Last week the Cook County Board of Commissioners took the welcome and overdue step of allowing voters to, this November, consolidate two elected offices into one. If voters ratify the measure by referendum, the Cook County Recorder of Deeds would be melded eventually into the Cook County Clerk’s Office.
Here is another example of where it makes sense to consolidate units of government. The five black county commissioners who voted against the referendum argued that the white and Latino majority on the county board was targeting the recorder’s office for elimination because Karen Yarbrough, the recorder, is a black woman and is vulnerable as such.
This is a race-based argument that we find grievously overstated. Surely, there are racial components to any leadership discussion within the Democratic Party of Cook County. Is it true that leadership slots are apportioned to foster racial alliances? Positively.
And while there is an argument for such political and racial balancing, in a government so notoriously bloated and resistant to progressive change as Cook County, the greater good is an intractable peeling away of waste and duplication.
Consolidation should not stop with the recorder. The Clerk of the Circuit Court is a stunning recreation of a 1950s government office, complete with ledgers and file cabinets and whirring fans. Merge that, too. And how about consolidating the Board of Review with the Cook County Assessor?
There are better ways to achieve racial equity than preserving bad governance.