Cook County Board President Todd Stroger is finally doing something his critics can agree on, but the criticism of him is just getting louder. And deservedly so.
Stroger has announced plans to roll back a small slice of the sales tax increase he pushed through the board last year, despite mounds of evidence that the county was still fraught with waste and patronage. It doesn't take the most astute observer in the world to see that the move comes as Stroger is embarking upon a re-election campaign -- which only enrages his opponents further.
“Other than fact that the election is closer, what’s happened in the last month to lead people to believe we no longer have need for the money?” says Ald. Tony Preckwinkle, who has announced a primary challenge to Stroger.
Just four days ago on Fox News Chicago, Stroger talked about how vital the sales tax increase was. Now he says that federal stimulus money will allow for a .25 percent reduction -- 25 cents on every $100 a Cook County citizen spends.
"But he did not provide specifics on how the new federal money would make up for lost sales-tax revenues, saying he had 'no hard numbers'," the Tribunereports.
Reader political writer Mick Dumke detects a Stroger makeover as the election nears.
"Cook County board president Todd Stroger knows he’s in trouble," Dumke writes.
"Hammered by the dailies and online commentators, used as campaign fodder in races that have nothing to do with him, and now facing a challenge from a former colleague who helped get him into office in 2006, he’s decided to try to remake himself in somebody else’s image," the Reader article says.
Dumke reports that Stroger actually fired a patronage employee recently and has also reached out to the media he has blamed for all of his problems -- though on Fox's Good Day Chicago this morning, Stroger told an anchor person that she just didn't understand what the county did. She resisted saying the same thing to him.
Soon we'll see if Cook County voters agree.