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When asked how she felt that some of her budget policies
 would be cheered on by the Tea Party movement, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle 
initially responded by saying, “God, I hope not.”

The remark was made during a speech in which Preckwinkle made more than a few 
controversial comments, and gave everyone–Tea Partiers included–plenty to love, hate, and 
think about.

Preckwinkle is mandated by law to balance the budget, and was confronted by a $487-
million hole when she took office, in addition to another $326-million gap projected hole for 
2012.

As she admitted herself later in the speech, “what choice do I
 have?”

Preckwinkle’s budget, just released, is full of draconian cuts and 
layoffs, including the loss of 185 doctors at Oak Forest Hospital, which is being 
transformed into an outpatient clinic.

Preckwinkle sounded like a card-carrying member of the Tea
 Party movement when she responded, “raise taxes in the worst economic time in
 seventy years? I don’t think so,” to the suggestion that the gap could be
 closed by raising taxes.

She has, so far, fulfilled her pledge to 
roll back the sales tax increase imposed by her predecessor, Todd Stroger, and has even fulfilled a campaign promise to cut her own salary by 10 percent.

In fact, Preckwinkle recently channeled her inner Scott
 Walker when she said this of pension reform:

“The deal was that salaries are 
not going to be comparable to the private sector but they would get good 
benefits: they would get good health care and they would get good 
pensions.  That was kind of the unwritten
 agreement between government workers and the government.  But what’s happened over time, largely,
 frankly, because of the success of union organizing, is that salaries went up 
but you still had generous benefits as government employees.  Now we’re in a situation where those generous benefits are extremely expensive to 
government and we are paying salaries that are closer and closer to being
 comparable to the private sector.  So the
 deal kind of between government employees and government has broken down as 
salaries have risen.”

“It ends up now that government employees have probably more 
generous benefits than those in the private sector; they have defined benefit 
pension programs.  They have very 
generous health care.  And that’s less 
and less the case in the private sector. 
There really aren’t that many private sector companies or corporations 
that provide the kind of health care benefits that government employees have, or 
the general pensions.”

“So, we have to kind of renegotiate the deal between
 government workers and frankly, my view is that we’re going to have government workers who are going to have to pay more.  We’re going to have to figure out how to make 
our pension system sustainable over the long-term.  And one of the ways, I believe, as a
 government employee for 20 years, is that we as employees are going to have to
 pay more if we want to get the generous benefits that we’ve had in the
 past.  Or we’re going to have to change
 the system – to a 401k system – defined contribution program rather than a 
defined benefit program that are prevalent in the private sector.”

Have no fear, Tea Partiers, Preckwinkle has also said many 
things you hate. For instance, during a speech that preceded her response to 
the Tea Party question, she said this of national health care reform: “We made a bargain with the devil when we passed health care,
 because we excluded the undocumented. In metropolitan areas like ours, there
 are many undocumented.”

Preckwinkle points out that
 it falls upon county hospital systems, like the one her office is responsible 
for, to care for illegals, and because they aren’t covered, the cost falls onto 
county hospital systems everywhere. 
Preckwinkle has also called the criminal justice system racist, once
 remarking, “Nobody talks about institutional racism, but what kind of a criminal justice system 
has an outcome where 70 percent of the people are African-American and the rest
 are Latinos?”

She’s recently 
condemned the War on Drugs saying, “for every white 
incarcerated for drugs, six blacks are incarcerated. In Cook County, it’s even 
worse.”

“We
 all know the drug war has failed,” she said. “We need to invest in
 treatment, education, and job training rather than incarceration.”

Preckwinkle
 will now take on the unions as she attempts to pass her budget.

3 Responses

  1. John

    You are comparing Toni Preckwinkle – an honest, competent public official – with Todd Stroger, who left county government a ridiculous mess. Given that comparison, ANYONE would look like a member of the Tea Party. As for her comments on the criminal justice system and illegal immigrants, I hardly think that anyone would try to refute her there. If nothing else, she is proving that one can be a die-hard Democrat and still be fiscally responsible.

    And I thought the Tea Party was all about individual liberty. Why would they hate the idea of ending the drug war and instead focusing on treatment, education and job training? Seems to be exactly what Ron Paul has been screaming for years now.

    Reply
  2. Gavin R. Putland

    We are under a “government of laws”, not a “government of men”. But if someone can plant drugs among your belongings, and if you are then required to prove that the drugs are not yours (which you can’t), then you are under a government of men, namely of those who are willing to plant evidence. Therefore the reverse onus of proof cannot be valid in any jurisdiction. So, if you are on the jury in a drug case, and if you are told that the defendant must prove that his/her possession was unwitting, it is your civic duty to put the onus of proof back where it belongs (on the prosecution), raise it to the proper standard (beyond reasonable doubt), and hand down a verdict accordingly. More: http://is.gd/noreverse.

    Reply
  3. James

    Preckwinkle is only doing what she is being forced to do. If she could raise taxes she would.

    Reply

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