Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  

Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine


  Office phone numbers:  

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.


Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

  Cook County is the second most populous county in the nation. It is the 19th largest government in the U.S.

Tax increase may hinge on a single vote
Faced with his first budget battle, Stroger claims there's nowhere to cut. Reformers say otherwise

Sunday, December 07, 2003
Daily Southtown

For the first time since winning the Cook County Board presidency in 1993, John Stroger will face a serious challenge to a budget proposal when it comes before the full board Tuesday.
The budget showdown will be a political test for Stroger — an old-fashioned ward boss who reveres loyalty and prefers his confrontations to take place behind closed doors.

With potential opposition from the five Republicans on the 17-member board, Stroger faces resistance from members of his own party, too. Three first-term Democrats are leading the charge against Stroger's blueprint, bringing the total to eight.

That leaves them one vote shy of blocking Stroger's proposals to create a lease tax and raise the county's sales tax. They are hoping that vote would come from their freshman colleague, Patricia Joan Murphy, a Democrat from Crestwood.

"There were five (freshmen) elected last year, and we played off each other as we ran in giving people the confidence that we would bring reforms to this board," said Commissioner Larry Suffredin (D-13th) of Evanston. "If she breaks, she's the only one, and I think it's a mistake for her, but it's her decision."

Murphy (D-6th) said she plans to vote with Stroger.

"If I look like a reformer or don't look like a reformer, I've been in public office for many years, and sometimes you have to make a hard choice," she said. "I've given it a lot of thought, and it is difficult, but we have to look out for our programs. A lot of people depend on the county, and the (opposition group) has not shown me how this can work without cutting services."

Other potential swing votes for Suffredin's group could come from Democratic commissioners Roberto Maldonado and Earlean Collins of Chicago.

"I am concerned about the lease tax," Maldonado (D-8th) said. "Illinois would become the only state that would allow for a double taxation. That's wrong."

The 4 percent lease tax on Cook County residents would be on top of a 6 percent lease tax already in place in Chicago. In other words, Chicago residents would pay 10 percent extra to rent or lease everything from videos to new cars and heavy equipment.

Collins (D-1st) didn't return a call for comment.

The sales tax increase would boost the county's share of the tax by a quarter of a cent, from 0.75 percent to 1 percent.

Potentially at stake are county jobs, services and taxpayers' wallets.

"This is the first time in 17 years on the board that I've seen this much contention around the budget," said Commissioner Bobbie Steele (D-2nd), who said she committed to supporting Stroger's recommendations.

Stroger said his tax proposals are necessary to keep up with rising costs while holding the county's property tax levy steady at $720.5 million for a fifth consecutive year. Unlike other taxing bodies that capture more property tax revenue each year because of increasing property values, Cook County has dropped its tax rate to offset the increase in property values, Stroger noted.

But some members on the county board say the budget is still too fat. The standoff has created two contrasting portrayals of Cook County government: A lean operation with the overwhelming and expensive responsibility of caring for the county's poorest vs. a bureaucratic beast that takes care of the politically connected.

"Our biggest obstacle is that the board is not used to having this be a legislative process where the legislative body presents amendments," Suffredin said. "They're used to the Enron model of a board, which means if the CEO presents something, you ratify it."

Unlike the state Legislature, which routinely revises the governor's proposed budget, the Cook County Board traditionally has gone along with the president's recommendations. Some board members say they trust Stroger's financial advisers.

"We pay our advisers a good deal of money on how to best run this county, and we have a good bond rating," Murphy said. "Rather than the other first-year commissioners who, like me, haven't been in the business that long, I'm going to rely on our financial advisers."

Those advisers say the alternatives presented by outspoken Stroger critics are "irresponsible" and would cost the county more than 3,000 jobs — many of them at the county's hospitals, where qualified doctors, nurses, technicians and pharmacists are desperately needed already.

Stroger said "Jesus couldn't do" what his opponents want him to do with the budget.

Suffredin and his supporters, including commissioners Forrest Claypool (D-12th) and Mike Quigley (D-10th), say tax increases can be avoided without hurting services. In many departments, carrying over unfilled jobs year to year is a way the county squirrels away money. Cleaning up the budget by eliminating the openings would free up revenue for other purposes, the opposition commissioners contend. They say unspent money each year amounts to about $200 million — money taxpayers shouldn't be charged in the first place.

They also point to money being spent on consultants and a lawsuit settlement of $40 million sitting untouched in a county account. Stroger said he may need that money for union wages.

Suffredin and some of the other commissioners say not only are some of the tax increases unnecessary, they believe the county can cut spending in 2004 by 2 percent from this year's level.

If the tax increases are shot down, Stroger will have to revise his budget blueprint. That possibility sent Stroger's aides working overtime to convince commissioners the tax increases are the only answer to keep up with rising costs in health care and public safety.

County government should not be pummeled as "wasteful" after five years of responsibly managing the property tax levy, they say.

"There will be a lot of poor people hurt if we follow their suggestions," Stroger said.

Recent Headlines

System News
Friday, May 17, 2019
Special to

Cook County Health Recognizes Mental Health Awareness Month
Thursday, May 16, 2019
Daily Herald

Skokie plans for road improvements near Edens Expressway: 'It’s desperately needed'
Thursday, May 16, 2019
Skokie Review

5 Chicago hospitals earn D grades for patient safety in new report, Northwestern slips to a B
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Chicago Daily Law Bulletin: Backward Glances
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Cook County Eliminated Its Gang Database, But Advocates Say Harm Continues
Wednesday, May 15, 2019

New Cook County Housing Authority Proposal Targets the 'Missing Middle'
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Evanston RoundTable

Census Citizenship Question Could Hurt Citizens, Noncitizens Alike
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
WBEZ Chicago Public Radio

News from Friends of the Forest Preserves
Tuesday, May 14, 2019
Special to

Cook County commissioners get earful about soon-to-be-destroyed gang database
Tuesday, May 14, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Detainee dies days after suicide attempt at Cook County jail
Tuesday, May 14, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Curious City How Chicago Women Created The World’s First Juvenile Justice System
Monday, May 13, 2019
WBEZ Chicago Public Radio

Cook County report: Sharp drop in jail population, but crime did not jump
Friday, May 10, 2019
Injustice Watch

Will Cook County be home to the next big measles outbreak? Researchers think so.
Friday, May 10, 2019
Chicago Tribune

May is Prime Time for Birding in the Forest Preserves of Cook County
Thursday, May 09, 2019
Special to

More Babies Are Illegally Abandoned Than Turned Over Through Illinois’ Safe Haven Law In Cook County
Thursday, May 09, 2019
CBS Chicago

Empty businesses may lose county tax incentives
Wednesday, May 08, 2019
Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle

As new DCFS report highlights failures, Cook County guardian says 'inept' child welfare agency is ‘not doing its job ... at every level’
Tuesday, May 07, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County passes bill to stop discrimination against tenant applicants
Tuesday, May 07, 2019
Chicago Crusader

Women Jail Guards Say Sheriff’s Department Tolerated Sexual Harassment By Cook County Inmates
Monday, May 06, 2019
WBEZ Chicago public Radio

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.