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A hope to reform Cook County
Larry Suffredin, Commissioner | Cook County

Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Northwest Herald
by Larry Suffredin

In response to your March 2 editorial "Your new Stroger Tax," I want to clarify what the actual situation was and what was in the final compromise.

At midnight on Feb. 29, Board President
Todd Stroger was threatening to shut down Cook County government unless his sales tax increase passed.

I voted for a compromise that I believe offered the best chance for reforming Cook County and insuring that all vital services continued.

I'm not totally happy about the compromise.

Stroger has been working to impose a 2 percent sales tax increase.

I have fought hard to stop that increase.

I presented many ideas to stop a tax increase that were voted down by commissioners supporting Stroger.

Without the compromise, Stroger would have totally shut down the county government, which would have adversely affected all citizens. It would also have opened the county to huge financial liability for failing to provide services.

I chose to prevent such a tragedy by negotiating a compromise.

I agreed to support a 1 percent sales tax in return for a major concession on the part of the president.

This was the agreement: to have the president give up control of the Bureau of Health to a newly created independent governance board.

The president's office has continued to use this important health resource as a piggy bank for jobs and contracts to serve political needs.

Last year Stroger and Dr. Robert Simon closed clinics and caused thousands of patients to look for health care elsewhere.

This act put an unsustainable financial and service burden on non-county hospitals and clinics.

The independent governance board will allow Cook County health services to be run by health administration professionals. Simon will be replaced by an appointee of the independent board.

That was my compromise: a vote for a sales tax reduced to 1 percent in return for Stroger surrendering his control of the Bureau of Health. In the long run this will save Cook County taxpayers millions of dollars and provide quality health care.

I have confidence that my decision and my vote will bring the most long-lasting true reform of Cook County.

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