Wednesday, September 16, 2009

EXTRA: There’s no “clout” in Cook County government hiring. Stroger says so

Perhaps it was the effect of the Allegra that he said he took Wednesday morning, but Cook County Board President Todd Stroger seemed in a snarkier-than-usual mood when the county board met Wednesday.

What else would make him say a statement that is bound to come back to haunt him as evidence that he’s somehow out of touch with reality? Does he really believe that anybody will believe his comments that there is no political favoritism involved in working for the county government?

IT CAME UP during a discussion of how the county is trying to comply with court decrees that try to make local government operate more honestly and fairly (rather than refusing to hire “nobody nobody sent”).

Compliance Administrator Mary Robinson told the county board members that determining who is a government employee hired solely for political reasons and who is a legitimately hard-working employee is not a simple, cut-and-dried issue.

“Your systems can be manipulated,” Robinson said, later adding, “I can’t tell you who’s clout.”

To which Stroger cut her off by saying, “I can tell you, None.”

LATER, HE ADDED, “we don’t use clout in” human resources.

It makes me wonder if Stroger is one of those people who honestly thinks that the White Sox are still in the pennant race because they have those six games remaining head-to-head against the Detroit Tigers.

Or is this just the usual rhetoric about good government from political people to whom it is not their top priority.

It wasn’t even his only moment.

STROGER STARTED OFF the county’s session by letting us all know how he plans to get himself an influenza shot in upcoming days to deal with the possible spread of H1N1, along with more conventional strains of the flu.

It’s a cute comment. Considering that signs hanging around the County Building/City Hall say, “It’s simple. Wash your hands,” it would have fit in with the idea of a simple gesture to promote public health.

Yet Stroger insisted on turning his intent to get that flu shot into a political shot at his opponents who wanted to reduce the county’s portion of the sales tax.

As Stroger so bluntly dumped on his political colleagues, “those of us who are lucky to have insurance can just make an appointment.”

HE THEN ADDED, “it can be work for those low-income people to get them flu shots.”

As though a potential spread of H1N1 into the Chicago area could be blamed on the majority of the county board that wished to reduce the sales tax in the city from 10.25 percent to 9.75 percent (and down to about 9 percent in most of suburban Cook).


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