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Cook County Board president now can't be member as well

Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Daily Herald
by Rob Olmstead

In a notable change for the Cook County Board, but one taken for granted in other governments, the president can no longer also be a member of the body.

By a vote of 9-8, county commissioners passed an ordinance sponsored by Republican Commissioner Gregg Goslin of Glenview.

While the current president, Todd Stroger, is not a board member, his father, John Stroger, served for years in both positions. Cook County is the only county in the state that the Illinois constitution allows to function in such a manner.

Goslin argued the separation just makes sense and puts Cook County in line with what nearly every other democratically elected body in the United States does.

"The residents of Cook County are better served when the legislature is truly independent and the President focuses on being the executive and the Board of Commissioners focuses on legislating." he said in a prepared statement.

Critics had long said having one person be both an executive and a legislator violated both the spirit and letter of the principle of separation of powers in government, a bedrock of the U.S. Constitution. For years, former Commissioner Michael Quigley, now a U.S. Congressman, had sought unsuccessfully to eliminate the practice.

Tuesday's vote may have become possible by a recent break between Stroger and Finance Committee Chair John Daley, who had been a Stroger ally. Daley has voted against Stroger in recent weeks, particularly on tax and good-government matters. He cast the deciding vote Tuesday to eliminate the dual position.



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