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That Toddlin’ county

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As expected….

With a little bit of grumbling, and a lot of posturing, the coronation of Todd Stroger went off without a hitch Tuesday as the Cook County Democratic Party nominated him to take his father’s place on the November ballot in the county board president race.

Well, maybe a slight hitch.

Moreover, some suburban committeemen, including Joan Brennan of Elk Grove Township, successfully objected to making the vote for Todd Stroger unanimous with a second ballot — a move the party sometimes does as a show of unity once the candidate is chosen.

Hard feelings, eh?

Meanwhile, do you get the feeling that Burt is losing it?

Ald. Burton Natarus (42nd) was shouted down at the Democratic Party meeting to choose a new Cook County Board president candidate Tuesday afternoon for a strange and racially-insensitive remark about the post office.

“The delivery of the United States mail stinks,” he said. “Of all the places in the United States where Afro-Americans have an opportunity with benefits and with good pay to do a job, it’s the postal service. They have a lock on it. And that’s fine. I’m for it. I’m for it. They can have it. I want them to have it. But I want service.”

Natarus was explaining his vote for Stroger by blaming Congressman Danny Davis, who sits on a postal committee in Washington, for poor mail service.

The Sun-Times has more goofy quotes from the committeeman’s meeting. Here’s 30th Ward Committeeman Michael Wojcik:

…And I urge you not to do as some of our colleagues originally suggested, that we were trying to throw the baby out with the bath water. You want to throw the baby out with the bath water, don’t vote for Todd Stroger. You’ll throw the baby out with the bath water. That baby is my children, your children, the people in the neighborhood. And I’m proud of that.”

And after scolding the Democrats for choosing Todd Stroger, Mark Brown had this to say today:

The most obvious way to make Democrats, who form a sizable majority in Cook County, to look before they leap [towards Tony Peraica] is to focus attention on social issues such as abortion, gun control and gay rights… a liberal Democrat looking at his [Peraica’s] conservative record is going to think twice before giving him a vote.

Also, if you thought Peraica was enthusiastic to the point of delusional, Brown has this tidbit:

A few weeks ago, Peraica told me he’d get 20 percent of the African-American vote. I bet him he wouldn’t get more than 5 percent. While many African-American voters undoubtedly share in the dissatisfaction over the Stroger situation, I can’t see many of them opting for Peraica.

And Carol Marin has another scoop.

Has somebody been frantically padding the payroll of Cook County government since President John Stroger’s stroke in March?

You gotta wonder.

According to a couple of printouts I’ve seen for pay periods June 11, 2006, to July 8, 2006, it looks to me like the cash-strapped county has in just four weeks added 408 new employees. Everything from janitors, clerks and student administrative aides to laundry workers, law clerks and doctors.

And there’s more:

According to county payroll reports, in early 2005, Cook County government had 25,060 employees. Just one year later, in early 2006, even BEFORE John Stroger’s stroke, that number had shot up to 27,292. An increase of more than 2,000 workers.

And the Trib had this at the bottom of their story today:

Unlike the anticipated outcome of Tuesday’s meeting, no one is forecasting the result of the County Board’s meeting on Wednesday. The 16 remaining commissioners will select an interim board president from among themselves to fill John Stroger’s term, which expires Dec. 4.

The Cook County state’s attorney’s office has ruled that the winner must receive a majority of the votes of those casting ballots. If all 16 commissioners vote, the winner would need nine. However, if any commissioners are absent or choose to vote “present,” the number of votes needed to win would be reduced.

At least five commissioners, Democrats Claypool, Steele, Earlean Collins and Joseph Mario Moreno and Republican Carl Hansen, are seeking the job. At least on a first ballot, the board’s five Republicans are expected to vote for Hansen, a 32-year veteran who lost in the March primary.

Several Republicans have said that they would likely support Claypool in subsequent votes. They have sided with Claypool in the past few years in blocking taxes pushed by John Stroger.

posted by Rich Miller
Wednesday, Jul 19, 06 @ 5:07 am


  1. Mark Brown wrote, “Peraica told me he’d get 20 percent of the African-American vote.”

    My question is: “Tony, exactly how high were you when you said this?” I know you can’t really believe this, in the way you can’t really believe that, with all your fiery rhetoric and baldfaced lies, there is a chance deep in Hades that you can attract the 200,000 crossover Democrats you need to win.

    Here’s a hint: all this has been good theater and your run has attracted Claypool sympathizers Carol Marin and Laura Washington and Eric Zorn and, oh Lord of Lords, even Debra Pickett (does anyone really, truly care?) to urge people to vote for you! Great! But you’ve lost already. Soon, your campaign funds will bust, the cameras will go away and you’ll be begging for Todd Stroger to have a stroke to get you back on TV.

    And lets acknowledge the 800,000 pound gorilla sitting on the sofa eating bon-bons: a bunch of folks are going to vote for you because you’re white. And thats it. They willfully and ignorantly figure there is no difference between Todd and John Stroger, so if you didn’t like daddy, hate the son.

    Well, the worst is about to happen for the new WHITE HOPE: a review of the record. That and the fact that Tony’s mouth is a shovel with which he will dig quite the deep grave. So deep, that I do not expect him to be back on the Board AT ALL in November.

    Now, I keep seeing folks all outraged that race (Chicago’s new bad word) plays any role in this, but lets look at the primary:

    Lakefront/suburban areas that voted for Claypool: KNOWN FOR BEING PRIMARILY WHITE

    City/few suburban areas that carried Stroger to victory: KNOWN FOR BEING PRIMARILY BLACK AND LATINO

    Now, a look at the general:

    Areas that Peraica can feasibly get and REALLY needs: Republicans (though not all…he isn’t loved by the part in that way), plus disenfranchised-feeling (or posturing) Dems, mostly from Claypool’s new base: KNOWN FOR BEING WHITE

    Areas that Todd needs: City/few suburban areas that carried John Stroger to victory: KNOWN FOR BEING BLACK AND LATINO

    Don’t hit me with any “whites help John Stroger get elected!” OF COURSE THEY DID!!!!! But a look at primary results show us that white voters were nowhere near as reliable as Stroger I’s base, which, in what is still a heavily racially-segregated Chicago, is primarily minority.

    ALLLL THAT TO SAY: Stop fooling yourselves with this “it isn’t about race” talk, folks. It really isn’t about much else…and that is sad.

    I will, however, say this: I figure every time Bill Beavers opens his mouth, Todd Stroger loses about 250 white votes. Note to Bill: “SHHHHH!!!!!”

    With Todd now solidly in, I propose prognostication for the general: Todd 58%/Tony 42% (higher than I would like, but, while some of the stroke backlash will dissipate, some will still be there).

    Comment by Pres of the FTPC Wednesday, Jul 19, 06 @ 5:57 am

  2. one ward committeeman predicted monday night that the first round would be 7 votes for steele, five votes for hansen, two votes for claypool, and one each for collins and moreno (who have agreed to vote for each other in the first round), iirc. he expected the second round to be 8 votes for steele, 7 votes for claypool — awaiting the decision from either collins or moreno, who’s said that he’ll won’t vote for steele or claypool (i don’t recall which). be interesting to see if that’s how it falls…

    Comment by bored now Wednesday, Jul 19, 06 @ 6:02 am

  3. Rich, how does this impact the Mayor’s race in 2007? Obviously Todd Stroger WOULD NOT be the nominee if Rich Daley did not support him. There is a strong desire in the African American community to field a viable candidate to challenge him 2007, however I believe that many of those who played the race card to get the younger Stroger in will be very upset in 2007 when there ends up being no viable candidate to challenge Daley.

    Does anyone expect the power structure that installed Todd Stroger as the nominee to allow there to be a legitimate Black challenger? Given the Stroger family’s track record (not backing Washington, not backing Obama) its reasonable that Todd, Beavers and others who supported him will sabotage the candidacy of Black candidate.

    I found those in the Stroger camp who played the race card to be full of BS, because the Stroger family has a long record of not being loyal to other Black candidates. As an African American I feel that the Black community in Chicago has been sold out to keep a family in power. In any situation there is give and take, Todd stroger did not get the nomination without giving something up in return.

    Comment by wndycty Wednesday, Jul 19, 06 @ 6:25 am

  4. ‘Afro-American’?

    Someone want to tell the good alderman it is no longer 1962?

    More racial insensitivity from white Chicago.

    Comment by Slash Wednesday, Jul 19, 06 @ 6:31 am

  5. The committeemen did he right thing by putting Todd Stroger on the ballot. Todd is the most qualified, most hard working,most popular in his district,and will get the most help from his Board in running the county. Who better to continue the Stroger legacy of putting the people first than Todd Stroger?
    Davis is a washed up throwback to the bad old days who is more concerned about getting air time with his antiquated way of speaking that turns off anyone under the age of 70 than he is about running county gov’t. It is time for him to retire to the US Congress where he has accomplished nothing for years. The drums are beating for new leadership on the west side, Danny.
    All of votes of the west suburban committeemen who feel that they have to kiss up to Davis to stay in office won’t equal the turnout in the 8th ward.
    The south side is the best side.
    Bring it on!

    Comment by Bill Wednesday, Jul 19, 06 @ 6:48 am

  6. wndy
    Shouldn’t public officials support the person that they feel is the best possible candidate without regard for the person’s ethnic background. Bringing up who John Stroger supported in past races is pretty counter-productive don’t you think,especially since it is Todd that is running not John. Why would a credible challenger to Daley,if there is such a thing, have to be black?
    It is not the “Stroger” camp who is playing the race card,it is you and it is not going to work anymore.
    This is a new era in Cook County politics and a great opportunity for like minded individals to improve the quality of life for citizens. Save the 70’s rhetoric for Danny’s next campaign. It is a new day now. Out with the old and in with the new.
    Bring it on!

    Comment by Bill Wednesday, Jul 19, 06 @ 7:08 am

  7. The problems with Peraica are all inside baseball.
    He certainly is conservative, but George Dunne was pro-life, Sheriff Sheehan was pro-life.
    News flash to all the liberals, even in so called liberal Chicago, all polls indicate that Blacks and Hispanics oppose gay marriage in bigger numbers and most people average white bars, barbers, after church, sports bars, barbecues, hair salons–they may not hate, but they make fun of the gay games. so don’t demonize Peraica for stands that are not out of the mainstream

    I don’t see many lakefront voters who voted for Claypool voting for Todd little king Stroger, if they don’t vote at all that is good for Peraica
    Beavers is worth 1000 votes at a minimum for Peraica every time he opens his ignorant racist mouth, not 250 as the earlier poster notes

    But yes, alas the demographics of the county are working against Peraica, he is still a long shot, but now a shot, but many voters are like cattle being led to the slaughter

    There are serious debt, corruption, health care, forest preserve, and jail problems. The county is not well run. But nobody really cares it is about power and helping friends with the sick veneer of helping the poor.

    Comment by Tom "Chicago First" Hynes Wednesday, Jul 19, 06 @ 7:24 am

  8. The disorganization of the Cook Republicans and their lack of money, the living dead of the Chicago Republicans do not add up to a Tony victory march — this time around.

    The bigger question is — will the County Board institute financial and management reforms to give the citizens a fair shake. Todd will be in such debt to the Lords of the party that I doubt it.

    Comment by Truthful James Wednesday, Jul 19, 06 @ 7:52 am

  9. “Of all the places in the United States where Afro-Americans have an opportunity with benefits and with good pay to do a job, it’s the postal service.”

    Maybe Burt wasn’t being racially insensitive — instead, he was complaining about the hairstyle preferred by many Postal employees.

    Comment by the Other Anonymous Wednesday, Jul 19, 06 @ 8:01 am

  10. Watching WGN this a.m. and was stunned to see Todd, reading a prepared statement, mispronouncing HIS OWN last name. *sigh*

    Comment by Woe is us Wednesday, Jul 19, 06 @ 8:04 am

  11. This is your party at work democrats…either keep defending it and tell us everything is fine, or grow a pair and realize your party is ruining Cook Co.

    Comment by Jimbo Wednesday, Jul 19, 06 @ 8:24 am

  12. I fully expect the NAACP to protest Nut-arus. I am thinking this will hurt suburban dems in all races that the GOP had a shot. There was no reformer, or even self proclaimed reformer in the race.

    Comment by Wumpus Wednesday, Jul 19, 06 @ 8:42 am

  13. Jimbo,
    There is a typo in your post. You must have meant RUNNING Cook County.

    Comment by Bill Wednesday, Jul 19, 06 @ 8:57 am

  14. This saga should win the “Best Political Joke” contest. What an embarassment.

    Comment by DuPage-Moderate Wednesday, Jul 19, 06 @ 9:10 am

  15. When, exactly, did Natarus have “it”? How about an age limit or some kind of competency test or something? Another leader we can all be proud of.

    Comment by Burt The Joke Wednesday, Jul 19, 06 @ 9:35 am

  16. Burt the Joke, Nut-arus’s competency test is the electoral process. People like Skeet keep supporting him, we can only mock and put up with his insanity. I do not live in his ward.

    Comment by Wumpus Wednesday, Jul 19, 06 @ 10:06 am

  17. Thank you Burt.

    Your continued obnoxious behavior is going to make Brendan Reilly’s campaign a breeeezzzeee!

    Comment by 42nd Ward For Brendan Reilly Wednesday, Jul 19, 06 @ 10:07 am

  18. The Democrats are handing the Board Presidency to Peraica. There is a lot of “wishes” reflected above, but all the informal push polls by Zorn, NBC, and WLS tell a very different story.

    Zorns blog had on 7-8% of Democrats voting for Stroger (1162 votes). Bobbie Steele quoted a WLS poll that stated 91% of 400 asked would not vote for Stroger.

    While these polls are not scientific, and certainly contain push questions, they reflect that fact that less than 10% of the people really want Todd Stroger. Certainly, there may be another 20-30% willing to vote for Todd, but I don’t see how Todd Stroger can win this.

    This is the craziest thing I have ever seen. Dare I ask, can this get weirder?

    Comment by Schiznitz Wednesday, Jul 19, 06 @ 10:08 am

  19. Burt Natarus doesn’t like women. Burt Natarus doesn’t like African-Americans. Burt Natarus doesn’t like short people. Burt Natarus doesn’t like the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. Burt Natarus doesn’t like the Chicago Federation of Labor. And Burt Natarus doesn’t like developers who show up at his office without a check made out to his campaign committee for $1,500.

    What I love about the video of Burt Natarus railing against African Americans is how Mike Madigan calmly slips away as Natarus starts flapping his big yapper.

    Comment by Yellow Dog Democrat Wednesday, Jul 19, 06 @ 10:42 am

  20. If only Joan Brennan would show that much life during the 23 months of every election cycle when there isn’t an “Election Day”… lemonade and swimming pools my elbow. Brennan is Cheryl Axley’s “best friend” with how little she’s going to do for Dan Kotoski.

    High fives to Brennan’s neighbors, Walton and Botterman for having the cajones to make their feelings (and those of their constituents) known loudly and publicly before the sham meeting.

    Comment by NW burbs Wednesday, Jul 19, 06 @ 10:55 am

  21. Steele on the First Ballot

    Comment by Just thought you would want to know Wednesday, Jul 19, 06 @ 11:17 am

  22. Rich, Has someone posted how each committeemen voted?

    Comment by Garp Wednesday, Jul 19, 06 @ 11:31 am

  23. The Democratic leadership is very worried about the 42nd Ward Aldermanic election next year.

    Burt is indeed losing it, and is widely disliked in his Ward. Brendan Reilly is a Johnny-come-lately carpetbagger wannabe who wouldn’t know a local community organization if it bit him on the leg.

    Richard Gordon, on the other hand, got 45% of the vote in 2003, on no money. He has his money lined up this time, he is well known in the community, he has support from community organizations after attending their meetings for eight years, and he is popular.

    This race could be a real sleeper.

    Comment by Bubs Wednesday, Jul 19, 06 @ 12:16 pm

  24. Bubs -

    Reilly’s lived in the 42nd Ward for five years, which is an eternity for the Loop. His parents are longtime Gold Coast residents, and people respect the work he did for Paul Vallas.

    The fact that Rich Gordon got 45% of the vote last time without spending any money just proves that 45% of the voters will vote for anyone rather than vote for Natarus. We’ll see how much money Gordon has raised soon enough, but I’ll bet 95% of the ward has never heard of him, and being the GOP Committeeman will not help him in that Ward.

    When people are looking for an alternative to Burt Natarus, do you think they’ll be looking for a Paul Vallas Guy or a George Bush Guy?

    Comment by Yellow Dog Democrat Wednesday, Jul 19, 06 @ 12:44 pm

  25. YDD,

    Do you ever engage your brain before you start spinning? Gordon gets 45% of the vote in 2003, but 95% of the ward has “never heard of him.” Really.

    Reilly moved in to run, calling five years an “eternity,” while humorous, doesn’t hide that fact. (As I recall, Richard Gordon was BORN in the 42nd Ward, so Mama’s Boy Brendan has some catching up to do on that score.)

    Reilly has no interest in the community, as he is running as a wannabe tool of the Machine. To Reilly, the 42nd is just a stepping stone to bigger and better things.

    Plus, I didn’t say Gordon has brought it in yet, I said he’s lined it up. Burt Natarus is an extremely vindictive man, and folks in the Ward aren’t stupid, so a lot of it won’t show up until later. Read more carefully next time.

    Comment by Bubs Wednesday, Jul 19, 06 @ 2:36 pm

  26. I attended the CCDP slatemaking session. Burt Natarus made a complete fool of himself during his diatribe about the postal service. He has become a walking, talking caricature of an alderman. It’s amazing he keeps getting reelected.

    He would be a great character for a Saturday night live or Second City skit.

    Comment by Captain America Wednesday, Jul 19, 06 @ 5:15 pm

  27. Burt is bizarre, what did he say about the money from Siegel? He is a liar
    how does he win?

    Comment by Moshe Wednesday, Jul 19, 06 @ 6:03 pm

  28. That hiring freeze (haha) is a joke (haha). That just goes to show you what John Stroger and his bureaucrats thought of the “authority” of the board of commissioners. Todd will not only keep all these unnecessary new hires (read, “loafers”), but will likely add more. He has a lot of people to reward after he wins. Prediction: They’ll raise property taxes sky high and blame Bobbie Steele for it.

    Comment by Snidely Whiplash Wednesday, Jul 19, 06 @ 6:06 pm

  29. Burt Natarus and Mike Wojcik are bizarre, surreal, unreal
    I just don’t even know if I can vote Dem anymore
    I love many things about the city
    but I may move out

    Comment by Thomas Thursday, Jul 20, 06 @ 6:45 am

  30. Bubs, you ought to lay-off of that Rich Gordon Kool-Aid you’re drinking or, perhaps, take a look at past electoral and campaign finance data regarding the 42nd Ward.

    After reading your little spat with YDD - I did just that and actually went back to take a look at results from the last 3 elections in the 42nd Ward. Lo and behold, it turns out that YDD is right and you, brace yourself, are wrong about Gordon’s strength.

    On average, Natarus’ last 3 opponents have scored roughly 45% of the vote in the 42nd Ward - each candidate having run a relatively low-key campaign (judging from a review of D-2 filings available on the state board of elections website).

    For anyone to suggest that candidates who have spent under $50,000 in an aldermanic are “well-known” or “popular” in a crowded media market like the downtown ward is either absolutely insane or incredibly politically naiive.

    Gordon supporters and operatives should take a deep breath before annointing their candidate who, let’s not forget, lost to Natarus by about the same margin that his predecessors lost by…not exactly “breaking from the pack” folks…certainly not a “contender”…

    I don’t know the Reilly guy - but have heard some good things about him thru political observers in Chicago…on the other hand, I have not heard anything positive about Mr. Gordon - in fact some former supporters claim that he has an ego the size of the Sears Tower and, if that’s the case, he’s no better than Crazy Old Natarus.

    No matter what, one thing remains clear: Alderman Natarus has overstayed his welcome in the 42nd Ward and will be replaced this year.

    Comment by Tom DeLay's Mom Friday, Jul 21, 06 @ 11:03 am

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