Friday, October 27, 2006

Crain's Picks: Topinka and Peraica

I don't really follow endorsements. Last week the Sun-Times endorsed the incumbent Governor of Illinois. I don't know why. Today Crain's Chicago Business offers endorsements to Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka and Commissioner Tony Peraica. Both are respectively running for Governor and Cook County Board President.

Hopefully neither was a tough call. I have trouble with the governor's race myself. But the Cook County Board race shouldn't have been. It's easy to see who could be better suited or better qualified in the office of County Board President.

Here's what Crain's said about Topinka...

Ms. Topinka, on the other hand, has managed a long career in state government without acquiring anything like the ethical baggage Gov. Blagojevich has picked up in four years as governor.

As state treasurer, she appears to grasp the seriousness of Illinois’ financial woes and would curb the worst fiscal shenanigans of the Blagojevich era. Her record as treasurer is one of competent—though not spectacular—performance.

If Ms. Topinka isn’t the most inspiring Republican nominee in recent years, that, too, is a consequence of the money-soaked system that spawned Gov. Blagojevich. Few Republicans were willing to go up against his fund-raising machine.

That system must change, and the first step is turning Gov. Blagojevich out of office.
And what about Peraica who seemed to have been out there swinging in this election. You got to like a fighter...

Mr. Peraica understands the need for reform and has a plan to achieve it. Neither can be said of his opponent, Mr. Stroger’s son Todd. The younger Mr. Stroger, who serves as the 8th Ward’s alderman on the City Council, is a product of the very system that made such a mess of county government. He’s not the man to reform it.

Mr. Stroger brings few ideas and even less enthusiasm to his quest for the board presidency. His nomination by the Democratic Party was stage-managed in surpassingly cynical style by the ward heelers who would pull his strings as board president.

Some would argue that control of county government by the 8th Ward crowd preserves some political clout for African-Americans, who have lost power in other branches of local government. But the Stroger machine’s power benefits only those African-Americans lucky enough to have the right connections. A far larger segment of the African-American community depends on the county’s hospitals and other institutions in need of top-to-bottom reform.

Mr. Peraica, a county commissioner since 2003, will push for the kind of changes needed to preserve the health of those institutions. He would merge redundant county agencies, trim excess jobs, centralize hiring and use technology to cut costs. To spur improved care at county hospitals, he’d make county employees use them.

But the Republican nominee must understand that the same independent streak that gives him credibility as a reformer could be his undoing as board president. To succeed, he’ll have to reach out to other county commissioners and build a consensus for change.
This looks good to me. Hopefully the people who read Crain's are impressed.

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