Apparently Todd Stroger doesn’t like his job as Cook County Board president very much. How else — other than arrogance, possibly — can his decision to veto a repeal of the unpopular Cook County sales tax increase be explained?
Stroger already is unpopular for a variety of reasons (including nepotism and an IRS lien recently filed on his home for nearly $12,000 in unpaid taxes), and he is expected to face plenty of opposition from within his own political party when the Democrat runs for re-election next year. So I suppose he may just be thumbing his nose at everyone, figuring he would still be disliked whether or not he allowed repeal of the 1-percent sales tax increase he championed last year.
New taxes often are unpopular, but the wisdom of this particular penny-on-the-dollar tax is a bit more baffling than usual. The 1-percent tax increase raised the overall sales tax in Chicago to 10.25 percent — the highest among America’s major cities — and was done in the middle of a dreadful recession. That doesn’t exactly make you want to go shopping in downtown Chicago, does it?
Twelve of the 17 Cook County commissioners voted for the tax rollback earlier this month, but only 11 of them voted to override Stroger’s veto — three shy of the number needed for the motion to pass. Four commissioners — William Beavers, Jerry Butler, Joseph Mario Moreno and Deborah Sims — voted against overriding Stroger’s veto. I don’t agree with those four commissioners, but at least they took a position. Two other commissioners, Earlean Collins and Robert Steele, voted “present” because they were too chicken to take a stand on the matter.
Chicago Tribune reporter Hal Dardick covered the attempt to overturn Stroger’s veto. You can find two of his stories about it on the newspaper’s Clout Street blog by clicking here.