Stroger: "I Haven't Been Treated Kindly" During Transition - NBC Chicago
Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Stroger: "I Haven't Been Treated Kindly" During Transition



    Outgoing Cook County Board President Todd Stroger says he's not doing any more than he needs to in the transition to a new administration. (Published Friday, Nov. 12, 2010)

    Toni Preckwinkle has been preparing for the day she would become the next Cook County Board President ever since her February win in the Democratic primary.
    But it wasn't until Tuesday that she had her first face-to-face transitional meeting with outgoing President Todd Stroger.

    That meeting, according to Stroger, lasted five minutes and was downright icy.

    "We had a one-on-one meeting. It started off [with me asking her] about the book she was reading.  She told me, and then she went straight into, what are we going to do for her," Stroger recalled Friday.

    A lovefest it was not. 

    Preckwinkle: "It's a New Day in Cook County"

    [CHI] Preckwinkle: "It's a New Day in Cook County"
    Democrat Toni Preckwinkle addresses supporters after winning the election to replace Cook County President Todd Stroger.
    (Published Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010)

    Stroger, who leaves office in a little more than three weeks, said he offered his replacement what he had to: the cooperation of his department head directors.

    "There was really nothing to talk about. We give the transition team what they need. I’m sure I could do more, but it would be asking me to do something," said Stroger.  "You could always do more, but you only do more for people who treat you kindly, and I haven’t been treated kindly.  So I'm not going out of my way to make it easier than what we do in a normal course of business."

    The meeting follows months of "zero" cooperation, according to Preckwinkle, who told the Chicago Tribune that her face-to-face with Stroger was "unfortunate."

    Attempts to reach Preckwinkle on Friday were unsuccessful, leaving Stroger to do all the talking.

    "She knows very little about what goes on in the county. But she goes out of her way to make speeches that not only slams the county, but also slams the way I’ve been running the administration," he said.

    Stroger’s Administration, while successfully balancing budgets -- was dogged by an unpopular sales tax increase and the controversial hiring of friends and family.

    In September, the Cook County Board passed an ordinance calling on officials elected countywide to facilitate the transition.

    Stroger calls that "publicity stuff."

    Commissioner Tim Schneider (R - Elk Grove Village) said he wished that Stroger would set aside politics during the transition for the best interests of Cook County residents.

    “He’s a nice enough guy.  But he’s made a number of poor judgments, and I think in this case of not cooperating fully with the incoming president, that was another case of bad judgment," he said.

    Schneider said he’s concerned this political spat will set back the next administration, which will take charge Dec. 6.  It's a concern that's also shared by Commissioner Larry Suffredin (D - Evanston) one of Todd Stroger's staunchest critics.

    "I wish I could understand Todd. He's a nice enough guy. I don't understand why he's picking fights with 25 days left... He should be cooperative in every sense of the way so there's no hiccup of continuity," said Suffredin.

    Stroger said the transition should be smooth, adding that he's left Preckwinkle a government that's fiscally sound and in good order.
    "She’s really getting something that I would think any person would hope for, I would think that any person would hope for, and that’s an administration that is moving swiftly now.  If she just sits back and makes some changes, slowly as she gets in, it’ll work out for her," said Stroger.