Thursday, December 03, 2009

Power to the People

As we are all aware, over the last several months, the Cook County Board of Commissioners voted three different times to rollback the recently-increased County sales tax, only to be vetoed each time by Board President Todd Stroger. Put differently, Cook County Commissioners attempted three different times to represent their constituents, only to be thwarted by an unreasonable amount of power, afforded to President Stroger under an arcane and unjust law that required a 4/5 majority, or 14 commissioners, to override his veto. The Board President possessed an extraordinary amount of power unbecoming to a democratic body. Until now.

Recently, Cook County Commissioners voted once again to rollback the sales tax increase, and once again, for the fourth time, President Stroger vetoed it. This time, however, he ran out of red ink, because the Cook County Board could now overturn Stroger’s veto with only 11 votes.

Back in 2006, I introduced legislation that I had been working on in conjunction with Congressman Mike Quigley to reduce the veto override threshold down from a 4/5 majority to a 3/5 majority – a more acceptable, just, and democratic threshold. Over the past three years, we faced considerable opposition and obstacles, and neither the public outrage nor political will existed to reform the system. In fact, during the 2006 campaign season, one candidate running for Cook County Board President supported the measure, and stated that it was “not about politics or power, this is about what is best for Cook County.”

Soon after the campaign, that candidate’s support for the measure waned when he was elected President of the Cook County Board, and following President Todd Stroger’s self-serving flip-flop, the idea died shortly after.

After living with the highest sales tax in the country and amidst an economic depression, what was once just an abstract law became very tangible to the public, who rallied their elected officials to support our legislation this fall. Now, with the support of many of my colleagues in Springfield, a new version of the bill to lower the Cook County veto threshold passed in the General Assembly and was quickly signed into law by Governor Quinn.

As a result, the County Board now needs only a 3/5 majority vote, or 11 votes, to override President Stroger’s veto. I am thrilled that 12 Cook County Commissioners chose to use this newly bestowed power to override President Stroger’s veto. It pleases me to see that the Cook County Commissioners finally have the power of democracy with them now and the opportunity to do what is best for Cook County residents, not just what is best for elected officials, both now and into the future.

Just goes to show you that every now and then, the good guys can still win one.


At December 4, 2009 at 4:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

John - Not to bright. You have placed over 1 billion in taxes to everyone here in Chicago. You've voted for these taxes that have increased our sales taxes, property taxes indirect cost from your mandatory regulations. Didn't you and Rod hang out when in Springfield when you guys were state reps together?

You gotta stop the populist BS and face reality of your actions.


At December 4, 2009 at 9:31 AM, Blogger Rep. John Fritchey said...

Your comment is so inaccurate that I wasn't even going to let it publish, so I didn't have to correct it, but what the hell.

I'll presume that V stands for Virtually clueless. I would welcome you to show me the billion dollars in taxes that I've voted for. To the contrary, I have one of the most fiscally conservative voting record of any Chicago legislator, and was the only Chicago legislator to vote against the tax increases last session. I additionally have led the fight to REDUCE the property tax burden on Cook County residents.

And lastly, not only did Rod and I never serve together in the House (I actually took his former House seat), I was also one of his earliest and most vocal critics.

Next time, know your facts before posting and save us both some time.

At December 5, 2009 at 4:00 PM, Anonymous DuPage Saint said...

Power to the people will happen when we have referenda and recall, not to mention a say in re-districting

At December 5, 2009 at 6:56 PM, Anonymous Jerry said...

The sales tax rate could be reduced further if exemptions were eliminated and still generate the same revenue.


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