Go to ABC7Chicago.com


abc7chicago.com blogs
Read more ABC7 blogs

Advertisement

- Chicago news

« The Daley Interview: A "Good Get"? | Main | "Politricks" 101 »

05/09/2009

Blindsided!

  Poor Todd Stroger.  He never saw it comin'.

  Four of his staunchest allies on the Cook County Board:  Commissioners John Daley, Joseph Mario Moreno, Joan Murphy and Roberto Maldonado have hung the beleaguered president "out to dry".  The democrat "regulars", who in 2007 supported Stroger's controversial one cent per dollar sales tax increase, suddenly "flipped" last week without giving the president the slightest advance notice.  They joined democrat "reformers" and republicans in a vote to repeal the tax effective January 1, 2010.  (that's about five weeks before the primary election)

  Stroger says the repeal would leave a $300 million dollar hole in the budget that would cause the shutdown of virtually all of the county's public health clinics as well as Provident and Oak Forest Hospitals.  He also predicted the Sheriff and State's Attorney's offices would be cut, threatening public safety.  After initially announcing that he intended to veto the repeal, a day later Stroger said he might let the vote stand to force the anti-tax commissioners to explain the eminent closures and service reductions to their constituents.

  Meanwhile, Daley and Moreno insisted that despite their votes they still support Stroger.  In what were convoluted, confusing explanations that sounded to this reporter like familiar political bull-bleep, they said the tax repeal and resulting cuts would compel the board to "re-visit" the budget and force the republicans and reformers to accept the reality that revenues still would have to be increased to maintain county services.

  But guess whose photo was on the front pages of both major Chicago newspapers last week looking like the ONLY county politician who wanted to keep the sales tax?  Todd Stroger was definitely set adrift by his democrat buddies and when reporters speculate on the timing, one name comes to mind:

Tony Cole.

  After spending much of his first two years in office trying to explain why county government is not a wasteful, bloated patronage trough for feeding his cronies and family, Stroger admitted he personally hired Cole last November.  The one-time college basketball player with a criminal past was working as a steakhouse busboy when he met the dining president who a few days later put the young man on the payroll as a $48,000 a year "administrative assistant".  Then, after Cole was arrested on a domestic dispute related charge and jailed, the county's chief financial officer (who also happens to be Stroger's cousin) was accompanied to the jail by the president's top aide (a lifelong pal) to bail out Cole.  A few weeks later, Cole is promoted and gets a 27% raise.  Then, incredibly, the county's rising patronage star is arrested AGAIN and the CFO cousin attempts yet another bailout!  President Stroger still hasn't come up with a plausible explanation for the relationships behind the hiring/promotion/bailout of Mr. Cole, who at this writing still lives in a cell at 26th and California.

  But let's set that aside for a moment to ask a more basic question:  Howizzit that during a stifling recession when tens of thousands of law-abiding, Cook County college graduates cannot find work, president Stroger's financially-challenged government made such a questionable hire.  Or let's just say it the way they might be saying it in some of the neighborhoods:

"Wasn't dere a hirin' freeze at da cow-nee?  Wuzzo special 'bout dis guy Cole, anyways?  Hey, who 'sent' Cole?  Nobody?  Is dere sumpin' else goin' on dat we don' know about?"

  Believe it.  Old school pols like Daley, Moreno, Murphy and Maldonado keep their ears to the ground.  They hear the chatter and whispers of the folks who count the most on election day.  That's why they're putting distance between themselves and whatever might be going on inside Todd Stroger's inner circle.

Comments

The comments to this entry are closed.