Rhodes: Tax Repeal Is Stroger's Swan Song

Tiring tax fight finally over

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Cook County Board President Todd Stroger.

    The best thing about the Cook County board finally overturning half of Todd Stroger's one-cent sales tax increase isn't the fact that we'll all save a few pennies here and there.

    The greatest thing about the veto override -- for the most part -- is that we won't have to keep hearing about it.

    The sales tax saga grew into a matter of political symbolism that far outweighed its actual value as a substantive issue.

    That's not to take the tax lightly. Sure, starting July 1 we'll save a whopping 50 cents on every $100 we spend. Woo-hoo! But collectively, the tax took $195 million out of taxpayer pockets and put it in the hands of Stroger. That was untenable. Stroger has enough money to squander. That was the point.

    But Stroger also had a point when he said angry taxpayers should direct their ire at Mayor Daley, who has been taking a much bigger chunk out of our hides, and Gov. Pat Quinn, whom Stroger chided on Tuesday for his take of the kitty.

    Stroger does himself no favors, though, when he says that "people will needlessly die" because of the half-penny rollback. If anyone dies on his watch because of sales tax repeal, Stroger oughta be thrown in jail for administrative malfeasance. Come to think of it, people are probably already dying needlessly because of the county health system.

    The most substantial element of this mind-wrenching episode isn't even the tax repeal; it's the state legislature's rewrite of the law regarding how many commissioners it takes to override a Cook County presidential veto.

    As county commissioner Tony Peraica might say, now the board can start acting as a legislative body instead of an adjunct to the president's office.

    If only we could find a way to create separation of powers in city government, too.

    This was likely Stroger's swan song. He was handed his father's old job and he wasn't up to it. This fight was every bit about that as it was about pennies.

    Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.