Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  

Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine


  Office phone numbers:  

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.


Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

  Cook County Hospital fills more outpatient prescriptions every day than are filled at 26 Walgreen's drug store combined.

No more free meals for county beast

Sunday, December 14, 2003
Special to

It's not too late for Cook County Board President John Stroger to recognize the shifting sands in which he finds himself precariously standing.

Stroger and some of his lock-step allies on the county board could easily transform the county into a 21st century unit government that values service over patronage. But they would have to mightily change the way they do business; change the way they view their customers, the taxpayers; change the way they treat their critics.

Stroger has an opportunity — if he grasps it — to truly make history. He can be the man who ends old-style tax-and-spend politics at the county, the structure he inherited from his predecessors and that he's essentially kept in place since he took the county's helm almost a decade ago.

Stroger suffered an immense political setback last week when the county board was poised to reject his 2004 budget that included a sales tax increase and new leasing tax.

Make no mistake: The fact that a rump group of three low-seniority Democrats and five seemingly cloutless suburban Republicans could successfully take on the powerful Democratic establishment — in the form of Stroger — sway the critical vote (that of a Democratic commissioner from Chicago, no less) and say "no," is stunning.

"For the first time, there is democracy on this board, and that's healthy," said county Commissioner Forrest Claypool, D-Chicago, a leader among the mavericks.

We agree that it is healthy, and we also hope that Stroger gets this simple message: Change your ways.

And why not? There's nothing preventing Cook County government from emulating what has already occurred at the Chicago Park District, the county treasurer's office and, steadily over the past decade, the Chicago Public Schools. All these bureaucracies were lumbering dinosaurs, payrolls laden with big-buck patronage hires who had too much time on their hands and too little interest in serving the taxpaying public.

Regrettably, Stroger to date has preferred to defend the status quo and lash back at his critics on the board and in the media. But Stroger has not survived decades in Cook County Democratic politics and ascended to his lofty governmental perch by being deaf, dumb or blind. On the contrary, Stroger is a savvy, sensible politician who counts many more friends than enemies. On a personal level, he is both convivial and convincing. These qualities would serve him well in constructively engaging his board critics — if he so chooses.

Reports last week of unacceptable supervisor-worker ratios at certain Forest Preserve District of Cook County facilities, of a 92-year-old county "administrator" who rarely shows up to work, of a one-time county commissioner who now does little but stand near Stroger at meetings and laugh at his jokes (all for $80,000-plus a year) only fuel the obvious conclusion that county government needs to reinvent itself.

Stroger made a start last summer when he named Steve Bylina to head the forest preserves — but only after being pressed to make a long-needed change by some of the same commissioners who now have blocked his budget.

Perhaps as a vote of confidence in Bylina, several commissioners who were ready to sink the county budget Tuesday on Wednesday gave Stroger the votes to approve the forest preserve budget.

As we urged several months ago in this space, Bylina must be given the independence to do his job and implement some of his promising plans for better servicing the county's tarnished jewel — even if it means getting rid of or reassigning patronage employees.

Meanwhile, Stroger should make similar tough decisions and cut loose some of his longtime buddies or political allies or hangers-on who give no value to the county's ultimate charge: serving the public. The maverick commissioners should stick to their guns; at the same time, Commissioners Deborah Sims, D-Chicago; and Joan Patricia Murphy, D-Crestwood, should take a long look at who they are really serving by sticking with Stroger on tax-and-spend matters. We'll certainly be pleased to remind their south suburban constituents of that responsibility come next election.

Increasing taxes as proposed is bad business and, Stroger should now realize, bad politics. The spotlight now is on the county board president. He can keep trying to feed the beast, or he can tame it.

Make no mistake: The fact that a rump group of three low-seniority Democrats and five seemingly cloutless suburban Republicans could successfully take on the powerful Democratic establishment ... and say "no," is stunning.

Recent Headlines

Working together to ensure that land, water, and life will always thrive in the forest preserves in Cook County.
Wednesday, July 06, 2022
Special to

For the Love Of Water (FLOW) is a summary of news from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.
Tuesday, July 05, 2022
Special to

First mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus reported in Cook County
Sunday, July 03, 2022
Chicago Tribune

Forest Preserves of Cook County presents family fun at Kids’ Fest in Thornton
Thursday, June 30, 2022
Chicago Tribune

‘Check your check’: Minimum wage increases Friday in Chicago and Cook County
Thursday, June 30, 2022
Chicago Sun-Times

First Graduates of Cook County Restorative Justice Program Recognized
Thursday, June 30, 2022

Illinois getting nearly 4,500 doses of monkeypox vaccine from national stockpile
Thursday, June 30, 2022
Chicago Tribune

Cook County restorative justice program offers 2nd chance for young, non-violent offenders
Wednesday, June 29, 2022
ABC Local

Protect endangered species from overuse of deadly ‘neonic’ pesticides
Sunday, June 26, 2022
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Public Health Officials Announce First Presumptive Case of Monkeypox
Saturday, June 25, 2022
Special to

Illinois child welfare officials defend leaving kids in jail after release
Friday, June 24, 2022

Cook County rescued popular restaurant from tax sale, then hosted an event there
Friday, June 24, 2022

Cook County Officials Unveil Rosy 2023 Budget Outlook
Friday, June 24, 2022

Trailblazers Program Empowers Volunteers
Thursday, June 23, 2022
Special to

Preckwinkle forecasts county’s smallest budget gap in a decade, no new taxes or fees planned
Wednesday, June 22, 2022
Chicago Tribune

Cook County's nonexistent residency policy
Wednesday, June 22, 2022
Crain's Chicago Business

Cook County invests $925,000 in COVID-19 stimulus money to bolster south suburban metals, machinery and equipment manufacturers
Sunday, June 19, 2022
Daily Southtown

COVID-19 risk in Chicago, Cook County improves to ‘medium’
Friday, June 17, 2022
Chicago Sun-Times

Man found beaten to death inside Cook County Jail cell: autopsy
Wednesday, June 15, 2022
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County unveils new flag designed by high school student and inspired by 1893 World’s Fair goddess statue
Tuesday, June 14, 2022
Chicago Tribune

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.