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Cut the irresponsibility

Thursday, February 01, 2007
Chicago Sun-Times
Editorial

Amid Cook County's budget crisis, we've expressed worry about President Todd Stroger's tendency to hire or promote into sweet-paying jobs cronies and friends. It's not the kind of leadership he needs to demonstrate to craft a budget that makes the necessary cuts while preserving the necessary functions of county government.
But his bad judgment doesn't give anyone on the County Board a pass, as a few commissioners seem to be claiming. Several declared this week that they would accept no cuts in their budgets until Stroger trims management excesses under his control. "Until I see a level playing field," said Commissioner Earlean Collins, "I'm not cutting one dime."
Unfortunately, it appears that Collins and Deborah Sims, who voiced similar sentiments, need to be reminded that the voters didn't put them in office to emulate Stroger's bad habits. They also are leaders of county government, and they should hold his feet to the fire on his hires and promotions, not fall back on the taxpayer-be-damned, I-want-mine ways that have so damaged county finances.
This budget is in danger of being balanced on the backs of those least able to afford it -- for instance, poor people who depend on Cook County for health services. Commissioner John Daley, listening to Collins' and Sims' irresponsible carping, got it exactly right when he said, "You explain that to the doctors and nurses you're laying off."


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