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No-show Stroger's disdain for suburbs

Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Daily Herald

Well, wouldn't you know it.

We were just about to say something nice about Cook County Board President Todd Stroger. In fact, we already had in an earlier draft of this editorial. Unfortunately now, that draft will have to gather dust until the lucrative editorial board memoirs are written.

Stroger had been scheduled to make a rare visit to the suburbs tonight. He was supposed to participate in a town hall meeting hosted by the Palatine village board at Harper College.

The invitation had been extended long ago by Palatine Village President Rita Mullins in the wake of the village's outrage over county tax increases.

In recent days, the cynics in the suburbs had begun predicting that Stroger would cancel. In fact, State Sen. Matt Murphy, a Palatine Republican who is sponsoring legislation to break the Northwest suburbs off into a separate county, made the prediction publicly in a story in Tuesday's editions.

We found that speculation hard to imagine. Stroger had committed too long ago and too publicly and had already engendered enough criticism in the suburbs to bail on this important gathering at the last minute.

Believing that, we began our editorial about the town hall meeting, and among our observations in it, we thanked Stroger for the gesture of his appearance, thanked him for making an effort to reach out to the suburbs.

Well, maybe the cynics weren't cynics after all, just realists. One thing's for certain. In this instance, to actually think Stroger would follow through on a promise, we were naïve.

Late in the day -- the kind of timing politicians like when they want to limit a critical response -- Stroger's office issues a news release saying he would not attend the meeting.

He had the audacity to blame Palatine village officials for his latest affront to the suburbs, charging that they changed the format.

Excuses, excuses.

This meeting had been scheduled at Harper College precisely to ensure there would be room. Murphy and State Rep. Suzie Bassi had directly encouraged the public to attend and participate.

This is just one more example of Cook County government's disdain for the suburbs. At the county building, the suburbs have no voice. That's what our outrage is really about. Yes, we're angry with the waste. And the new taxes. And the patronage and the lack of suburban services. But more than anything, we're weary with not having a say in ending these things, in helping bring about reform and good government that both the suburbs and the city deserve.

The quixotic quest for the suburbs to split into a Reagan or Lincoln County all our own is about being listened to. That quest is neither politically nor financially practical, but still the dream of it abides because it at least would enable us to govern ourselves.

We must have a voice, Mr. Stroger. Don't you get it? You have to start listening.



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