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Forrest, the Iceman and the truth.

Friday, October 26, 2007
Chicago Tribune
by Mickey Ciokajlo

Cook County Commissioners Jerry Butler and Forrest Claypool debated taxes, the media and the truth today during a public hearing on Board President Todd Strogerís 2008 proposed budget.

Butler, whose nickname is "The Iceman," revealed his frustration with Claypoolís ability to attract media attention, particularly as Claypool points out the dysfunction in the county health system.

It started as Butler questioned a union official who had testified, and then took a swipe at Claypool.
Here's an edited version of the exchange:

Butler: "Perception becomes reality because the average person on the street - you know what? They called me up last week and they said, 'We donít want you to vote for the tax.' I said, 'Which taxes donít you want me to vote for?' They said, 'Uh, uh, uh, uh.' They donít even know. So part of our job is to tell them. And we have to tell them the truth. We donít tell them Claypoolís truth. We have to tell them the truth of whatís happening in the system."

Claypool: "There is not a Claypool truth. There is just the truth. You can take it out on me but the truth is that there are disparate news organizations ... and they donít always get it right but where there is smoke there is fire and thereís a lot of it [in county government]... The countyís own numbers show that $250 million of bills were not even billed last year... Thatís not part of some vast conspiracy by the media."

Butler: "There is a Butler truth, a Claypool truth and the whole truth. And what Iím saying is the Claypool truth makes the front page. And the Butler truth doesnít even get asked. And the other truth is never told."

Claypool: "I really hope that I have that kind of power. I hope I do have that kind of power to get all of the news media organizations in Chicago to broadcast what I think."

Butler: "Youíre proving my point... [At the end of board meetings] the TV cameras run to your side of the room."

Claypool: "They also talk to any other commissioner that wants to talk to them. And Iíve seen that as well and youíve seen that as well."

Butler: "No I have not. I have not seen anybody romancing me the way they romance you."

Claypool: "Iíve seen every disparate point of view presented ---"

Butler: "I think they love you."

Claypool: "Watch any broadcast Commissioner Butler and you will see disparate points of view. Competing points of view. You know something? In a democracy, thatís awfully healthy."

The exchange marked the second time this week that Claypool debated the county budget. Earlier this week, Claypool remained largely on the receiving end of criticism from Dr. Robert Simon, the county's health system chief.

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