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For a Cast of Familiar Names, Final County Board Meeting Filled With Laughter, Tears

By Kevin Robinson in News on Dec 2, 2010 2:30PM

2010_12_cook_county_logo.jpg At what would be the last meeting for a trio of names familiar to those who follow Cook County politics, Todd Stroger, Tony Peraica and Forrest Claypool took some good-natured jabs, said goodbyes, and thanked supporters. Stroger, who lost the Democratic primary to 4th Ward Ald. Toni Preckwinkle, defended the unpopular penny-on-the-dollar sales tax increase he worked to implement. “That penny literally kept the government running. Without that money, we would have had to shut some doors, cut days off, not provide some services as we actually are dictated to (provide) by the state.” Stroger told press after the meeting. He also publicly thanked his cousin, Donna Dunnings, saying “I’d like to give her a lot of credit for the success we had,” as she, according to the Sun-Times, "openly wept" in the audience. Dunnings was fired by Stroger in 2009 after a patronage scandal that had her bailing a former steakhouse busboy out of jail, twice, amid allegations that he was improperly promoted and carried on an inappropriate personal relationship with her.

Not to be outdone, Bill Beavers, known for his outrageous statements to the press and the influence he wielded in the president's office, took a swipe at outgoing Republican commissioner Peraica, known for taking on Beavers and his allies on the board. "It's been a pleasure to work with you," Beavers said of Peraica, who lost his bid for re-election. "You never stab a person in the back. You always stab them right in the chest. And that's what I like." Former soul crooner Jerry "the Iceman" Butler, who represents the county's third district was more sanguine. "If you're going to be good at this job, by the end of your term you will have ticked everybody off. Tony, you've done a good job," he said of Peraica. Referring to the aldermanic ward that Todd Stroger lives in, Peraica quipped to the outgoing board president, "I'll be opening a law office in the 8th Ward, so I'll be seeing ya."

Claypool, who lost his bid as an independent against Joe Berrios for county assessor, kept his remarks limited to his time on the board. Citing the need to keep the meeting moving, Claypool spoke only of his work to help clean up the finances of the county forest preserve district, move the county's health care system to an independent and more professional management system and cleaning up the juvenile detention center.

Stroger told the Sun-Times that he intends to do some consulting work, and that he's interested in becoming an insurance agent. “I’ll go out in the real world, make some money and then I’ll decide,” he said.