There are times when I think the only thing more dangerous than a reporter-type person doing math is a political-type person trying to tell a joke.
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But it definitely was one of those light-hearted moments on Wednesday when the Cook County Board held its last official meeting for 2011.
AT ONE POINT, commissioner (and former state representative) John Fritchey was trying to talk about a measure related to the county’s print program when he began to have a little trouble getting his words out.
His throat was dry.
To which, county board President Toni Preckwinkle poured a cup of water and walked across the county board chamber to bring it to him.
“I never got that kind of service in the General Assembly,” Fritchey said, then quipped, “I knew I liked you (Preckwinkle) better than the Speaker.”
WHICH WAS ALL the county officials needed to hear before making all kinds of wisecracks about what kind of “retribution” would be handed down, should Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, ever learn about Fritchey’s less-than-deferential words.
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Even Preckwinkle joined in the ribbing, telling Fritchey (who served in the Illinois House of Representatives from 1997 to 2010 before becoming a county board member), “the Speaker has his people everywhere.”
Literally, I don’t doubt that Madigan is capable of holding a grudge and taking governmental actions based on who might be slighting him in some way. I still remember a time when the Illinois House (at Madigan’s direction) killed off a Meigs Field-related measure because then-Mayor Richard M. Daley and Gov. Jim Edgar didn’t include him in negotiations.
But Fritchey (who represents Chicago’s Northwest Side in the county board) gave it the proper perspective by saying, “when I wind up in Commissioner (Joan Patricia) Murphy’s (southeast suburban) district after redistricting, I’ll know why.”
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ALTHOUGH THIS LITTLE exchange of humor may not have even been the high (or low, depending on how you perceive it) point of Wednesday’s county board session.
For the county joined in the memorializing of former First Lady Maggie Daley, passing a resolution in her honor and many of the county board members feeling the need to chime in with personal praise.
Except for commissioner William Beavers, whose own “praise” for Maggie seemed more directed toward former Mayor Richard M., when Beavers said of Maggie, “she changed him from J.C. Penney’s to Marshall Field’s.
“She made him look good,” Beavers said.