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UIC Study On Cook Co. Board Reaches For The Low-Hanging Fruit

By Kevin Robinson in News on Dec 16, 2009 3:00PM

Dick Simpson, professor and head of the political science department at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has authored (yet another) report on the voting patterns of elected officials in the region. And unlike the conclusion he reached in his previous report (that the city council is the mayor’s rubber stamp), he’s discovered that a majority of Cook County’s commissioners don't, in fact, like Todd Stroger.

"The pattern of Cook County board votes is the reverse of the Chicago City Council voting pattern," says Simpson. Board President Stroger is dealing with a full-blown rebellion in contrast to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, who easily dominates a "'rubber stamp' City Council." The study, “Cook County Wars,” looks at 14 “major” divided roll call votes (where at least one commissioner opposed the president) from February 23, 2007 until December 1, 2009, a time marked by feuds over budgets, borrowing and taxes. Among Simpson’s findings are that there are three north side Democrats that oppose Todd Stroger, five suburban Republicans that oppose Todd Stroger, and four South and West side Democrats that support Todd Stroger.

"The voting records of the Cook County Board of Commissioners are not as accessible for the public as Chicago City Council voting records," said Simpson, who compiled the report with UIC graduate student Tom Kelly. "With primary elections in February, this report can serve as a resource for citizens to hold commissioners accountable for their representation of the districts and the county as a whole."

Dick Simpson, who never fails to mention that he used to be the alderman of the 44th Ward, has written several “studies” like this, including an analysis of Chicago City Council voting records and a historical look at corruption in Illinois. What Simpson hasn’t done, however, is take on the more challenging issues of local and state government, by, for example, studying why corruption is so rampant in Illinois, answering how a big city mayor can amass enough power to maintain a rubber-stamp legislature in 21st century America, or how racial and class divisions in Cook County might explain which commissioners have aligned against the county board president and why.

The twenty page report can be read in all of its PDF glory here .