Next week, some Cook County commissioners are expected to vote on a resolution to fire the county's public defender.
A majority of county commissioners agree that public defender Ed Burnette's been slow to promote some employees and hasn't disciplined others allegedly deserved it. Commissioner Tony Peraica is one of those pushing to fire Burnette.
PERAICA: I think a picture emerges of someone who is not willing to stand up and advocate for his office.
But others say Burnette's being punished for defending that office. Burnette sued President Stroger last year after the board approved major cuts to the public defender's budget. County Commisioner Forrest Claypool says that's the real reason for the call to fire Burnette.
CLAYPOOL: You know, unless they can come up with more specifics than they're offering in this resolution, I think it's clearly a case of political retribution.
The public defender's office provides legal representation to those who can't afford it.
Cook County Board President Todd Stroger is set to oust Public Defender Ed Burnette from his job, possibly as early as Wednesday.
Speculation is mounting about a replacement with ties to Stroger's 8th Ward.
Controversial public defender may lose job
Burnette, appointed in 2003 by Stroger's father, John Stroger, says he'll fight to keep his job.
"I may be pushed away, but I won't be walking away," he said. "The people I work with demand better than that."
A county resolution signed by a bipartisan majority of the board, accuses Burnette of repeated "dereliction in the performance of duties" and cites those failures as a reason for his removal.
Stroger's office distanced itself from the ouster, but Burnette can only be removed by Stroger. Many say this is fallout from a lawsuit Burnette filed last year, blocking him or his staff from taking furlough days to help balance the county budget.
Public Defender union rep Bob Galhotra said the ouster "smacks of retaliation."
And while the resolution points to other problems, Commissioner Gregg Goslin said the suit "left a bad taste in my mouth. The guy's whole attitude is almost dismissive of this board and what we're doing."
Insiders immediately speculated former deputy public defender Furmin Sessoms, a longtime Stroger loyalist who recently lost a judicial race, could be in line for a job paying $161,506 a year.
Stroger Has New Interim Health Bureau Chief in Mind
Produced by City Room on Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Cook County Board President Todd Stroger says the board will accept Dr. Robert Simon's resignation as the interim chief of the health bureau. Stroger says Simon will be leaving in mid-April. And he says he already has a replacement in mind for the interim position.
STROGER: The person who I think has done an excellent job in the very short time he's been here is Mr. Small, who is the chief operating officer. He's brought an enormous amount of talent to the position and I think that's who I will suggest.
A deal reached in budget negotiations earlier this year calls for an independent governing board to take over management of the financially strapped health bureau. Stroger says the new governing board should be up and running by the end of June. That Board will decide who will fill the position of health bureau chief on a permanent basis.