STUMP » Articles » Soda Tax Follies: The Backstory of Preckwinkle and More » 23 September 2017, 14:23

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Soda Tax Follies: The Backstory of Preckwinkle and More  


23 September 2017, 14:23

John Ruberry at Da Tech Guy Blog writes on Illinois topics often, and this anecdote from a recent post shines a bit of light on Toni Preckwinkle:

Leftist? Who is a leftist?

Cook County Board President Toni “Taxwinkle” Preckwinkle, a Chicago Democrat, that’s who.

Proof? Do you want proof?

On my way to work on Friday I heard a clip from Dan Proft on WIND-AM Chicago of former Utah Republican politician Dan Liljenquist describing a “sobering experience” about the time he met with Preckwinkle when she was a Chicago alderman. Liljenquist was a law student at the University of Chicago and working for the Institute for Justice’s Clinic on Entrepreneurship. They were offering free legal advice to inner city Chicagoans who wished to start their own business. Liljenquist pitched his idea to Preckwinkle, who replied to him, “I’m opposed to self-employment. You give these people false hopes that they could ever earn a living on their own.”

Yes, Preckwinkle is a leftist. With leftists, government is their god. When there is a problem only government can solve it. Government, of course, is never the problem. So Preckwinkle has set herself up as Mother Preckwinkle, spending other people’s money on Cook County’s massive health care network. Perhaps private hospitals and health care institutions can do a better job, and there are plenty of them here. Sure, not all health care facilities accept Medicaid but plenty do. And what if–wait for it–instead of depending on county health care, county residents instead got jobs in the private sector and become eligible for employer-based health insurance. Or even better, let’s say they start their own businesses and hire people who become eligible for private insurance.

Of course, I think that’s giving way too much credence to Preckwinkle’s motives re: the soda tax.

I think she just wants the money.

It’s like de Blasio – he does the big socialism talk, trying to talk about the evil of private property in one of the most expensive real estate areas in the world.

But if you start to dig, you realize most of his moves aren’t about ideology, but about payoffs. Such as when he tried to kill off the Central Park horse carriages so that a developer could cash in.

Hell, even Soros is really in it for the money, not the ideology, as far as I can tell. Look at the actions, look at the results, not the stated intentions. I assume these people could be a lot more effective at pursuing their ideologies’ goals, but it always ends with them sitting on a pile of cash. I would say their ideology is money. And making sure other people don’t have it.

Back to John Ruberry:

Taxwinkle hasn’t campaigned as a leftist. Amazingly, she originally ran as a tax-cutter. Preckwinkle eliminated an unpopular county sales tax. Then she brought it back. But Preckwinkle is governing as a leftist. Because of course she is one. It’s time for Cook County residents to wake up and think about what they vote for. And that includes the mostly lap-dog members of the Cook County Board.

Well, it seems some of the Democrats on the county board are looking over their shoulders.

Anyway, I thought that was some interesting detail. I can’t imagine anybody really took her seriously as a tax-cutter in Illinois, though. That simply isn’t done by Illinois Democrats. Or anybody, really.


One Democrat is anti-soda-tax:

Madigan moves to pull plug on Preckwinkle’s soda tax

In an usual split between two powerful Chicago politicians who are normally allied, signs are rapidly growing that Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is trying to kill off Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s penny-an-ounce tax on soda pop and other sweetened beverages.

Knowledgeable sources in both Chicago and Springfield say Madigan fears the highly controversial tax, combined with city property tax hikes and a boost in the state income tax and other levies, has created a toxic brew that threatens Democratic House members representing suburban Cook County.

Madigan has two potential routes to success. One is to throw his support to repealing the tax when the Cook County Board meets next month, something some sources say already is in motion. Preckwinkle has vowed to resist a repeal, but at least three key swing votes on the board are undecided, two of them close to Madigan.

The other route is to pass legislation in Springfield overturning the tax. A bill to do so has been introduced, and several endangered Democrats from suburban Cook are co-sponsoring it, something that almost certainly would not happen without the speaker’s blessing and maybe direction.

According to my sources, Madigan and Preckwinkle talked some weeks ago and the speaker flatly asked Preckwinkle to drop the tax amid signs that the measure was increasingly unpopular with tax-weary voters. She refused.

Shortly thereafter, two things happened.

State Rep. Michelle Mussman, D-Schaumburg, introduced legislation to repeal the pop tax if the County Board does not do so itself. The Mussman measure—Republicans are sponsoring a similar bill—has 42 co-sponsors, including such potentially vulnerable Democratic incumbents as Mussman, Kelly Burke of Evergreen Park, Kathleen Willis of Addison, Martin Moylan of Des Plaines, Fran Hurley of Chicago (whose district also includes a considerable suburban area) and Sam Yingling of Crystal Lake, whose district is a bit farther out.

Oh, delicious.

But really, the state shouldn’t be rescuing the county from its bad leadership.

Y’all voted those bozos in. You should do something about that, rather than hope state Democrats will save you.


KFC restaurants hit with class action over collection of Cook County ‘pop tax’

The parent company of fast food chain KFC and other international fast food brands has become the latest to catch legal heat for allegedly improperly collecting Cook County’s so-called “pop tax.”

On Sept. 15, attorneys with the Zimmerman Law Offices, of Chicago, filed in Cook County Circuit Court yet another class action lawsuit over the collection of the county tax, this time on behalf of named plaintiffs Guadalupe Zavala Jr. and Christopher Christian against Yum Brands.

The lawsuit alleges a KFC restaurant in Franklin Park improperly included Cook County’s sweetened beverage tax in the subtotal of the plaintiffs overall food purchases, meaning the restaurant made the plaintiffs pay sales tax on the beverage tax, which is not allowed under the law.

The lawsuit alleges this resulted in Zavala being charged 4 cents too much, and Christian being made to pay 2 cents too much. The lawsuit alleges a store manager told Christian the store could not give him a cash refund for the overcharge.

The complaint alleges the overcharge is the result of improper programming in Yum Brands’ “point of sale” software in registers in all of its Cook County KFC restaurants. The complaint asked the court to expand the action to include a class of additional plaintiffs potentially including everyone who bought a beverage at a KFC restaurant in Cook County since the sweetened beverage ordinance took effect on Aug. 1.

The complaint estimates there are more than 30 KFC restaurants in Cook County.

The lawsuit asks the court to order Yum Brands to change its point of sale software to correctly assess the tax, and asks the court to award actual damages and attorney fees.

The lawsuit is the fifth such class action brought by the Zimmerman firm in Cook County court over the collection of the sweetened beverage tax.

What would be really funny is for the judge to award the “class” 4 cents each, and nothing for those contingency class action lawyers.


Editorial: The Cook County Board’s legacy: Killing Cook County jobs

After testifying against the soda tax at Wednesday’s Cook County Board meeting, Stephanie Dremonas described her title as a “second generation owner” of Pete’s Fresh Market. The distinction was a nod to her owner father, who came to the United States from Greece as a teenager, opened a produce stand on Chicago’s South Side with his brothers, and grew the business into one of Chicagoland’s most popular grocery stores.

Today there are seven Pete’s Fresh Market stores in the city and five in the suburbs: Calumet City, Evergreen Park, Oakbrook Terrace, Bridgeview and Oak Park. Five more stores are scheduled to open soon.

Not one of them will be in Cook County.

High property taxes, a minimum wage hike and new taxes on plastic shopping bags and sweetened beverages persuaded the family-owned business to look elsewhere to expand, she said.

Other business owners shared similar stories at Wednesday’s meeting. Representatives of Culver’s Restaurants, Valli Produce and Boz Hot Dogs all said the business climate and the soda tax convinced them to not open new facilities or to expand existing ones in Cook County.

Take Cook County Board member Deborah Sims, who has been on the board since 1994. She represents parts of Chicago’s South Side, Calumet Park, Riverdale, Dolton, Dixmoor, Harvey, Markham, Oak Forest, Ford Heights, Chicago Heights and Country Club Hills.

Sims is a strong supporter of the soda tax, even though her suburban mayors have said it is hurting their communities — especially those along the Indiana border, which already get slammed by Cook County’s higher sales tax.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Illinois (tied with Nevada) had the nation’s highest unemployment rate among blacks in 2016 at 12.7 percent. That compares to 8.9 percent in Indiana, 10.6 percent in Wisconsin and 9 percent in Missouri.

So let’s follow the logic: Sims supports proposals that hurt job growth in her communities, several with predominantly African-American populations, despite her communities’ desperate need for help.

This soda tax is supposed to be about curbing consumption of sugary beverages while funneling revenue to Cook County government.

Here’s what else it is: A jobs killer. On top of all the other jobs-killing policies advanced by the Democrat-majority Cook County Board for decades.

So obviously, it’s not just a matter of the soda tax. It’s the soda tax plus all the other burdens Cook County puts on local businesses.


Yeah, there’s been a lot of talk of Amazon HQ2 going to Chicago. They explicitly state they want a business-friendly environment. That ain’t Illinois, much less Chicago.

She doesn’t have to cave. She can just not be re-elected. That should take care of matters.

…and of course, there is the whole state-Dems-saving-Preckwinkle-against-her-will possibility.

That one is funny. Sure, people will approve of theoretical taxes…right up until it hits them.

I saw a lot of tweets linking to news stories about 47% sales drop in beverages in Cook County.

Yes, and the soda tax is higher than the beer tax. Haven’t you been paying attention?

I think it would be oh, so, delicious if Preckwinkle never gets to be mayor of Chicago due to the soda tax.

Not like anybody else who would get voted in would be better.

Okay, this I understand.

“When customers actually see the tax, they tend to get angry,” said Carol Portman, president of the Taxpayers Federation of Illinois. She said she suspects part of the reason the public is so irate about the sweetened beverage tax that went into effect in August is that it’s a line item on grocery receipts and not simply tucked into the price.

County officials wanted it otherwise. The original ordinance said the tax “must be included in the selling price … (as) advertised or posted,” and that retailers could state it separately on receipts if they chose.

But due to complexities in the tax code, the Illinois Department of Revenue ruled that adding sales taxes on top of the beverage tax would amount to double taxation.


People do kind of notice when the cost of something they buy frequently jumps up by a lot. And if they realize they only need to go out of the county to get cheaper goods, they often do.

It would be one thing if this soda tax were implemented over the entire state. But it’s just this one county, and many of the people there can go to a different county for shopping.


Great, I just infected myself with an earworm. I blame Preckwinkle.

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