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Cook commissioners take issue with their colleagues

Monday, March 12, 2007
Daily Southtown
by Claypool, Peraica, Schneider & Suffredin

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 to the editor defending their votes for President Todd Stroger's budget ("Balancing Cook budget was long overdue," March 9), Commissioners Elizabeth Doody Gorman, Gregg Goslin, Mike Quigley and Peter Silvestri make a series of misstatements and omissions.
In the week before the budget vote, 12 of the 17 commissioners -- including Gorman, Goslin, Quigley and Silvestri -- sponsored an alternative budget to cut deeply into the county's wasteful, patronage-laden bureaucracy and restore critical law enforcement and health care services.
In the hours before the vote, however, the four commissioners abandoned their own proposal and provided the swing votes to pass Stroger's budget. The four commissioners now express anger that some (including newspaper columnists) questioned their motives for the flip-flop.
The commissioners' letter falsely states that Stroger's budget "restored front line state's attorneys and sheriff's police." In fact, as the Daily Southtown reported, it fired several dozen police officers while laying off 43 prosecutors. The Stroger 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 fighting gangs and drugs and nurses treating the afflicted or fire hundreds of the paper-pushing county bureaucrats in Stroger's "friends and family" hiring plan -- the $110,000-a-year press secretary who doesn't talk to the press, the $86,000-a-year "liaison" to unincorporated Cook County, 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
Commissioner 12th District
Anthony Peraica
Commissioner 16th District
Timothy Schneider
Commissioner 15th District
Larry Suffredin
Commissioner 13th District

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