Stroger scheduled to attend bioterror drill at Sears Centre

Published: 5/9/2008 12:39 AM

Cook County Board President Todd Stroger backed out of a appearance in Palatine last week, but he's got another Northwest suburban visit on his calendar for next week.

Stroger is slated to appear Tuesday at the Sears Centre arena in Hoffman Estates to observe a bioterrorism drill organized by the village and county health department.

"That's the plan," confirmed health department spokeswoman Kitty Loewy.

More than 25 fire, police and emergency departments will participate in the drill to practice their response to an outbreak of the fictitious "Spring Fever Disease."

Stroger is scheduled to tour the arena and watch the emergency crews at work, Loewy said. It's unclear if he'll make any public statements during the trip or address the suburban backlash from his 1 percentage-point sales tax increase.

Stroger had originally agreed to appear in Palatine after widespread outcry over the county sales tax hike, which Northwest suburban officials said would in particular hurt businesses near the border of Lake and other border counties.

Instead he canceled, saying the meeting would have turned into a chance for Palatine officials "to exploit this opportunity to further their own political agendas."

His decision to back out prompted more complaints about Stroger's perceived lack of respect for the suburbs. It also fueled more talk of some of the Northwest suburbs breaking away from Cook County amid complaints that they don't receive enough services for the amount of taxes paid.

Stroger, in an interview last week, dismissed that disconnection, saying it was a costly and impractical move.