Update: Detroit city council “quid pro quo” member’s property tax history

I did not connect the dots, but Steve Gilbert over at Sweetness & Light and many others did. JoAnn Watson, the city council member in Detroit who demanded the city get quid pro quo payments from President Obama since the city overwhelmingly voted for the president, paid an incorrect and extremely low property tax bill for years.

Again, thanks to Gilbert for the pointer, and sure enough, I wrote about this in May 2009.

Detroit city councilwoman JoAnn Watson owns a nice looking home in Detroit and paid $68 in property taxes in 2008. Sixty-eight dollars. It looks like the city of Detroit figured that the property was an empty lot for the past decade.

From the Detroit Free Press

Watson said she was unaware of the discrepancy until the Free Press contacted her. She said the change came before she was elected to City Council — and without her involvement.

“I pay the taxes. All I know is I had a big drop when my house got hit hard by a tornado,” she said. “We had great damage.”

Watson said she could not recall the specific date the tornado hit, saying it might have been 2002, or perhaps 1993.

Look, it’s certainly probable that the assessors office screwed up 10 years ago, but if a city council member could not figure out that something was wrong with her tax bill, she certainly does not deserve to be any sort of leader in local government.

Here are photos of her immediate neighbors and how much their property tax bill was.

In June of 2009, it looks like Watson started to pay back property tax she might have owned, even though “she didn’t have to.”

Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson says she is paying back taxes on her home after an assessor’s error left it taxed as a vacant lot since 2000.

Watson wrote in an open letter distributed at Tuesday’s council meeting that she has paid $4,467.01 in property taxes owed for 2007 and 2008.

Watson says she will pay for earlier under-assessments even though she is not required to do so.

It’s not clear if she paid back the more than $20,000 (my estimate) she would have owed for 2001 – 2006 if the tax bill was on the up-and-up.

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Steve McGough

Steve's a part-time conservative blogger. Steve grew up in Connecticut and has lived in Washington, D.C. and the Bahamas. He resides in Connecticut, where he’s comfortable six months of the year.


  1. Dimsdale on December 7, 2012 at 9:07 am

    Why is it always the ones committing the tax fraud the ones furthest out front complaining about whether other people pay taxes?? Rangel, Geithner, Kerry, etc., etc.??
    “We didn’t know nuthin’!!”
    More Democrat projection, no doubt.

  2. SeeingRed on December 7, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Quid pro quo is criminal behavior.? Ask Blago.? But Democrats – a large % of them and I’m generalizing, let’s say 85+%?to be?kind?- will see nothing wrong with her (in)actions.? That’s because they have no MORALS, either.? Therein lies the problem.

  3. Lynn on December 7, 2012 at 9:57 am

    Well it’s obvious, she knows Latin, but has a math block. We must understand learning disabilities.

  4. JBS on December 7, 2012 at 10:01 am

    One of the many faces of corruption in Detroit, JoAnn Watson, tax cheat.
    How many other well connected Democrats are getting preferential treatment on their tax bills? Union members — who are getting very favorable tax rates and other benefits besides a visible, well-fed, politically vocal, majority representative?
    It could be the reason Detroit is having, err, financial difficulties, along with moral problems.

    • JBS on December 7, 2012 at 10:23 am

      Plus, the tiniest of parcels in Detroit would be taxed at a far higher rate than $68 per year. A large city lot, enough so to built a large house on, with city utilities, would be taxed at thousands of dollars per year. (Her water bill would be larger than $68!)
      Except, of course, if there are others aiding this tax dodge . . . and benefiting . . .

    • ricbee on December 8, 2012 at 12:17 am

      Are other council members also this lucky?

    • JBS on December 8, 2012 at 9:23 am

      It’s a real safe bet. Council people, friends, the connected ones.
      There has to be others enjoying these errors in the tax billing. Situations like this don’t exist in a vacuum.?
      It’s a public record. Over the course of twelve years, someone not in on the fraud had to notice Watson’s anomalous tax bill. And want in on it.
      The takers always want to take more.

    • JBS on December 8, 2012 at 9:52 am

      And, someone else could have found about the tax dodge and is blackmailing Watson and any crony’s of hers.
      Not right but, it works on some level.
      Corruption no matter how it is viewed. Nothing innocent about any of it.

  5. Eric on December 7, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    You see, even the Council members have figured out how to scam the system. ?People aren’t stupid… they see what’s happening with these Administrators and they figure that it’s okay for them to expect the same. ?The same thing happens in Chicago… and look at the mess they have to deal with there! ?These mismanagement issues always start at the top, and EVERYONE see’s it… that’s the problem! ?Honest leadership is hard to find but you have to have people of character doing the peoples business. ?It just has to be this way!

  6. Vizionmusic on December 8, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    It would be interesting to see what ALL city government/council members, what have you pay for taxes, no??

    • JBS on December 8, 2012 at 6:03 pm

      S?, se pued.
      (Provided by: the Spanish Lingo Service)


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