Stroger visits Hoffman Estates, says he's not afraid of the suburbs

  • Cook County Board President Todd Stroger and Hoffman Estates Mayor William McLeod talk with emergency personnel at Tuesday's drill.

    Cook County Board President Todd Stroger and Hoffman Estates Mayor William McLeod talk with emergency personnel at Tuesday's drill. Courtesy of Doug Schultz/Village of Hoffman Estates

Updated 5/14/2008 8:39 AM

Not everyone wanted to shake Todd Stroger's hand Tuesday when the Cook County Board president came to observe the bioterrorism drill conducted at the Sears Centre.

A Hoffman Estates police officer at the Homeland Security drill kept his hands to himself after Stroger introduced himself.


"Sorry, I'm not happy with the way you run the county," officer Vince Pusateri told Stroger, shunning the handshake.

That attitude might reflect how many suburbanites feel since the Cook County Board raised the county sales tax and Stroger backed out of a community meeting April 30 at Harper College in Palatine.

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But most people who approached Stroger inside the Sears Centre Tuesday did offer their hands, and for his part, Stroger said he'd like to reschedule the Harper appearance.

Stroger, who was expected to come about midway through the drill, got there about 15 minutes after it wrapped up. He said he was late because of a funeral.

He said he wants to tour Cook County and schedule public forums to answer questions. He's heard suburbanites complaining that they aren't getting a good return for their county taxes, and he wants to show them otherwise.

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"I know my staff is working on it now. We'll probably just use Harper College again," he said. "But we'll be in control of it, that's all."

Stroger backed out of the April 30 forum where he was supposed to be a guest at a Palatine village council meeting, saying it appeared to be turning into an ambush.

Meanwhile, he said he was "very impressed" with the coordination between suburban emergency crews at Tuesday's drill, adding that it is an example of how well the county facilitates these kinds of activities.

"We work with the municipalities and actually do a lot of the work that if they had to do, then you'd find that your property taxes would go up because you'd end up paying for it," Stroger said.

"It's these kinds of things that don't get press. It's not feel-good stuff."

He also said he was frustrated with the Daily Herald's coverage, and he said he's not afraid to show up in the suburbs.


"I've had a public forum in Des Plaines, so I've been out here before," Stroger said of his appearance a couple of years ago after severe Des Plaines River flooding.

"If you have the papers beating up on you all the time, then there's going to be some negative feedback because you have a negative feeling from how the papers portray me."

Standing next to the head of the Cook County Department of Public Health, Dr. Steven Martin, his brother-in-law, he defended county spending and hires.

"You combat that with the truth, the truth will set you free," Stroger said. "I don't want to get too biblical out here … but I think the majority of people, when they get a sense of what the county does for them, they'll feel much better about things."

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