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Testy Stroger defends transition efforts

Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Daily Herald
by Ted Cox

Lame-duck President Todd Stroger skirmished with the Cook County Board today over the transition to the new administration of President-elect Toni Preckwinkle.

Faced with an agenda item calling on him to address the transition, a testy Stroger said, “If you'd asked me, I'd have told you I was working with her.”

His Chief of Staff Karen Crawford presented a letter documenting the cooperation of the president's office.

Stroger denied reports that he broke off a meeting with Preckwinkle when she refused to assure that she would keep some of his political appointees on after she takes office Dec. 6. “What I'd like her to do,” Stroger said, “is stop playing politics.”

“This is public policy. This isn't the politics of the situation,” said Evanston Democratic Commissioner Larry Suffredin, saying he wanted to know whether Stroger was complying with an ordinance the board passed and Stroger signed earlier this year calling for the “normal, constructive passing of one government to another.”

Stroger said his administration was cooperating, but that Preckwinkle's transition team was too demanding in its requests for information on county departments and their budgets. “There has to be some sensibility in what they want,” he said.

“The transition efforts got off to a slow start,” Preckwinkle responded in a statement. “We've got three weeks for the rest of the transition and, simply put, we need more information and faster.” Preckwinkle did not comment on whether Stroger had asked her to retain some of his staff.

Preckwinkle will have to put together a belated 2011 budget, to be passed by February, as her first order of business, and has complained that Stroger hasn't been forthcoming with information.

Suffredin accused Stroger of sometimes deluging Preckwinkle's transition team with paper when digital data would serve better and that the conflict was personal in nature. “He is still angry that he lost,” he said.

Chicago Democratic Commissioner William Beavers defended Stroger and said Preckwinkle is “threatening people with how many people she's going to fire” and aligning herself with “so-called do-gooders who know everything.”

Suffredin took no issue with that. “The members of the board would like to see the county move forward,” he said. Many budgetary items on the agenda were delayed until the Dec. 14 meeting after she takes office. Stroger's last meeting as president will be Dec. 1.

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