Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  

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


  Office phone numbers:  

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


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

  Cook County is the second most populous county in the nation. It is the 19th largest government in the U.S.

Chicago-Style Politics Live On In Cook County

Monday, April 28, 2008

CHICAGO (AP) ― Todd Stroger promised Cook County government would be different when he was in charge.

Long criticized as bloated by unwise spending and a padded payroll, the county would be leaner. Hiring based on political clout would be a thing of the past. And the massive bureaucracy would be made more efficient.

But more than a year after Stroger was sworn in as president of the County Board -- succeeding his father -- critics say not much has changed in a government perhaps best known as a place where clout greases the political machine.

Stroger has been criticized over friends and family members on the payroll. A recent county tax increase gives Chicagoans the highest sales taxes of any major city in the country.

And a federal court monitor says the county still has not cleaned up the political patronage that long has helped unqualified people get jobs and kept politically connected workers from being disciplined.

"Not much has changed," said Commissioner Mike Quigley, who unsuccessfully proposed cutting commissioners' office budgets to help fund mammograms at the cash-strapped, county-run hospital named for Stroger's late father, John Stroger. "It's basically the same crew that's always been here. It's the same mentality, it's the same culture and the actions are the same."

Stroger said he's doing what he promised run a county that -- with a $3 billion budget and more than 5 million residents -- is larger than dozens of states and even some countries. He also insists he doesn't know of any illegal political hiring on his watch, "and if there is, it doesn't flow from me."

But it's no secret that patronage has long played a role in Cook County politics.

Stroger's late father, a pioneering black politician, wasn't shy about his ability to put supporters on the public payroll, and oversaw a vast patronage empire at the county for a dozen years before suffering a massive stroke in 2006.

The court monitor was appointed in 2006, shortly before Todd Stroger took over, as part of a lawsuit settlement aimed at ridding the county of most political patronage hiring. Two months earlier, FBI agents had raided Cook County offices in what county officials said was an investigation related to political patronage hiring.

Todd Stroger has been dogged by allegations of favoritism, stretching back to how he got his job.

When it was announced that his father would retire because of his stroke, the elder Stroger wanted his son, then a Chicago alderman, to replace him on the ballot. Democratic leaders obliged, and Todd Stroger went on to beat Republican County Commissioner Tony Peraica, who railed against family succession.

Media accounts have chronicled what some commissioners call Stroger's friends-and-family hiring plan. The wife of a childhood friend got a job. His spokesman is a longtime pal, too.

Recent disclosures about a 12 percent pay boost for Stroger's cousin, who was promoted from budget director to chief financial officer after he took office, have stoked those criticisms.

"He's like a kid in a candy store handing out goodies to his buddies and his family members at a time when the average taxpayer is hurting," said Democratic County Commissioner Forrest Claypool, a frequent Stroger critic.

Stroger spokesman Eugene Mullins defended the CFO's salary increase, to almost $160,000, saying Stroger's cousin didn't take a pay raise when she was first promoted because of county money troubles. His cousin has worked at the county for more than 20 years.

Stroger said it's the county president's job to make some appointments and voters can decide whether he made the right choices. "In 2010, if they don't like who I hire they kick me out," Stroger told commissioners during a recent meeting.

Jay Stewart, executive director of the Better Government Association, said he believes the elder Stroger and his loyalists wanted Todd Stroger to take over the helm "to protect the hanger-ons of the Stroger dynasty."
"Todd was anointed to preserve that at all costs and that's what they've done," Stewart said.

Stroger draws criticism for more than just who's on the county payroll.

While running for office in 2006, he said he wouldn't raise taxes in the next budget -- the 2007 budget saw no tax increase and some jobs were cut -- and saw no reason why taxes would have to be increased in the next four years.

This year, he persuaded the county board to pass a 1 percentage point sales tax increase -- expected to pump in more than $400 million annually and close a more than $230 million deficit -- that pushes Chicago's cumulative sales tax to 10.25 percent. That's substantially higher than New York and Los Angeles, where the sales tax is less than 8.5 percent. The budget also adds more than 1,000 new jobs, although some were court-mandated.

One Cook County community is so angry, it's considering seceding.

"You're just fed up," said Scott Lamerand, a council member in Palatine, where the sales tax will hit 10 percent in July.

Quigley said the county isn't making the progress Stroger promised.

"This last year has been a big step backward," said Quigley, adding that the public would support a tax increase if they had faith in the government. "They definitely don't see any change at the county."

Recent Headlines

The PrivateBank pledges $10 million to the Cook County Land Bank
Friday, July 25, 2014
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Commissioners switch votes, rehire erstwhile contractor
Friday, July 25, 2014
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Board adds two questions to packed fall ballot
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Chicago Tribune

Cook County to cut buildings' carbon emissions
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Fox 32 Chicago

Cook County Board sends assault weapons referendum to the ballot
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County mulls fund-of-funds investment, other changes
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Pensions & Investments

Forest Preserves of Cook County to get expertise, guidance from new Policy Council
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Special to

Preserves and parks offering memorial trees and benches for a price
Monday, July 21, 2014
Chicago Tribune

Community leaders, sheriff aim to help mentally ill inmates
Monday, July 21, 2014
FOX 32 Chicago

TIF Revenue Down 2 Percent in Suburban Cook Co.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Palatine Patch

Recorder of Deeds staffers accused of political motive in firing
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County sheriff's department will focus on catching people wanted on arrest warrants
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Chicago Sun-Times

An unwelcome surprise from the Cook County health system
Monday, July 14, 2014
Chicago Tribune

New Cook County Health CEO must find millions in savings - stat
Monday, July 14, 2014
Crain's Chicago Business

Fitch cuts rating on Cook County
Saturday, July 12, 2014

Man trapped in Cook County Jail 30-plus hours files court papers
Thursday, July 10, 2014
Chicago Tribune

Man trapped in Cook County Jail visiting room for 31 hours
Wednesday, July 09, 2014
Chicago Tribune

Orr, Suffredin To Explain Expanded Voting Rules At Town Hall
Wednesday, July 09, 2014

County land bank sweeping up the debris of the housing crisis
Monday, July 07, 2014
Crain's Chicago Business

Exoneree Diaries: Jacques mentors in Cook County juvenile detention
Monday, July 07, 2014
WBEZ Chicago Public Radio

all news items

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