Honestly, you're endorsing that racist sh-tbag for CC Board President? The same one who brought us Kim Fox, raised taxes, cut the knees off of our law enforcement community? Who's far more responsible for Chicago's ills than Lightfoot?
No wonder Kass left the Tribune. Their Editorial Dept is a joke!
Toni Preckwinkle for Cook County Board president
By The Editorial Board
Oct 17, 2022 at 5:00 am
Toni Preckwinkle is as tough as any old-school Chicago pol of her generation.
At a recent endorsement session, when we asked her if she still enjoyed coming to the Tribune and campaigning for an office she has held since 2010, she shot us a look that spoke volumes. To say that Preckwinkle grits her teeth while answering journalists’ questions on the campaign trail is to understate what she clearly views as an excruciating necessity.
As we see it, there is a downside and an upside to that toughness and, on balance, the latter eclipses the former.
First, the downside. When we brought up the now-pervasive fear of violent crime in Chicago during our conversation, and the possible impact of legislation eliminating cash bail, Preckwinkle made the point that residents in more affluent neighborhoods are now getting a taste of what it has been like to live in the Chicago ZIP codes that have heard gunfire and feared carjackings for years. She made that observation with a sardonic chuckle.
Fair enough, perhaps. It’s true that life in some neighborhoods long has been plagued by the same issues that folks on the Gold Coast and in Lincoln Park are now experiencing at scale for the first time, at least in a long while. And the long-standing inequity of, in essence, being able to buy your way out of jail, does not belong in a fair judicial system.
But in the case of the SAFE-T Act experiment, there are both the intent and the unintended but likely consequences to consider, especially in the short term. Preckwinkle, who has vehemently defended Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, should also be advocating vociferously for foolproof safeguards that will stop dangerous criminals from returning to the streets, not seeming to relish some kind of comeuppance for the affluent.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle at her campaign headquarters in Chicago in June 2022.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle at her campaign headquarters in Chicago in June 2022. (Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune)
That’s just not the best point of view for a Cook County Board president who represents all the county’s residents. Everyone deserves to feel safe, whatever the value of their homes. As with Chicago, Cook County needs diversity, and it is a simple reality that when people don’t feel safe, they often choose to move. And that just makes everything worse.
Then we raised the question of late property tax bills, for which Preckwinkle took only limited responsibility. This is problematic for several reasons. If the bills don’t arrive by Dec. 31, then the payment will not be deductible on federal returns for 2021, possibly sticking Cook County taxpayers with a bigger tax bill through no fault of their own and, given the annual caps on property tax deductibility, possibly reducing their deductibility overall. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed in 2017, capped the deduction for state and local taxes, including property taxes, at $10,000.
Worse, Cook County taxpayers who don’t park that money away now likely will be stuck with two property tax bills coming through the mailbox in quick succession, possibly causing financial hardship.
Preckwinkle did not promise to have the bills out by the end of the year, although she suggested it would be likely. She also said that it will likely take “another cycle or two” for this “computer” issue to be solved and that arrangements have been made to help any needy agencies expecting revenue to get bridging loans. That’s thin gruel, though, for taxpayers. And even if there is little Preckwinkle can do at this point, this is all on her watch.
Now to the upside.
We believe Preckwinkle has been an effective fiscal steward of Cook County, overall, and a competent manager in the massive county’s various areas of jurisdiction, from corrections to transportation to public health. Given that the county has more 800 governmental units, that’s a crucial quality that voters must keep in mind.
Preckwinkle also was a solid spokesperson during the COVID-19 crisis for vaccinations and other precautions. She focused vaccine delivery to ZIP codes where the takeup was least and yet the risk of serious infection was considerable.
Mostly importantly, perhaps, we admire how Preckwinkle has marshaled a budget of some $8 billion (and counting) and has dealt with the various crises of the last few years without pushing for new taxes, fines, fees or tax increases. Federal largesse, now likely a thing of the past, certainly made her job easier, as did the windfall of tax revenues from ballooning cannabis sales, which might well come at a price yet unanticipated.
But, all in all, we consider Preckwinkle to be a highly competent fiscal steward and skilled manager. This is a post responsible for many of the quotidian services that voters would prefer not to have to think too much about as they get on with their lives. Among her most notable skills is hiring competent people. We’ve met and talked with her top team and they are an impressive crew.
Finally, we don’t think Preckwinkle has credible opposition in former Ald. Bob Fioretti, who has run against Preckwinkle as both a Democrat and (now) an expedient Republican and who chose not to participate in our process.
Fioretti, 69, who ran for mayor in both 2015 and 2019 is a perennially unsuccessful candidate who also finished dead last in the 2020 primary race for state’s attorney, a race won by Foxx. We also don’t see Libertarian candidate Thea Tsatsos as offering a viable alternative.
Preckwinkle isn’t likely to change much at the age of 75. But we think she has done the work to deserve voters’ support for an additional term.