In preparation for a story we're running today on the politics behind the future of the independent board overseeing Cook County's hospital system
, I sat down last week for an interview with Todd Stroger, county board president, in his office downtown.
Stroger is no fan of the hospital board. He says it isn't looking out for the best interests of the poor and uninsured residents served by the system, and accused health board members who work for other area hospitals of have a conflict of interest. I noted to Stroger that he was involved in the process of selecting those board members. (PDF
We talked a bit about the sales tax cut the board recently OKed over his objection (and veto). Stroger has warned the half-percentage-point cut will cost the county hundreds of millions of dollars, and will lead to cuts in the health system. I asked him if he was going to try to push commissioners to consider the sales tax issue again next year, after primary election challenges are behind them.
This interview took place last Tuesday, a few days before the Chicago Tribune released a new poll
showing Stroger lagging well behind in the race for the Democratic nomination. I asked him about the perception I hear repeatedly from voters and political observers that he won't be a contender in February. Stroger says he shouldn't be counted out.
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley hasn't made any endorsement in the race. I asked Stroger about the lack of mayoral support for his re-election campaign, given the long history between the two political families.
Stroger says other politicians aren't supporting him because, in his opinion, "the newspapers have scared them off." He reiterated the statement he made
to the Chicago News Cooperative
that institutional racism is part of the problem when it comes to the media coverage he receives.
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