Noon Passes At County Board
It was all about passing the 2005 budget. Three months late, and with a $73 million deficit, Board President John Stroger (at right) refused to make cuts, and instead insisted on increasing hotel and restaurant sales taxes two percent, lifting Chicago taxes to the nation's highest, 19.25%. Cutting the budget would lead to significant service cuts, Stroger claimed, especially at Cook County Hospital (a.k.a. John Stroger Hospital).
But Stroger's position was eroded, first by announcements from the County Clerk, State's Attorney, Chief of the Circuit Court and then the Sheriff that they could easily handle a 2% reduction in spending, closing the budget gap and more. Then opposition, led by a Republican and three Democrats (left, clockwise from top left, Tony Peraica (R-16), Larry Suffredin (D-13) and Mike Quigley (D-10) and Forrest Claypool (D-12)) got hotter, and Stroger was left with only a bully that he would veto anything that wasn't his budget.
In the end, Stroger's tactics didn't work, and for the second straight year the Board passed a budget that wasn't Stroger's. There were no new taxes, just cuts, and there are clear winners and losers.
The winners are Republican Comm. Tony Peraica, who recently announced that he'll be running for Board President, and Democrats Suffredin, Claypool, and Quigley. Quigley is ambitious, working to build an organization among Lakefront Wards with groups like Young Chicago Lakefront, so lots of folks think he's gunning for higher office. Claypool has been making lots of quiet noises, like a recent very political mailer rising property taxes, featuring him. And Suffredin is considered by many as the Northside liberal banner carrier. Both Claypool and Suffredin could be running for higher office soon too.
The loser this time around? Well, that should be obvious.