Your editorial assigning blame for impending job reductions in Cook County was stunningly simplistic and shockingly ill-informed.

My job is to run Cook County efficiently, accountably and responsibly. I’ve never shied away from addressing difficult issues head on and I never will. The Sun-Times ignores the reality that governments at all levels are starved for revenue. Residents demand services — in Cook County, these include running our hospitals, jail and court systems — but the traditional revenue streams that we rely on are shrinking.

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When I recognized that Cook County needed to raise revenue, I looked to a source that would have a public health benefit. Public health advocates support this tax and cities across the country — including Philadelphia, Pa., Berkeley, Calif. and Boulder, Colo. — already have enacted it. Seattle, Wash. recently passed a similar measure.

A last-minute lawsuit prevents us from collecting the tax. I believe we will prevail in court but until then we must immediately cut expenditures. And since 87 percent of our budget is driven by personnel, that unfortunately includes jobs.

I’d rather not do this, but fiscal responsibility requires making tough choices. While I am responsible for my own budget, which is 7 percent of the General Fund, I have no control over how separately elected officials manage theirs. And because most of the County’s money is spent in public health and public safety, those arenas — as I have said for months — will be disproportionately affected. We will work with the sheriff to find meaningful savings while protecting his core missions.

I am sorry the Sun-Times Editorial Board did not allow me to refute the falsehood that we targeted a subsection of Teamsters who are sheriff’s employees because their union opposed the beverage tax. The public deserves to know that is a lie.

Toni Preckwinkle,
p
resident, Cook County Board of Commissioners

Illinois’s ocean of taxes

Illinois has 7,000 governments and every person who works for those governments is entitled to a decent income, great health care, annual raises and a lifetime pension. The most expensive item for any enterprise — including and especially governments — is people.

The issue is how in the world are the taxpayers supposed to pay for 7,000 separate government agencies and the public employees who inhabit them. The Illinois Legislature just answered that question, with a rising ocean of taxes.

In the private sector if every employee was entitled to a decent income and annual raises and lifetime pensions the cost of goods and services would be astronomical. But consumers could just choose to not purchase those goods and services. The beauty of choice.

The issue at hand is the sheer size and scope and expense of government is simply unsustainable. And the only way the Illinois Legislature knows is to tax and spend and force people by law to pay or else.

Most are just heading south to take their chances with the real oceans and avoid Illinois’ rising ocean of taxes.

As more businesses leave or close, they leave behind them a sign on the door; “Gone Fishin’.”

Mike Simon, Glen Ellyn

The reality of American politics

So Donald Trump Jr. heard there was some dirt on his father’s rival and he tried to dig it up. Isn’t this what we do? Aren’t our elections nothing more than mud-wrestling matches where the winner is the one with less mud on him or her than the loser? Haven’t we trained our politicians that going the high road gets us nowhere, and that going the low road wins elections?

After years of buying into smear campaigns, and money-takes-all mentality, this is where we are. And now we are outraged because of it? This is the bed that America has made. One where fear mongering wins elections. One where foreign entities are allowed donate millions upon millions of dollars to a candidate’s coffers.

If you don’t think that the Clinton Foundation’s donors were trying to influence the candidate, then you have no business calling out Trump Jr. by playing by the unwritten rules we have laid before him and everyone else.

Scot Sinclair, Third Lake