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Cut Staffing and Take Good Notes

Friday, June 10, 2005
Chicago Sun-Times
Editorial

Given the shortcomings of Cook County government, we have no doubt that county commissioners, staff and County Board President John Stroger could gain valuable insights from the upcoming National Association of Counties meeting in Hawaii. We don't even resent the fact that attendees get to conduct their business in paradise.

But taxpayers shouldn't have to pay to send so many commissioners with their own entourages to Hawaii -- Stroger, seven commissioners and more than a dozen staff. The estimated $2,000 per person it will cost for the working vacation comes on the heels of a raucous budget debate in which Stroger tried to slap a first-time tax on hotels and raise taxes on restaurants. In order to craft the county's $3 billion budget without new taxes, county departments had to make $73 million in spending cuts. Those cuts will mainly be felt by taxpayers who will have to wait longer for county services.

In the aftermath of those cuts, it's a slap in the faces of taxpayers to send so many commissioners and staffers on a junket. (Stroger offers his view on the criticism of the trip in a letter on page 54.) The commissioners should designate a couple of people from their ranks, and Stroger should pick one person from his office to send to Hawaii. Everyone else should have to say "aloha" at their own expense.



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