Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Liz Gorman pushes sales tax repeal for taxpayers

Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth Doody "Liz" Gorman may not be very popular with the North Side liberals, nor the extremist wing of her party, nor with the leaders of the 19th Ward who are conspiring to take over Orland Park and the suburbs.

But she has to be popular with taxpayers, not just in her 17th District but in the entire county. Everyone said it couldn't be done, but Gorman pushed ahead and refused to give up the resistance to the 1 percent sales tax increase imposed by the beleaguered Cook County Board President Todd Stroger.

The sales tax is repressive. It has chased out more businesses and caused more lost county revenues than it can generate from the over-taxed county residents.

With the support of key members of the county board including Democrats like Commissioners John Daley and Larry Suffredin, the Gorman repeal movement redefined itself after being beat back by Stroger's veto. On Tuesday, much to Stroger's chagrin -- he should get used to it -- the Gorman repeal was approved with 13 votes rolling back the 1 percent increase by half.

It's a major blow for Stroger, who has managed politics ineptly since taking over the helm form his dying father, the popular John Stroger. But while the father led with his experience and brains. Strogers leads by consultant and adviser.

The only commissioner missing in action was Forrest Claypool who would have been there to vote and claim credit had he still been running for Cook County Board president against Stroger. But polls show that Claypool is not as popular as he thinks and his ability to raise funds was questionable enough to force him to withdraw from the contest. So, not running for anything to help himself, Claypool is just MIA.

Stroger beat back two prior efforts to repeal the tax. But this time, things may be different. Stroger has until September to veto the measure, but with the vote and assuming Claypool can manage to get himself back into his seat soon, the Gorman repeal will have the 14 votes to override Stroger's veto. And that will only set Stroger up for more troubles.

The repeal drew more votes because even Stroger's allies including Deborah Sims and Robert Steele switched to support the repeal vote. Stroger's stalwart former Chicago Alderman Bill Beavers is catching flak from voters tired of arrogant politicians like him who ignore their needs and put their own family and interests and power first, so he voted "present." Beaver is a "me-first" commissioner, but he could not stand up to the growing voter anger over Stroger's repressive sales tax.

The victory only reinforces Gorman's voter popularity. The Stroger Sales Tax is on top of their minds in Cook County and any politician who supports the sales tax hike or is silent -- and many including some of her opponents have been deathly silent on the issue -- will face a voter backlash in the Spring and next year in the general election.

As the late Mayor Richard M. Daley once said, "Good government is good politics." That means worrying about what's good for the taxpayers is the best way to reinforce your own interests. Worrying about your interests, Stroger and Beavers style, is not good government at all but Machine politics at its worst.


Even Joan Murphy, who is facing a stiff challenge from Nick Valadez, flip-flopped in the face of voter anger. Murphy is unbelievable, though. While she supported the repeal -- so she can mislead voters into thinking she supporters the interest of taxpayers -- Murphy was th elead sponsor of the proposal to not only pass the 1 percent Stroger Sales Tax. Murphy wanted to increase it by 2 percent.

You'll hear a lot of howling from Stroger and Murphy, who just might flip flop again. That's her style. Lie to the voters and confuse them, as she is trying to do in the water-poinsoned village of Crestwood where she lives and has supported the Stranczek administrations see no poison, hear no poison, speak no poison policies.

Sticking to their guns and voting against the repeal and against taxpayers were Commissioners Joseph Mario Moreno and Jerome Butler.

Give Valadez credit, too. Valadez announced his campaign to unseat flip flopping Murphy in the 6th District last week in Tinley Park, surrounded by 150 of his supporters. Without an election challenge, Murphy would simply do what she always does, ignore the taxpayers and follow the dictates of Boss Stroger.

Here's the vote breakdown:

Yes: Earlean Collins, John Daley, Bridget Gainer, Liz Gorman, Gregg Goslin, Roberto Maldonado, Joan Murphy, Timothy Schneider, Peter Silvestri, Deborah Sims, Robert Steele, and Larry Suffredin
No: Jerry Butler, Joseph Mario Moreno
Present: William Beavers
Absent: Forrest Claypool, Tony Peraica
-- Ray Hanania

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