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Question of the Day

Thursday, Mar 27, 2008

* Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica announced today that he will advance a resolution at the April 9, 2008 County Board meeting that provides for a November 2008 ballot referendum calling on the Illinois General Assembly to rescind home rule for Cook County:

“Cook County is the only Illinois county with home rule authority – and that authority has been abused by political insiders who continue to enact oppressive taxes on the county taxpayers,” said Peraica. “Home rule allows a governing board like the Cook County Board of Commissioners to vote to raise taxes without seeking voter approval. I believe that Cook County has abused the home rule powers granted by the 1970 Illinois Constitution, and that Cook County’s home rule powers should be repealed.”

Rescinding Cook County’s home rule authority would require voter approval for future tax increases.

Question:Is this a good idea?

- Posted by Kevin Fanning        

  1. - Cook resident - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 11:36 am:

    It’s sorta a moot point. Peraica’s alienated so many people, of all political stripes, that nothing he’s for will ever advance.

    Peraica should be more concerned right now with getting his son some help. The kid gets out of jail soon. I’m more interested in knowing that Peraica’s spawn isn’t going to still be out there putting innocent lives in danger, than I am with Tony’s latest “look at me” cheap stunt.

  2. - Kevin Fanning - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 11:38 am:

    Keep his personal life out of this.

  3. - Levois - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 11:39 am:

    Well I’d be OK with voter approval but I also heard once that there would be legislation where a supermajority would be required to raise taxes in Cook.

  4. - wordslinger - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 11:39 am:

    I’m not in favor of taking away local control. Would you really want Springfield running Cook County Hospital? It’s a truism that in a democracy that people get the government they deserve.

  5. - Ghost - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 11:41 am:

    Bad idea. If the voters are unhappy with the taxes just elect a new board. Cook county operationaly would be driven to its knees by having the voters operate with this much control. The voters can always elect officials who will remove taxes etc if there is a problem.

  6. - Levois - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 11:45 am:

    Too bad that voters rarely seem upset enough to vote in a new board. We’re talking about Cook County here.

  7. - Kevin Fanning - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 11:47 am:

    —Cook county operationaly would be driven to its knees by having the voters operate with this much control. —


    I admittedly know little on the specifics of Home Rule or the issue. But if Cook County is the only Illinois County with this power how would it drive them to their knees?

    Additionally, is that the idea of democracy? To give a voice to the people. Shouldn’t they have a say in major tax decisions like one that makes the County the leader in the nation for their sales tax?

  8. - anon - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 12:24 pm:

    Home Rule was approved by the population of the county at some point. The cities boards or councils can put the Home Rule issue on the ballot, but the voters have to approve it. I believe the same applied to Cook County.

    And as said it allows for the board to raise taxes without going back to the voters everytime they want/need more money.

    If it were to be rescinded, Cook county would have to put any tax increase on a referendum that would only be voted on by the people of Cook County.

    That said, there is no way Springfield would ever be running the Cook County Hospital.

  9. - anon - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 12:53 pm:

    I can’t find the statute that spells out how Home Rule units of Government are created. In some instances it requires voters approval.

    I’m now not positive Cook County voters ever approved Home Rule. County Board my just have implememted Home Rule without needing voters approval.

  10. - Jimmy - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 1:14 pm:

    Cook County residents have never had a opportunity to vote on Home Rule. It was given in 1970 with the Illinois State Constitution in a brokered deal without voter approval. Every elected official complains about higher taxes, but finally someone is doing something about it.

    The people will finally have a chance to vote on this issue.

  11. - fed up - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 1:28 pm:

    Cook co. would be the same as will dupage or downstate need more money ask the taxpayers or do without. A very good idea.

  12. - yinn - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 2:49 pm:

    Here’s a link to home rule information that I’ve been reading because unhappy taxpayers in Dekalb are also contemplating a referendum to repeal home rule. It’s a pro-home-rule list of links but nevertheless informative.

    I’m all for having a referendum because we badly need to talk about taxation issues but am not sure I would vote for repeal. The cure might be worse than the disease. Also I suspect the actual virus took hold in the absence of citizen participation and oversight and this may just be the lazy person’s substitute for the occasional march on City Hall with the torches and pitchforks.

  13. - Ramsin - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 3:15 pm:

    I’d want more details first. But we shouldn’t pretend that Cook County is the same as Putnam County. Cook County is the second largest county in the country.

    Cook County is the economic engine of the state, and almost 50% of Illinois residents live in it; I don’t know the percentage of the work force that works in Cook County, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was even higher than 50%. So the reason it has that unique home rule is that it is a very unique county.

    That said, I would prefer dissolving it over making it more unwieldy by having rule by referendum (or from Springfield). Putting tax increases to a referendum every time one was necessary would ratchet up the rivalry between Chicago and the suburbs to such an extent that dissolution of the county would be around the corner.

    If that’s the goal, just dissolve it and get it over with–but don’t provoke a war. Surrounding municipalities could form their own county or join adjoining counties and let Chicago exist as a borough.

    But rescinding home rule because its the only county that has it is silly–Cook is not like any other county in the state. And being then subject to state statute regulating lower levels of gov’t (that annoying 10th Amendment), would de facto put Cook at the whim of Springfield. Cook deserves home rule. There is no doubt though that redundancies with municipal government should be addressed and the tax levy process fixed. Peraica can focus on that, instead of on yanking home rule.

  14. - One of the 35 - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 3:37 pm:

    If you do not elect good people to represent you, it doesen’t make any difference whether you are Home Rule or not. You will get bad governance. Having served as an elected and appointed local offical in both types of communities, I can tell you without resevation, that if you have good elected officials, it is better to be a home rule community than not. Greater local control of Home Rule affords voters more influence because local officials are more accessable. They live and often times work in the local community.

  15. - Bruno - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 3:45 pm:

    Homw Rule is another one of those Illinois Misnomers.

    It isn’t really Home Rule, it is the rule of the political class over the citizenry (which can change the political class only in theory, not in reality).

    The 1970 Constitution granted COOK incredible clout, and this clout does NOT inure to the benefit of COOK citizens, but to the benefit of the people who run Cook and Chicago.

    Every Cook property tax payer who notices the 2.7 multiplier on their tax bills knows that “Home Rule” gives them no power at all.

    Next up, Cook Home rule was GRANTED by the 1970 Constitution. Voters never got a say (other than indirectly in the ratification vote).

    (a) A County which has a chief executive officer elected by the electors of the county and any municipality which has a population of more than 25,000 are home rule units. Other municipalities may elect by referendum to become home rule units. Except as limited by this Section, a home rule unit may exercise any power and perform any function pertaining to its government and affairs including, but not limited to, the power to regulate for the protection of the public health, safety, morals and welfare; to license; to tax; and to incur debt.

    The best thing that could come out of a Convention is permanent repeal of Home Rule in Illinois, with a close second being the establishment of a “charter” (local Constitution) as a requirement for home rule status.

    Ramsin, in case you hadn’t noticed, the whole state is ‘at the whim’ of Cook County, Chicago, and their state legislators.

    Nothing would protect the citizens of Cook County more than repealing home rule and putting taxing and debt decisions at the hands of the taxpayers.

    Other ideas that could be addressed in a convention might be to split Chicago from Cook, and have 2 counties. Let the City Gov. be responsible for everything inside city limits, and let the rest of Cook be free of Daley’s control.

    Whatever negatives people may bring up about Peraica, he is moving in the right direction on this one. If his personality makes it less likely to pass, then let’s find another spokesperson/leader.

    Vote yes to repeal home rule.
    Vote Yes for a Const. Convention
    Vote no on EVERY Cook Co. incumbent at every level.

  16. - Captain America - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 3:49 pm:

    Cook County is a bigger government entity budget-wise than many states.

    Repealing home rule makes no sense. The state’s in no better shape than the County, given the current inept,corrupt,and dysfunctional leadership.

    I am totally opposed to Peraica’s resolution. It’s going nowhere!

    What we need are better commissioers as well as a knew President- taken in their entirety, the Cook County Board is a sad lot.

  17. - Jim - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 4:06 pm:

    It does not matter if you are for or against Home Rule. The People should finally have a chance to vote on the issue. Let the people vote on the issue, since they were never allowed to do so before. I support rescinding Home Rule and giving the taxpayers and residents more say (a vote)on tax increases. Simply put, Home Rule allows tax increases upon the residents without voter input.
    How is this a good thing?

  18. - Bruno - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 4:27 pm:

    Capt. Am.

    Your argument follows the logic of the people who say we can fix Illinois with out a convention.

    The flaw in this argument is that you can’t separate the poor leadership from the awful Constitution - they are intertwined.

    While you can argue that it morphed into this over time, there is no scenario for improvement absent a convention. The current system is impervious to ‘reform.’

    Therefore, there is no mix of parties, personalities, or commissioners that can give Cook better results. Any candidate capable of envisioning, and campaigning on changes would be stripped from the process by either of the parties. (they don’t want nobody nobody sent)

    You may be right that the resolution is going nowhere, but if someone did the work of getting a repeal on the ballot in this environment, it would stand a good chance of passing.

    Also, the size of Cook Co. shouldn’t be a factor in this discussion. People have drunk the “Home Rule” kool-aid.

    Repealing Home Rule WILL NOT put Springfield in control of municipal government, it will put CITIZENS in charge by giving them more of a say in what the municipality can do.

    Illinois is dying because of citizens lack virtually ANY control over the legislature, their counties, their school districts, etc.

    The appearance of control is there, but any and all changes are blocked (see Sup. Ct. on Term Limits, Tax Accountability Amend, and School Funding).

    The 1 or 2 ‘reform’ reps are marginalized until defeated.

    Illinois will not turn around until we put citizens back in control.

    Repealing Home rule, voting Yes on a convention, and disempowering the parties and the players are the types of ideas we should be talking about.

  19. - Esteban - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 6:50 pm:

    The folks in Cook County wanted Todd Stroger so
    I guess they’ll have to live with him for a

  20. - Snidely Whiplash - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 8:45 pm:

    Cook (and municipalities) want home rule for two primary reasons: to raise taxes and incur debt without giving the taxpayers a voice. Since it’s in the Illinois Constitution, I would think that a constitutional amendment would be required in order to revoke that power. But, perhaps a statute, court case, or even another provision of the Constitution provides that a referendum and/or statute of the legislature can act to revoke the county’s home rule. Seeing as I would think you’d need a supermajority vote for an amendment (if not a constitutional convention), I don’t see this as having much chance of success.

    I also agree that it’s highly unlikely such a resolution would pass the County Board no matter who sponsored it, and far less likely if Peraica presented it, since I have a hard time believing that Liz Gorman would want to help make Peraica look good.

    This is, as they say, “mental masturbation.”

  21. - Plutocrat03 - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 10:07 pm:


    Time to polish up your demographics…
    Cook County population around 3 million. Illinois a tick under 13 million (2006 numbers) … Therefore less than 25%

    Home rule has nothing to do with who is calling the shots. It is additional powers granted to the political body which in addition to levying certain taxes without a referendum also allows some local ordinances to superceed State law.

    Give the voters a clear picture of what would happen and let them decide.

  22. - FightforJustice - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 10:24 pm:

    Pluto: Cook has a population of 5.3 million.
    Voters should be able to vote on it, but the same voters who choose John Stroger over Claypool and Todd over Tony are likely to vote for home rule.

  23. - Snidely Whiplash - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 11:13 pm:

    Nearly half the state’s population is in Crook County. Do the math.

  24. - PhilCollins - Friday, Mar 28, 08 @ 9:04 am:

    According to the Census Bureau, Illinois’ population is about 13 million, and Cook County’s population is about 5 million. I did the math. About 38% of the people of Illinois live in Cook Co.

  25. - VanillaMan - Friday, Mar 28, 08 @ 9:19 am:

    One of the many reasons Chicago is floundering is due to it’s high taxes. There is too much government. But there is a reason there is too much government in Chicago.

    Government is one of the top employers in Chicago. Chicago isn’t producing as much as it used to, and over the past forty years it has been relying on governments to keep employment manageable.

    Like many eastern US cities, Chicago has become a government city. So when we are discussing reforming governments, we are not only discussing traditional government issues, we are also discussing employment issues.

    If we start to cut back on governments, then we will be revolutionizing the basis of employment withing Chicagoland. Either thousands will lose their high paying high benefit jobs, or will need to have their government positions annexed into a new government bureaucracy.

    It is easy to just say get rid of all of it based on inefficiencies and the rampant nepotism across the city, but what about the consequences of what you are saying? Do you care about the consequences?

    I hate wasteful governments. I’d love to see us eliminate home rule in Cook county and eliminate township governments completely. It would lower taxes and make things simpler. But we are not discussing a county the size of Putnam. We are discussing a county that lives off our taxes and has little other options at this time to move off our wallets without chaos.

    So one step at a time, please.

  26. - Bruno - Friday, Mar 28, 08 @ 5:58 pm:


    The question can be placed on the ballot by getting signatures greater than or equal to the number of registred voters in Cook Co. (about 2.6 million)

    270,000 valid signatures is no small feat, but if it got on the ballot in this atmosphere, repeal would pass. This type of ballot initiative would be a perfect vehicle for reformers to beat on incumbents.

    Again, most of you should know that that The Illinois Constiution is one of the most onersous, anti-citizen constitutions out there. Couple that with a Sup. Ct. that regularly ignores it, and you can see the need for a Constitutional Convention.

  27. - what? - Saturday, Mar 29, 08 @ 9:44 am:


    Here’s the problem with a Constitutional Convention (and I assume you’re a conservative)…

    Republicans and Conservatives who want a Constitutional Convention to fix this state have to realize that to have an impact at the Convention (and to avoid getting blown out of the water)…they would have to win many, many delegate races across the state.

    If the Republican Party was capable of winning all those races around the state, then I think we’d have a much different state right now.

    But the fact is the Republican Party can’t win elections. So how do you think you could get a conservative majority of delegates?

    That’s crazy. The Republican delegate candidates would get demolished, and liberals would control the election.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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