Cook Co. commissioner leaves, jeopardizing sales tax cut

Published: 7/28/2009 12:01 AM

Supporters of a sales tax repeal in Cook County lost a key county board vote Monday, but commissioners said they remain confident they'll be able to override President Todd Stroger's veto.

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley appointed Commissioner Roberto Maldonado, a Democrat from Chicago, alderman of the 26th Ward, and the city council is expected to approve the appointment Wednesday. That means Maldonado won't be around for the county board's next meeting, Sept. 1, when it must consider overriding Stroger's veto of a half-percentage-point sales tax cut.

Commissioners need 14 votes to override. They had 13 votes plus one absent supporter at their last meeting.

Commissioner Elizabeth Doody Gorman of Orland Park, a Republican and chair of the suburban caucus on the board, praised Maldonado as a commissioner who favored the tax cut all along.

Asked if she was nervous about losing a vote for the tax cut, she said, "Absolutely. It's very concerning. But... I'm sure he'll put in someone (to succeed him) with a similar independent voice to carry out his agenda."

Committeemen from the county's 8th District, on the Near Northwest side of the city, will vote on Maldonado's successor, with each vote weighted to correspond with the number of votes cast for Maldonado in each ward in the last election.

As 26th Ward committeeman, he'll get a vote, and his recommendation will presumably carry weight with other committeemen, his chief of staff, Kathleen Ondosky said.

Commissioner John Daley, who helped put together the compromise coalition that voted to cut the sales tax, said he was not worried.

But Cook County Republican Commissioner Tim Schneider remained concerned.

"I'm worried that this might put the vote in jeopardy," he said.