Power to the People
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.