Friday, December 05, 2003

Cook County budget -- showdown coming Tuesday

Looks like the vote on the new Cook County budget (with, potentially, an inexcusable raise in the regressive sales tax) might be next week.

I admit, I read it in Sneed. Yes, I read that column. Go ahead. Make fun. I'm thisclose to reading it tomorrow!

And President John Storger is apparently getting a little bit weirder. This Tribune news article, which Zorn pointed out on his blog, has Stroger preparing for the showdown vote by suggesting the reform commissioners are pulling a Council Wars. There's some odd part of the political culture in Chicago and Illinois that is based around absolute deference to political leadership (see the way the House members followed Speaker Madigan's deal regarding the Bush on the ballot bill), and Stroger seems like he is put out that the commissioners are not just following his lead and passing the budget he crafted. I really hope we can find nine votes to block the sales tax increase. Man, we're really under-organized in this town. I'm not aware of any real grass-roots movement to block the tax hike. Just imagine if Stroger proposed an income tax for Cook County! The place would be PACKED with people.

Back to Sneed, she suggests that Earlean Collins is the swing vote. Well, if that's true, then call her office at 312.603.4566 and ask her to vote against the sales tax increase.

Commissioner Carl Hansen says that the county is stuffed with patronage. He says in this article that there are 100 extra doctors at County Hospital, that Provident Hospital should be closed and that 85% of the county's costs are personnel. I wonder: is 85% ridiculously high?

And I further wonder: doesn't it make one a good, solid progressive Democrat to RAIL against patronage and wasteful spending, so that we can spend more of our money on services that benefit everyone?

In this article, five of the reform commissioners (Claypool, Suffredin, Quigley, Goslin and Peraica) have a budget that cuts costs by 6 percent or so, shaving off the $100 million deficit that the Stroger tax hikes would pay for.

If you add Hansen, that's six. We need three more commissioners to block the Stroger tax hikes.

Who will it be? Bobbie Steele? Collins? Iceman?

Well, the Daily Southtown has a good editorial that lays out the political situation, calling on the Board to reject Stroger's tax hikes. Now, why is it that South Side Democrats are supporting Stroger's budget? I wonder what Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. thinks about this -- maybe he can help influence the two Southland regular Dems to vote no.

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