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In Cook County, recall alive for November

Sunday, August 31, 2008
Southtown Star

Consider it the "baby brother" of an official recall amendment.

The November ballot in Cook County will include a question that asks: "Shall the Illinois Constitution be amended to establish a recall process for the office of governor and other statewide elected officials?"

Voting "yes" will not spur formal action. The question is advisory only, serving little purpose other than a poll of Cook County voters.

But it will be interesting to see the results, which I expect to be overwhelmingly in favor. The results will parlay nicely into the campaigns of gubernatorial challengers in 2010.

Community groups, organized with the help of longtime activist and reformer Quentin Young and recall proponent Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, gathered signatures earlier this month to place the question on the Cook County ballot. They did so quietly. Few people are aware the question will appear, according to sources.

Although petition circulators fell far short of the signature requirement of 8 percent of the total ballots cast in the last governor's election, no one challenged the petitions. The collectors filed about 900 names, a fraction of the required 104,703.

But because no one challenged the paperwork by the Aug. 25 deadline, setting in motion a review of the signatures, the ballot measure will appear, according to Cook County Clerk David Orr's office.

"People got excited when the recall legislation (in Springfield) passed the House in the spring. There is a huge sea of people enthusiastically supporting recall," said Andrea Raila, a property tax expert who collected signatures for the Cook County proposition. "There was tremendous disappointment when it didn't get through the Legislature."

That recall provision, sponsored by state Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock), would have placed a question on the statewide November ballot, asking if voters supported a recall amendment being added to the Illinois Constitution. Three-fifths of House and Senate members needed to vote "yes" to start the process. While the House voted in favor of the recall bill, the Senate fell three votes short.

Many Southland lawmakers voted against it, citing concerns that the recall movement targeted one person - Gov. Rod Blagojevich - and that voters already have a mechanism to dethrone public officials. They can vote them out of office.

Blagojevich's term is up in 2010. He already is laying groundwork for a third four-year term, telling reporters at the Democratic National Convention he believes he's an excellent governor. The guy is obviously taking too much Prozac.

Some Southland lawmakers supported the recall bill in April, including Reps. Renee Kosel (R-New Lenox) andKevin McCarthy(D-Orland Park), and Debbie Halvorson (D-Crete) in the Senate.

But when it failed to get a super majority, Raila and other recall supporters resorted to Plan B - a countywide ballot question that is certain to keep the issue in play.

Circulators of the Cook County ballot question include at least two people who work for Quinn's political action committee.

Young, a retired physician and respected social justice activist, filed the petitions with Orr's office Aug. 18. He is listed as the principal supporter. He did not return several phone calls to his home and office.

So Cook County, now that you have the chance to support recall, how will you vote?

And can we vote twice?

Kristen McQueary covers government and politics for the SouthtownStar. She can be reached at or (708) 633-5972

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