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Free publicity for Peraica ends with tax re-vote
By Rob Olmstead | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 7/23/2008 12:04 AM

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Tony Peraica lost twice Tuesday.

The first defeat was a foregone conclusion: His effort to roll back a wildly unpopular 1 percentage point sales tax increase had been widely acknowledged as doomed because no "yes" votes on the county board had indicated they would reverse their votes.

The second loss, however, was more subtle. Against Peraica's wishes, he lost an effort to defer the measure to the September board meeting, thus losing future free publicity he had managed to generate from his anti-tax proposal.

Peraica would benefit from the free publicity to compete against his better-funded Democratic opponent in the race for Cook County State's Attorney's Office, Anita Alvarez.

Alvarez had $167,957.29 in campaign funds on hand at the end of June while Peraica had just $43,522.87.

Peraica denied the move to defer was an effort to milk publicity for another two months. He contended that he wanted to defer because two potential swing voters, Commissioner Roberto Maldonado and Commissioner Earlean Collins, had asked for more information so they could consider the measure.

"Bull (expletive)," said Maldonado Tuesday. "He never asked me."

Maldonado originally voted against the sales tax hike in February, but Tuesday voted against rolling it back because he said the time for that fight had passed.

Collins said Peraica's comments about his motivation to defer were true only in the sense that she told him if he could have proved to her the rollback would not have left the county in a financially perilous position, she would have voted for it.

But even if he had been able to convince Collins, the vote still would have fallen short 8-9 without Maldonado.

"Tony wanted to defer that (vote) because he wanted to keep the issue alive," said Collins. "I said (to Peraica), 'You have not done your due diligence.' He did nothing but go out there and play on the fears and the emotions of the people. He doesn't believe as a commissioner he should do any work."

Peraica maintained that a recent midyear finance report indicated the county hasn't spent for 2008 what was allocated and that a tax rebate would have been sound fiscal policy. Cook County Chief Financial Officer Donna Dunnings said that report is a temporary snapshot of expenditures so far and that 100 percent of allocated funds will be needed this year.

Despite Peraica's request to defer, commissioners decided to vote on the measure Tuesday rather than putting it off any longer and having to face the issue again in September. They voted to defeat Peraica's rollback amendment 10-7, one vote more than the 9-8 measure that passed the tax in the first place.

In other board news Tuesday, a measure by Commissioner Forrest Claypool that would require county contractors to disclose the ownership interests of anyone in the company with a 5 percent stake or more was sent to committee. The city of Chicago already has a similar measure. The measure makes it easier for the public to see if company owners are the same as those donating to the politicians who then award the contracts.