Toni Preckwinkle, the President of Cook County Board, has taken the decision to withdraw the legal motion the Board has brought against retailers who had filed a case against the county over its sweetened beverage tax. This sudden move happened only a few days after the county board president himself defended their effort during a local radio interview.
Cooperation between government and business
Despite the conciliatory move by Preckwinkle, Rob Karr, the Chief Executive Officer and President of Merchants association said that the damages motion symbolized a disdain for the legal rights every US citizen enjoys. He continued on to say that his association looks forward to having the Preckwinkle administration behave in a cooperative manner. He hoped that the county government will act in good faith with the retail industry. Both individual and group retailers filed a case to block the tax on July 1, the original date of its implementation.
The move by the county board was controversial from the beginning. There was mounting criticism from a lot of quarters, with the editorial boards of multiple newspapers mounting scathing attacks against the effort. The county commissioners were also not impressed. They were searching for methods to curtail the president's authority to sue to get compensation for the damages in these kinds of cases.
Frank Shuftan, the spokesman for the Cook County Board, explained this sudden reversal by saying that this action began by the denial of a new appeals court in the case of the motion by Illinois Retail Merchants Association to stop the collection tax, as the judges analyzed the overall case merits. He also defended Preckwinkle's earlier justification for making the case a temporary delay in the implementation of a penny for every ounce tax imposed on sugar and artificially sweetened beverages, which led the county to suffer a substantial revenue loss. The revenues were supposed to be used to pay bills in 2017. In a prepared statement, Shuftan said that the board's intention is to protect revenues which will go to financing the public health services and critical public health of the county. He continued on to say that since the appellate court has totally rejected the emergency motion which will enable the government entity to collect the tax on sweetened beverages, there is a need for all parties to cooperate and move forward. For this reason, the county took the decision to withdraw the damage petition. This move will also benefit the public.