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Preckwinkle calls predecessor Stroger ‘inept’

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle | Sun-Times Medifiles

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle | Sun-Times Media files

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Updated: November 12, 2012 11:59AM

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle took aim at her favorite political target — predecessor Todd Stroger — calling him “inept” during a public lecture on government reform at the University of Illinois at Chicago on Wednesday.

“It is a mixed blessing succeeding somebody who is inept,” Preckwinkle said of Stroger. “On one hand, the bar is low, and on the other hand, things are a mess.”

Preckwinkle was responding to a student’s question about a reduction in the sales tax. Preckwinkle campaigned and won the 2010 primary — handily beating Stroger — on a promise to roll back the penny-on-the-dollar sales tax increase he had championed in his first and only term as board president.

During the lecture, which was attended almost exclusively by students, Preckwinkle also said Stroger failed to help her during the transitional period between their administrations.

“I met with Stroger immediately after the Democratic primary and tried to talk to him about the transition, and he said that he would work with us on transition if I promised to keep a number of his people,” she said, once again recalling her struggles with Stroger at the time.

Reached later in the day, Stroger said none of that was true.

“That just makes her a liar,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times in a phone interview.

“I am the one who scheduled to meet with her after the primary. I said I would help in any way that I can,” Stroger said. “I told her I wanted to talk to her about some workers who I thought were doing a good job. And she said ‘I don’t want to hear it. I want you to sit here and do nothing for the next four months.’ And I said that the meeting was over. My administration worked very hard for four years in very difficult times. [Preckwinkle] has shown no class whatsoever and has not been presidential.”

Preckwinkle was speaking as part of the “Future of Chicago” series at UIC, which is moderated by Dick Simpson, the former 44th Ward alderman and head of the university’s political science department.

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