A collegial atmosphere, cut with a few good-natured zingers, presided over the last meeting of the current Cook County Board, as a few prominent commissioners prepared to depart for good.
Todd Stroger, the outgoing Board President, has been the subject of a seemingly endless string of scandals and allegations over the last year, and has been openly criticized by many on the board. But on Wednesday, his fellow commissioners looked for the silver linings.
Of his widely unpopular one percent tax increase: Stroger "took a bullet that nobody else was willing to take," said longtime ally Deborah Sims. Perhaps alluding to his fast-and-loose management of county funds for personal gain and the gain of his friends, Commissioner John Daley put this polite spin on Stroger's tenure: "You truly believed in the powers of the president of this county, no matter what, and you thought you were protecting those powers."
And even his most outspoken critic, Forrest Claypool, avoided criticizing the President on Wednesday. He did, however, politely refuse to approach the dais to accept a certificate from Stroger, according to the Tribune.
More of the ribbing was aimed at Tony Peraica, the sometimes inflammatory Republican from the west suburbs who lost his re-election bid this year.
Bill Beavers, one of the larger-than-life figures on the Board who famously described himself as the "hog with the big nuts," was as quotable as ever in his farewell to Peraica. "It's been a pleasure to work with you," Beavers said. "You never stab a person in the back. You always stab them right in the chest. And that's what I like."
Elizabeth Gorman, like Peraica a suburban Republican, waxed poetical in her barb, quoting Oscar Wilde: "He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends."
But Peraica wasn't about to let the opportunity go without a parting volley of his own, addressed to Stroger. Hinting that Todd may someday need legal representation, Peraica said, "I'll be opening a law office in the 8th Ward, so I'll be seeing ya." Stroger hails from the 8th.
As for Stroger himself, he told reporters his plan was to "do some consulting," and that he was considering working in insurance.