5 Replies to “Russ Stewart's Video on Cook County Board President Todd Stroger May 4, 2009”

  1. Russ Stewart is a little rough on yhe black guy. WTF I though Chicago Clout likes Todd Stroger?


    Instead of burying my predictions at the end of this column, here’s two prognostications which are metaphysical certainties:
    First, the sun will rise tomorrow morning.
    Second, Todd Stroger will not be Cook County Board president after December 2010, when his term expires.
    Stroger, a black Democrat, personifies the “Peter Principle,” which avers that people rise to their level of incompetence, and no further. Adjectives like clueless, hopeless, abysmal and horrendous usually describe Stroger’s two-year reign of error. “He’s an embarrassment,” said county Commissioner Tony Peraica. “He doesn’t tell the truth. He hires political hacks and family. He has no credibility, and no moral authority to govern.”
    Stroger, who occupies his post due to his DNA, deserves credit for establishing the “Todd Principle,” which avers that incompetent people precipitate massive dysfunction, infecting all aspects of their domain. Without question, Cook County government is dysfunctional.
    “He’s (Stroger) a nice man,” said Toni Preckwinkle, a black alderman from Chicago’s Hyde Park 5th Ward, who has announced her 2010 candidacy for board president. “But it’s not the job for him. He’s damaged and crippled the reputation of (county) government. It’s time to professionalize it.”
    Preckwinkle said she will build a “coalition of progressives, Latinos and women,” and will stress “reform in health care, criminal justice and forest preserves.” She added: “We need more alternative sentencing, more diversion. It costs $40,000 per year to keep somebody in jail.”
    Also running is white County Commissioner Forrest Claypool, who got 46.5 percent in the 2006 Democratic primary against John Stroger, who suffered a stroke ten days before the primary – evoking a sympathy vote, particularly among blacks. Claypool had raised $2.4 million, and was poised to unleash a nasty TV campaign. Had John Stroger not been incapacitated, he would have lost. The vote was 318,634-276,682, a Stroger margin of 41,952 in a turnout of 595,316.
    In August 2006, the ailing Stroger resigned his nomination, and Democratic committeemen, at the behest of Mayor Rich Daley, named young Todd, the 8th Ward alderman, as his dad’s replacement. Media outrage was considerable. In the ensuing election, Stroger beat Republican Peraica with just 52.9 percent. It’s been downhill since.
    A March poll by Bennett Petts Normington, paid for by the Service Employees International Union, had Claypool ahead with 27 percent, to Stroger’s 21 percent and Preckwinkle’s 16 percent, with 36 percent undecided. That’s a horrendous showing for Stroger. Among blacks, Stroger led Preckwinkle 26-24 percent.
    With the Democratic primary set for Feb. 2, 2010, this much is clear:
    First, it’s all about Todd — a referendum on him. If the SEIU poll is accurate, 79 percent of the respondents are either anti- or non-Stroger voters. In 2006, John Stroger got 53.5 percent, buoyed by a huge black turnout, but hardly a resounding ratification of his 12-year tenure.
    Second, blacks comprise slightly more than 40 percent of the countywide Democratic primary vote. In 2006, John Stroger got 154,352 votes (84.3 percent) in Chicago’s 20 black wards, to Claypool’s 28,801. In 2010, half or more of the black vote may gravitate to Preckwinkle.
    Third, in 2006, John Stroger, with support from white ward committeemen loyal to Mayor Rich Daley, got 39.7 percent the outlying white vote. In the ten white Northwest Side wards, Claypool won 48,803-19,566 (71.4 percent); in the five white Southwest Side wards, Claypool lost 23,429-28,054 (45.5 percent). That won’t happen in 2010. Todd is damaged goods, Preckwinkle has no appeal, and Claypool will win the white ethnic wards with 70 percent.
    Fourth, in the six wards along the north Lakefront, where Claypool beat Stroger by 26,352-11,293 (70 percent), Preckwinkle’s liberal record and gender will have considerable appeal.
    Fifth, Stroger won the nine Hispanic-majority wards by 18,802-15,752 (54.4 percent), but Todd won’t replicate that feat.
    And sixth, the real contest in 2010 will be between Claypool and Preckwinkle to apportion the anti-Stroger vote. The target is 40 percent.
    In 2006, Claypool won the suburbs by 133,545-86,567 (60.7 percent), in a turnout of 220,112. Preckwinkle will cut into Claypool’s margin in such liberal enclaves as Evanston and Oak Park. Black committeemen in Maywood and the south suburbs will back Todd. At worst, Claypool will get half the suburban primary vote, or 115,000 votes. Stroger and Preckwinkle will get about 60,000 apiece.
    In 2006, John Stroger won Chicago by 232,067-143,137 (61.8 percent), in a turnout of 375,204. The Lakefront votes Claypool loses to Preckwinkle will be offset by 2006 Stroger white votes that he recovers. Claypool’s base Chicago vote will be in the realm of 130,000-140,000, with Stroger and Preckwinkle dividing the remaining 235,000.
    The bottom line: If it’s Claypool-versus-two-blacks in a 600,000 turnout, Claypool’s 250,000-plus votes (42 percent) are enough. But if another white, like County Commissioner Larry Suffredin, runs, or if Stroger retires, the dynamics change. In a one-on-one against Claypool, Preckwinkle, with her base among blacks, white liberals and females, would be formidable. Suffredin would drain suburban votes from Claypool. If Stroger quits, black Clerk of Circuit Court Dorothy Brown could run. As of now, Claypool looks like the winner.
    A Claypool win would have an impact on Chicago’s 2011 mayoral race. Claypool was a former Daley chief-of-staff, and would be no Daley critic. But blacks would be incensed. The Strogers, both Daley allies, comprised a firewall. Daley could point to a black face in charge of county government. If both Stroger and appointed U.S. Senator Roland Burris lose, then Preckwinkle, alderman since 1991, would likely run for mayor, as might Brown, who got 20 percent in a 2007 mayoral bid.
    The “dysfunctional” rap on Todd Stroger has definite racial overtones. Some whites view Stroger’s regime as symptomatic of the black family. Busboy Tony Cole was hired last October as a secretary for Donna Dunnings, Stroger’s cousin and the county’s $175,000-a-year chief financial officer. He had a criminal background. He was arrested twice since October, and bailed out by Dunnings both times. After his second arrest, he was promoted to a $61,000 highway department job. While in jail, Cole got paid. When revealed by the media in April, Stroger fired both Dunnings and Cole, denying he knew of Cole’s history. The Illinois State Police’s background check on Cole was submitted in December. Stroger said Dunning wasn’t really fired, but was planning to resign, a charge she denies.
    Many voters have now concluded that Stroger is not only dumb, but deceitful. There’s other baggage:
    * The county budget is $3 billion, and hasn’t changed much in three years. Yet Stroger in 2008 insisted on a one-cent hike in the county sales tax, so as to raise $380 million in revenue. Now the Toddler wants to reduce the sales tax by 25 percent, saving consumers a quarter on every purchase of $100. “We didn’t have to raise” the sales tax, said Peraica. “We could have cut spending.”
    For fiscal 2009, Stroger sparked outrage when he proposed to borrow $220 million to cover ordinary expenses, and $104 million for pensions. The Board voted to cut spending, not hike bonding.
    * The Friends and Family Plan. “It’s nepotism at its worst,” said Claypool. Stroger’s cousin, sister, two brothers-in-law, campaign manager, father’s doctor (who gets $310,000 to run County Hospital), and a slew of boyhood friends all have high-paying county jobs. According to Peraica, Stroger “spends $2 million on public relations,” including $100,000 for an aide to craft “message,” $96,000 for a liaison to churches and community groups, and $75,000 to his press “spokesman.” In 2008, Stroger hired another chum, police officer Gene Mullins, as his new $105,059 “press chief.” Stroger promoted Comptroller Joe Fratto to chief-of-staff, at a salary of $181,866; the new comptroller is John Morales, earning $165,000.
    * In 2006, Stroger was diagnosed with cancer, which he concealed. In 2008, Stroger made all county employees sign a confidentiality agreement, barring disclosure to the media of any “inside information.” That’s not transparency.
    “He’s (Stroger) kept his promises,” said Chris Geovanis, of the county’s Department of Communications and Public Affairs. “He cut the number of employees by 1,102 in three years. He held the line on the county’s property tax rate. He consolidated services, decreased spending, increased transparency, gave the Inspector General subpoena powers, and passed reforms regarding purchasing.”
    She added that there’s been a “structural funding deficit for many years,” with $200 million each year in federal money “slashed by the Bush Administration.” Stroger, she said, has been “fiscally prudent.”
    County government is tasked with three functions: Health services, operating Cook County Hospital and outlying clinics. Court services, providing security in the various courthouses and courtrooms, and policing the unincorporated areas. And staffing the Cook County Jail, and transporting prisoners. Most county residents have no need of, nor exposure to, these county “services.”
    But all literate county residents have had considerable media exposure to Stroger’s antics since 2006. The majority deem him a dimwit, and county government as dysfunctional. He’s history.
    E-mail Russ@russstewart.com or visit his website at http://www.russstewart.com.
    WORD COUNT: 1,499.

  3. Daley: City not hiding anything from unions

    May 9, 2009

    BY MARY WISNIEWSKI Staff Reporter
    Mayor Daley said Saturday the city is “not hiding anything” from the unions representing city workers who have been threatened with layoffs vs. furlough days and other accomodations.

    “We’ve been sitting with them and really telling them very honestly and openly about the financial problems of the city,” Daley said, speaking after a White Sox volunteer event on the South Side.

    » Click to enlarge image

    Mayor Daley and Police Superintendent Jody Weis talk during the White Sox Day of Service with Volunteer Corps event at U.S. Cellular Field.
    (John J. Kim/Tom Cruze/Sun-Times)


    White Sox Day of Service

    “We’re not hiding anything…. We have a good workforce. We want to keep them working,” Daley said.

    More than 1,100 city employees — none sworn police officers or firefighters — will receive layoff notices in the next two weeks unless their unions agree to take 14 days off without pay and comp time instead of cash overtime.

    Daley said Saturday that he does believe the unions are “working hard,” and are sincere in their efforts, but that everyone needs to realize how bad the economy is.

    “The economy is much more difficult than anyone understands,” Daley said. “You have glimmers of hope, but you need more than glimmers of hope. You need people to go back to a job and not get laid off and not lose their home.”

    Daley was at Cellular Field to launch White Sox Service Day, in which fans and team members, including catcher A. J. Pierzynski, manager Ozzie Guillen and designated hitter Jim Thome assist in restoration work at two Boys & Girls Clubs locations on the South Side.

    On Saturday, Weis said police were “cautiously optimistic,” because preliminary figures showed an almost 20 percent drop in homicides in the first four months of 2009, compared with the same period last year. Overall, violent crime dropped nearly 3 percent.

    The superintendent said police have also taken 400 more guns off the street than they did in the same period last year.

    “What concerns me though is we’re taking more than one assault rifle a day off the street,” he said. “It’s a clear message as to what our men and women are facing every day.”

    Weis said the police have been working with Chicago Public Schools Superintendent Ron Huberman on a better exchange of information between the schools and the police, to address the violence that has claimed the lives of 36 CPS students thus far this year.

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