After override win, Stroger vows to veto again
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
by Rob Olmstead
Six allies of Cook County Board President Todd Stroger
held fast Tuesday, declining to override his veto and keeping the
county's 1.75 percent sales tax intact.
But commissioners trying to roll back the 2008
1-percentage-point increase weren't giving up. They immediately passed
a measure that would still roll the 1-point tax increase back, but in
two phases: .75 of a point in the first year and .25 in the second.
That put the issue before Stroger again, who
immediately announced he'd veto that as well. Considering it had even
less support than the full rollback - commissioners Joan Murphy and
Joseph Mario Moreno voted against the two-year plan - a second override
attempt also would appear doomed to fail.
Stroger favors a smaller rollback of a quarter-point, with possible further decreases in future years if revenues hold steady.
Not only did Stroger sustain his original veto, but he
picked up another vote since the last time the board had voted on the
Commissioners trying to override the president's veto
of a 1-percentage-point rollback needed 14 votes, but only 11 backed
it. That was down from the 12 who voted to roll back the tax on May 5.
Helping Stroger keep the tax were Chicago Democrats
Deborah Sims, Jerry Butler, William Beavers and Moreno. Moreno had
voted for repeal on May 5.
Stroger was also aided by Earlean Collins and Robert Steele, both Chicago Democrats, who voted present.
Because an override requires a four-fifths vote of the
entire board, not just those voting or present, a present vote
effectively acted to keep the veto intact.
Commissioners who voted to keep the tax depicted the
issue as one of preserving public health care, while those voting to
repeal said the cuts could come without sacrificing services if the
county were run more efficiently.
"This is about the haves and the have-nots," Sims said.
"And it's fine when the haves say, 'You don't need it,' because they
don't need it."
Speaking to Republican commissioners mostly from the
suburbs who had argued the tax is hurting businesses, she continued: "I
looked at their districts and I looked at my district. We don't have
any businesses to leave."
"There's plenty of room here to cut," countered Forrest
Claypool, a Chicago Democrat and potential challenger to Stroger in the
2010 election. "The fact (is) that (county government is) a political
playground for ward bosses throughout this county."
Stroger said Claypool and others mischaracterize the
county's performance, noting that county services are regularly
delivered seamlessly, and that there is little room to cut.
"I don't see people jumping up and saying, 'I can't get
my birth certificate,' (or,) 'The sheriff's office didn't come when I
called them.' ... I don't know how you can say we're unsuccessful,"
Commissioner Joan Murphy, who was the original sponsor
of the 1-percentage point increase, appeared to want to have her cake
and eat it, too. On May 5, she joined Stroger opponents in voting to
repeal the measure. Tuesday, she spoke out against overriding Stroger's
veto, but then cast her vote to do just that.
In the subsequent vote on the .75- and .25 percentage-point rollback, she then voted with Stroger forces against it.
Notably absent from Stroger's corner Tuesday was
Commissioner and Finance Chairman John Daley, who continues to distance
himself from the county board president, although he was a loyal
supporter of the former president, Todd Stroger's father, John Stroger.
"John and I were extremely close; Todd is a younger man. Personally, we're fine. Politically, we might differ," Daley said.