Todd Stroger's Budget Comes Out Today

Budget address today on heels of Daley

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Cook County
    For some reason, Todd Stroger is a political power player in Chicago.

    Even as we're still digesting Mayor Daley's grim budget proposal, Todd Stroger takes his turn today to deliver bad news of his own.

    It's tough out there, folks.

    Stroger's budget proposal may actually be less controversial than Daley's this time out, though. The sales tax increase is behind him and it will likely be status quo. Lunacy, to be sure, but no more than usual and no parking meter funds or secret TIF accounts to contend with.

    Stroger has already introduced a budget for the Cook County Forest Preserve District that holds the line on property taxes and fee increases.

    The real county budget showdown is taking place in the health system, which is now run by an independent board and not Stroger. The health board announced layoffs this week that are being criticized by Stroger, who still impacts the health system's budget.

    "With the money should come some partnership with the (County) Board," Stroger told the Chicago Tribune. "In the end, as I've told them, the face of the hospitals is the president's, and that's me, and until I leave, that's going to be me. So, if they want their operation to run, they need me to go out there and be in front and make sure that they have money."

    That's not a real comforting thought to anyone, though.

    There aren't a whole lot of public health systems run by elected officials anymore, Larry Gage, president of the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems, told the Chicago Tribune.

    "You need to make too many decisions too quickly," he said. "It's as much the bureaucracy as the politics."

    Today, however, will be about the politics.

    Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.