Report: Stroger owes $12K in back taxes

May 13, 2009 (CHICAGO) The nature or circumstances surrounding the Stroger family's IRS debt is unknown. The government does not provide any details regarding individual cases. But there was a printed tax lien sent to the recorder of deeds office nearly two months ago. That document apparently was leaked, causing the latest embarrassment for the county's top executive.

The story broke on page 1 of the morning Sun-Times and continued on most of pages 2 and 3. Cook County Board President Todd Stroger and his wife Jeanine owe the federal government $11,668.10 in unpaid 2007 income taxes.

Two months ago in March of this year, the Internal Revenue Service notified the Cook County recorder of deeds, five floors below the president's office, that if the Strogers sold their South Side house, the feds would be first in line to get their money.

Stroger, seen entering his home on Wednesday afternoon, would not stop to comment. His office issued a statement concerning the tax lien reading, saying "arrangements were made by the stroger family to settle the debt."

The Sun-Times exclusive comes one day after Stroger held a news conference to explain why he vetoed an ordinance to lower the county's portion of the sales tax by one full cent.

Southwest suburban commissioner Elizabeth Gorman, who sponsored the tax rollback measure, made this comment regarding the president's federal tax problem.

"It's a personal matter, and I'm sure it's getting rectified, but at the same time, too, it just hits home. It's just a bad time and just puts another black cloud over this administration's head," said Commissioner Elizabeth Gorman, (R) Orland Park.

At City Hall, Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, a possible contender for the county board presidency in next year's Democratic primary, said Stroger's tax debt is personal and should not be an issue. She has other concerns about the president.

"What I'm concerned about is what we've seen in the last couple weeks about hiring decisions. Why was somebody the president of the board met at a restaurant hired for a fairly important, fairly well-paying county job without a background check?" said Ald. Toni Preckwinkle, 4th Ward.

Alderman Preckwinkle referred to the scandal surrounding Stroger's hiring of steakhouse busboy and convicted felon Tony Cole who was arrested again and again after getting his county jobs that paid up to $61,000 dollars a year.

The tax lien is one more image problem for the county board president who says he wants to run for re-election next year.

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