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updated: 5/18/2017 10:43 AM

Editorial: How Preckwinkle lost suburbs on minimum wage

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  • Suburban communities have largely rejected an attempt by the Cook County board and President Toni Preckwinkle to impose minimum-wage increases.

    Suburban communities have largely rejected an attempt by the Cook County board and President Toni Preckwinkle to impose minimum-wage increases.
    Daily Herald File Photo

The Daily Herald Editorial Board

As we've noted in this space plenty of times before, there is much that impresses us about Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

She has introduced discipline into Cook County government operations and professionalized its services. In doing so, she has injected a spirit of public service into its politics rather than the cynical cronyism and backroom deal making that used to characterize it.

Yes, she has done many things well. And she is the first Cook County Board president that suburbanites generally trust and respect since, well, our memories don't go back that far.

But nobody's perfect, and Preckwinkle isn't either.

We hope that she is taking a lesson from the string of rejections Cook County's edicts on minimum wage and paid sick time mandates have received in the suburbs.

The county ordinances would increase the local minimum wage from the state mandated $8.25 an hour to $10 an hour this July and $13 by 2020 and require employers to provide a minimum of five days of paid sick time annually for most employees. Those county laws were passed shortly after the city of Chicago enacted similar measures.

Because of safeguards in the state constitution, the laws also allow other municipalities in the county to opt out by July 1.

And that municipalities have been doing -- a steady progression of them that may well end up being almost universal by the time the annual celebration of our Independence arrives.

There is some irony in that deadline, by the way, because in many ways, these municipal opt-out votes represent the independence of the suburbs from myopic city-view sanctimony.

Our point here isn't to debate the merits of either ordinance. There are worthy arguments on both sides of those issues, and while we have our perspective on them, our message goes beyond that debate:

The county building is in Chicago and Preckwinkle is a product of Chicago and for the most part, spends her time in Chicago.

That vantage point skews perspectives, heightens quite naturally attention to the city and, without concerted effort, encourages misconceptions about the suburbs and even obliviousness to the suburbs.

Preckwinkle's losing the minimum wage/sick time debate in the suburbs partly because of disagreements over the merits. But she's losing the debate mainly because she never involved the suburbs in the discussions to begin with.

From her vantage point in the city, she talked to the suburbs rather than talking with the suburbs, she told us what the solution was rather than asking us to help fix the problem.

If you want the support of the suburbs, Madam President, involve us at the beginning, not just at the end.

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