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Being Todd Stroger *** UPDATED x1 ***

Friday, Feb 29, 2008

* Todd Stroger is usually his own worst enemy, but there is no way he’s as bad as the media has made him out to be. Yesterday, he let the pressure get to him and unloaded

“My fault is actually running for office and being Todd Stroger. Being Todd Stroger means that there are going to be a certain amount of people who are going to be against me. The media are going to try to pull me over the rails. And that means they talk to the public. The public sees the government is not operating efficiently no matter what we’re doing.”

* It really does seem that everybody wants to believe the absolute worst about this guy. It’s more intense than the hatred of Blagojevich. And his coverage is slanted far more negatively. This is a bit much

Cook County Board President Todd Stroger’s latest choice for public relations chief has a tough job. Before he can begin to try to clean up his boss’ image, Gene Mullins has a PR problem of his own.

He’ll have to answer criticisms that Stroger’s hiring practices resemble a “friends and family plan.”

The rub for Mullins? He’s a childhood friend of Stroger.

Except he’s also a PR guy with the Chicago Police Department.

I’m sure most of you will tee off as usual. But, for once, try to take a deep breath here.

*** UPDATE *** From the Sun-Times

A compromise has been struck in the long-festering Cook County budget debate, sources said. Cook County Board President Todd Stroger has reached a deal to raise the county sales tax from .75 percent to 1.75 percent, according to four county officials. […]

The swing vote, sources said, comes from Commissioner Larry Suffredin — who demanded Stroger give up control of the hospital system to an independent board of outside professionals. In exchange, Suffredin will agree to vote for a 1 percent sales tax hike, giving Stroger his needed ninth vote to make it pass.

The move would give Chicago one of the highest sales taxes in the nation. But that, coupled with other, smaller tax hikes and some cuts, will balance the 2008 budget.

It will also likely generate enough revenue to prevent Stroger from having to seek another tax hike in 2009.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Ramsin - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 9:27 am:

    Goo-goos are an important but occasionally annoying bunch. Their obsession with process over material results is what occasionally marginalizes them.

    Without Mike Madigan, we likely would never have gotten Lisa Madigan–who is a hell of an attorney-general. No Tommy Hynes, no Dan Hynes–but he’s been a great public servant.

    Nepotism doesn’t automatically make a person a dolt who doesn’t deserve to be a public servant, and can’t be an effective one.

    The jury is out on Todd I, but to automatically peg the guy for constant harrying because his dad was the previous Board President is unfair. I mean, let him try to be a good County Board President and win on his own merits.

  2. - Snidely Whiplash - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 9:29 am:

    How many $100k per year spokespeople does he need? We seem to be paying a fortune for him to hire people to convince us he’s not wasting our money … see the irony?

    I also find it rather interesting that he put him into an open position in the planning department, but he will not be working there. Meaning, that the budget in and of itself is, at best, misleading. If this wasn’t a high profile hire, he would be able to hide a relative or friend from the public eye in this fashion, and I’m sure you’re going to find all kinds of people doing God-knows-what for him, but who show up in the budget somewhere in another department. That to me is a fraud on the public.

  3. - Wumpus - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 9:34 am:

    The biggest issue with Stroger (that I see) is the way they snuck him into the election. I know no one knew his late father would have a stroke. After it did happen, they lied and hid his true condition, then at the last minute possible, they replaced John with Todd on the ballot.

    Policies aside, that is what I believe peoples’ biggest problem with him is. Most of these politicians hire friend sand family. Lisa Madigan went through the primary process, that is the difference. People had a choice when it came to her via primary.

  4. - Doug Dobmeyer - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 9:34 am:

    Todd Stroger is a guy in way over gis head and he’s thrashing about. The Cook County government are largely hacks left over from a by gone day.

    The idea that a former back bencher House member has the ability to craft a compromise is wild thinking. In a county where the poor depend on Cook County Hospital and it’s clinics for health care and the proposal is to cut by 15 percent. In a county where the jail is so overcrowded, the Board wants to cut by 15 percent. In a county where there are so many people in useless jobs - well it’s a joke headed by a bad clown.

    Bur Stroger, like his father are bad, the balance of the Board, save a few are almost as bad. Now Stroger is charhing criticisms of him are racist. OMG give us a break!

    This county will lurch from one funding crisis to another and we’ll pay for the mistakes.

    Doug Dobmeyer

  5. - tom73 - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 9:34 am:

    Though I was disgusted by the manner in which Todd Stroger gained his office–just because it was typical Chicago doesn’t make it right–I resolved to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    So far, though, I’ve no willingless on his part to compromise on revenue sources, nor any willingless to cut waste, including the jobs held by friends and family. Perhaps I have missed something?

    I am not trying to suggest he is the only reason Cook County faces the problems it does, but I can’t think of anything he has done that has actually helped things, which seems a pretty big failure for someone in his leadership position.

    Anyone have something that I’ve missed? I am willing to amend my position in the light of other information.

  6. - The Doc - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 9:38 am:

    The proof is in the pudding, so to speak. While I agree that Stroger is certainly not the neer-do-well as consistently portrayed in the Chicago media, he has made a number of fairly significant missteps in the face of a looming budget crisis. Recall Andre Garner, his director of media affairs, calling a radio station using a pseudonym to express his undying love for all things Stroger? That type of misleading behavior engenders a culture of distrust. He’s categorically broken most of his promises, including the much-needed privatization of the county health care system. There’s no explanation, reasonable or otherwise, to levy taxes a full 2%. The figurative beatings he’s experienced are, for the most part, richly deserved.

    Welcome to the spotlight, Todd Stroger.

  7. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 9:38 am:

    ===I also find it rather interesting that he put him into an open position in the planning department, but he will not be working there.===

    Read the story again. That’s not what happened.

  8. - Bryan - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 9:39 am:

    Stroger is out of control. How much taxes do we need, 10% sales tax? So that the money can go to Mr. Stroger’s friends. $100,000 a year for his childhood friend? Wow. If this passes I will make sure to buy as much of my stuff as possible outside of this county.

  9. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 9:41 am:

    Bryan, you’re buying too far into the hype I think. A whole lot of people hire old friends. Same in business. Those aren’t civil service jobs. They’re his paid advisors. He and everyone else in a position like that have the right to hire pretty much whomever they want.

    The hysteria on this guy is fascinating.

  10. - Snidely Whiplash - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 9:45 am:

    From the story:

    “Stroger’s not dumping his old $100,000 PR director — Andre Garner. He’s shuffling Garner into a vacant job in the county planning department and cutting his pay 10 percent.”

    Sorry Rich, I read too fast. Still,is Garner actually going to perform the duties of that open position? If so, is he qualified? Seems even under this scenario that he wanted to hire one friend but not fire the other, so he simply found a high paying slot in the budget to shift Garner into. It’s still a game of “guess which cup the pea is under.”

  11. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 9:46 am:

    I dunno, SW. But it’s pretty obvious that Stroger needs a new PR guy.

  12. - Kevin B - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 9:47 am:

    This is not Todd’s fault. It is the County Board who smell blood in the water. They will not compromise. They all want his job. Police Officers, States Attorneys, Public Defenders, Nurses and Doctors are for the most part are not political hacks.

  13. - Ghost - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 9:50 am:

    I still disagree with this whole idea that you can not hire trusted friends and family members, if they are qualified, to work with you. If I were an elected official I would want the most trusworthy people I could find around me to carry out my objectives and policy. If I had friends and family memebrs who were qualified, I would want them first. There is not and should never be anything wrong with hiring for loyalty and trust. Anytime a friend or family memebr is hired ask one question, are they qualified? If so, end of discussion.

  14. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 9:54 am:

    What Ghost said.

  15. - VanillaMan - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 9:57 am:

    Sorry - no sympathy here.

    I’m getting pretty tired of politicians wanting to play the victim when voters get angry. Todd Stroger didn’t have to run for this office. His father ran the office for long enough for him to see that it was a thankless task but a rewarding one for someone like his father. This isn’t a aristocracy. He didn’t have to step into his father’s shoes. We didn’t even want him to do so. He forced his way in and played games with everyone. Under the circumstances he should be surprised that anyone likes him.

    If he can’t handle it, then get out! We have real leaders ready to fight the fight for us. We don’t need a crybaby who somehow thought voters and the media would give him the same free ride he got from his father’s crooked cronies.

    It is better for an individual to resign and honestly tell us that they were unable to do the job, than it is for them to whine and screw everything up. The job is bigger than most of us. His pathetic cries for mercy is not making things better.

    NEVER give sympathy to politicians. If they wanted to be loved, they would have found another line of work. It is a difficult job. Isn’t that one of the reasons it is considered an honor to be elected in the first place?

  16. - Levois - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 9:58 am:

    Meh, my only problem with him is how he got elected. He snuck in as a nominee after the whole fiasco about his ill-father. Then he got elected in spite of it. It’s safe to say people coalesced around him. There was plenty of things he had against him and it was a lot more than his name.

    Still I don’t have a reason to change my mind about him. A politician has to make the tough choices, something Mr. Stroger seems to be doing. Still another commenter was right, he has broken most of his promises.

    Wasn’t supposed to reform Cook County and wasn’t he running as a progressive?

  17. - wndycty - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 9:58 am:

    When I read the article this morning its seemed to me that Mullins was a good hire. In this case what Stroger needs to do is cut some of the fat in the communication staff. But that is the problem with Stroger. He is his own worst enemy and he has created an environment that calls into question any decision he makes, including the good ones.

  18. - Carl Nyberg - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 9:59 am:

    Isn’t Beavers kinda Stroger’s buffer with the rest of the world? Hasn’t Beavers made it clear he has contempt for everybody who can’t force him out?

    Stroger is somewhat reaping what he sowed.

    And let’s not forget the Stroger family, including Todd Stroger, leading people to believe John Stroger could return to his duties.

    So, if Todd Stroger wants to be treated with respect and as a good-faith player in the game, he should start be treating others with respect and owning up to some his own bad behavior.

  19. - tom73 - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 10:01 am:

    Ghost: Fair enough, as long as civil service rules are not broken.

    But, with the widespread perception, correct or not, that County government is bloated with Stroger friends and family, some of them perhaps not qualified, wouldn’t a better leader do all he can to avoid adding to this perception? This is another reason I think Todd Stroger so far has shown weak, unthoughtful leadership. Maybe he has been drowned out by the media and citizen hysteria, but I’ve not heard him make a strong case for his hiring of friends and family. Yes, I was biased against him from the start, but I have tried to keep an open mind.

  20. - Carl Nyberg - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 10:02 am:

    Is Cook County delivering quality services? Are taxpayers getting their money’s worth?

    Are less competent people hired for high paying positions over more qualified applicants?

  21. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 10:03 am:

    VM, I don’t think anyone would advocate sympathy. What I’m advocating is an occasional even break.

  22. - Garp - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 10:05 am:

    It doesn’t help Stroger’s image as a fiscally responsible manager when his initial proposal for a tax increase gave him so much excess revenue that he claimed he would give some back. I was astounded he did that.

    It doesn’t help that his main voice on the board is an unapologetic proponent of patronage. i.e.. Beavers.

    And finally, it doesn’t help when his opponents can rattle off examples of the waste in County Government as easily as spelling their names.

  23. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 10:06 am:

    ===wouldn’t a better leader do all he can to avoid adding to this perception? ===

    He’s not a better leader. lol

    He’s just not as bad as so many seem to claim.

  24. - wordslinger - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 10:08 am:

    Todd’s snakebit. The way he got the job offended many. Beavers condescending remarks about who was running the show undercut him. Plus, I think the job was forced on him by his political family; I don’t think he ever wanted it and it shows. He’s not very good at it.

    It all makes him a perfect target for the Great White Democratic Reformers who are strangely silent on the shenanigans that transpire on the other half of the building.

    Still, Cook County government’s a disaster. A reorganization might be an interesting Con-Con topic.

  25. - Skeeter - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 10:13 am:

    I have to disagree. He is as bad as they claim.
    He rejected Suffredin’s plan yesterday for purely political reasons. He is more worried about re-election than about governing. That’s the irony of course. His failure to governn effectively is going to cause him to lose, and there is no way that any PR is going to help. You can only work with the raw material provided.

    That being said — The Todd business has really focused attention on the failures of the rest of the Board, notably Daley and my own Comm., Butler. Stroger is bad, but Daley and Butler are at least as bad. All of them need to go, but likely it will only be Stroger.

  26. - The 'Broken Heart' of Rogers Park - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 10:20 am:

    Rich said…> “But it’s pretty obvious that Stroger needs a new PR guy.”

    I hear Baghdad Bob is available.

  27. - Bluefish - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 10:21 am:

    Breaks need to be earned. Name one instance where Stroger has implemented any of the good government reforms he long ago promised. Until he delivers, he is getting what he deserves.

    Oh, and if he wants better PR the first thing he should do is wipe that stupid “I’m not listening” smirk off his face during board meetings. At least his dad cared what was going on. He doesn’t even try to fake that appearance.

  28. - Don - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 10:43 am:

    Rich, For you to say that Stroger is not as bad as people make him out to be is odd. Todd Stroger is not a bad person, he lacks the skills and experience to manage a $3.2 billion dollar government. The fact that he cannot get nine votes to pass his record setting tax increase says a lot, given that there are nine machine commissioners of board. Hiring friends and family does have an impact. His Chief of Staff, Lance Tyson getting into a public spat with commissioner Maldonado, the ninth vote, is beyond stupid. The county is a mess and Stroger is the Chief Executive. Period.

  29. - Hoober - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 10:51 am:

    Rich is too close to the situation. He wasn’t qualified. Is simply a pawn for Beavers and Daley. He is attempting to rescue the dying machine by adding 1100 new jobs. He is making up the deficit. He won’t budge on his 2% sales tax increase. Broke nearly all his campaign promises, especially eliminating jobs. He is a liar and thief. Now, he continually hires family and friends at 100k and says “where’s the patronage”.

    He is the worst ever and deserves to be run out of town. If anything, the press is too easy on him. Where is the Sun-Times after they endorsed him. People should be demnanding his resignation.

  30. - observer - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 10:56 am:

    The thing with the media today is they want to tear everyone down. They turn ordinary people into cartoon characters and then can’t understand why nobody of any values wants to be involved in public service. Go figure?

  31. - plutocrat03 - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 10:56 am:

    One can get past the discomfort of the big city politics that got Todd Stroger his job. I am sure that this will not be the last time a person get his job based on a familial connection, rather than ability.

    If we are to make a list of the successes as noted by Ramsin, we should also consider the longer list of failures as well.

    Ultimately, the tax paying public needs to have their legitimate needs met. Will that happen here?

    What is coming to roost here is whether he is capable of performing the job. Reform is not his forte. Business as usual does not appear to be the choice that the Board is in the mood for. Someone with more experience would have the tools and experience to figure out some sort of balance between the status quo and change. So TS’s inexperience and reliance on his dad’s advisors is not playing to his benefit.

    To Ghost’s point, there is value to trusted friends and relatives in advisory positions, but the key is whether they have the relevant skills and whether the person doing the hiring is capable of understanding what skills are needed to keep his(or her) bacon out of the skillet. The public benefit is always best served by having the most qualified candidate taking a position, not just someone connected to the boss. So far I see no stars selected by TS.

    I do however smell the odor of bacon.

  32. - Macbeth - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 10:59 am:

    I worked for an agency that Stroger was supposed to help in an advisory capacity. The guy never came to meetings, never fulfilled his end of the deal, and his office was downright rude. The stories are true.

    This is a guy that has more than earned his bad karma.

  33. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 11:01 am:

    ===lacks the skills and experience to manage a $3.2 billion dollar government===

    Besides his obvious lack of communication skills and his somewhat odd choice of advisers, I think he’s not getting an even break.

    One problem is he’s caught in a trick box. He made some cuts and ticked off the unions and a few honchos who thought they were safe. That allowed an opening for Peraica plus the “reformers” to point to his pals on the payroll as “evidence” that he’s padding the payroll at the expense of frontline workers.

    But, Stroger insists that the number of top admin people has dropped since he took office. Is it enough? No. But does that get covered? Nope. And despite all the hooplah over the cuts at the hospital, it just passed its certification inspection.

    The tax hike is another matter. I gotta figure there’s some sort of end game, but I don’t spend much time dealing with those guys, so I haven’t really checked in to see what’s what. Basically, I’ve just waited to see how it plays out.

    Also, he’s dealing with a board that’s chock full of strange ducks. Some want cuts, but don’t come up with nearly enough to balance the budget. Some say they’re for tax hikes, but I’m not sure that their proposals would find a majority, either.

    He’s the top guy, so he gets the blame. But I have long believed that he isn’t being treated fairly in the media. The voters stuck them with a guy they didn’t want (editorial board of one paper aside, but that was more about the top dogs), and now they’re making him pay for it.

  34. - Garp - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 11:02 am:

    Hoober, so much for the deep breath.

    I believe he did cut jobs and the budget and I think most of the 1100 new jobs are court mandated for jails and such. He also has budged from his initial 2% sales tax increase.

    As far as needing a good PR guy. Rich is absolutely correct. Todd somehow managed to make himself look bad even while cutting jobs and the budget. A neat trick in a County rampant with patronage excess.

  35. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 11:03 am:

    ===Rich is too close to the situation.===

    Hardly. I may be too far from it, however.

  36. - Don - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 11:03 am:

    Blaming the media is misguided. Nobody told Stroger to hire freinds and family, while laying off doctors and nurses. I understand that there a lot of people who think “machine” politics are cool and that Todd is just being picked on. The reality is that there is a price to be for poor leadership. I for one am getting tired of all the taxes and the arrogance.

  37. - Anonymous45 - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 11:04 am:

    even if Todd isn’t as bad as he seems, (I kinda feel bad for the guy for this health issues) the way he came into office, Beavers his mouth off for him a and acting like a jukyard dog on Todd’s behalf, his refusal to cut the waste and promote accountablity, hiring a PR guy (and friend to boot) to salvage his image is like throwing money down the drain. Money cannot alter the perception of continuued BAU at the County. Todder had his chance to instigate even a little reform and looked the other way…Rich, you have to be a long time resident of Cook County to appreciate the disgust the electorate has for this government…and may I add Barack endorsed this man over Forest Claypool?

  38. - Anonymous - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 11:07 am:

    Look, a stopped clock is right twice a day, and that’s about it for Todd, too. I think he 100% deserves the bad press he gets, because he is batting about 98% in terms of bone-headed moves. He is much worse than his dad - his dad was clever and had passion and compassion. Todd is like the teenager who’s been given the keys to the family car for the first time and is just driving around aimlessly because driving is so much fun.

  39. - Macbeth - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 11:07 am:

    I must say, though, I always admire folks when they make the rhetorical flourish and say that they’re only in the spotlight because they’re who they are.

    Yeah, we all got it out for Stroger. And the only reason we got it for Stroger is because Stroger is Stroger.

    Brilliant. That’s playing the sympathy card. What, he expects a lot of sympathetic nodding. “Yeah, boy, if you weren’t who you are, you’d get a lot less heat.”

    I’d like to see Blagojevich versus Stroger in the Octagon.

  40. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 11:10 am:

    ===and may I add Barack endorsed this man over Forest Claypool?===

    Todd Stroger didn’t run against Claypool. His dad did. When the invective flows, facts don’t matter.

    ===he is batting about 98% in terms of bone-headed moves.===

    As far as what’s being covered, I agree.

  41. - Anonymous45 - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 11:21 am:

    I stand firm–he endorsed Todd…could have stayed out of it…there was no compelling reason to inject himself in the race vs Peraica

  42. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 11:31 am:

    You said he endorsed Todd over Claypool. Now it’s a slam on Obama for endorsing a Dem over a conservative Republican? C’mon.

  43. - R.A. - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 11:41 am:

    Rich is right. No doubt, Stroger is guilty of a number of screw-ups, but the County Board should be shouldering much more of the blame for this fiasco. They don’t have the guts to raise taxes and they don’t have the guts to cut services.

    If you think the General Assembly is disfunctional, spend a few hour on the 5th Floor of the County Building. The incompetence, and frankly, the stupidity of the commissioners is jaw-dropping. The few commissioners who do have at least half a brain (Claypool, Quigley, etc.)have a vested political interest in gridlock and oppose anything Stroger proposes, even if it’s worthy (though each member of the opposition, including the Republicans, privately hopes the tax increase passes to spare them the wrath of the unions.)

    Don’t forget, the Cook County Board is really just a glorified finance committee. They vote on a budget and nothing else. Unlike aldermen, they don’t vote on meaniful zoning changes and ordinances, and their constituents have no idea who they are, so they don’t demand services. And unlike state senators and reps, commissioners don’t deal with any real legislation, like changes to the criminal code or business regulation. County commissioners vote on a budget. THAT’S IT! THAT’S THEIR ONLY JOB!

    Stroger might be a goof, but the commissioners are worse.

  44. - Levois - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 11:47 am:

    Todd’s snakebit. The way he got the job offended many. Beavers condescending remarks about who was running the show undercut him. Plus, I think the job was forced on him by his political family; I don’t think he ever wanted it and it shows. He’s not very good at it.

    I don’t know about that! I think he wanted it. He seemed to be campaigning for it when he father was down and out.

    Though it was rumored that daddy wanted to hand the office off to his son I think it’s just as possible that daddy didn’t want his son to be county board president. Who knows better than the father what his son is capable of? Yeah I suppose I have to account for what parents do with their kids such as constantly putting them down.

    I know this is all speculation. We really don’t know what happened behind closed doors.

  45. - Levois - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 11:48 am:

    Heh, I tried the blockquoting tags and it didn’t work too well.

  46. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 11:49 am:

    The old man wanted his son to have the job. There’s no doubt.

    And I fixed your comment for ya. It’s all about the service. lol

  47. - fedup dem - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 11:54 am:

    Rich, yo uand others in the media have all too often bent over backwards to give Todd a break. For that continuing damage to your reputations for such support or neutrality of him from the news media (and I am of the belief that should the Sun-Times fold, the paper’s insane endorsement of Toddler in 2006 will have been a major factor in turning people away in permanent disgust), Stroger continues to take actions and make utterances that makes his media defenders look almost as dumb as he is.

  48. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 11:59 am:

    ===and I am of the belief that should the Sun-Times fold, the paper’s insane endorsement of Toddler in 2006 will have been a major factor in turning people away in permanent disgust===

    Advertising is the problem more than readership.

    ===his media defenders===

    Please. How many would that be? How many columns and editorials have been written praising him since he took office? How many fluffy TV stories (except when he had that health problem)? Compare that to the number that have bashed him. Doesn’t even begin to match up.

    People who make completely false statements like yours show themselves for what they are. You’re looking for any excuse to buttress your own prejudices, political or otherwise, and you’ll make things up to achieve it. Either that, or you’re so blinded by your beliefs that you can’t see what’s in front of your eyes.

    Stroger does not deserve to be immune from criticism. He deserves an occasional even break, Peraicagoons notwithstanding.

  49. - Anonymous - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 12:41 pm:

    Rich - you are giving Todd the benefit of the doubt for the good things the press isn’t covering. Because you are not that connected into the County bureaucracy, you aren’t familiar with the boneheaded things the press ISN’T covering, because it’s not sexy enough. For example, the really stupid personnel moves at County Hospital that aren’t newsworthy because they don’t fit into the “family and friends” angle. The penny wise, pound foolish financial decisions at County Hospital that turn into low quality services and huge waiting lines in computer registries that nobody can photograph, so nobody writes about. Getting their accreditation is not a “gold star” for service. You don’t lose your accreditation because you’re wasting money, or spending it foolishly, or leaving great needs unmet. It’s much more technical and mechanical and should not be viewed as an indication that “everything is all right”, because it’s not.

  50. - Anon - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 12:42 pm:

    Even break? His proposed Budget is a disgrace, and his tax increase is the most naked ploy to bilk the taxpayers for patronage hiring yet seen in Cook County, (and that is saying something).

    He promised to cut the employment to 22,000. This budget increases hires by 1,100 to 25,000. He complains about “huge budget cuts” to scare people. His figuring is off of his bloated proposed budget, not the last fiscal year.

    “”[T]oday we are brought together by a shared goal — and for me, a solemn oath — to reshape our county government, and to have the courage and resolve to make bold changes. … We will transform this government into a more modern, more efficient operation. To get there, the transitions will be tough, the sacrifices — painful. The dramatic change — worth it.” — Cook County Board President Todd Stroger’s inaugural address, Dec. 4, 2006

    That was a bright, shining lie.

    If you want to talk about goons, let’s replay the video of John Daley threatening Peraica from the Chair during a Board meeting.

  51. - phocion - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 12:49 pm:

    Obama didn’t endorse Claypool in the primary. He could have chosen not to endorse Todd in the general. But he did, and the Zorn “ping” was sounded.

  52. - fed up - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 12:53 pm:

    Rich how many time has the todller lied or mislead about his fathers and his own health. He should go to the Blago school of media relations and just not talk. If his lips are moving he is lying.

  53. - The Doc - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 1:07 pm:

    I understand Stroger’s frustration. His position is certainly an unenviable one, and no doubt much more than he bargained for. But the writing was on the wall many moons ago, and his biggest faux pas was the failure to strike a conciliatory tone with the commissioners when it was obvious to everyone that he wouldn’t be receiving a free pass. In this respect, I see some parallels to Blagojevich - obtuse, stubborn, and unwilling to compromise.

  54. - Captain America - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 1:11 pm:

    I think Tood Stroger is a perfecly nice guy and a decent human being. But Cook County President is the third biggest exceutive job in Illinois politics. His political skil;ls are marginal and his managemnet skills are neglible. He appears to have no commitemnt to reforming Cook County givernment and has broken many promises to initiate reforms. He inherited a terrible fiscal situtation from his father. he alos has a unique gift for bad PR. Suffice it to say he’s no Dan Hynes or Lisa Madigan. He’s simply in way over his head, and needs to relieved of his position in 2010. Other than rooting for his political demise as Cook County Board Presidendt, I wish him and his family the best of thing else. It’s not racism, Todd it’s reformism that plagues you. It’s not personal, its political.

  55. - VanillaMan - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 1:17 pm:

    I realize that every successful politician hopes to be an asset as an office holder. But history is full of great people chewed up by circumstances beyond their control. We have elections so that voters can replace politicians when times change. When times get tough, we need tough leaders. Not every politician is up to the task, even though they could be a great person.

    Todd Stroger could have been OK if the current year is still 1970. Times were still pretty good for Cook County and we could have drifted along with him. But he is the wrong guy for 2008, and before he was chosen to replace his father he should have looked around and saw that he fell far short of the job that is needing to be done.

    When you run for office, you have to assume the responsibilities that go along with it. That’s the deal, isn’t it? When things go wrong, you have to deal with it - fingerpointing towards your predecessor isn’t acceptable. We don’t want to hear about who’s mistake something was - we elected you to fix it.

    Every politician measures more than just the risk of losing an election. Smart one, (which most are), also sniff out the challenges that would face them if they win. If they wish to get elected to higher offices, (which many do), they consider everything so that they imagine themselves leap-frogging into greater power and glory on the backs of sucessfully handling the challenges they faced earlier.

    Seasoned political veterans know that you only get one thank you for every thousand requests. You only get one campaign dollar for every two you request. It is a thankless task, and voters and the media will shred you like a pack of hungry hyenas if times go sour under your watch.

    That’s the way it is supposed to be. The responsibilties are often more important than the office holders, so it is definately correct for voters to toss out those office holders failing in those responsibilities.

    Those are the breaks that go with the job!
    Sorry - no pity, Todd. Welcome to the other side of politics!

    This is the deal Todd Stroger accepted. He didn’t have to. We don’t need him.

  56. - fed up - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 1:27 pm:

    He isnt there to reform anything he is there to protect and grow the patronage army that his father built. Reform is the last thing on Strogers mind. He feels Crook co. belongs to him and his friends and family much the same way Daley feels that way about Chicago. This is institutional corruption.

  57. - Mueller - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 1:31 pm:

    Rich is politicking and name calling and demigoging on his electronic graffiti wall like the Madigan guys tought him

  58. - 2for2 - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 1:36 pm:

    Claypool is lucky he lost in many ways. The reality is that regardless of the patronage problems, the County has serious financial issues that are, in fact, structural. If we were talking about President Claypool we would still be talking about an increase in sales or property taxes. The only alternative would be a massive cut in services. Todd has made numerous mistakes and has made himself an easy target. But the reality would not be significantly different if someone else sat in the President’s chair.

  59. - Dimmiecrat - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 1:58 pm:

    You mentioned the new prospective PR chief is Gene Mullins a boyhood friend. There may be another connection that causes PR and political problems.
    One Eugene M Mullins, Jr is listed as Treasurer of both of John H. Stroger’s remaining active political accounts (Citizens for Stroger and Stroger for President) as well as Friends for Todd H. Stroger; there is also a Eugene Mullins who is Chair of Friends of Todd H. Stroger for President. Friends and family?
    If the same person, Mr. Mullins may want to explain why over $500k disappeared from the John Stroger committees without any explanation? At the end of 2006, both commitees showed available funds totalling $522,086.45 (check it yourselves at By the reports as of June 30, 2007 the total balances of funds available totalled only $6,000, with only $6000 in expenditures/transfers out in the meantime. The subsequent report of December 31, 2007 makes no correction. Thus there is $510,086.45 missing and unaccounted for. Mr. Mullins, the Treasurer, can you explain this?

  60. - Norman - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 2:04 pm:

    Todd’s not as bad as the media makes him out to be….and in the same post we see another family member get hired. Yea, that pesky media!

  61. - fed up - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 2:06 pm:

    The patronage army had to be fed,please do not look behind the curtain all is well here.

  62. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 2:08 pm:

    Rich, I don’t follow the County as closely as the State stuff, but from my view, Todd does seem like that Joe guy in the funny papers with the rain cloud always over his head. I can’t remember reading a positive story about him or his administration.

    I don’t think I agree, if this is what you are really saying, that winning an elected office, running an agency, etc. gives a person the right to nepotize the place. Setting aside any issues of competence, civil service , etc. I’ve found one great way to drive the morale of a workforce right into the dumper is for the boss to run a Friends and Family program. Unless your name is on the door (as in owning the joint), you are better off helping your homies by helping them find a dream job not on your payroll.

  63. - Cerrios - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 2:11 pm:

    You want Todd to get an “even break.” How about Peraica getting an “even break.” You have completely accepted that democrats are entitled to everything in Cook County. This debutante was put in by a sytem built on pay-to-play politics. His campaign promise was to be a “reformer” defined as cutting spending AND reducing jobs. He is adding 1,100 jobs for the machine to get back their old influence. Beavers is drowning fast. Stroger has proposed far more taxes than even required…what the hell is that?

    Stroger is a petulant child. Spare the rod and spoil the child. Let someone who earned merit on their own right run the $3.2 billion government, not the intellectual runt with the golden last name.

  64. - Don - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 2:47 pm:

    All this whining about positive stories. Positive stories are earned by doing the right thing. Stroger has yet to have a positive story because he has yet to do the right thing, like keep his campaign promises. All you bloggers trying to make the ascertion that there is a media conspiracy against Todd, or that he is not as ineffective leader as the press portrays, are either on Stroger’s payroll or misinformed. Stroger has been offered as a compromise, an additional $300 million in new revenue and he turned it down because he wants $800 million! GIve me a break. We are in a recession.

  65. - Redbyrd - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 3:06 pm:

    Wow, this is hot and heavy….whiners for Fast Eddie V’s pal, Fast Tony, people banging on Capt. Fax and the never ending knock on President Todd.

    The budget is the budget no one wants to pay fund. The county prison ( I knows its a jain, but it looks like prison) or the Hospital.

    Line up all the elected bright lites: Hooli, Two Gun Tommy, Dorothy Brown, Pappas, Clean Gene and (who am I forgetting?) and the “reformers” (even the media giggles when they use that term) put all their solutions end to end and let’s us know if we are there yet.

    Cut all the insider jobs and we are still not there.

    Any fresh thoughts

    BTW some still remember the bang up job from O’Grady-Dvorak and BackJack O’Malley so I think county GOP (as in MOPE) leadership is real bad idea
    And I remembered Mayor Orr and Divine

  66. - anon - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 3:37 pm:

    I was in the audience at a function where Todd Stroger spoke last fall. When questioned about the county budget, all he could say was that ‘we all need to tighten our belts.’ The last question was asked by a woman who wanted to know “how do we, as citizens, help get the media off your back Mr. President?” Todd went on to thank his cousin for the question. No, he wasn’t joking. There was also a group of about 10 hangers on who kept interupting his speech with applause despite the fact that no one else in the room was clapping. It was embarassing.
    Two days later, I heard Tom Dart speak. He must have listed at least 9 area’s in which his office was able to cut waste and stream line operations. He provided very specific information, not just the ‘tightening the belt’ answer.

    Those two speeches were real eye openers for me.

  67. - DuPage Dave - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 3:42 pm:

    Rich wants to give the guy a break, but the circumstances of his rise to power rub too many people the wrong way. When the son or daughter of a high-ranking politician assumes a political position, there’s usually a wait-and-see period where people want to find out if he or she is a lightweight. With Lisa Madigan and Dan Hynes, the verdict is in that they are competent pros. With Lipinski the Younger, not so much.

    With Todd Stroger, the unusual situation with his father’s disabling stroke, its timing so close to an election and the lack of truthfulness from insiders about the elder Stroger’s condition, intensified this level of suspicion more than in most cases.

    The hiring of “friends and family” may be normal, but it has contributed to the notion that Todd Stroger is more like a traditional Cook County pol and not any sort of reformer and probably not up to the task of managing the County. His performance in the last few days has raised many more questions and, I’m guessing from the comments above, left more people convinced that he is, indeed, a lightweight. He still has time to prove everyone wrong, so good luck to everyone who lives in, works in or visits Cook County!

  68. - Garp - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 3:47 pm:

    Tom Dart should tighten his belt by getting rid of guards at courthouses that leave early, don’t come in, and cover each others ass by signing them in & out. Abuse like this is rampant in the Sheriffs Office and discredits good employees.

  69. - anon - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 4:02 pm:

    With leaders such as Todd Stroger, Rod Blagojevich, and Richard Daley - Can this Country afford to have Barak Obama as president?

  70. - steve schnorf - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 4:34 pm:

    Hey, Rich, some days you’re the windshield, some days you’re the bug. Like most of us, you’re never a prophet in your own country.

  71. - Boone Logan Square - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 4:58 pm:

    If Todd Stroger is frustrated with criticism (from not only the media but also by both Democratic and Republican commissioners), he has a solution. He can always retire into the private sector. The people of Cook County can elect a successor. Everyone would probably feel better, and maybe — just maybe — the county’s management would improve.

  72. - Independent - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 5:25 pm:

    Stroger (and Blagojevich) have a major Daley envy problem. They looked at Daley, who has a rubber stamp council, and wanted the same for themselves. When they could not achieve compliance from their legislative bodies they hardened their stances instead of working to forge coalitions and make compromises.

    An inconvenient truth rarely mentioned is that race is a big part of Stroger’s negative press. Sure he’s completely tone deaf politically and has a lot of ridiculous ideas but if he were white I think he’d get more of the benefit of the doubt. The politicos and press are much more forgiving of Daley’s many blunders.

  73. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 5:27 pm:

    Redd, the only thing AA remembers about the O’Grady/Dvorak crowd is there was always some knucklehead on the fringe of their posse offerin’ folks a great deal on a big shiny Rolex “just like Jimmy’s.” Had the sense they might be warm to the touch.

  74. - Reddbyrd - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 5:46 pm:

    That wasn’t the fringe it was ground zero of the brain trust and the Rolex wrist was the poster child of that whole GOP(as in MOPE) “reform”. It led to my recent conclusion…send Fast Tony back to Fast Eddie’s law office PRONTO!

  75. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 6:36 pm:

    Bling Bada Bling! Let Tony keep goin’ when he hits the state line.

  76. - Cassandra - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 6:46 pm:

    Actually, it would appear that Mr. Stroger has been quite successful. He will increase hiring, and the County is speeding towards previous highs on the County payroll. The Stroger patronage army remains intact. He didn’t get what he asked for but he got a substantial chunk of dough and he probably padded the original sales tax request knowing it would be reduced. In addition, he’ll be back for more, lots more, in 2009 or 2010.

    The losers here are the taxpayers, not Stroger.
    We got took again. Stroger will likely sail on
    to re-election, with a corps of ever-happier,
    ever-richer family and friends on the county payroll and no change in the quality, or rather,
    lack of quality in county services.

    We can only blame ourselves. Illinoisians, and
    especially Cook County-ians just love to give
    ever more money to their government, even if
    we get nothing back.

  77. - unreal - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 11:20 pm:

    Any commissioner who voted for this should be exiting hte next election. Anyone who voted for Stroger knowing he didn’t have the experience should feel responsible, and we should all shop, eat, etc…. in other counties!

  78. - Snidely Whiplash - Friday, Feb 29, 08 @ 11:29 pm:

    I wish I knew where some of you guys get your “information”: Peraica and Vyrdolyak HATE each other.

  79. - Phoning the Feds - Saturday, Mar 1, 08 @ 2:12 am:

    Todd cannot lead, nor will he. Even his fellow Board cronies are distancing themselves from him. He has fired up the opposition, refused to stop hiring “friends, family, and hangers-on” while calling for budget cuts and tax increases, and continues to believe he’s actually in charge.

  80. - anon - Monday, Mar 3, 08 @ 3:13 pm:

    I think Stroger will get better as he gets more experience. I still think he has done more than hi father in regards to accountability. He inherited a fiscal mess. People do not like the way he got the office through his father. That’s the bottom line.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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