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Stroger Makes His Media Move

By Prescott Carlson in News on Dec 14, 2009 8:40PM

2009_12_14_toddler.jpg Cook County Board President Todd Stroger is starting to ramp up the interviews and going on the defense as the race for his seat heats up and he is sliding back in the polls. Stroger sat down for interviews with both WBEZ and Chicago Current recently, and had plenty to say on the county's healthcare system, the sales tax rollback, and why he thinks the media is picking on him.

On the Cook County hospital system, Stroger seems to regret relinquishing control to an independent hospital board, whose members he doesn't like and whom he says do not have the "best interests of the poor" in mind. When WBEZ's Sam Hudzik pointed out that Stroger was involved with the choosing of the members of the board, Stroger replied:

"If you gave me 20 names, and I get to pick some names out of that hat, yes, I'm involved -- but that comes from getting a list, a limited number of people, that I can say, OK, how about that person. That's not true involvement."

Stroger also repeated his doom and gloom scenario about the $75 million hole that will supposedly be generated by the reduction in his sales tax increase. When asked if he would push to raise the tax again next year, Stroger indicated that he's done with that fight and that the county commissioners need to put up or shut up:

"I'll work on something to make us whole, but I doubt if I'm going to say there should to be a sales tax. That's... [the commissioners] are going to have to do that. It won't be me."

When asked how, exactly, he was going to make the county "whole," Stroger replied that he wasn't sure. He also made of list of the things he feels he's accomplished while in office, like "keeping the health care system intact," diversifying county leadership, several "green" initiatives, and keeping the county budget balanced.

Stroger also repeated his disappointment at the politicians who have left him behind in their endorsements, as well as a previous statement that he knows why the media is so hard on him -- institutional racism:

"Institutional racism is where you are able to treat a group a certain way and it's a part of the culture... I'm from the South Side of the city. We don't have a lot of editors and publishers in our area. The clubs I belong to don't have the reporters in them. And from that they pretty much say whatever they want, and there's no one who's going to stand up and say, 'No, you can't do that, you have to have some kind of fairness in your reporting.' It's an unfortunate part of business, but that's what I see.

Stroger acknowledged it was going to be "tough" to win re-election. In a recent Tribune poll, Stroger came in third behind challengers Ald. Toni Preckwinkle and Cook County Clerk Dorothy Brown.