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County Board Showdown Today

By vouchey in News on Feb 23, 2005 9:11PM

Cook County Board President John StrogerCarol Marin said it best today when she called today's Cook County Board meeting, "the political equivalent of high noon." The proposed County budget is three months late, millions of dollars in deficit and deader than a dead duck. But for reasons only explainable by the need to maintain patronage rolls, County Board President John Stroger has stayed on track for today's expected train wreck when his budget will be voted down and on Monday county government will have to stop functioning.

Of course nobody would let the county jail, hospital, and courts shut down, some kind of emergency gap funding legislation could be passed before that happened. But President Stroger has steadfastly refused to make budget cuts while the five Republican county commissioners and three "reformer" Democratic commissioners have refused to increase taxes.

Chicagoist has covered this ground before. There's 17 commissioners, eight reformers, the rest either with Stroger, or waivering. In the past Stroger has been able to cut pork and patronage deals with commissioners to keep rolling his budgets. But now the budget is too bloated to move, and the opposition to the bloat is loud enough to force a showdown.

Depending on what happens this week will determine not only the County budget, but probably also the political future of Stroger and a host of other people that want his job.