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Taxes or Patronage Jobs...How To Decide?

By vouchey in News on Jan 13, 2005 10:15PM

cook_county_seal.jpgIt's true: Chicagoist was a one-time bureaucrat. And for that reason, we tend to sympathize with civil servants. Many of them are good, hard-working people who really want to make their town/county/state/country a better place. And then there's Cook County government. Bloated, big and stuffed with people who double as election workers.

To recap, Cook County government is big. Between the county and the county forest preserve, there are roughly 27,000 employees out there. To compare, Miami-Dade (which combines city and county government) provides a lot more services, and not including teachers, they have 31,000 employees. So, maybe our government is a bit bloated, right?

Yet, County Board President John ("I have a hospital named after me") Stroger doesn't seem to think so. That's why the county budget is over $3 billion, and Stroger proposed raising sales, hotel and restaurant taxes to make ours the highest in the country.

But Commissioner Forrest Claypool thinks that doesn't work. And maybe so does Commissioner Robert Maldonado. Yesterday they were poking around the staffing levels of county hospitals and got the County Health Director, Dr. Daniel Winship, to say that some jobs, "may not be justified, totally."

Yow. But don't cut things right now, Winship then said. We can't really handle the cuts now.

Already on Tuesday, Commissioner Larry Suffredin suggested we save some money by cutting the 1,400 positions currently vacant in the county.

The biggest news here is Maldonado. He normally sides with Stroger, and since there's already eight -- out of seventeen -- commissioners poking holes in Stroger's budget, that spells trouble for Stroger. If Maldonado is really unhappy, that could mean the budget won't pass. And that would probably mean the end of an era.