EXAMINER PUBLICATIONS – MAY 20, 2009
By Rich Trzupek
Back in 2006, back in the far south-side where Trzupeks come from, the following conversation took place during the course of a evening at one of Hegewisch’s fine drinking establishments. It being an election year, the talk had turned to politics:
Me: “So who do you want for county board President?”
Random drunk: “I’m votin’ for Stroger.”
Random drunk: “Yep. I always vote Democrat. They’re for the unions.”
Me: “Ah. So what union are you in?”
Random drunk: “Not in yet. I’m on the waiting list.”
Me: “I see. How long have you been on the waiting list, if you don’t mind me asking?”
Random drunk: “Two years.”
It’s the kind of surreal conversation that could only take place in Chicago, and it’s one that could have probably been repeated at any number of bars, with any number of unemployed drunks, throughout the city. More importantly, that’s precisely the kind of thinking that gets mopes like Todd Stroger elected.
Stroger’s opponent in the 2006 race, Tony Peracia, asked the simple question: “had enough yet?” The faithful responded at the polls in a predictable fashion: they hadn’t had nearly enough.
Stroger was elected to a position that he never should have been appointed to in the first place, but Cook County Democrat leaders have never worried about thumbing their noses at the voters. The prince was appointed to take the place of the ailing king, and the faithful subjects were very happy to confirm the coronation.
Three years later, Todd continues in the same vein, thumbing his nose at Cook County taxpayers at every opportunity. It’s not secret that the best way to get a job with Cook County is be part of the Stroger clan. It’s been documented, ad nauseum, that patronage abuses run rampant in the County. People who work in the County can tell you the tales of clout-heavy employees who make six-figure salaries, but never actually show up for work.
With the economy ailing, even Richie Daley can figure out that you can’t keep bleeding taxpayers dry forever, and support for Stroger’s blood sucking sales tax has steadily eroded within his own party. Not that party support seems to matter to young Todd any more. Hell, he’s for the unions – what else does a guy need?
Apparently, if the county were to roll back the sales tax, the county would have to cut back on services. In the private setting, indications that expenses don’t match revenue is a pretty good indication that it’s time to cut back. In government – particularly in the way that Illinois Democrats run government – there’s no cutting back. Ever. All we get is more taxes, because we just can’t live without our spending fix.
One is tempted to say: “Gee Todd, if you can’t pay for all the services that the county has to offer without a tax that is killing business in the county, maybe that’s an indication that – I don’t know – WE CAN’T AFFORD ALL THESE BLOODY SERVICES?” However, that kind of logic always seems to fall on deaf ears in this state.
This is, after all, the Blago game plan. Spend, spend and spend some more, all for those “essential services” that we can’t possibly live without, even though we always did. And once you’ve established the “need”, then you have the excuse to pick-pocket even more money out of the beleaguered taxpayers whose hard work makes the state run.
It is said that polls are shifting, at least in Illinois, as voters are finally getting fed up over the largesse of Democratic leadership in this state. Perhaps, come 2010, some of the big spenders will even get voted out of office. Yeah, we’ll still be a blue state, both in the political sense and the emotional sense, but at least it’ll be a start.
Cook County though? I suspect that voters haven’t had nearly enough, even now. Cook County will never change and those of you who read this column from your homes in DuPage and Kane counties can thank your lucky stars that you reside in places that are more accountable and much less generous with your tax dollars.
Stroger-land, I fear, will remain the same. But at least he’s for the unions. What else could one ask for?