Tag: Toni Preckwinkle

Boykin Circulating Petitions Ahead of Possible Run for Board President

Monday, September 11, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

Feature image: Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, left, and Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin, during an event in 2015. | Wednesday Journal File

Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (1st) — whose district represents all or parts of Broadview, Bellwood and Maywood — has taken another step toward running against Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

Continue reading “Boykin Circulating Petitions Ahead of Possible Run for Board President”

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County Commissioners Push for Repealing Sugary Drink Tax

Friday, August 11, 2017 || By Bob Skolnik/Wednesday Journal || @maywoodnews || Photo: Getty Images 

Five Cook County Commissioners announced on Aug. 9 that they will support an ordinance to repeal the controversial Cook County penny-an-ounce tax on pre-sweetened beverages.

Commissioners Richard Boykin (D-1st), Sean Morrison (R-17th) and Tim Schneider (R-15th) appeared at a press conference Aug. 9 at the County Building to announce their move to repeal the tax.

Continue reading “County Commissioners Push for Repealing Sugary Drink Tax”

Boykin Considering Run for Board President

Tuesday, August 8, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (1st), whose district includes Bellwood, Broadview and Maywood, said in an interview last week that he’s considering a run to replace Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle — who is currently dealing with the fallout from an unpopular sweetened beverage tax, deep budget cuts and mass layoffs.

“President Preckwinkle has taken us as far as she can take us,” Boykin said. “She’s damaged the county in a real way. She’s done as much as she can do. … I expect that this whole beverage tax, the incompetent way it’s been rolled out and the unfairness of it will hurt her. It will damage her [politically].”

Continue reading “Boykin Considering Run for Board President”

County Judge Dismisses Sugary Drink Beverage Lawsuit

Monday, July 31, 2017 || By Thomas Vogel/Forest Park Review || @maywoodnews

A Cook County judge on July 28 dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA) aimed at stopping a one-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary beverages.

The tax will go into effect on Aug. 2, according to a press release from Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

The ruling, announced last Friday afternoon, comes about a month after the new tax, passed in November 2016, was to be implemented. Friday’s decision is the latest twist in a weeks-long legal battle.

Continue reading “County Judge Dismisses Sugary Drink Beverage Lawsuit”

Op-Ed: How to Balance Cook County’s Budget Without Dangerous Layoffs or Soda Tax

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Boykin_SeptemberWednesday, July 26, 2017 || By Richard Boykin || OPINION || @maywoodnews

Cook County government headed into Fiscal Year 2017 expecting to balance its budget in part with $68 million in revenue generated by the sweetened beverage tax that narrowly passed the Cook County Board last fall.

This $68 million can no longer be counted on, due to a lawsuit filed by the Illinois Retail Merchants Association. As part of the initial phase of that lawsuit, a judge has granted a temporary restraining order that prevents the county from imposing the sweetened beverage tax.

From the moment it was first proposed, the sweetened beverage tax was based on a dishonest premise. Board President Toni Preckwinkle tried to sell it to commissioners and residents as a public health initiative, aimed at reducing obesity.

In fact, the tax was never about health — it was always about revenue. Taxpayers saw through the public health charade from the beginning. Now the Cook County Circuit Court has also seen through the charade.

As a result, President Preckwinkle presently confronts a fiscal crisis that she herself manufactured.

Unfortunately, rather than deal with the crisis collaboratively, with an eye toward maintaining essential public safety services during a time when we face severe levels of gun violence in the county, President Preckwinkle has once again yoked herself and the county to a false premise.

The board president now insists that without the sweetened beverage tax, the county must make sweeping, disastrous cuts to essential public safety services. These across-the-board cuts impact services we can ill afford to lose amid rampant shootings in poor communities of color.

However, just as her assertion that the sweetened beverage tax was motivated by public health turned out to be a false justification designed to push through a revenue grab, President Preckwinkle’s current insistence on these painful cuts presents the judiciary with another false choice designed to intimidate.

Allow the tax, she is saying, or I will withhold services from the communities that need them the most. And absent those services, those communities will almost certainly see more pain, more violence, more senseless death.

These disingenuous strong-arm tactics got us into this mess. They will not get us out of it.

Instead, President Preckwinkle should reverse course and do the following:

1. Ask Chairman John Daley to convene an ongoing, emergency meeting of his County Board Finance Committee. Do not adjourn the meeting until key areas of waste in county government have been identified for immediate spending freezes and reductions. We know from previous budget hearings where the fat is. It’s long past time that we trim it. Immediate areas of opportunity include procurement, litigation and overtime.

2. Institute an immediate, countywide hiring freeze, exempting those positions that are court-ordered.

3. Immediately eliminate the 1,500 positions in the county budget that are vacant. I estimate this action itself would save $70 million.

4. After the above three actions are taken, President Preckwinkle should call a special meeting of the Board of Commissioners in August to consider enacting an emergency package of reductions that accomplish meaningful savings while continuing to provide vital services.

President Preckwinkle would have us believe that the above course of action is impossible. It is not.

Cook County never needed a sweetened beverage tax to operate with both efficiency and compassion. Now that we do not have that tax for the foreseeable future, we have another opportunity to achieve meaningful reforms while protecting our most vulnerable citizens.

It is time for President Preckwinkle to abandon her bullying tactics and work with others to solve these long-standing problems.

Richard Boykin is the 1st District Cook County commissioner.

To submit your perspective, email thevillagefreepress@gmail.com. 

Maywood Business Expands Thanks to County Brownfield Grant

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Seaway Supply Company owner Tom Engoren inside of his Maywood-based company on July 13. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, along with numerous other elected officials, were at Seaway to announce the results of a brownfield grant. | Michael Romain/VFP

IMG_6050Thursday, July 13, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Tom Engoren, the owner of Seaway Supply Co., located at 15 N. 9th Ave. in Maywood, said that a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has allowed his business to stay, and possibly expand, in Maywood.

Seaway Supply, which deliveries janitorial products, office supplies and other materials throughout the Chicago area, is looking to acquire a gravel parcel adjacent its Maywood location that’s currently owned by the village.

The company wants to turn the parcel into a fenced-in parking lot and eventually use the land to possibly develop even more warehouse or office space in the future. Seaway has been located in Maywood for around six years, Engoren said.

But the village-owned land is located on a brownfield, which is “property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the
presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant,” according to the U.S. EPA.

The contamination is often petroleum-related. Examples of brownfield sites include “old gas stations, auto service businesses, factories, mill sites, shipyards, transit stations, and junkyards,” the EPA notes.

Typically, a business looking to build, expand or redevelop an area that’s suspected to be contaminated has to pay to conduct soil tests and, if those tests find that the area has been polluted or contaminated, then the business also has to pay for the necessary cleanup.

An official with Weaver Consultants Group, the firm that Cook County contracted with to provide environmental testing and remediation services, said that it can cost between $3,000 and $5,000 to conduct phase one soil testing. Phase two cleanup efforts start at around $15,000 to $20,000.

The EPA grant — which was administered by the Cook County Department of Environmental Control in collaboration with the villages of Maywood, Bellwood, Melrose Park, Forest Park, Schiller Park, Northlake and Franklin Park — basically pays for those phase one and phase two costs. The county received the grant money in 2014.

“These tests, while they’re not terribly expensive, they’re not cheap,” said Engoren. “Even before you buy the [land], you have to invest money to just look at it and consider it. This program takes the guesswork out of the process for potential buyers.”

Engoren added that completing the environmental remediation process also clears a big hurdle for businesses trying to access the necessary credit to fund expansion and redevelopment efforts. As of press time, it wasn’t known how the land that Seaway is trying to acquire got contaminated. Seaway is located in an area zoned for industrial and manufacturing uses.

According to estimates by the Center for Neighborhood Technology, there are nearly 90 brownfield parcels located in western Cook County. And the Illinois State Fire Marshall has counted 684 petroleum-related Underground Storage Tank (UST) locations in the seven municipalities participating in the grant program.

The CNT estimates that there are 17 brownfield parcels in Maywood alone that cover nearly 50 acres, six brownfield parcels in Bellwood covering 17 acres and nine brownfield parcels in Melrose Park covering nearly 50 acres.

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Maywood brownfield sites targeted by EPA grant 

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Bellwod and Melrose Park brownfield sites targeted by EPA grant 

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“This program is truly an economic development driver,” said Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins during a July 13 press conference convened at Seaway Supply to mark the completion of the grant program.

“This program allowed Maywood to receive funding for environmental assessments that will lead to redevelopment of several vacant lots that had not hope for redevelopment.”

In all, the grant program identified and assessed 30 sites in the seven aforementioned coalition communities that cover 127 acres. Currently, more than 120 acres are in the process of redevelopment or are being planned for future reuse, according to a statement released by Cook County Board President on June 13.

“Brownfield sites are difficult to redevelop,” Preckwinkle said at the June 13 press conference. “By freeing up these sites for reinvestment, we not only protect the environment but we reduce eyesores for these communities.”

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Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins and other elected officials inside of Seaway Supply Co. on June 13. | Michael Romain/VFP

In addition to Seaway Supply Company, other sites that were tested and/or cleaned up include the former Maywood Racetrack in Melrose Park, six parcels that sit on over five acres in Bellwood and several more parcels in Maywood that cover nearly four acres.

“I can think of no better place for this to happen than in the village of Maywood,” said Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (1st), whose district includes Maywood and Bellwood.

“Maywood has had significant challenges relating to unemployment and businesses leaving … This is a shot in the arm for businesses that want to expand, want jobs and want to work here. It’s good for our tax base, it’s good for everybody.” VFP

DON’T MISS THIS!Business reception Detailed Flyer_July

 

Area Lawmakers React to Illinois Budget Plan | Sugary Beverage Tax Put on Hold

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Thursday, July 6, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

The Illinois House voted 71 to 42 on July 6 to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of a revenue bill “that will hike the personal income tax rate — while also voting to override two other budget bills,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported on Thursday.

For the first time in two years, Illinois has a full budget in place after after a two-year impasse, “the longest such impasse for any state in modern history,” according to a July 6 New York Times report.

“The decision to approve the budget, which includes an income tax increase expected to generate about $5 billion, came as Illinois was sinking deeper into fiscal misery,” the Times reports.

“The state is $15 billion behind in paying its bills; has delayed or stopped payments that have especially affected the elderly, poor and students; and has been warned that its credit rating could sink to junk status, the lowest for any state.”

In the run-up to, and after, the historic vote, local state lawmakers were vocal in their support of the measure.

After the State Senate voted to override Rauner’s veto earlier this week, state Sen. Kimberly Lightford (4th), (whose district includes Bellwood, Broadview and Maywood, along with other western suburbs and parts of Chicago), said that the plan “would give our neediest populations and decimated institutions a fighting chance.

“Families, our most vulnerable populations and businesses alike need consistency,” Lightford stated. “It is time for Governor Rauner to set aside his political antics once and for all and do what he was elected to do, enact a budget.”

State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch (7th), whose district includes much of Proviso Township, praised the plan.

“The plan cuts state spending by nearly $3 billion, while protecting our seniors, supporting our most vulnerable citizens, revitalizing our violence prevention programs and funding our schools, colleges and universities,” he said.

In a July 6 Facebook post, uploaded as the House debated the governor’s vetoes, state Rep. Kathleen Willis (77th), (whose district includes all or parts of Bellwood, Maywood and Melrose Park), said that although the measure isn’t perfect, “we must do something. As one of my colleagues said last week the state hemoraging. This is a way to stop bleeding out. My view is that you must stop the bleeding before you can repair the damage.”

Sugary beverage tax blocked as budget cuts loom, says Preckwinkle

Soft_drink_shelf_2The cost of sugary beverages sold in Cook County were set to go up one penny per ounce this summer, but a Cook County Circuit Court judge blocked the inevitable from happening.

Now, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is warning that if the judge keeps the tax from taking effect by August, the county would have to cut 10 percent of its budget.

Per the Chicago Tribune, “In a letter dated Monday sent to all county elected officials, bureau chiefs and department heads, Preckwinkle budget director Tanya Anthony said analysts would be providing them ‘a recommended course of action’ to meet spending cuts needed if Cook County Circuit Judge Daniel Kubasiak doesn’t lift a temporary restraining order that’s preventing the penny-per-ounce tax from being levied.

“Kubasiak stopped the tax, which was supposed to go into effect Saturday, after the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and several grocers sued the county to permanently block it on the grounds it is vague and unconstitutional.

“The county was counting on $67.5 million to be collected through Nov. 30 via the tax on pop and other drinks.”

Read the full Chicago Tribune article here. VFP

Business reception Detailed Flyer_July