Thursday, July 16, 2015

Did Cook County sales tax hike become political equivalent of Sox/Cubs brawl?

The Cook County Board narrowly voted in favor of President Toni Preckwinkle’s proposal to boost the county’s share of sales taxes, and I couldn’t help but notice the breakdown among how county commissioners voted.

PRECKWINKLE: She got her (or Stroger's) tax hike
All of the African-American and Latino members of the county board supported the idea, along with certain white members who had one thing in common with their non-white colleagues.

THEY WEREN’T FROM the North Side or its surrounding suburbs.

It would seem that Madison Street, the informal dividing line between South and North sides, also applied here. Forget about any support for the increase of the county sales tax from 0.75 percent to 1.75 percent on the North (supposedly more affluent) side of the city.

South of it, it would seem that political people were in line with the thought expressed by Commissioner Stanley Moore, who said that while he doesn’t like a tax increase, he is showing his “faith” in Preckwinkle’s judgment that she’s not guiding the county into a political sinkhole.

It is a potential sinkhole for him, since his county district includes neighborhoods such as South Chicago, the East Side and Hegewisch, along with suburbs such as Calumet City and Lansing that are located directly on the Illinois/Indiana border – where local governments tend to think the sales tax is something meant only for state government to use.

JUST THINK OF how low the Illinois sales tax would be if there weren’t local and county governments staking their own claim to it. Seven percent, to be exact – instead of the 10.25 percent it will be now.

If anyone is likely to feel a direct blow to their political futures for supporting this, it is Moore – who only got onto the county board when he was appointed to replace William Beavers following his indictment and conviction on charges related to his desire to use campaign contributions while gambling at casinos.

MOORE: Will his 'faith' come back to bite him?
I suspect that for Robert Steele (whose mother had a stint as county board president), Jerry “the Iceman” Butler and Deborah Sims, the same faith was a factor, as it would be for Jesus Garcia (how would Rahm have used this against Chuy if the mayoral campaign were still ongoing?) and Luis Arroyo.

As for white commissioners, John Daley of the Bridgeport neighborhood is a political establishment type who likely was consulted before the sales tax hike was even introduced.

WHILE JEFFREY TOBOLSKI of McCook and Joan Patricia Murphy of Crestwood also come from parts of the county that align with the South Side.
DALEY: Wound up backing Toni
The only Sout’ Sider, so to speak, who didn’t back Preckwinkle was Elizabeth Gorman of suburban Orland Park, although she was a Republican who had consistently said she would vote against a tax hike – and wound up being the lone abstention on the grounds that she’s quitting her political post next week to take a better-paying job outside of politics. Just like there's always a lone South Sider or two who winds up  going goofy and rooting for the Cubs.

Whereas all the opposition to the tax hike came from the North Side and suburbs.

Even from people like Bridget Gainer and John Fritchey – both of whom are people with urban constituencies that usually think highly of Preckwinkle and her Hyde Park ways. As are Richard Boykin of Oak Park and Larry Suffredin of Evanston.

THEN, THERE ARE the Republicans who naturally would oppose anything that Preckwinkle would put forward – particularly if it was an idea identical to something they dumped all over former County Board President Todd Stroger for.

SCHNEIDER: Voted the party line
Do you know how badly Tim Schneider, who also is Illinois Republican Party chairman these days, would be castigated by his GOP colleagues if he were to back this proposal – no matter how badly the county needs the revenue?

The same likely goes for Peter Silvestri of Elmwood Park, a former mayor, and Gregg Goslin of Glenview, a former legislator. I’m sure some will argue it is a matter of a more affluent North Side not needing to rely on government as much.

Although I’m wondering if it would be easier on all of us to have our South Side vs. North resolved on the ball fields each summer – it certainly would be a lot cheaper on our pocketbooks!


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