Daley's rough year
The warm glow of Olympic gold and a landslide victory that sealed a place in Chicago history. The cold reality of entrenched problems that can be ignored no longer.
Mayor Richard Daley faced both in 2007 - sandwiched around the 65th birthday that made him a senior citizen. He shook off three years of corruption scandals to earn the right to become Chicago's longest-serving mayor. And only after his re-election did he clean out his city hall cabinet, hammer out costly contracts that guaranteed 10 years of labor peace and tackle the city's long-festering financial, transportation, police brutality and police corruption problems.
• Year started with a bang for mayor
The year began with a Bears march to the Super Bowl that provided Daley a timely diversion from a ho-hum mayoral campaign. As underfunded mayoral challengers Dorothy Brown and Bill "Dock" Walls struggled for attention, a smiling Daley was photographed in a Bears cap before a Taste of Chicago spread wagered in bets with the mayors of Seattle and Indianapolis.
Between photo-ops and fundraisers that brought in $7 million in less than three months, Daley nailed down a prized endorsement from U.S. Senator and presidential challenger Barack Obama, who said the city hall corruption that once gave him "huge pause" about Daley was being cleaned up.
U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Chicago) also climbed aboard the Daley bandwagon - nine months after a blistering critique of Daley that appeared to lay the groundwork for a mayoral campaign. The big-name endorsements softened the blow of Daley's strained relationship with organized labor.
Four city unions took a pass on the mayor's race - payback for the 28-month wait for new contracts and the mayor's 2006 veto of the big box-minimum wage ordinance. The Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2 endorsed Brown. The Chicago Building Trades Council was the only union to endorse Daley.
All 50 wards agree
The cold shoulder from organized labor wasn't the only hiccup in the campaign. A federal report suggested first responders in Chicago and Cook County were ill-prepared to communicate with one another in the event of a natural disaster or terrorist attack.
A racketeering lawsuit accused political operatives with ties to Daley of shaking down a developer. Chief Emergency Officer Cortez Trotter responded to the federal critique by lashing out at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, then resigned five months later. The lawsuit, filed by developer Thomas Snitzer, was dismissed by Daley as election-year politics.
On Feb. 27, Daley captured all 50 wards and nearly 72 percent of the vote, setting him up to break the 21-year record for longevity set by his father, former Mayor Richard J. Daley, assuming he is in office on Dec. 26, 2010.
Never mind that only one-third of the city's 1.4 million registered voters bothered to go to the polls or that aldermanic challengers bankrolled by organized labor defeated the mayor's candidates or forced them into run-offs in battleground wards.
No sooner were the ballots counted than, in March, the U.S. Olympic Committee demanded Daley put "skin in the game" if he wanted Chicago to become the U.S. bid city for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. The demand forced a $500 million guarantee from Chicago taxpayers.
So much for Daley's oft-repeated promise to host the games without a penny of local that saw organizers run out of water and one competitor die of a heart ailment.
March also saw former Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Al Sanchez indicted on charges he traded jobs, promotions, overtime and transfers for political work and personal favors.
Sanchez was a chief lieutenant of the Daley-created Hispanic Democratic Organization.
The indictment made clear a federal investigation of city hiring that forced the city to create a $12 million fund to compensate victims of city hall's rigged hiring was far from over - and that HDO chieftain Victor Reyes remains in investigators' cross hairs.
One month later, Daley returned from a two-week trip overseas to the furor of a videotape played around the world - the footage of burly off-duty Chicago Police Officer Anthony Abbate pummeling a diminutive female bartender.
In a woodshed meeting held on the mayor's first day back at work, Daley forced the resignation of Police Supt. Phil Cline, who'd been contemplating retirement but wanted to leave on his own terms. Cline walked the plank for mishandling the incidents, including his decision to leave six off-duty officers accused of beating four businessmen at the Jefferson Tap and Grille on the job for months.
"That's why everybody was outraged," Daley said on the day he accepted Cline's resignation. "You can't wait that long in regard to an incident like this, because, if there's a videotape, it's going to get out."
In the wake of those and other allegations of excessive force by police, Daley severed the Office of Professional Standards from the police department and hired a Los Angeles attorney to restore public confidence in investigations of police wrongdoing. He also agreed to a $19.8 million settlement with four torture victims of former Chicago Police Lt. Jon Burge that, despite a legal snag, is expected to be approved by the city council after the new year.
In April, Chicago Transit Authority President Frank Kruesi, the mayor's longest-serving government adviser, abruptly resigned the job he had held for a decade.
Convinced Kruesi had made too many enemies in Springfield, Daley took that issue off the table in the quest for long-term funding for mass transit. Ron Huberman, the mayor's chief of staff, was installed as Kruesi's replacement.
By year's end, Kruesi had resurfaced as the city's chief lobbyist in Washington. When a blistering federal report blamed shoddy CTA maintenance and missing and falsified records for a 2006 Blue Line derailment, the management shake-up allowed Daley to claim the problems he called "a disgrace" had been "corrected."
The same can't be said for CTA funding. Despite a landmark agreement with CTA unions that includes health care and pension concessions, the General Assembly remains stalemated over demands for a capital program bankrolled by casino gambling. Doomsday fare hikes and service cuts loom.
The CTA wasn't alone in its financial crisis. The city budget also was mired in red ink, thanks to personnel costs tied to new labor contracts, sky-high overtime spending and lower-than-expected revenues tied to the housing crunch.
Daley ordered three rounds of mid-year budget cuts - then socked it to Chicago taxpayers by proposing $293 million in higher taxes, fines and fees.
When aldermen balked at the mayor's proposal for a $108 million property tax increase to build and maintain libraries, Daley initially called the criticism an "insult to me," then backed off and reduced the property tax increase to $83.4 million.
As if the mayor didn't have enough battles, he picked a few new ones. He created a new Office of Compliance to oversee city hiring, infuriating corruption-fighting Inspector General David Hoffman, who felt undermined again. Daley became more open in his criticism of Gov. Rod Blagojevich - and walked out of a mass transit summit meeting called by the governor.
He also ridiculed 28 aldermen who signed a petition demanding the city release the names of Chicago police officers most frequently accused of excessive force. At the top of the list were officers assigned to the now-disbanded Special Operations Section, which is at the center of a cops-as-robbers scandal.
The mayor's roller-coaster year ended with a pair of bombshells - one dropped by the mayor, the other by the Chicago Sun-Times. The newspaper disclosed Daley's soldier son Patrick, now deployed overseas, and the mayor's nephew Robert Vanecko had a hidden interest in a sewer inspection company whose city business rose sharply while they were owners.
An emotional Daley called his son's investment a "lapse in judgment" and declared: "I wish he hadn't done it."
But Daley said he didn't know about the deal until the Sun-Times started asking questions. Hoffman now is investigating.
The mayor's shocker was his choice of career FBI agent Jody Weis to become the first outsider to serve as Chicago police superintendent in nearly 50 years.
Daley was so enamored of Weis and his ability to deliver the Police Department from the abyss of corruption and brutality allegations that he agreed to pay the new superintendent $310,000 a year and lock him in to a three-year term that ends after the 2011 mayoral election. Weis' salary is $93,790 higher than the mayor's.
The move was controversial on several fronts. Daley's stunning choice circumvented a pair of nationwide searches by the Chicago Police Board. He chose an FBI agent who never has been a police officer and never run a law enforcement agency, ignoring longstanding tensions between the police department and the FBI.
And the mayor angered some black ministers and community leaders, who questioned whether a white superintendent could bridge a widening gap between citizens and police in the African-American community. But Daley is convinced his G-man is the right man for the pressure-cooker job. Chicagoans will have to wait until next year to find out if their mayor was right.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart estimated the search cost taxpayers $250,000
Labels: year round up
"A terrible lapse in judgement", seems there is enough of that in CC
Stroger Aide Fakes Radio Call Defending Budget
Media Affairs Director Andre Garner Pretended To Be 'Jonathan From Chicago'
CHICAGO (STNG) ― Cook County Board President Todd Stroger suffered yet another embarrassing public relations blow this week -- and this time, the blunder came via the hands of one of his top assistants.
Andre Garner, Stroger's $100,000-a-year director of media affairs, slightly disguised his voice and posed as "Jonathan from Chicago" while calling in Thursday to the John Williams show on WGN radio, where Stroger was being interviewed.
Garner, who is responsible for shaping Stroger's "message" and media "strategy," also lied on the air by saying his wife works for county government. He then rattled off intricate details of county government budgeting before defending Stroger's push to increase the sales tax.
A reeling Garner apologized on Williams' show Friday for what he said was "a terrible lapse in judgment" that puts yet another dent in Stroger's credibility and desire to be taken seriously.
Garner did not return a call but instead issued a written statement saying the call was poor judgment. "In my zest to get out information that I felt would cut through the distortions about the President's 2008 budget proposal, I chose the wrong method for doing so. It was a spur of the moment decision that I regret and will never repeat."
Garner and those close to Stroger said Stroger had no role in staging Garner's call and didn't know about it ahead of time. It wasn't clear if Stroger recognized Garner's voice, but listeners picked it up quickly.
Garner, who was hired in April and previously worked in the mayor's office and for the Chicago Housing Authority, said his call came spontaneously, rooted in "frustration" that certain budget information "hasn't been told in the mainstream media," and said he hoped his move "hasn't impugned the president's character."
But Williams asked if the Stroger administration would "lie or cheat" over "something as minor as this, what is the president's office going to do when it's truly consequential
Cook County made the list...
The American Tort Reform Assn. on Tuesday identified Cook County as one of six jurisdictions most unfair for those who are sued.
It was the sixth year the group put out the report; Cook County also was on it in 2005 and 2006. The report, which identified six so-called “judicial hellholes,” was released Tuesday.
Cook County was singled out because of its “disproportionate number of large civil cases.”
“Personal injury lawyers know that Cook County is the place to be, and this year they blew into the Windy City to file massive class actions involving pet food and peanut butter, as well as many asbestos cases,” the report said.
Bruce Kohen, president of the Illinois Trial Laywers Assn., disputed the validity of the report and called it a “public relations stunt” engineered by a group with a specific political agenda. He called the report “subjective” and said ATRA was “arbitrary” in choosing the places on the list.
“It’s not much different than asking a convicted criminal to evaluate the criminal justice system,” Mr. Kohen said. “What would you expect?”
A spokesman for ATRA backed the organization’s methodology, which he said was based on research and interviews that started with a survey sent out to group members and others familiar with “judicial hellholes” from previous years.
“We call out jurisdictions where both parties don’t get a fair shake,” an ATRA spokesman said.
Madison County, a fixture on the list since its 2002 debut, was gone from this year’s report, but not forgotten. The Downstate Illinois county, which saw more class action lawsuits in 2004 than any other jurisdiction in the nation, was placed on ATRA’s watch list.
St. Clair County, which has been on the “hellholes” list since 2004, was also put on the watch list.
The 2007 “Judicial Hellholes” are:
Rio Grand Valley and Gulf Coast, Texas.
Clark County, Nevada.
Atlantic County, N.J.
AP Exclusive: Living in Chicago could cost governor
Associated Press - December 16, 2007 12:14 PM ET
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Governor Rod Blagojevich lives in Chicago. But for tax purposes, he travels any time he leaves his main place of business -- Springfield -- until he returns.
An Associated Press analysis of nearly 1,000 flights on state aircraft by Blagojevich, his family and guests shows possible personal trips which could potentially be worth $225,000 in extra income to the governor.
A Blagojevich spokeswoman says the issue is moot because the governor's main office is in Chicago -- not the state capital. So flights to Chicago for are legitimate business.
Marianna Dyson (mayr-ee-A'-nuh DYE'-sun) is a Washington, D.C. fringe benefits lawyer. She says Blagojevich's decision to keep his family in hometown Chicago does not make it his headquarters.
Future IRS trouble for Blagojevich?
Blagojevich potentially could owe $60,000 in taxes. If he didn't pay, taxpayers could be penalized $40,000.
An IRS spokeswoman declined comment.
IRS rules for executives on personal travel
The Associated Press
An Associated Press analysis has found that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, his family and guests have taken hundreds of flights that don't appear to have clear business purposes. The value of the flights could top $225,000, based on the cost of chartering private planes, and the amount could be added to the governor's income as a taxable, non-cash fringe benefit.
The governor's past two tax returns don't indicate that he has paid taxes on the flights, which might end up being $60,000. A Blagojevich spokeswoman says the trips were for legitimate business.
There are Internal Revenue Service rules that could lighten any tax bill he may face:
- A "special valuation" discount for personal travel by executives. If it was applied to flights covered in the AP review, the governor would have had to pay taxes on an estimated $15,000 or less for the flights rather than a potential $60,000.
- A "50 percent" rule that allows executives to "hitchhike" on aircraft for personal use if the plane is already half-full of passengers declaring business.
The state aircraft were half full in about 45 percent of the Blagojevich flights the AP found may have been personal. But they were half full of the governor's employees. The rule wasn't designed to let a "control employee" such as Blagojevich fill the plane with subordinates to get around tax laws, experts said.
Labels: Rod Blagojevich
Pictured Stuart Levine.....he's still talking, err, cooperating with Feds.
The indictment identifies several individuals by letter only. The Sun-Times was able to confirm the identities of some through sources familiar with the investigation. None of these people have been accused of a crime. Many have declined to comment or could not be reached.
Individual . . .
A. William Cellini: Longtime Springfield powerbroker and associate of Stuart Levine's. Allegedly acted as a go-between in one shakedown.
B. Christopher G. Kelly: Blagojevich fund-raiser. Allegedly discussed plans to raise political donations from investment firms.
C. Sheldon Pekin: Consultant who allegedly agreed to kick back $250,000 in fees in return for getting TRS business.
D. Joseph Aramanda: Rezko associate who allegedly got $250,000 from Pekin "in substantial part for the benefit of Rezko."
G. Michael Winter: Rezko business associate. Had allegedly agreed to funnel fees from an investment firm to Rezko but did not want his identity revealed to TRS board.
H. Myron Cherry: Attorney and political donor. Cherry's name was listed in place of Winter's on TRS paperwork. Cherry said this was done without his knowledge and that he is cooperating with federal authorities.
J. Thomas Rosenberg: Movie producer and former investment firm owner. Balked at Levine and Rezko's extortion attempt and threatened to go to law enforcement.
Governor Blagojevich's friend Chris Kelly is indicted A suburban businessman was indicted today on federal tax fraud charges for allegedly understating his true personal and business income by more than $1.3 million over five years, in part by concealing the use of corporate funds for personal expenses including gambling debts to sports bookmakers. The defendant, Christopher G. Kelly, president and owner of a roofing business and a separate consulting firm, allegedly cheated the government on his personal and business taxes between 2000 and 2005, according to a 12-count indictment returned today by a federal grand jury.
Kelly, 49, of Burr Ridge, was charged with one count of obstructing and impeding the IRS, five counts of filing false individual federal income tax returns, five counts of filing false corporate tax returns and one count of illegally structuring monetary transactions. He will be arraigned at a later date in U.S. District Court.
According to the indictment, Kelly was the president and owner of BCI Commercial Roofing, Inc., and CGK Consulting, Inc., both of which shared offices at 3062 West 167th St., Markham. Kelly maintained financial control over the two companies and determined how each company spent money and categorized its spending for purposes of calculating its business expenses as well as Kelly’s personal income.
As part of a corrupt endeavor to obstruct and impede the IRS, Kelly allegedly used business funds to pay for certain personal expenses, concealed the true nature of the payments through improper recording of the payments on the companies’ financial books and created false documents describing the payments; structured cash withdrawals under $10,000 from banks by disguising them as legitimate business expenses; and used third parties to pay portions of his illegal gambling debts.
More specifically, Kelly allegedly:
o caused BCI Roofing to pay gambling debts for certain of his losing wagers placed with Individual A, who, with the assistance of Individual B, ran a bookmaking operation in Illinois that accepted wagers on sporting events On at least one occasion, Kelly allegedly hid the use of corporate funds to pay a gambling debt to Individual A by ordering that the payment be falsely recorded in BCI Roofing’s financial books as a loan from the company to Individual A;
o placed millions of dollars of wagers with casinos in Las Vegas and caused BCI Roofing to pay for certain of his losing wagers there. On at least one occasion, Kelly allegedly hid the use of corporate funds to pay a gambling debt to a casino by ordering the preparation of false internal BCI Roofing documentation to make it appear that the payment was a legitimate business expense incurred by the company as part of a roofing contract for an airline;
The IRS obstruction and structuring counts allege in September 2004, Kelly solicited Individual C’s help in cashing three checks, each slightly under $10,000, and returning the cash to Kelly. In one instance, Kelly allegedly gave Individual C a BCI Roofing check for $9,500 payable to Individual C’s four-year-old child, and the following day, Kelly allegedly gave Individual C BCI Roofing and CGK Consulting checks payable to Individual C and Individual C’s spouse and obtained the cash back from Individual C for all three checks.
About the same time, Kelly also allegedly concealed his receipt of additional cash by depositing and cashing six BCI Roofing checks payable to himself, his children, his wife and cash. In each of these transactions, Kelly allegedly structured the cash receipts in amounts less than $10,000 to avoid generating Currency Transaction Reports.
The indictment seeks forfeiture of $86,600, which is the total amount of the allegedly structured funds.
The IRS obstruction count also alleges that in early 2005 Kelly attempted to conceal the source and nature of a partial payment on a large gambling debt he owed to Individual A. To assist Kelly in paying the debt, Individual D arranged for a wire transfer of approximately $79,140 from a bank account in Saudi Arabia to a bank account in Florida, according to the indictment. After learning that the wire transfer was not credited to the Florida bank account, Kelly allegedly arranged for the wire transfer of approximately $45,000 from a pizza company in Chicago to Individual A’s bank account. On at least one other occasion, Kelly allegedly attempted to pay a portion of the gambling debt to Individual A by tendering multiple checks, each made out for thousands of dollars and with the payee line
Rezko will also have new charges
Never a dull moment in this town.
Daley's emotional dilemma stems from Chicago Sun-Times disclosures Friday that Patrick Daley had a hidden interest in a sewer inspection company whose city business rose sharply while he was an owner.
The sewer deal also included the mayor's nephew Robert Vanecko. Sun-Times reporter Tim Novak previously had disclosed that Vanecko got $63 million in city pension.
The mayor's son and nephew never publicly disclosed their ownership stake in Municipal Sewer Services, despite a city ordinance that required such disclosure.
In a Thursday memo to his employees, company Chairman Robert Bobb acknowledged that disclosure statements filled out by his predecessors "contain a number of mistakes or oversights. ... These errors, among others, are why we have new management. We will correct these filings if requested by the city."
That left Heard to insist that Daley knew nothing about his son's involvement in the sewer inspection deals until the Sun-Times started asking questions. The mayor's signature appears on city contracts with Municipal Sewer Services. But the mayor's name on all city contracts is actually signed by top mayoral aides who write their own initials next to Daley's name.
"The mayor doesn't sign contracts for this very reason. If someone is signing contracts, you assume they're aware of who's getting it. He doesn't want that. This is not some new practice. It's been that way since he's been mayor," Heard said.
"Readers of the [Sun-Times] story would believe the mayor willingly signed his name to a contract that had his son's name on it. That is not the case. The name was not disclosed. Company owners have acknowledged that mistake."
The front-page story about the mayor's son was the talk of the town among Chicago politicians Friday.
The mayor's brother John sells insurance to city contractors. John, Cook County Commissioner of the 11th District Mayoral brother Michael Daley and his law partner Jack George have emerged as the city's pre-eminent zoning attorneys during the mayor's 19-year reign. But this is the first time that any of the mayor's children have been tied to city business.
Labels: Jim Thompson
Stroger: 'I've been through a lot'
STROGER'S FIRST YEAR | Todd on dad's illness, friend's apparent suicide, constant criticism
December 9, 2007
BY STEVE PATTERSON Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
The phone rang at an hour that said this is nothing good.
The sun isn't up yet. Someone's sick, missing or, God forbid, worse. But it's nothing good.Dad had a stroke, Todd Stroger learned.
It was March 14, 2006, and Stroger could hardly have known the ways in which his life was about to change.
Over the next 18 months:
His father, longtime Cook County Board President John Stroger, would fail to recover from that stroke.
Todd Stroger would find himself in the middle of one of the city's great political theaters, uncomfortably thrust to center stage and assuming his father's legacy.
He would be forced to fire one of his closest friends, quietly battle prostate cancer and become the go-to punching bag for all that is wrong with government.
And he would get another call, late one night, telling him a dear friend and trusted adviser apparently had committed suicide.
All before he finished his first year as board president, a mark he hit Tuesday.
"I've probably experienced more in the last year than most of my critics will experience in 20 years," Stroger said. "But life is what it is. You've got to deal with it. Hell, Job didn't complain."
Seizures stunt progress
The reality is, things are not going to get better for John Stroger, who has been gone from the public eye since his stroke. Speculation has swirled about his health.
"There comes a point where the biggest thing is just trying to make sure he's comfortable," his son said. "Make sure he's comfortable. Make sure he doesn't get sick. That's about all you can do."
He admits he doesn't see his dad "as often as I should" and that his mother and sister, both named Yonnie, and cousin, Donna Dunnings, "shoulder the load" and are his primary caregivers.
There are those who believe John Stroger, 78, was never well after the stroke, but his son insists "I fully expected him to say, last summer, that he wouldn't be running. I thought he'd say it."
During rehab after the stroke, he said, a nurse would instruct John Stroger to lift a weight five times -- and his dad would try for more.
He'd speak more. " 'Tell the kids to stop running through the house,' " Stroger said. "And I knew he was back."
But then, in midsummer, the seizures began.
"He's got a strong will," he said. "But he had the seizures, and from that point on, there was no more progress. He had that lapse. He's not been better since."
'Those are fightin' words'This was not the plan.
Todd Stroger said he had no designs on being Cook County Board president. Maybe some other office, sure, but not his dad's. So when Democratic Party leaders came calling and his family gave its blessing, he thought it was right.
The public thought something else entirely.
Unqualified, inept, a growing vocal majority say.
"People paint me as the Democratic Party demon terrorizing the county," he said.
Stroger, 44, said he's learned to hide the paper from his son, Hans, 7, and daughter, Claire, 4, and to turn off the radio as soon as they hear "Stroger." He's learned to ignore the "Urkel" taunts and constant jokes about "how I'm a novice and don't know anything." But his wife, Jeanine, often reads things and reacts "those are fightin' words," Stroger said. "But I let it roll off my back."
But he continues to be dogged by talk he's not interested in the job, something not helped on days he's difficult to find or when he describes being president as "pretty much [a] 9-to-5 [job]."
Still, "it does begin to affect you and your public image," he said. "People don't believe everything they read, but after a while, they're like well, if half of it is true. . . ."
Stroger is aware of the talk about his electability and plummeting public opinion, as some in his camp desperately want to make him more publicly available. Others aren't as trusting and want a wall built around him.
In the end, "I've learned to trust my own judgment."
That includes giving in to political pressure in January to fire his longtime friend, Gerald Nichols, who many knew as the county's patronage king.
That may have been "one of the hardest things I've ever done," but he soon found himself without another valued confidante, Orlando Jones.
In September, Jones was found on a Michigan beach, dead apparently from suicide.
"I realized," Stroger said, "now, it's just me."
He's largely private anyway, trusting few, so when Stroger learned he had prostate cancer, he didn't tell many -- not even his mother.
Given the circumstances, it became "a small item on a larger list of problems." He's now in remission and conducts public-awareness campaigns for men.
No praise for $500 mil. cut
Capping those problems -- what to do with a dysfunctional $3 billion government.
Unlike many others, he blames his father for none of the mess, but instead points to a board that "wouldn't make the sacrifices needed" to properly fund it.
And for the second straight year, just like his father, he's staring at what appears to be another lengthy, drawn-out budget battle.
He says he needs more money, that he can't make any more cuts. Having cut $500 million last year and not raising taxes, he thought, would win him praise. It's instead drawn anger over where he cut.
And while he stands by his accomplishments, he admits the last year has worn on him.
"Sure, I've had days where I say I've had enough already," he said. "I've been through a lot. But I'm happy with what I've been able to do in the last year."
"I realized now, it's just me."
Jesse Jackson Jr. can help fund wifes campaign
You just have to love this one, and by the way Sandi Jackson, Jesse Jr.'s wife is the Alderman of the 7th Ward, which she won against Beavers Daughter, Darcell. Darcell was left the 7th Ward position by her Daddy, "The Hog with Big Nuts", Bill Beavers,when he inherited Daddy John Stroger's District, for the Cook County Board as Commissioner.
You know when it's game day for the Bears, the employees at Jewel get to wear their Bear gear instead of Jewel gear. There is less traffic on the road, less people in the stores, and before and after the game win or loose everyone has their Bear gear on, yes navy and orange everywhere. Sunday's game with only minutes to go the Bears were winning........but it came to a sad end. Even though the bears only one one game at home this year.....we still put our Bear gear on, on game day. Many wear Bear gear all Bear season. If there's one team both the North and South siders love it's the Bears. And lest we forget, head coach Lovey Smith, that is one Texan I don't mind listening to, win or loose.
One of our news radio stations has a once a week the "sign of the Apocalypse is coming segment", where all week listeners email, voicemail etc. and they pick the best, sign of the Apocalypse is coming story and announce it on Friday afternoon. This week it was a listener said "when I saw the Nativity at Daley plaza where baby Jesus was not only bolted in the cradle but also big 2 thick wires were around it and bolted to the concrete".
Mike Madigan, speaker of the Illinois House sent congress home until after the Holiday's and the Hogg with Big Nuts is loose2 comments Posted by Third Generation Chicago Native at 11/29/2007
On a sad note the late Henry Hyde
During more than 30 years as a congressman, he represented the people of Illinois with character and dignity _ and always stood for a strong and purposeful America. This fine man believed in the power of freedom, and he was a tireless champion of the weak and forgotten." _ President Bush.
"U.S. Rep. Hyde unequivocally embodied the title of statesman in every sense of the word. His leadership when speaking on the House floor drew attention from each member in the chamber. The clarity of his thoughts, the wisdom of his foresight and the principled values he espoused were unmatched." _ GOP Rep. Peter Roskam, who succeeded Hyde in Congress.
"From his time in the Navy to his long career in the U.S. House of Representatives, Henry Hyde leaves an honored legacy of championing freedom both here at home and abroad. He was the pre-eminent, pro-life champion of our time. Today, we remember the life of a truly great American." _ Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
"U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde was a man of great conviction and an eloquent spokesman for the causes he believed in. ... The people of Illinois owe him a great debt of gratitude for the years and years of service to our state." _ Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat.
The governor's attendance at the Chicago Blackhawks game isn't going over well with state lawmakers, and his threats for more special sessions probably won't help the matter.
The governor says he can't vote, so he didn't have to be there. He says he enjoyed watching a game that wasn't rigged, saying that since Madigan didn't vote for the bailout, Madigan probably didn't want the bill to pass.
It is not going to be an early Christmas Holiday down in Springfield
Will CTA be advertised as the viable News Years Eve travel option?
SPRINGFIELD (AP) -- When he announced emergency funding for Chicago-area mass-transit systems earlier this month, Gov. Rod Blagojevich said he simply was using money already set aside in the budget for transportation projects.
But that was true only because his administration transferred funds from other construction programs before revealing the bailout, state records show.Of the $27 million Blagojevich provided to keep trains and buses running, $22.4 million originally was going to pay for bricks-and-mortar construction, highways and energy projects around the state.
Blagojevich announced the grant Nov. 2. Aides said it was "existing" money borrowed by selling bonds for rail and mass-transit projects.
Giving it to the Chicago Transit Authority and its suburban sister would not delay construction elsewhere in the state, they said.
But no one seems to know whether that's true.
The Hog with Big Nuts speaksCook County Board President Todd Stroger can't get his budget passed "because he's black," his floor leader angrily charged Tuesday.
Commissioner William Beavers said "if Todd was a white man, he wouldn't have half these problems," further alleging "this is a remake of the Harold Washington days" at City Hall, where racially fueled votes often ended in 29-21 decisions.
"Who's gonna control the county -- white or black -- that's all this is," he said.
Beavers railed on that one of Stroger's top critics, Commissioner Tony Peraica, "hates everybody who's black ... all black elected officials," going on to say Peraica used to beat up black people growing up in the Bridgeport neighborhood.
Peraica and others say the comments are not only untrue, they're born of a desperate frustration that Stroger can't pass a 2 percentage-point sales tax hike or other increases.
"Todd Stroger's credibility -- which has nothing to do with race -- is at a low ebb," Peraica said. "He needs to build up that credibility."
Even Commissioner John Daley, a Stroger ally, was surprised by Beavers' words, defending Peraica. "It's wrong for anyone to play the race card," he added.
Yet, prompted by a reporter's question, Beavers yelled not to forget that he's "the hog with the big nuts and I'm gonna tell you what it is."
Race continued to come up throughout an otherwise uneventful budget hearing, setting an ugly and uncomfortable tone that hasn't been seen in previous budget battles.
A shaken Commissioner Peter Silvestri gave a passionate defense, but Beavers was unswayed.
The attacks were the most noteworthy thing to come from a nine-hour meeting designed to help fill a $239 million budget deficit. About $1 million was cut Tuesday.
Though Stroger wants to pass his $3 billion budget by Friday, even he conceded that's not likely. He said commissioners are "afraid" and need to show "common sense" in approaching the budget.
Labels: Stuart Levine
Special session ordered
Governor wants answer for Chicago’s mass transit problem
By MIKE RAMSEY
GATEHOUSE NEWS SERVICE
Published Tuesday, November 20, 2007
CHICAGO — Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Monday ordered state lawmakers to Springfield next week to work on a financial bailout for Chicago-area mass transit, even though he said he may be able to single-handedly find more money to sustain commuter trains and buses.
Also, the Chicago Democrat defended his intent to ignore a legislative rules committee that rejected his plans to expand discounted health care for thousands of Illinois parents and guardians.
Blagojevich said he has called a special session on transit for Nov. 28, after lawmakers spend time with their families over Thanksgiving. He credited his administration for identifying stopgap money for the Chicago Transit Authority and its suburban counterparts, Metra and Pace, earlier this year. He said he may even be able to find more funds on his own but cautioned there are limits.
“My message to the General Assembly is very simple: Let’s get something done,” the governor said during a news conference at his Loop office. “I’m running out of options where I can unilaterally bail out the CTA and stave off what could become a terrible situation for riders.”
Blagojevich and legislative leaders have met privately to discuss mass transit and a capital construction program that the minority Republican Party has demanded in return. But the negotiations have been a bust, in part because of policy disagreements over how to raise the transit dollars. Blagojevich has promised to veto a proposed increase in the regional sales tax that is earmarked for the transit agencies and instead backs a plan that would tap into a portion of the state sales tax from gasoline purchases.
Also holding back progress on transit and capital has been the personality conflict between Blagojevich and House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat who favors the regional sales tax hike.
Representatives for two of the legislative leaders said Monday they had not seen the governor’s formal proclamation for the special session and offered little comment. But House Republican Leader Tom Cross of Oswego said it’s worth having lawmakers take another stab at mass transit and a capital program.
“There’s no question we need to finalize both mass transit and capital,” said Cross, who advocates a “modest” transit-fare increase over the governor’s objections. “If (the special session) aids in the process, then I’m supportive of it.”
The capital construction projects linked to transit assistance would be financed through a gambling expansion in Illinois; leaders have not agreed on the scope beyond the creation of a Chicago land-based casino.
If new state dollars don’t arrive soon, the cash-strapped CTA has prepared a “doomsday” plan to cut service and raise fares in January. The measures would have political ramifications for Blagojevich and legislative leaders, who had all spring and summer to hammer out a solution. The governor called several special sessions earlier this year as he and lawmakers feuded over a state budget.
The Blagojevich administration has moved ahead with emergency plans to expand the state’s Family Care medical program, in defiance of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. JCAR last week rejected the measure, which would offer discounted medical care to nearly 150,000 adult Illinoisans through looser income restrictions.
Blagojevich on Monday said the rules committee, which comprises six Democrats and six Republicans, does not have constitutional power over his office.
“Where is it written that a handful of legislators — 12 of them — can tell the executive branch what it’s going to do when it comes to administering the executive branch?” the governor said.
“I’m a stickler and proponent of JCAR and the legislative process,” Cross, the House GOP leader, countered. “I respect (the governor’s) argument and advocacy for the executive branch. I’m also protective of the legislative branch. We have a different view on it.”
With the Cook County Board less than two weeks from its Nov. 30 deadline to pass a budget, a key commissioner is proposing five new taxes today.
Cook County sues itself in budget war
(Crain’s) — In a bizarre twist to Cook County’s budget woes, the county’s public defender on Tuesday announced that he is suing County Board President Todd Stroger in a bid to get needed funding for the office.
A suit filed by Public Defender Edwin Burnette contends that the office is unable to fulfill its constitutional task to represent the indigent because of layoffs, hiring freezes and other steps ordered by Mr. Stroger and the board. It asks a third unit of county government — a circuit court — to order the reinstatement and reimbursement of all office personnel, and to mandate other actions to ensure “the independence and autonomy of the office.”
An attorney for Mr. Stroger and the co-defendants in the case, presidential chief of staff Lance Tyson and comptroller Joseph Fratto, termed the lawsuit "ridiculous."
Burt Odelson said if the public defender doesn't like his budget, "he should have come to the board like the state's attorney did and lobby" for more money.
Something Lance Tyson calls ridiculous
"You don't file lawsuits to ask for more appropriations," Mr. Odelson said. "That's not the way our democracy is based."
Last year, when Mr. Stroger unveiled proposed double-digit spending cuts throughout county government, Mr. Burnette said his office would be able to comply. Mr. Burnette was appointed public defender by Mr. Stroger’s father, John Stroger, who left office two years ago after suffering a stroke.
But Mr. Burnette then “did not recognize the full consequences of Mr. Stroger’s game plan on his office,” his attorney, William Hooks, said at a press conference announcing the suit.
The suit contends that a staff of about 435 assistant public defenders is handling 126,474 felony cases for approximately 112,000 poor people accused of crimes, giving it a workload 60% above national standards. While the office budget has been cut 26% in the past three years, Mr. Stroger has hired or promoted friends and political supporters for jobs paying $200,000 or more, Mr. Hooks said.
Mr. Hooks said the office must be kept separate from normal budget give-and-take because it has a unique, specified role that cannot legally be shortchanged.
Mr. Burnette did not attend the press conference, but Mr. Hooks was accompanied by the head of the union local that represents most office workers and which joined in the suit.
Kulmeet Galhotra, president of AFSCME Local 3315, said the office “has not hired a new attorney since June, 2006.” While about a dozen laid-off lawyers were recalled to work, attrition has cut the number of assistant public defenders from 465 at the beginning of last year to 430 to 440 now, Mr. Galhotra said.
Mr. Burnette said the court has named him a special Cook County state’s attorney in the case. That means his fees will be paid by the public until the case is resolved
Maldonado the deciding vote
Cook County Board President Todd Stroger and his staff spent the weekend trying to persuade the county's 27 other elected officials to stand with him Monday in support of his controversial plan to raise taxes to finance county government operations.
He got six.
But even those six weren't biting when asked if their position means they support Stroger's plan to hike the sales, gasoline and parking taxes to raise about $890 million by 2009.
Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, State's Attorney Richard Devine, Recorder Gene Moore and a representative of Sheriff Tom Dart would only say they support finding some way to balance the budget so they don't have to cut any more from their offices.
Also standing behind Stroger were county Commissioners Jerry Butler (D-Chicago) and Deborah Sims (D-Chicago).
Most of the county board has been adamant that Stroger's tax plan won't fly, but Stroger is standing firm on it, especially his proposal to hike the county portion of the sales tax by 2 percentage points - from .75 percent to 2.75 percent.
Stroger challenged his critics to either "do what's right" and "pay the piper" or come up with a tax plan of their own.
A swing vote on Stroger's tax plan comes from Commissioner Roberto Maldonado (D-Chicago), who is against the sales tax hike.
We don't need any distractions, ....well any more on the County Board
With the next County Budget fasting approaching,....and no the State still has no budget passed......we don't need any more problems on this County Board, this may prolong the next budget because now we will have to deal with political agendas
State's attorney race turns allies to rivals
November 17, 2007
By Abdon M. Pallasch , Sun-Times News Group
A few years ago, Cook County Commissioners Larry Suffredin and Tony Peraica were on the same team, fighting the administration of county board President John Stroger.
Now, they're slinging verbal arrows at each other as they run for state's attorney.
At a forum Friday for state's attorney candidates at the Union League Club in Chicago, Peraica (R-Riverside) quoted Suffredin as telling Democratic Party leaders, "if we don't get our act together, we're going to hand this office over to Tony Peraica, which would be the worst possible thing in the world that could happen to us.'"
As the laughter in the room died down, Peraica said to Suffredin, "Did I quote you correctly?" Suffredin (D-Evanston) nodded.
"Larry and I disagree on a lot of things, but we agree on that point," Peraica said.
"I would bring the kind of independence to this office that would not kowtow to any power, Democratic or Republican."
Not right, Suffredin said, describing Peraica as having "flawed judgment" and saying that he doesn't "trust him to be a fair person."
Peraica shot back to Suffredin, "He was one of the first to support Todd Stroger (for county board president), so talk about flawed judgment."
Suffredin shouted that he would support Stroger again if Peraica were the opponent.
Part of the reason Suffredin said he's running for county prosecutor is because "there is a belief that justice is not equal, that decisions made in Winnetka are not the same ones made in Robbins or in Maywood or in South Chicago or in Englewood."
First Assistant State's Attorney Bob Milan, who's running against Suffredin in the Feb. 5 Democratic primary election, was angered by that insinuation.
"How dare you allege that assistant state's attorneys in this office treat anyone differently in Robbins than they do in Winnetka," Milan told Suffredin.
"That's outrageous. ... You don't know what you were talking about because you were never one of us. So talk about what you know."
The six Democratic and two Republican candidates had varied opinions about whether Cook County prosecutors look the other way regarding Chicago police brutality.
Democrat Tommy Brewer said he is not convinced police brutality is a thing of the past.
The candidates split evenly about whether Chicago aldermen should get the names of police officers who have an inordinate number of complaints against them.
Suffredin, Peraica, Brewer, and Ald. Howard Brookins (21st) said they should. Milan, Ald. Tom Allen (38th), Chief Deputy State's Attorney Anita Alvarez and attorney Ed Barren disagreed, saying it could unfairly tarnish good officers' reputations.
A little clue that the Peotone airport issue is not dead. This is one of Jesse Jackson Jr's pet projects
With the Interstate 355 extension complete, could the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority be ready to take on another?
The tollway authority's board today will begin preliminary discussions about extending I-355 south once again - this time between interstates 80 and 57. The $738 million extension between I-55 and I-80 opened Monday.
Jim Roolf, a board member representing Will County, plans to ask the tollway authority's staff to start researching the cost and possible route for a new toll road that could eventually connect to the proposed south suburban airport near Peotone.
In case any one is wondering about the skyway fund.
Alnaqib said that the CCV has a small business fund, which can fund businesses up to $1 million. This money is from the Chicago Skyway deal.
Chicago City Council OK's nearly $6B budget
November 13, 2007
The Chicago City Council today approved Mayor Richard Daley's $5.9 billion budget, including an $86 million property tax increase, the largest during Daley's time in office.
Daley scaled back his proposed property tax increase from $108 million after protests from aldermen and angry taxpayers.
The council's 37-to-13 vote was a change from past budgets, when Daley's plan has passed overwhelmingly. The 2008 plan, effective Jan. 1, calls for $275 million in increased fees, fines and taxes.
For example, along with the higher property tax rate, the city has approved a higher tax rate - to 8 percent from 6 percent - for transactions such as DVD rentals and car leases, which officials say translates into $24 million for the city. A monthly surcharge for 911 calls will also double to $2.50, generating $48 million.
Increases in water and sewer rates will generate $64.7 million, with the average homeowner paying about $45 more a year.
The city will also raise fines on parking violations and the price of city stickers for large vehicles to $120 from $90, expected to raise $6.2 million.
At Tuesday's meeting, aldermen cut a proposed tax on bottled water to 5 cents a bottle from 10 cents a bottle.
Veterans Parkway, opens Veterans day
Veterans Memorial Tollway Opens In Western Suburbs
Rafael Romo LEMONT, Ill. (CBS) ― The morning commute will get quite an upgrade for people living in the western suburbs.
CBS 2's Rafael Romo reports that the new I-355 extention, dubbed the Veterans Memorial Tollway officially opens Sunday, and links I-55 to I-80.
As part of the opening festivities, people can bike or run along the I-355 extension on Sunday. That will only be for one day, however, because on Monday cars will be flying along the interstate.
The dozens of cyclists who helped open the new extension on Sunday were delighted to be among the first to ride along the new stretch of tollway.
"There's a lot of people in New Lenox, Tinley Park, Orland Park, Homer, that are always taking side streets to get north to get to Schaumburg or the western suburbs. Having this is going to alleviate a lot of that pressure," said one man who rode on the Veterans Memorial Tollway Sunday with his family.
The 12.5-mile extension of the I-355 Tollway connects I-55 through Will County to I-80. It was built as part of the Tollway's congestion relief program to reduce travel time between the southwestern and western suburbs.
Cyclist Teresa Dory said, "It's really neat to be able to ride on it for the first time and we're very excited about … being able to get places a lot quicker and having it be more accessible and hope that business comes down this way."
The Veterans Memorial Tollway took three years to complete at a cost of $730 million. Officials said they expect about 54,000 daily commuters.
The official opening ceremony will be held Sunday afternoon, hosted by Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
I man have to check this one out, but is it like the Elgin-O'hare Expressway that neither goes to Elgin or O'Hare?
What a coincidence
You see, while Ryan’s first day in prison is Nov. 8, Scott and Janet Willis also began serving a prison sentence of sorts 13 years earlier, also on Nov. 8. You will remember that the Willis’ children burned up in the couple’s mini-van after a taillight assembly fell off a tractor-trailer truck being operated by an unqualified driver. The Willis family was following the truck and the taillight assembly ruptured the fuel tank, causing the vehicle to burst into flames. The Willis’ ‘prison’ began on Nov. 8, 1994, as they stood helplessly by a Wisconsin highway and watched their six children, Ben, Joseph, Samuel, Hank, Elizabeth and Peter burn up.
It was later learned that the driver, Ricardo Guzman, was given a license only because his boss, Gonzalo Mendosa, had paid a secretary of state employee to ‘fix’ as many as 80 licenses in exchange for a hefty contribution to Ryan’s campaign.
Throughout this lingering cesspool of corruption, the Willis children have been totally ignored by Ryan and his cronies. Ryan’s million dollar law team worked overtime to make sure the names of those children — once again their names are Ben, Joseph, Samuel, Hank, Elizabeth and Peter — were never mentioned. In fact, Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer blocked Willis from testifying at the corruption trial after Ryan’s lawyers argued that the fatalities had no direct bearing on the charges against Ryan.
Pardon me for bringing this up again, but it does not take a great leap of imagination for me to say unequivocally that it was George Ryan himself, through his license-for-bribe scheme, who put an unqualified driver like Guzman behind the wheel.
And I also remember reading the story about how Scott Willis approached Ryan after his children had died to ask him why he had quashed the investigation and sealed the records on the fatal crash. Instead of offering comfort and compassion to a grieving father, Ryan dressed Willis down verbally and then spun and walked away from him.
There will be those who will dismiss Ryan’s first full day in prison on Nov. 8 and the death of the Willis children on Nov. 8 as pure coincidence and happenstance, however, I don’t see it that way.
Instead, I think those dates were supposed to fall exactly the way they did, so that the legacy of a corrupt, no-conscience, backroom-dealing politico like George Ryan can be more readily and easily defined.
Labels: George Ryan
Labels: George Ryan
The Chicago Bears are off this week, last weekend it was pretty sad that they lost, but as I was out and about last Sunday after the game, I realized the Bears have the best fans. Everyone will still in Bears attire, even though they lost, people put on their Bears stuff and gear up for the game, it is really an event people look forward to, many people arrange thier schedules around Bear games.
On Senate Bill 1429, supposedly this will help the State collect more sales revenue, but at what other problems will it create? How will the ST (State Tax forms, filled out monthly) change? Will this give tax incentives for businesses who want to come in to an area? What will be the incentives? Will areas want big businesses now if they will not reap the sales benefits but the added traffic, police needed, and things that will not be offset by the tax benefits? Will some areas have budget problems now, especially now that they rely on sales tax revenue? What will the accounting nightmares be for, the cities, villages, counties, businesses, and the State? Will this really streamline things for the State? This is also supposed to affect on-line sales and mail order sales, so you will be taxed on these purchases, always.
Senate bill 1429 Senate Bill 1429, which would shift the state’s method of issuing sales tax revenue from a “point of sales” to “destination” source.
Under S.B. 1429, the money would go to the municipality in which the product was delivered. So S.B. 1429 would have little impact on bedroom communities, where mom-and-pop retailers and coffee shops reign. But in towns like Elmhurst, which is home to some massive distributors like McMaster-Carr Supply Co., it could spell the loss of millions of dollars every year.
The idea behind S.B. 1429 is to allow Illinois to join the Streamlined Sales Tax Project, a national endeavor to create a simpler and more fair sales and use tax system. One of the program’s biggest draws is its aim to level the playing field between brick-and-mortar businesses, which pay sales tax, and the Internet and catalogue companies, which do not.
So far, 21 states have signed up for the program. If 30 states join, there is an understanding that the federal government will enact legislation to allow states to collect tax on online and mail-order transactions, said Dave Bennet, executive director of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus.
“There are no guarantees, obviously,” said Bennet. “Even if Illinois does change, who knows when that legislation may go into effect.”
A requisite of joining the project is to distribute sales tax according to the destination of the sale.
Bennet is working to make Chicago-area municipal leaders aware of potential local impacts of S.B. 1429. Although state officials plan to create a $20 million mitigation fund to aide municipalities negatively affected by the bill, Bennet said it may not be enough.
“The message we’re receiving is that the mitigation plan being considered is inadequate,” he said. “The way it’s set up, it would be an annual fund and it would increase at CPI level each year. But again, is it enough? I don’t know. One of the problems right now is we can’t really determine that.”
“It helps in that the state will collect tax presently not collected. The mom-and-pop retailer that pay bills and then tries to make a living will be on equal footing,” he said.
Governors wife is an opportunist
Gov. Rod Blagojevich's wife received a commission from a 2005 condo sale involving a man who later won $10 million in no-bid state contracts - again showing how the governor appears to benefit from those seeking state business, according to a published report.
The seller was Mark Wight, who owns an architecture firm that won three new contracts with the state toll highway authority; the buyer was John Wyma, Wight's tollway lobbyist who has worked closely with the governor for years, the Chicago Tribune reported in its Sunday editions.
Patti Blagojevich, who has a home-based real estate business, had been looking for a property for Wyma for months, but he and Wight found each other without her help.
Wight said he decided to pay a commission on the sale of the $650,000 property to Patti Blagojevich anyway after it became clear to him that Wyma had been working with an agent.
"I had always intended to pay a commission to an agent, regardless of who that agent was," Wight said in a written response. "I later learned that John was working with Patti Blagojevich."
<Commissioners Murphy and Sims, the same ones who wanted exempt hiring status for the Commissioners, now they want a 27% increase. The voters in their districts better being paying attention to these two ladies, and vote appropriatley. Of course as I would expect Commissioner Earlean Collins, no surprise, and freshman Commissioner Schneider pleasant surprise how well he is doing, not favor this hike.
Cook County Board members get 27% hike for offices
October 30, 2007
By Steve Patterson
Enough of the belt-tightening, already - it's time to spend some money again.
That's what some Cook County commissioners said Monday in defending what is a 27 percent increase in spending for their offices and new jobs for each one of them.
Board President Todd Stroger is proposing the hikes as part of his 2008 budget, and while some say they won't take it, others say they want it and more.
"I'm not going to cut any staff - I'm just not going to do it," said Commissioner Earlean Collins, the only commissioner to defy demands last year to cut 17 percent from her office budget.
Commissioner Tim Schneider said he never asked for, nor will he take, the $90,000 in extra salaries Stroger is offering his office, saying the county's "in dire straits" and the board should "keep county government at the most efficient level we can" by giving back extra money.
Commissioner Joan Murphy said "maybe (Schneider) doesn't do the amount of work the rest of us do."
"Feel free, if you want, to give yours back, but I'm keeping mine," she said.
Murphy later apologized to Schneider for the verbal attack.
Commissioner Liz Gorman said adding so much to the budget "defies logic."
But Commissioner Deborah Sims suggested that after a year of cuts and holding the line on spending, the board needs even more employees, especially for those who lead committees or who have far-reaching or poor districts.
"I thought all of us were in this together, trying to help the county's bottom line," Commissioner Tony Peraica countered. "It appears some are helping the bottom line more than others."
The board has the option to cut any budgets, including their own, before a final budget is passed.
Stroger is proposing raising the sales, gas and parking taxes to pay for the increases, along with other hikes, that make up a $3.2 billion budget.