Preckwinkle's suburban visit praised
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
by Deborah Donovan
Suburban leaders applauded Cook County Board President Toni
Preckwinkle Wednesday after she told them she plans to do away with the
sales-tax hike implemented by her predecessor within two years.
The pledge to return the county sales tax to the 0.75
percent it was before the 2008 increase was one of several reasons
Preckwinkle received a warm welcome when she traveled to Arlington
Heights to meet with local government officials.
It was a far cry from the hostile reception former board
President Todd Stroger received when he visited Palatine in 2008,
shortly after he helped implement a 1-percentage-point addition to the
county’s sale tax.
Almost every local official expressed appreciation that
Preckwinkle came to the suburbs, and she said she would try to improve
outreach to the area.
State Sen. Matt Murphy, a Republican from Palatine, said he
organized Wednesday’s meeting to forge a “new and stronger relationship
with a new and stronger county board president.”
Local leaders were especially pleased to hear Preckwinkle’s
plans for sales taxes. They said the increase has made Cook County
businesses less competitive and puts their communities at a disadvantage
when trying to attract or retain business.
“In my downtown business area, one side of the street is in
Cook County with one sales tax and the other side is in Lake County with
another,” Barrington Village President Karen Darch said. “It
complicates things for them.”
Suburban leaders expressed many other concerns and
Preckwinkle was urged by area police chiefs to keep the lockup at the
Cook County Circuit Court in Rolling Meadows open 24 hours a day.
“When we’re laying off police officers and not hiring those
lost to attrition, taking a fully trained policeman off the street to
have him sit in a chair in the jail all night long in front of a
prisoner behind bars, it’s a cost we can ill afford,” said Mike Alsup,
chief of police at Harper College and president of the North Suburban
Association of Chiefs of Police.
Alsup later said he understands the challenge that presents
to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart in light of Preckwinkle’s call for all
county departments to trim 21 percent off their budgets.
Murphy said local law enforcement departments are willing to take turns providing someone to supervise the lockup overnight.
The sheriff’s department is willing to continue talks with
the chiefs and might be able to work out an intergovernmental agreement,
Dart spokesman Steve Patterson said. However, collective bargaining and
liability issues must be considered.
The court lockup in Rolling Meadows accepts arrestees from
suburban agencies from about 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 6
a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays, Patterson said. Detainees who do not post
bond are transferred to the county jail at 26th and California in
The sheriff’s department already does not have enough court
deputies to cover all the court rooms in the suburbs and at the Daley
Center in Chicago, Patterson added. In fact, Dart has proposed doing
away with the Saturday suburban bond courts.
Preckwinkle said after the meeting that it was the first she had heard of the chiefs’ request, but she would look into it.
Rolling Meadows Mayor Ken Nelson asked for help with
economic development, and Preckwinkle said she was going to name a new
official to consolidate county efforts in that area.
Governments represented at the Wednesday meeting included
Arlington Heights, Barrington, Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Township, Harper
College, Hoffman Estates, Palatine, Palatine Township, Prospect
Heights, Rolling Meadows, South Barrington, Wheeling and Wheeling
County Board member Gregg Goslin, a Glenview Republican, and State Rep. Tom Morrison, a Republican from Palatine, also attended.