Politics

Last Cook Co. Board meeting for Todd Stroger

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

After a controversial tenure, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger presided over his final board meeting Wednesday.

Despite a corruption scandal and an embarrassing loss in the primary, Todd Stroger was praised by his colleagues.

He leaves after just one term in office.

Next week, Alderman Toni Preckwinkle takes over.

For more than two hours Wednesday, county commissioners praised each other and their outgoing board president. For his part, President Stroger seemed more than content to take a page out of Richard Nixon's philosophy book, essentially telling the media: You don't have Todd Stroger to kick around anymore.

"I think I took a bullet when I said I wanted to succeed my father. From there it was nothing but bullets," Stroger said.

Under fire since before day one, Todd Stroger said so-long Wednesday to his critics and comforters on the Cook County Board.

"I think the taxpayers got their money's worth," Stroger said.

Wednesday's farewell to Stroger and three departing commissioners was part toast, part roast, and 100 percent classic Cook County government.

The best line of the day came from Stroger ally William Beavers and it was directed at Stroger's nemesis on the board, Tony Peraica, who lost his bid for re-election.

"One thing, you never stab a person in the back," said Beavers. "You always stab 'em right in the chest. That's what I like."

"If you're going to be good at this job, by the end of your term you will have ticked everybody off," said Commissioner Jerry Butler. "Tony, you've done a great job."

Every commissioner signed on to a resolution praising what they call Todd Stroger's "political courage" and efforts to bring openness to county government.

That's despite some epic battles, a no-work contracting scandal that snared Stroger's handpicked deputy, and the infamous addition of a penny on the dollar sales tax.

"When you stood up with the courage and said we have to have new revenue, those people then turned against you and went the other way," said Commissioner Earleen Collins.

"Raising that penny, that penny literally kept the government running, and without that money we would have had to shut some doors," said Stroger.

Stroger called the penny sales tax his proudest accomplishment in office.

So what's next for Todd Stroger? He said he's looking for work in consulting and considering selling insurance. That's proven to be a lucrative line of work for people with political connections.

When asked if he would consider running for office again, Stroger said he won't rule anything out.

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