At the Chicago version of the Boston Tea party on taxes there were plenty of signs for Urkel, that said Urkel. Now's that a lot of respect for your Cook County President, isn't it? There were also plenty of signs that said Toddler. On the local news stations many reporters held up a quarter and asked people on the street did they know that Todd Stroger's tax roll back would save them that much on $100? None were thrilled with this big rollback, go figure.
Todd Stroger needs to know how to pronounce his new Chief of Staff's name, Joe Fratto. If you look at the expression on Fratto's face at the press conferences, you wonder how much longer before he bails on the Toddler. Of course he may just have to wait until the next election, with Forrest Claypool and Toni Preckwinkle ready to run for Cook County President, the Toddler's days could be numbered.
Todd Stroger's 25 cents on $100 tax rollback
Cook County President Todd Stroger wants to roll back a portion of the controversial sales tax increase the county board pushed through last year, a move he hailed as keeping a promise to taxpayers and criticized by others as a political chess maneuver leading up to the 2010 elections.
His proposal is to reduce the county portion of the sales tax from 1.75 percent to 1.5 percent, taking Chicago's overall sales tax from its current national high of 10.25 percent to an even 10 percent.
That saves taxpayers in Cook County 25 cents for every $100 they spend.
Stroger said a rollback has always been a possibility since the board passed a 1 percent increase last July.
"We stated that if we thought there was a time where we would be able to roll it back or a portion of it, then we would do that - and that time has come upon us," Stroger said.
Stroger's move counts on expected federal stimulus dollars, though he couldn't provide an exact dollar figure for how much money the county expects to receive. Stroger's administration has said the 1 percent increase would generate close to $400 million.
Commissioners William Beavers and Joan Murphy backed Stroger's proposal, saying it provides some relief to taxpayers while being fiscally responsible.
Detractors questioned the wisdom of the rollback, considering Stroger had pushed to borrow millions - by issuing bonds - to cover operating costs.
"We didn't have this federal money two months ago, we didn't know what we were going to get. We didn't know if we'd get any money," Stroger said, responding to the criticism.
Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th), who is expected to challenge Stroger in next year's Democratic primary, branded the tax rollback a desperate attempt by an embattled incumbent to salvage his re-election bid.
"Other than fact that the election is closer, what's happened in the last month to lead people to believe we no longer have need for the money?" she said.
Preckwinkle questioned Stroger's judgment in pushing through a 1 percent increase in the first place - apparently more than the county needed - and proposing the rollback only after a new county budget was passed.
Stroger's proposal could be voted on during the May 5 election. If approved, it wouldn't go into effect until January. While there seems to be consensus among the commissioners that a rollback is necessary, there are at least two factions saying they want to wipe out last year's increase altogether.
Commissioner Tony Peraica is proposing to zap the 1 percent sales hike immediately, while a coalition of four commissioners wants to gradually phase out the increase. The group includes Forrest Claypool, Larry Suffredin, Timothy Schneider and Bridget Gainer, sworn in Wednesday to take over for Mike Quigley, who's heading to Congress.
"We've got to take it a step further," Claypool said of Stroger's proposal. "We've got to go all the way we need to repeal this onerous tax, this unfair tax that people are suffering under in one of the most difficult economies in our lifetime."
Lance Tyson bailed on Urkel
Chief of staff Lance Tyson came in with Stroger and has weathered two tough budget battles as well as a torrent of public criticism aimed at his boss.
Tyson, 36, is joining Freeborn & Peters in July as a partner in the firm's municipal finance and government law practice group, officials announced Tuesday.
Tyson pointed to the firm's "depth of resources and talent" in leading him to the job.
Tyson's departure has been rumored for months, and multiple names have surfaced as possible successors.
Tyson took the job largely out of respect for Stroger, a long-time friend, and because of his appreciation for public service.
An outspoken office leader who came into the job with ambitious plans, he often seemed frustrated and stymied by the myriad structural problems within Cook County government.
Tyson was not a seasoned political veteran, and sometimes had trouble navigating political waters in the county building. Still, he was well-liked and respected even by some of Stroger's harshest critics, largely because of the strategic and passionate approaches he brought to the table -- even after a heated TV debate or board meeting.
Tyson came to work for Stroger after leading a law firm specializing in public finance and real estate matters.
Tyson, an Iowa native, also spent time working for Mayor Daley.