I have, over the years, been tough on Cook County Commissioner Earlean Collins. I have criticized her for being invisible in representing Oak Park, Forest Park and Austin on the Cook County board. I have criticized her for being complicit in the tax-hog, boondoggling, stuck-in-the-’50s approach to running the gigantic government that is the County of Cook. On more than one occasion – OK, on every occasion I have ever made reference to her – I appended the word “hack” to her name.

So this invisible, double-pension-dipping, excuse-making, do-nothing hack is back in the news. And, no, it is not for pushing her progressive agenda. Let me digress. The last time she ran for re-election, after teasing us with promises we wouldn’t have her to kick around much longer, she had actual opponents. That led her, remarkably, to our conference room for an endorsement interview.

And there Earlean Collins made her case, delusional as it was, that she was a true progressive. Always had been a progressive. Was working her progressive ideals in the resistant halls of county government. Here’s a paraphrase of her vapid tribute to her legislative leadership skills: “I want to change county government. But it just won’t be changed. The bureaucrats are too entrenched. They won’t allow us to change anything.”

It was quite the performance. And I think she really believes it. Pitiful. Painful. But she pulls it off with a certain harmed charm. Taken altogether, it makes her a delusional hack.

So Toni Preckwinkle got herself elected county board president. Inherited a dysfunctional government of hacks, a monumental structural deficit, and a mission statement that read simply, eloquently: “Self-Perpetuation.” Preckwinkle dove in, made the right moves and the right noises about shared sacrifice. A piece of that sacrifice was a budget that called for unionized county workers and the county board and administration to take 10 days off without pay this year to help staunch the financial losses.

Our own progressive Earlean Collins voted for that budget. Perhaps she read it. Certainly she was aware that she had aligned herself on the side of the workers, a darned progressive action, and would take the pain of losing 10 days wages off her $85,000 county salary (about the same as she makes in her pension for her equally stellar work over the years in the Illinois Senate).

Now, as the dailies have well reported, Collins and several of the other albatrosses who still serve on the county board, have reneged on their pledge to take the pay hit and they are citing some obscure state law that prohibits elected officials making more or less pay during the course of a term.

Anyone have a rail handy? Does Earlean Collins have no shame whatsoever? The two entities in which she has practiced her “progressiveness” – the state legislature and the county board – have been ridden into the ground. Her constituents are in grave pain. And she is moaning that her also-invisible staff has been cut and she now has to work harder and so a pay cut is unfair?

What does she do besides cash our checks? How does she hold her head up? 

Again, as always, she proves herself to be the ultimate political hack.