Chicago's sales tax jumps Tuesday to 10.25 percent, due in large part to Cook County's 1 percent tax increase. It's one of the highest tax rates in the country, even higher than New York and Los Angeles.
But you don't have to go too far to find lower taxes. They're just 7 percent in Lake and Will counties, and 7.25 percent in DuPage County.
I live close to Lake County, and do you know where I'm going to buy a big ticket item such as a laptop computer?
Residents of Chicago's Cook County suburbs, where I live, will pay a little bit less, anywhere from 9.75 percent to 10 percent.
Cook County government is led by a hack named Todd Stroger, who succeeded his hack father, the late John Stroger, after the Chicago Democrat withdrew his name from the 2006 general election ballot. The elder Stroger suffered a debilitating stroke earlier that year.
Voters in Cook didn't like the stench of son replacing father, and Tony Peraica came close to doing something no Republican had accomplished in forty years--win the presidency of the Cook County Board of Commissioners.
But a last minute push by Democratic heavies, including Barack Obama, was enough to put "the Toddler" over the top.
For maybe the fifth time or so, I refer to Eric Zorn's 2006 Chicago Tribune column about Stroger:
Obama's staff released a profoundly disheartening letter to voters this week in which Obama, joined by Sen. Dick Durbin, endorsed Cook County Board presidential candidate Todd Stroger.
The letter, which puffs lots of hot air into the saggy balloon of Stroger's legislative resume, refers to him as "a good progressive Democrat" who will "lead us into a new era of Cook County government."
Todd Stroger was a "strong voice" in Springfield, the letter says. He has "worked assiduously" for the poor as an alderman. Yet, of course, the record reveals that Stroger is an unimaginative legislative drone whose reform credentials are wholly imaginary--an unlikely trailblazer to a new era.
So true. Unless you call slapping a regressive tax increase to support a governmental body the Chicago Tribune calls "a fetid swamp" trailblazing.
Although Cook County certainly has some hard working and dedicated employees, the sad truth is that county government serves as a patronage army for the Cook County Regular Democratic Organization, known elsewhere as "The Machine."
More from Zorn:
And Obama has come too far as an inspiring new breed of politician on the national scene to muck around in local politics, endorsing machine hack candidates and substituting party for principle. Or so you'd imagine.
Principle...sounds familiar, such as Obama's abandoning the principle of public financing of political campaigns. And the paragraph above was written two years ago.
Not only is Cook County government bloated and inefficient, it's also corrupt. I have to reach back to, well, yesterday to find this story about an allegation that suburban businessman paid $2,500 in monthly bribes to a county official. Free registration is required for the link.
The elder Stroger's opponent in the 2006 Democratic primary was reformer Forrest Claypool, he calls the new tax a corruption tax.
Today, to use Barack Obama's words, "a new era of Cook County government" begins.
And three million Chicagoans, many of them poor, today start paying the nation's highest big city sales tax. Two million suburbanites, including yours truly, will pay just a little bit less.
What do you have to say about that, Senator? Is this change we can believe in?
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