Cook County Board argues, but can't trim the budget.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
by Joseph Ryan
With a slew of tax hike proposals hanging over residents, Cook County commissioners Tuesday stooped to name-calling, yelling and taunting during an eight-hour budget-haggling session.
Through all the red-faced tirades and hoopla, the commissioners managed only to cut a paltry $1 million from a $3 billion budget.
Commissioner Tony Peraica was clearly the most hated kid on the playground Tuesday.
Commissioner Liz Gorman blasted her fellow Republican as a "pathetic, pathological liar," an "abusive weasel" and "no man."
As Peraica was fighting back -- calling Gorman a woman with "no self-respect" and "no dignity" -- Chicago Commissioner Joseph Moreno rose from his seat and thrust is index finger in Peraica's direction.
"You are a jerk," he howled.
And throughout the entire meeting, Commissioner William Beavers called the white commissioners racist. He also singled out Peraica, who is running for county state's attorney, for particularly harsh accusations.
"He hates everybody that is black," Beavers said before a gaggle of reporters and TV cameras. "And the rest of them follow suit. I knew him when he was a young man, when he was over there in Bridgeport beating up black folks."
The battles were nearly over when the arguing turned to a sophomoric joke about oral sex. A laughing Commissioner Timothy Schneider of Hanover Park finally declared, "We have gotten way to low here today -- oh, my lord."
All of this drew not one public comment from Cook County President Todd Stroger, who was sitting in the room most of the time but not voting.
The Chicago Democrat refused to answer any questions after the racist comments and yelling started early in the day.
Tuesday's meeting was supposed to be aimed at finding ways to reduce the county's $239 million budget shortfall.
Republican proposals to ax the budget across the board by up to 7 percent and close all health clinics were quickly pushed off to a meeting Friday.
By the end of the day, the budget shortfall dropped to $238 million after two proposals narrowly passed. One will close little-used recorder of deeds offices in Maywood and Skokie. The other will hold off on pay raises for nonunion workers
with the highest salaries.
White commissioners flatly denounced Beavers' accusations that their opposition to Stroger's 2 percent sales tax hike push is because the president is black.
Meanwhile, Gorman, of Orland Park, went off on Peraica because she believes he is behind an automated call into some suburban districts. The call, she said, falsely accuses her and other Republicans of favoring the tax hike.
Peraica of Riverside said he has been behind such calls in the past, but not this one.