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As Stroger Enters "Screw It Zone," Board Votes To Limit Power

By Marcus Gilmer in News on May 5, 2010 2:20PM

2009_09_10_toddler.jpg Outgoing Cook County Board President had been quiet since losing the February primary election to Ald. Toni Preckwinkle. Too quiet. But, lucky for us, he's back with a vengeance and apparently doing anything he wants. With the finality of his situation sinking in, Stroger has entered the "Screw It Zone," seemingly doing whatever he damn wells pleases because what are they gonna do, fire him? So he's going to spend money on his county-issued credit card however the hell he wants while giving contracts to whoever the hell he wants, all while redecorating his office for the home-stretch (we assume Ikea).

Yesterday, though, the Cook County Board, who's had a contentious relationship with Stroger (to put it mildly), fought back. By a vote of 16-1 (no report on who the one vote against was), the Board voted to limit Stroger's power. Because Stroger pulled a fast one by giving $24,975 to deputy chief of staff Carla Oglesby's CGC Communications - just $25 under the threshold that would have required board approval - the Board has dramatically lowered that threshold from $25,000 to $750. (Oglesby has since been placed on unpaid leave.) And that's not the only contract Stroger handed out: he did the same thing, coming in just $5 under the threshold, to Vincent Fry for an auditing contract. Fry had previously done some work for Stroger's campaign finances. The Board also voted to require Stroger "to report within three days all contracts, new hirings, firings, promotions and raises not pre-approved by the board." A third proposal passed by the board, instituting a hiring freeze on non-emergency and non-court-ordered vacancies, faces a veto threat from Stroger.

Not that Todd took all of this quietly. In continued sparring with his nemesis, Com. Tony Peraica, Stroger said of the contracts in question:

“Unfortunately commissioner, you know not of what you speak, which is nothing new. I always look out for the taxpayers’ money first and foremost. Any contracts that are given out are given to reputable companies. No contracts are given to anyone with the knowledge they work here. That won't happen as long as we know it. Sometimes mistakes are made."

But he saved his best "woe-is-me" line for after the meeting, when he said, "I'm riddled; I have more holes in me than Swiss cheese." Sounds like someone plans to go down guns blazing. You know, like Scarface. Hey, if Todd wants to recreate a scene from the film at his going away party, at least there's a precedent.