Todd Stroger's allies, Sims and Murphy




It has been said there are only two things certain in life: death and taxes.


What did not surprise me at all was that Commissioners, Sims and Murphy voted together, and voted with Todd. Todd Stroger is already bellyaching this will affect health care. Sims is worried about Oak Forest Hospital in her district. Murphy is in the next district to Sims, but seems to go along with Todd, Sims on most votes.
Commissioner Peraica is always ready to speak out first, especially in a victory against Todd. Peraica's neighbor, or at least a few blocks away is Judy Baar Topinka, in North Riverside.


On Tuesday, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger equated the two in arguing that cutting the county's sales tax increase, imposed 17 months ago, would jeopardize people's lives because less money would be available for health care for the poor and uninsured.

"Some people will die needlessly for lack of access to the health care our system provides," Stroger said, in the heat of his losing battle to prevent a rollback of the tax hike.

In a 12-to-5 vote, county commissioners on Tuesday overrode Stroger's veto of their similar Nov. 17 vote to trim in half the penny-on-the-dollar increase. The lower tax takes effect July 1, exactly two years after the increase was effective. The county's share of the sales tax will drop from 1.75 percent to 1.25 percent.

Most commissioners dismissed Stroger's warnings, saying county government can be run more efficiently and consumers and businesses should be spared an onerous tax during the worst economic downturn of our time.

"This is a $195 million rebate to the people of this county," Commissioner Timothy Schneider (R-Streamwood) said.

Commissioner Forrest Claypool (D-Chicago) called the rollback the culmination of a "full-fledged voter revolt. What people see ... is a county government that is too often a friends-and-family plan, a jobs machine for the politically connected."

"If we don't do something to break the cycle we will never force this government to come into the 21st century to (take) the necessary steps to streamline and modernize" and show that taxpayer dollars are being used responsibly, Claypool said.

Commissioner Jerry "Iceman" Butler (D-Chicago) said Stroger's damaged credibility' with commissioners likely hurt his push to keep the higher sales tax in place.

"No matter how much truth you tell them or how many facts you put on the board, they do not want to hear it because your credibility has been damaged," Butler told Stroger. "Even though you've fired all your cousins, you've still been damaged."

Butler apparently referred to Stroger's cousin Donna Dunnings, whom Stroger fired last spring as the county's chief financial officer amid a controversy over another employee's salary and job duties.

Commissioner Larry Suffredin (D-Evanston), a pivotal vote last year in approving the tax increase, said he changed his position because "in February 2008, we felt we needed to do something to stabilize this government. We had a $283 million deficit, and we did what was necessary to make this government go forward. But there's been change since (then), there's been change in the economy."

Stroger previously had vetoed three separate measures to roll back the sales tax hike, with commissioners unable to summon the 14 votes then required to kill the veto.

But with the issue taking center stage in the 2010 county election, the Legislature recently approved lowering the board majority required to override a veto from four-fifths to three-fifths - meaning 11 votes would be needed by the 17-member board instead of 14.

THE VOTE

The Cook County Board voted Tuesday to override board President Todd Stroger's veto of a measure to roll back the county's sales tax from 1.75 percent to 1.25 percent as of July 1.

Voting "yes" to override: Democrats Forrest Claypool, Earlean Collins, John Daley, Bridget Gainer, Edwin Reyes, Robert Steele and Larry Suffredin. Republicans Elizabeth Gorman, Gregg Goslin, Tony Peraica, Timothy Schneider and Peter Silvestri

Voting "no": Democrats William Beavers, Jerry "Iceman" Butler, Joseph Mario Moreno, Joan Murphy and Deborah Sims

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