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Report: county board members have disagreed but not too much with Preckwinkle

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

The Cook County medical examiner’s office no longer will be required to send an investigator to the scene of every suspicious death — a requirement it routinely ignored. | Sun-Times file photo

Since the start of their current term in 2014, a majority of Cook County commissioners have defied Board President Toni Preckwinkle only two times.

But there were 140 important tax and budgeting issues on which one or more commissioners cast votes against Preckwinkle’s position, according to a new study from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

On those divided roll-call votes, 15 out of 17 commissioners sided with Preckwinkle more than 80 percent of the time, the study found.

Commissioner Timothy Schneider, R-Bartlett, was the most frequent dissenter — he agreed with Preckwinkle only 40 percent of the time.

Commissioner John Fritchey, D-Chicago, disagreed with Preckwinkle more often than any of the Democratic commissioners who form a wide majority on the board. Fritchey agreed with Preckwinkle on around 76 percent of the divided roll-call votes.

Richard Boykin, D-Oak Park, and Larry Suffredin, D-Evanston, voted with Preckwinkle roughly 81 percent of the time.

“The people who elected me wanted an advocate and an independent voice,” said Boykin, who faces a challenger in next month’s Democratic primary. “I vote with her when she’s right and I vote against her when she’s wrong. I’m a bridge builder, but at the end of the day I will vote my district every time.”

“My constituents are interested in a good, functioning government,” Suffredin said. “While Preckwinkle and I may disagree, we have the same goal.”

Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Chicago, is Preckwinkle’s floor leader and agreed with her roughly 99 percent of the time. He’s leaving the board to run for Congress.

Commissioner Stanley Moore, D-Chicago, was with Preckwinkle on 97 percent of the issues that divided the board.

Dick Simpson, a former alderman who worked on the study, said Preckwinkle failed to win the board’s backing for her agenda only two times in this term.

Against her will, the board repealed the sweetened beverage tax last year and also declined to support her resolution against the Chicago Police Department’s “stop and frisk” procedures.

Simpson also looked at the absentee rates of commissioners on the divided votes.

Commissioner Jeffrey Tobolski, D-McCook, did not vote on 31 of those issues, the most of any commissioner during the period in the study. Fritchey missed out on 29 out of 140 divided votes — he says he did not. Both previously said that health problems caused them to miss many votes this term.

Carlos Aparicio, Tobolski’s lawyer, said “private health issues” caused him to miss votes.

An analysis by the Chicago Sun-Times examined commissioners’ attendance for all board and committee meetings over the past five years. Commissioner Bridget Gainer, D-Chicago, missed more meetings than any other board member during that period.