Fran Spielman, Chicago Sun-Times, May 25, 2006
Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica on Wednesday demanded a photograph or tape recording to prove that County Board President John Stroger is “alive and well enough to function” after the stroke that has sidelined him for 2-1/2 months.
“With 165 days to go before the election, with the county budget looming on the horizon, with over 40 union contracts to be negotiated, numerous executive appointments to be made, we can’t wait until the end of October when Clerk David Orr has set the deadline to decide whether or not he’s going to be the candidate,” said Peraica, Stroger’s Republican challenger.
“Cook County taxpayers and voters need an answer now. We deserve that answer right now.
“What I’m demanding is some verifiable objective message from President Stroger — whether it’s in the form of a photograph [or] a recorded voice message discussing something that’s not a top secret with his chief of staff — something that would be a confirmation that he’s alive and well enough to function.”
Ald. William Beavers (7th) is the elder statesman among black aldermen and one of Stroger’s most powerful political allies. Beavers characterized constant speculation about Stroger’s health and possible replacements as racist.
“There’s always a double standard when it comes to black folks and white folks. Old man [Richard J.] Daley had a stroke and was off for a year. Nobody said one word. They were even afraid to whisper that he was sick around here,” Beavers said.
“President Stroger is alive and well. Until he decides that he don’t want to run again — it’s up to him. And whoever he decides that he wants to replace him — that’s what’s going to happen. . . White folks can do it. Black folks can do it — easily. We got control of the [weighted] votes in the city and the county, so we do what we want to do. Remember that.”