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Stroger Has Bipartisan Opposition to Tax Plan.

Friday, October 26, 2007
Southwest News Herald

Naturally, when it comes to raising taxes, even the strongest allies might quake. But when the proposed increases involve shoring up a bloated, almost useless government agency, the resistance had better turn into something more serious.

Two members of the Cook County Board from opposite sides of the political aisle say they plan to fight the unbelievable tax increase plans introduced by County Board President Todd Stroger.

Stroger, with support from Commissioner Joan Murphy and adviser Burt Odelson, wants to drown county residents in ridiculous tax increases.

Democratic Commissioner Larry Suffredin and Republican Commissioner Anthony Peraica say the “plan” Stroger unveiled with hardly any detail last week is “dead in the water.”

Suffredin, a party ally of Stroger’s, was a little less combative, although he said that Stroger “doesn’t have the votes on the county board to pass this.”

According to Suffredin, the real issue isn’t taxes but a “serious lack of confidence” in county government and in Stroger in particular as a leader.

Suffredin and Peraica also agree that Stroger’s presentation of the budget was “weak.”

“This is not the kind of budget presentation we have come to expect,” said Suffredin who has been on the board since 2002.

Peraica was much tougher, saying that he doubted that Stroger prepared the budget or even was familiar with the details. “He sounded like the whole budget was handed to him minutes before it was even presented to us. He didn’t sound like a person who really believed in what he was advocating when he read his statement. It sounded like he just saw the statement for the first time when he read it.”

And that may not be too surprising considering Stroger is managed by Odelson and controversial former Chicago Ald. William Beavers, who tried but failed to get his daughter elected to take his place in the Chicago City Council.

Peraica attacked Stroger’s plan as adding to a “Tsunami of taxing plans,” noting that taxpayers are getting hit from every side. Cook County. Chicago. And in the neighboring counties, too.

“As long as we say ‘No’ to this, Stroger does not have the votes to pass it,” Peraica said. “What we need to do is make government more accountable.”

Suffredin and Peraica may agree on fighting the tax increases, but they may end up being foes next year. During an appearance on Radio Chicagoland last week both announced they are running to succeed the do-nothing Cook County State’s attorney Dick Devine, who was handpicked as a caretaker for the job when Daley was elected mayor in 1989.

Both have actually worked as lawyers in the court system and both say that, if elected, they would push the office to target more government corruption, so often ignored by Devine’s office with the excuse that the state and federal attorneys general are better equipped for those kinds of cases.

Oh, I am sure politics had nothing to do with the fact that Devine has failed to prosecute widespread government corruption, such as at Daley’s City Hall.

What Cook County really needs is two things, as both Suffredin and Peraica point out: more accountability, and less contract and family-job favoritism. But also needed is even more eagerness to prosecute government officials who fail to do their jobs but always seem to miss the corruption prosecution bullet because of their political clout rather than their lack of involvement.

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