Stroger should skip veto of sales tax repeal, manage better
Thursday, May 07, 2009
by Sun Times editorial staff
Cook County Board President Todd Stroger sounds as if he's ready to do the right thing, if only because he has no other choice.
On Tuesday, Stroger defiantly pledged to veto a measure passed 12-3
by the county board to repeal last year's sales tax increase.
By Wednesday, though, he was wavering, telling Don Wade and Roma on their WLS-890 AM radio show: "I may veto, I may not."
Here's our preference: "Not."
Facing intense political pressure and the loss of support on the
board, Stroger looks poised to let the repeal stand, reducing Cook
County's 1.75 percent sales tax to .75. But he remains profoundly
resistant to the need to reform the management of county government.
Stroger played the victim Wednesday, suggesting he's the only one
who cares about Cook County residents. Hospitals and medical clinics
will close, he warned, if the tax repeal stands. "It can't just be me,"
he said. "If I'm the only one who cares about the services we render,
nothing will be done."
Plenty of other people, it turns out, also care about county
residents -- and they don't think that less tax revenue means services
have to suffer, as long as mismanagement and waste end.
As much as we support the tax repeal, there were no heroes Tuesday.
If the flippers on the board who first supported the tax and then voted
to repeal it were truly motivated only by good public policy, we
suspect they could have achieved the same end without the ruthless
political kick in the pants.
The flippers -- including mayoral brother John Daley -- dropped
Stroger cold in public with Tuesday's surprise vote. Despite that,
Stroger should forget about a veto and get to work on reforms in
hiring, firing and day-to-day management.
This page has backed other recent proposed tax increases. Gov.
Quinn, for example, has our support in his bid to raise taxes to fill a
massive budget deficit.
But Quinn, unlike Stroger, laid out a compelling case that the state
has nowhere else to turn. And, frankly, we're inclined to trust him.
After a lifetime of public service, he has built up a reserve of good
The same can't be said of Stroger.
Maybe he'll prove us wrong in the next few months, and we hope he does, but we're not betting on it.
Instead, we look forward to the 2010 elections, when Stroger will
likely face a slew of quality candidates, including Ald. Toni
Preckwinkle, Cook County Commissioner Forrest Claypool and former
Chicago Schools CEO Paul Vallas.