Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Sweet Column: Todd Stroger Opens Can of Worms

| 3 Comments

Ald. Todd Stroger (8th) should know by now how to properly put in the fix.

His father is ailing Cook County Board President John H. Stroger Jr., who has not been seen in public since suffering a stroke days before the March 21 Democratic primary, which he won.


Most everyone -- press, potential rivals, chatter on political blogs -- had been silent about Stroger's condition since he was renominated. Because there are still months until the November election, out of respect for Stroger and his bedside win, people were putting aside the obvious question of, if elected, could the 76-year-old Stroger serve?

It's now time to get some answers. Todd Stroger and his family -- no one else -- put the issue of his father's capacity on the table. Now, somehow, John Stroger has to find a way to say he wants to and has the ability to serve.

Todd Stroger opened a Pandora's box when he tried to set the stage to replace his father on the November ballot. He told my colleague, City Hall reporter Fran Spielman, that he was qualified to be Cook County Board president and his mother, Yonnie, wanted his father to retire.

Spielman's story in the Wednesday Sun-Times reveals that Todd Stroger now expects his father to recover and that he withdrew the apparent offer for his father to vacate his nomination.

That happened once it became clear that the most powerful Democratic Cook County ward and township political bosses and two potential mayoral candidates, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, were behind U.S. Rep. Danny Davis for board president if John Stroger retired, not his son.

If he knew how to do it right, this is how the Todd Stroger story would have unfolded.

He would have quietly gotten the rock-solid support of enough Cook County Democratic committeemen to replace his father on the ballot. Then he would call a press conference to announce that he would accept a draft for the job. Poof! Done.

If young Stroger needed some tutorials in how to do it, he could look no further than the fast one pulled by Anne Burke in April. Burke, wife of the powerful Ald. Ed Burke (14th), filled the vacancy no one knew existed when she arranged to succeed Illinois Supreme Court Justice Mary Ann McMorrow. Poof! Done.

Need more examples? Cook County Sheriff Michael Sheahan passing the baton to deputy Tom Dart -- who barely had a primary fight -- in an insider deal made possible with the element of surprise. Sheahan kept his retirement plans to himself until he wired the politics for Dart. Poof! Done.

Young Stroger could have taken a lesson from former Rep. Bill Lipinski (D-Ill.), who lied about his intention to retire until he greased the passing of his nomination to his son, Dan, imported from Tennessee. Poof! Done.

''I, like most Chicagoans, have no idea of the condition of the County Board president,'' Jesse Jackson Jr. told me. "I hope he is capable of recovering.''

But he said what he does not want to see is a repeat of history -- the backroom deals after the death of Mayor Richard J. Daley and the traumatic wrangling over which African American -- Eugene Sawyer or Timothy Evans -- would replace Mayor Harold Washington after he suddenly died.

Gutierrez usually is never at a loss for words. I asked him his thoughts on how to proceed if John Stroger stays on the ballot.

He was quiet for a few moments. "It leaves me almost speechless. I think everyone is going to give a certain amount of time.

''How much time that is, I am not ready to say here. Still a little more time. But ultimately we are going to have to make a decision on whether he has the capacity to run on the ticket and to be a viable candidate -- or he doesn't. He is going to have to make that decision,'' Gutierrez said.

". . . At some point, and I don't believe we have reached it yet, we are going to have to gather together as a Democratic Party of Cook County and have a conversation and a dialogue about that, I think that is a very important one. In the meantime, I am still hoping, I still have hopes that he will come back. . . . I haven't given up on John Stroger.''

Neither has Davis, a former Cook County Board member.

Todd Stroger's announcement that his father's health is improving is "the most wonderful thing I've heard in a long time. That would just be fantastic.''

But Davis also takes it as "an indication that probably in a relatively decent period of time, people probably will see and hear from him.

''There are instances where people miraculously, seemingly, their conditions change, and so maybe this is the case. And if it is, there could not be anyone more delighted than me.''


Copyright © The Sun-Times Company
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

3 Comments

Since when did Ald. Stroger have the ability to print columns in the newspaper? Lynn, you are a disgrace to your profession.

HOW DARE THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY PUT THIS "YOUNGSTER" ON THE BALLOT. I FIGURE THIS IS JUST ANOTHER WAY TO SPLIT THE VOTE, BECAUSE I'M DEFINITELY GOING TO VOTE FOR THE REPUBLICAN. I AM A-A, AND THIS MAN (STROGER) HAS NO EXPERIENCE AS FAR AS I'M CONCERNED. I KNOW LOTS OF OTHERS THAT FEEL THE SAME WAY. CHICAGO IS ALWAYS READY AND WILLING TO MESS THINGS UP WHEN IT COMES TO POLITICS. THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE WHITE PARTY WANTS.

October 6, 2008


Dear Ms. Sweet,

I am one of the many Chicagoans about to be foreclosed and auctioned off by the end of October, 2008. What happened? I lost my job after six years of earning 55k per year. My affordable mortgage was sold off to ASC (the worst mortgage company and one that should be investigated THEY DO NOT HELP YOU!), consequently my payments doubled. I emptied my retirement account to make my payments. I could not find any work and filed Chapter 13. No, I could not refinance since I was the major bread winner in a two income household and had no job. Now the interest rate is set to readjust AGAIN! I already pay 9.5% and 13.5%. What should I do? I am very ill and require blood transfusions every two months. I have Crohn�s Disease, five forms of Arthritis, and Celiac Disease, as well as Chronic Anemia. Will someone help me, PLEASE!

The solution is right in front of us. Congress and the administration must immediately put a moratorium on foreclosures for homeowners who are owner occupants. Then through regulation, legislation and/or economic incentives have homeowner�s mortgages restructured to make them so can these servicers and investors given the appropriate legislative and regulatory requirements and incentives. Why is Countrywide being forced to do this? There are many predatory lenders besides Countrywide - such as ASC. Is help going to come so late that our economy crashs to the point-of no-return? What are families who sunk their hard-won earnings into a home as their investment suppose to do? Many, like me are too old too old to start over.

FORECLOSURES ARE UNACCEPTABLE. NO BAILOUT OF THE PREDATORS. MAKE THE MORTGAGES AFFORDABLE.

Thank you,

Carole R. Hirth
5110 N. Austin
Chicago, IL 60630
773-774-6871

Leave a comment

Get the Sweet widget

More widgets

Video

Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Stay in touch

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on May 18, 2006 5:48 AM.

Tony Snow: Working on his Yiddish. was the previous entry in this blog.

Gas Pains: CEOs of Ford, GM and DaimlerChylser huddle with Hastert, Pelosi is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.