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Preckwinkle Wants Fewer Suburbs

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Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is hoping to annex some portions of unincorporated Cook County to their adjacent municipalities to free up resources and save money.

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We all knew that Rahm Emanuel was pandering to cops and firefighters when he said he was open to a discussion about ending Chicago’s 92-year-old residency requirement for city workers. He knew all along that the City Council would never release so many well-paid employees and reliable voters to the suburbs. On Tuesday, he came out and admitted it.

“I’ve heard what they have to say [about wanting to be free to live outside the city, but] I have to represent the whole city and its interests. ... My perspective is how important the individual members — and the group as a total — play in the city’s neighborhoods and anchoring the ... middle-class,” Emanuel said.  “They are more than police and fire. They are anchors in a neighborhood. They’re the Little League coaches, the hockey coaches, the volunteers at the place of worship. They are anchors — not just in their block, but in their community. That’s an investment I’m not ready to turn my back on.”

So, the cops can’t move to Des Plaines. But Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle may have another solution for them: Norwood Park Township.

In an interview with the Sun-Times that marked her 100th day in office, Preckwinkle reiterated her desire to reduce the 51 square miles of unincorporated Cook County that the sheriff’s department is responsible for patrolling.

“I think it’s a good idea to work with adjacent communities and municipalities to incorporate these unincorporated areas,” Preckwinkle said. “That will be easier in some cases than others. I think our goal over the first term is to reduce the amount of unincorporated Cook County.”

Norwood Park Township, whose main claim to fame is the former home of John Wayne Gacy, would be a good place to start. The 3.67-square-mile enclave is completely surrounded by the Northwest Side of Chicago. This “Island Within The City,” as it calls itself, has somehow managed to resist incorporation into Chicago, but it is indistinguishable from the surrounding neighborhood of Norwood Park, which is heavily populated with city workers who might welcome the chance to move there.

There’s also a smaller piece of No Man’s Land on the Southwest Side, surrounded by the Copland of Beverly.

Annexing those pieces of land would satisfy Preckwinkle’s desire to reduce unincorporated Cook County. And it would give the cops and firefighters a few more choices.

After Chicago gets that land, we can start absorbing Norridge, Harwood Heights, Elmwood Park, Burbank and Hometown. No one has ever heard of those suburbs, so no one will notice when they’re gone. 

Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!

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