Stroger, board remember JonesInsider who killed himself is honored
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
by Mickey Ciokajlo
A visibly saddened Cook County Board President Todd Stroger said Tuesday that political insider Orlando Jones, who died last week in an apparent suicide, was "like a brother" to him.
"I don't remember feeling like this except when I lost my brother," said Stroger in a halting voice at a County Board meeting during which Jones was honored.
Stroger's only brother, Hans, died of an asthma attack in 1982.
Jones, 52, was a godson of Stroger's father, former Board President John Stroger, and served as John Stroger's chief of staff from 1995 to 2001. Jones went on to a lucrative consulting career, winning state and county business.
His death came just days after police in Las Vegas recommended that he be charged in a contract scheme at a public hospital that was run by a former Cook County official.
Jones' legal troubles were not mentioned Tuesday as County Board members approved a resolution in his honor and shared memories of a man they described as a loyal and dedicated public servant.
"Orlando was very tender and really cared about people," said Commissioner John Daley, calling Jones "a personal friend."
Board members said Jones was a great communicator who always listened to their opinions but never wavered in carrying out John Stroger's agenda.
"Orlando was certainly the epitome of loyalty," Commissioner Peter Silvestri said. "There was no one more loyal to John Stroger, no one who represented John Stroger in these halls or outside these halls better than him."
Jones joined John Stroger's 8th Ward Democratic organization at the age of 18 and rose to become one of its most important players. He was instrumental in John Stroger's victory in the 2006 Democratic primary even after the former board president suffered a debilitating stroke.
Party leaders later slated Todd Stroger, who won the office last November.
"I knew Orlando really cared for me when I said, 'I'm going to run for County Board president,' and he said, 'Why would you want to do that?'" Todd Stroger said Tuesday. "And I said, 'No, that's what I'm going to do,' and he was there every step of the way."
"Orlando knew everything about county government," Todd Stroger added.
Later, in a news conference Todd Stroger would not say whether his family has told his father about Jones' death.
Funeral services for Jones are scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday at St. Felicitas Catholic Church, 1526 E. 84th St.