On May 20, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger attended the 15th District business meeting and was treated to a wide-ranging discussion on issues, from the number of black police officers on the force in the 15th District to the responsibilities of the Cook County board.

Fifteenth District Commander Walter Green responded to a question about the paucity of black officers in the community, stating “We don’t assign by race or by gender. All the officers out here are sworn police officers, and they are here to do a job. When you call 911 and somebody is in distress, you’re not going to say, ‘Oh, I can’t have that officer because he is this or that.'”

Green also addressed a question regarding police responding to concerns from business owner and the success of overhead cameras in trouble spots.

Green said that cameras have had an effect on deterring crime, adding that police are now using the fourth generation of the devices. Older models are being phased out and newer ones can feed pictures directly to the police station. If cameras are successful they can move activity to another location.

“We’re always trying to update and asking for new cameras,” Green said.

After giving an overview of county government, Stroger answered questions and comments from the audience, including one suggesting that daily media coverage focuses on Stroger’s personal issues rather than any alternatives offered by his opponents.

“That is the problem I have with the daily papers; they don’t ask those kind of questions,” Stroger said.

“What is the alternative? What are they coming up with?” Stroger asked. “What are they truly going to do to make sure that we do what we are supposed to do? The point I try to make to them is that you can have Mr. Claypool say the same thing for three years – he can say ‘waste, corruption and patronage.’ Why don’t you ask the next question? You’ve been here for six years and you know there is waste in the system, why don’t you go to the budget book?

“And like I say, they get paid $85,000, so I know they’ve got time to do some of this. Why don’t you go to the budget book find the waste, present it and we will eliminate? I’m not sure what patronage means … Either we have people who can do their job or they can’t. If they can’t they have to go on and find some other job. But that is the fight I fight, getting the newspapers to talk to them and say ‘What do you want to do?'”

Malcolm Crawford asked how business owners can be more involved in procurement for Cook County. Stroger said that procurement officer Carmen Triche-Colvin has revamped the entire procurement code, which is on the Internet.

The goals are 25 percent minority business and 10 percent women, and Todd stated it is his job to make this happen. He said he hopes to reach larger percentages, but it is an ongoing fight.

In responding to a tax question and how the information has been disseminated to the public, Stroger said that “there are very few people in the president’s office for communications.

“The Sun-Times wrote an article about us, because we have budget of $1.5 million for communications. That is everybody that works in the communication department. That budget includes cleaning, etc.”

He said that the city of Chicago’s communications budget was roughly twice that of Cook County.

“The [Cook County] commissioners have found if we can keep people from knowing what the president is doing, we can always beat-up on him,” Stroger said.

Referring to the unpopular 1-percent sales tax that commissioners voted to repeal and which Stroger vetoed, he said, “The tax does not affect car sales, house sales, boat sales, groceries, medical prescriptions, glasses, dentures – any of the things that go on your body. People were told this, basically, because I can’t get the press to talk about it.”