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County Board backs budget cuts

Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Chicago Sun-Times
by STEVE PATTERSON Staff Reporter

Cook County officials who say they are unable to cut 17 percent from their budget, as mandated by Board President Todd Stroger, heard a strong message delivered Tuesday by the County Board.
A bipartisan majority of the board -- 10 commissioners -- backs Stroger's plan for deep cuts in the county's $3 billion budget. And at Tuesday's meeting, they nitpicked over requests for new furniture and car repairs, calling requests "suspicious" and "indefensible."
This comes after years of board members voicing support for budgets before seeing them and siding with elected officials who said they couldn't possibly make cuts.
Stroger defends hiring
But Stroger said all departments will be cut, by the elected officials or the board, including his own staff.
The cuts will mean lightly used county health clinics will close, Stroger said, with long waits for doctors and prescriptions likely to follow.
Stroger is under fire for hiring people close to him for lucrative jobs -- including his best friend's wife and a sister-in-law, while also using multiple spokespersons.
"Why would I go out and hire somebody I don't know when there's people I do know who can do the job?" he said.
Commissioner Forrest Claypool countered that Stroger is "larding up the payroll with politically connected paper-pushers," and he predicted layoffs for nurses and prosecutors.

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