Sunday, December 23, 2007

A plant?

This was originally posted at It's My Mind on December 21st, 2007.

You know it's been in the news within the past month or so that Sen. Hillary Clinton has been planting friendly people in crowds during debates and such to help solidify her support. Well Todd Stroger seems to have picked up on that strategy and it doesn't seem to help him look any better. He can do sit down interviews but the least he can do is not have someone talk up his unpopular tax increases...

Stroger has been under siege for nearly three months for having proposed a highly unpopular 2-percentage-point hike in the county sales tax.

After taking a few calls from unhappy taxpayers, Williams said he had time for one more caller.

On came "Jonathan from Chicago."

Jonathan talked intelligently about the county’s budget mess last year and then went on to defend the tax hike and cite a national study comparing cities across the nation.

"The last 15 areas that raised their sales tax saw actually no less than 25 percent growth in the year after they did it," Jonathan said. "A lot of this is just gloom and doom, the world’s going to fall in. But when you look at what’s actually happened, the world’s never fallen in."

The random caller, of course, wasn’t so random. It was Stroger’s $100,000-a-year communications director, Andre Garner.

Confronted later, Garner declined to comment but said, "Well, you guys won’t put this stuff in the newspaper," referring to his on-air comments.
This article courtesy of Clout Street.

Here's an update to this story from the Sun-Times.

Andre Garner, Stroger's $100,000-a-year director of media affairs, slightly disguised his voice and posed as "Jonathan from Chicago" while calling in Thursday to the John Williams show on WGN radio, where Stroger was being interviewed.

Garner, who is responsible for shaping Stroger's "message" and media "strategy," also lied on the air by saying his wife works for county government. He then rattled off intricate details of county government budgeting before defending Stroger's push to increase the sales tax.

A reeling Garner apologized on Williams' show Friday for what he said was "a terrible lapse in judgment" that puts yet another dent in Stroger's credibility and desire to be taken seriously.

Garner did not return a call but instead issued a written statement saying the radio station call was something "I regret and will never repeat."

Garner and those close to Stroger said Stroger had no role in staging Garner's call and didn't know about it ahead of time. It wasn't clear if Stroger recognized Garner's voice, but listeners picked it up quickly.

Garner, who was hired in April and previously worked in the mayor's office and for the Chicago Housing Authority, said his call came spontaneously, rooted in "frustration" that certain budget information "hasn't been told in the mainstream media," and said he hoped his move "hasn't impugned the president's character."
While I think the County Board President is in over his head in this position, I'm also starting to think some of the people around him are killing him. Perhaps he needs a new county board floor leader and he may need another director of media affairs. Would that help him probably not, but I wonder if doing this could make him look better. That is he has control of his office. Who knows?

6 comments:

fedup dem 5:13 PM  

Toddler is beyond being helped a simple personnel move or two. If he had any sense of honor, hew would resigned in disgrace some time ago.

Anonymous,  12:02 AM  

When is someone going to suggest the Cook County judiciary as a logical place to cut. These people get $160,000/year. Consider that twelve years ago, when the numbers of judges were raised, there were about 1,000 murders each year in Cook County. Now, there are fewer than 500. The felony rate hasn't gone down that quickly, but it has fallen dramatically.

We still have the number of judges we had in 95, though, doing less than 60% of the work, many heading home way early, and no doubt giving money to Ed Burke, the political patron who put them there.

CUT HACK JUDGES, NOT DOCTORS & NURSES!

Ghost,  8:41 AM  

I am not very offended by this. Stroger is way way over his head, and it is also clear there is a lot of patronage fluff that can be cut from the budget. BUT, that said I do agree that the coverage of Storger has been ignoring a lot of the mess that already existed etc.

Anonymous,  9:52 PM  

this just shows the level of deciet and lies the stroger machine will use to shape there message for higher taxes for do nothing patronage hacks. Cut taxes and cut the patronage. Stroger needs to go and take all his friends and family with him.

JB Powers 8:49 AM  

Planned support calls to radio talk shows is not even on the top 100 list of "deciet and lies" in Chicago politics. It happens on every talk show in Chicago every day.

This is a typical non-issue hyped by the press to avoid the more complex issues of health care finance and non-management by the Cook County Board.

Stroger did plenty to merit not being elected, yet, Daley, Obama, Durbin, Dr. Quentin Young, Larry Sufferdin all backed him for County Board President.

JBP

Chicagocynic 10:45 PM  

Really folks, Andre and Todd deserve all of our thanks. This "boxing day," as we deal with our Christmas hangovers and look at the empty boxes kicked to the curbside--the same boxes our kids played in instead of with the toys that were inside,we know that Todd Stroger and his team are the gift that keeps on giving to cynics, those bored with the garden variety waste, fraud, corruption and abuse in city and state politics, and to legions of syncophants who want to know how they can work in County government too someday. Give cheers, not jeers to our radio rangers.

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