Tony Peraica Speaks Truth to Power
By Kevin Robinson in News on Oct 4, 2006 4:15PM
Chicagoist's dad always told us than when people work together they can get anything done. Monday night, ol' Dad's words rang true. A coalition of county commisioners sent a resolution to the general council forbidding county agencies from asking people about their immigrations status when receiving county services.
Citing previous allegations of questionable behavior, Roberto Maldonado, a co-sponsor of the resolution, said that the Council would be sending a "moral message" of solidarity to undocumented immigrants.
County Commisioner and Board President candidate Tony Peraica, denounced the resolution as feel-good legislation, enacted in the wrong forum for true change, and unable to effectively address issues like the one at Stroger Hospital. In a lengthy dissent, Peraica suggested that such incidents are the result of ignorance and poor training, and that the County should focus its efforts on improving employee training. Joining Peraica was Jerry "Iceman" Butler, who said that people seeking service should have to answer questions about where they have lived.
Considering that most people that use Cook County services are already paying taxes, and that visiting the hospitals is hardly living high on the public dole, it seems foolish to require the collection of more data, adding an extra layer of bureaucracy to an already strained system. But Peraica's statements raise challenging questions about the role of county government. Should Cook County legislate a moral statement, even if many people in the area agree with it? Can piecemeal legislation in localities replace or even promote wholesale change on the national level? Wouldn't the county be better off encouraging better training for their employees that deal with the public, especially law enforcement?