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County missed opportunity

Monday, March 12, 2007
Chicago Sun-Times
by Claypool, Peraice, Schneider & Suffredin
Letter to the Editor

In last month's budget battle, the Cook County Board missed a historic opportunity to strike a blow against a bloated patronage system and protect the vital interests of citizens without clout.
In a featured letter defending their votes for President Todd Stroger's budget [March 9], commissioners Liz Doody Gorman, Gregg Goslin, Mike Quigley and Pete Silvestri make a series of misstatements and omissions.
In the week prior to the budget vote, 12 of the 17 commissioners -- including Gorman, Goslin, Quigley and Silvestri -- sponsored an alternative budget to cut deeply into the patronage-laden bureaucracy and restore critical law enforcement and health care services. In the hours prior to the vote, however, the four commissioners abandoned their own proposal and provided the swing votes to pass Stroger's budget.
The commissioners' letter falsely states that Stroger's budget "restored front line state's attorneys and sheriffs police." In fact, as the Sun-Times reported, it fired several dozen police officers while laying off 43 prosecutors. The budget also decimated health care services, shutting down neighborhood clinics and the hospital family practices.
The choice before the board was a simple one: Fire police officers and nurses, or fire hundreds of the paper-pushing bureaucrats in Stroger's "friends and family" hiring plan: the $110,000 a year press secretary who doesn't talk to the press; the $88,000 a year "outreach coordinator" to churches, and on and on.
The alternative budget originally co-sponsored by the four defecting commissioners would have been a rare win for taxpayers and citizens. Why they didn't stick with the majority of their colleagues, as one news columnist wrote, remains "a mystery."

Forrest Claypool, Anthony Peraica, Timothy Schneider, Larry Suffredin, Cook County commissioners



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