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It’s not always as it seems

Thursday, Oct 15, 2009

* From a Tribune editorial

Challengers hoping to unseat incumbent Democrats in the Illinois House got a marvelous gift Wednesday from many of those very incumbents. By a vote of 65-51, the House fell six yes votes short of killing the full-percentage-point sales tax increase engineered last year by Cook County Board President Todd Stroger. That is, if six of those nays instead had been yeas, the measure would have moved to the Senate. And if the Senate went along, you soon would be paying less in taxes to support Stroger and his astonishingly wasteful government.

Look for your state representative’s name on the roll call, available at Those who voted “no” voted to enable Stroger.

Actually, if you look at the roll call, the only Cook County Democrat who appears to be at all vulnerable for this “No” vote is Rep. Elaine Nekritz of Northbrook. [A commenter points out that Rep. Ken Dunkin might also be vulnerable. We’ll see.]

Quite a few Downstate Republicans and Democrats voted “No.” From the Tribune’s own news coverage

Rep. Bill Black, R-Danville, said he worried that repealing the county’s tax increase would set a bad precedent for the General Assembly to butt into local tax issues.

Black voted “Yes” on the bill, but several of his Downstate GOP colleagues voted “No,” including staunch conservatives like Reps. Chapin Rose and Jim Sacia.

* Back to the Tribune editorial

The good news: The House did approve, 95-18, a measure that could still lead to a repeal of the sales tax increase.

That measure would decrease from four-fifths to three-fifths the share of County Board members needed to override a board president’s veto. That bizarre four-fifths threshold has allowed Stroger to thwart his board’s oft-voted desire to reduce or eliminate his cherished sales tax increase.

Wednesday evening, a Senate committee approved the bill that sailed through the House.

Actually, no.

As I told subscribers this morning, the House bill to lower the override threshold is still in the House. Patterson noticed the same thing

But sometime after the vote Wednesday, state Rep. Deborah Graham invoked a procedural maneuver that, at least for the moment, stalls the legislation in the House.

Graham, a Chicago Democrat, filed a “motion to reconsider” the vote by which the legislation passed. She’s entitled to do that because she voted for it. Procedurally this means her motion must be addressed before the legislation can advance in the system.

When that might happen is unclear. I wasn’t able to find her late Wednesday. Speaker Michael Madigan’s spokesman said he was unaware of Graham’s efforts when I talked to him Wednesday night.

More from the Sun-Times

The hold Graham placed on the bill coupled with the failure of the sales-tax repeal accomplished two things for Democratic strategists in the House aligned with Stroger.

The moves spared Stroger from political harm while also giving potentially vulnerable suburban Cook County Dems facing tough re-election bids next year the chance to show they went on record against Stroger and the tax hike that has left him wildly unpopular in suburban pockets.

And the Senate Executive Committee voted on a different bill, not the same bill as the Tribune editorial claimed.

* I interviewed Stroger yesterday at the Statehouse after the House voted on both bills. He talked about Speaker Madigan’s motives, but also spoke at length about his reelection chances. He’s convinced himself that this is doable. Sorry for the video quality, but take a look anyway

* Stroger talked to other reporters after the vote yesterday. I thought I had this captured on my iPhone, but I screwed up, so here’s Fox Chicago’s raw footage

* Related…

* Zorn: Why is it so hard to override a presidential veto in Cook County, anyway?

* House Approves Changing Cook County Veto Rules: STROGER: I think it’s at this point, it’s just politics. People are looking for issues such as taxes that they think they can rally behind. We have to be realistic in how we fund our government.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - OdysseusVL - Thursday, Oct 15, 09 @ 9:43 am:

    Great to see that Will Burns was a yes vote on the overturn. In contrast, Ken Dunkin voted to keep taxes high. Burns should cruise to re-election. Dunkin?

  2. - Ghost - Thursday, Oct 15, 09 @ 9:50 am:

    I agree with Bill Black; the general assembly should not be invovling itself directly with the setting of local taxes.

    The changing of the majority required for a veto overrid is amuch better appraoch to enabling the locals to address these kinds of issues themselves.

  3. - Amalia - Thursday, Oct 15, 09 @ 10:00 am:

    the reps in the city who voted no have clearly calculated that
    their constituents feel their service benefits outweigh the
    taxes they must pay. it will be interesting to see if candidates
    in these communities actually put this idea to a test.

  4. - Easy - Thursday, Oct 15, 09 @ 10:13 am:

    I don’t understand? The chessmaster couldn’t get a bill through his chamber to protect one of his most vulnerable incumbents. What is the world coming to??

  5. - just sayin' - Thursday, Oct 15, 09 @ 10:20 am:

    Once again, clueless Republicans snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

  6. - True Observer - Thursday, Oct 15, 09 @ 10:24 am:

    “Once again, clueless Republicans snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.”

    Its nice to talk to oneself. But when talking to others, it’s usually appropriate to say something that has meaning instead of being just mindless jibberish.

  7. - wordslinger - Thursday, Oct 15, 09 @ 10:35 am:

    I’m rather surprised. I thought everyone but those who have constituents either employed by or dependent upon the Cook County health system would have jumped on any chance to vote against taxes anywhere.

  8. - well - Thursday, Oct 15, 09 @ 10:40 am:

    Why should downstate Republicans help pull Democrat chestnuts out of the fire? Stroger’s tax increase is political poison for the Democrats, why help get rid of it a year before an election?

    Cook County Republicans obviously had to vote for it, but downstate Republican voters won’t care. So again, why should the Republican NO votes have helped the Democrats? They sure as hell never fall all over themselves to do the Republicans any favors.

  9. - Bill - Thursday, Oct 15, 09 @ 10:53 am:

    You just won’t listen. Are you blinded so much by the Tribune that you just won’t accept the truth? The Chicago democrats WERE representing their constituents when they voted against Springfield meddling in the affairs of Cook County. We need that tax increase to continue to provide the services that those same constituents desperately need. Not all of us live in Palatine. If those dems, Dunkin included, had voted to roll back the tax increase, THEN they would get voted out. Quit reading the Trib bull and listening to Mark Walker. They both have ulterior motives. Try talking to some real people for a change.
    By the way, thanks to the downstaters for your support. We won’t forget it.

  10. - OdysseusVL - Thursday, Oct 15, 09 @ 11:02 am:

    Could Bill point out exactly where those people are that think favorably of Cook County government generally and the tax increase in particular? I haven’t met any of them.
    Where is all this support for Dunkin on this vote going to come from?

  11. - KeepSmiling - Thursday, Oct 15, 09 @ 11:52 am:

    If the Cook County tax had been repealed at the hands of the legislature, wouldn’t Todd have been in the position to decide where the cuts get made? Doesn’t it seem like he might target service cut backs in very voter-sensitive places, and the legislators who voted yes would be to blame? Touché.

    Also, the State is clearly contemplating raising taxes in the near future for their own needs. Two yes votes could be viewed by Cook County voters as robbing Peter (Cook services) to politically pay for Paul (state/downstate services). Again, not good.

    I’m with Ghost - I don’t think State officials should commandeer local policy decisions. The veto override action is ok, but I would prefer if it applied to all county governments throughout Illinois as a generic improvement, not just to Cook County.

  12. - CircularFiringSquad - Thursday, Oct 15, 09 @ 1:02 pm:

    The real problem is for Kay Hatcher of the Kingdom of DuPage…how can she go against Trib Issue #1 and expected another fawnign endorsement next November

  13. - Bubs - Thursday, Oct 15, 09 @ 1:42 pm:

    “Springfield meddling in the affairs of Cook County”???

    More like Springfield seeking to rescue Cook County from its own government. Bill, take a look at that commission put in place to reform the health care system in Illinois. They are firing thousands of Machine hacks (or will), hire far fewer competent medical employees to do the same job, and collect what is owed. The County health system is now just starting to turn around, once it has been seized away from Todd Stroger and the Machine. It’s a blueprint for the whole County government, if you ask me.

    All Stroger & Co. want are tax hikes to keep the current bloated, corrupt and hack-ridden Cook County government in place unchanged for themselves, not “the people.” No thanks.

  14. - Bill - Thursday, Oct 15, 09 @ 2:29 pm:

    When the truth hurts just go ahead and tell lies. Todd has done a great job reforming the Cook County Health Care system which oversees the largest county hospital in the country. Go ahead and call the dedicated, hard working, public servants who provide care for the indigent “machine hacks”. No one is listening. On election day I have faith that the voting public will do the right thing and return Todd Stroger to his post at the helm of the greatest county in the world.
    Yes, Springfield is meddling in their usual ineffectual way. All this posturing by Walker will result in nothing happening. They are all concentrating on getting re-elected while Todd is focused on governing. The GA and gov should try it sometime.

  15. - Ghost - Thursday, Oct 15, 09 @ 3:59 pm:

    ==== On election day I have faith that the voting public will do the right thing and return Todd Stroger to his post at the helm of the greatest county in the world. ====

    Stroger is running for election in Sangamon county?

  16. - Thomas Paine - Thursday, Oct 15, 09 @ 4:45 pm:

    Gwen Drake is being pushed against Dunkin

  17. - Quinn T. Sential - Thursday, Oct 15, 09 @ 5:35 pm:

    I used to think highly of Rep. Nekritz; but based on some recent experiences I now question whether she is ethically challenged. When given the opportunity to do the right thing; those that are not seize the day, despite the potential political ramifications. Guilt by ommission rather than commission does not mean that your hands are not dirty. Very unhealthy germs and disease exist invisibly, so carry some hand sanitizer with you at all times, just in case you are in a position where it would otherwise be uncomfortable for you to shake hands.

  18. - DM - Thursday, Oct 15, 09 @ 7:32 pm:


    This isn’t the first time you’ve caught the Trib in a lie/ living in another world/ not telling the whole truth. At times, it’s an accurate editorial representing a well reasoned idea. However, at times, it’s basically the WSJ strictly with an agenda, facts be damned. I personally disagree with the tax hike too.

    Have you personally contacted them, those high up in the ivory Towers looking down on us serfs? Maybe in your next column at ST, hit em up!

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to scream at their half truths!

  19. - OdysseusVL - Friday, Oct 16, 09 @ 9:10 am:

    Dave Schroeder has a bit more of an active campaign than Gwen Drake. Either would be an improvement over Dunkin, but Schroeder seems to be a more serious about the race.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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