued for the first time that raising the threshold would blow a $30 million hole in her pre-election budget and create a $40 million deficit the next year.

One month later, Lightfoot dodged a defeat that would have set the stage for her first veto.

By a 26-18 vote, the City Council kept the speed camera ticket threshold at 6 mph over the posted speed limit.


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