Will the soda tax repeal be the start of a new day?

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By Arlene Jones

Columnist

Ding dong, the tax is dead, the soda pop tax, the pop tax is dead. Ding dong the wicked tax is dead!

Like the Munchkins from The Wizard of Oz, I was singing the preceding tune as I saw where 15 of the Cook County commissioners voted to repeal the tax. The two who continued to stand in support of it were: Jerry 'The Iceman' Butler who plans on retiring at the end of his term and Larry Suffredin, an Evanston Democrat. 

Suffredin had the gall to write an op-ed piece in the Chicago Tribune where he defended the tax, claiming that it only affected a small number of people. Yet the projected revenue from the tax on that small number was enough to cover a $200 million budget shortfall. I guess Suffredin still believes the voters are stupid, and I hope his constituents, come next election, vote for a new commissioner. 

The pop tax was unpopular for a variety of reasons. For me, it was the absolutely insulting commercials claiming that the pop industry was targeting kids. One commercial in particular that grated my nerves was the grandmother who was raising five grandkids and she laments that the soda companies know kids love soda and how the pop tax will help in the fight against childhood obesity as she professes to protect her kids and grandkids. Of course she fails to mention that LINK card holders don't pay the tax, thus they will continue to purchase such products like they've always done. Nor does she address the issue that, for the most part, it is adults who supply the pop that the kids drink.

Following the repeal, Queen Sugar Preckwrinkle was quick to threaten to cut services in both the county health care system and the judicial system. The threat of what will happen is what our elected officials love to do as they attempt to spread panic in order to get folks to stand behind them. Perhaps the trend of bringing some services to the community may mean that for cost-saving purposes, people will have to travel within the county to get it. Government cannot always offer convenience when that convenience comes at the expense of constantly increasing taxes. Or how many who live in DuPage, Lake and Will County use the Cook County Services because of those convenient locations. 

Lastly, it would be interesting to know if the "sanctuary city policy" aspect of Chicago and many of the surrounding suburbs has helped to increase the number of illegal aliens who utilize the free services of the health care system. When it comes to the judicial system, there are areas that can be leaner. When and where can technology cut costs? And what other revenue sources are there for the county to utilize? Perhaps we need to again address the idea of a casino in Chicago where some of the revenue goes to the county? 

I wonder if voter interest in what our elected officials are doing will now be elevated? Far too often, the "I don't care" attitude of the public has allowed legislation that harms the common good. The March 2018 primary will tell if voters are tired of what the politicians are doing. Especially if many of the long-term incumbents lose. 

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