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Stroger and Quigley at odds again

Thursday, February 08, 2007
Daily Herald
by Rob Olmstead

Well, that didn’t take long.
Just two months into Cook County Board President Todd Stroger’s term, the strange alliance of Stroger and Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley blew up in spectacular fashion Wednesday.
The two erupted into a shouting match at a forest preserve board meeting, with Quigley telling fellow Democrat Stroger “you lose all credibility” and Stroger accusing Quigley of “stabbing me in the back.”
The two came to verbal blows when Stroger pushed a resolution to transfer $11 million from the forest preserve district to the county budget to help fill a huge budget hole. Stroger said the move was simply repayment by the forest preserve, which got $13 million from the county about five years ago when it was in dire financial condition.
Quigley, an ardent environmentalist, maintained the money was a gift and shouldn’t have to be repaid. Also, he echoed Commissioner Larry Suffredin’s point that the forest preserve district is in a surplus position now because commissioners have raised taxes for the district three years running. To take money from the district, which came by it through tax increases, and use that money for the county violates Stroger’s pledge to fix the county budget without a tax increase, Quigley said.
“You lose all credibility for asking for tax hikes ever again in the forest preserve. … Because what this really is is a lateral tax hike. You use the forest preserve to raise taxes, even if it’s a small amount … and then you just transfer it over,” Quigley told Stroger. “With all due respect, from here we part.”
“You’re talking both sides of the fence. You need to stay on one side,” shot back Stroger. “Are you trying to tell me you didn’t vote for the county giving the forest preserve money (five years ago)?”
Quigley conceded he had.
Stroger then accused Quigley — who had heretofore supported Stroger’s attempt to balance the county budget without raising taxes — of abandoning ship just because his pet project, the preserves, was being affected.
“People, when it’s something that they don’t like, they jump up. You can’t be a commissioner and say, ‘I’m only speaking for these people.’ You’re speaking for everybody,” Stroger said. “You only got upset when it was something you cared about.”
“Those who stood up with you, sir, stood up with you saying they didn’t want to raise taxes,” Quigley said.
“They stood up with me sometimes; they talked about me other times,” shot back Stroger. “You can stand up with me one day and talk about me the next day.”
“When I stand up with you because you don’t want to raise taxes, it doesn’t mean that next week when I disagree with you I’m going to say I’m with you forever,” Quigley said.
Again, Stroger accused him of playing both sides.
“I strive for consistency,”  Quigley said.
“Your consistency has been being on my side and still stabbing me in the back at the same time,” Stroger said.
Eventually, the board voted to transfer $13 million from the district to the county, and added a vague amendment to give the forest preserve county land in exchange for the money.


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