Bill Beavers now turned fashion Critic
There's a laundry list of problems at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, but a county commissioner on Wednesday found another one - the attire of the center's director.
Commissioner William Beavers (D-Chicago) publicly criticized Earl Dunlap, asking him if he owned a suit and lectured him that "your appearance commands respect" and that he's "supposed to be a role model."
Dunlap, wearing a white polo shirt tucked into Dockers pants, responded that "I command respect by the way I conduct myself" and told Beavers "the last person I need to be judged by is you."
"I've got bigger fish to fry ... than whether I've got my Armani suit on," Dunlap told reporters later.
Dunlap is a no-nonsense, nationally recognized juvenile center leader brought in by a federal judge to clean up the Cook County center that long has been plagued by patronage hiring and allegations of abuse of youths and filthy conditions.
Beavers, county board President Todd Stroger's floor leader, is a longtime politician and a product of the Democratic machine known for his flashy suits and unapologetic defense of patronage. Some of Stroger's advisers seemed to cringe Wednesday at Beavers' criticism of Dunlap.
The spat at the county board meeting came as commissioners questioned the amount of overtime being spent at the juvenile center. Dunlap said OT is necessary because almost half of the center's 500 jobs are vacant or occupied by workers who repeatedly call in sick or are on some sort of medical leave.
A federal judge is set to rule today on Dunlap's request to temporarily bring in private security guards to work overnight shifts until hundreds of jobs can be filled. That less-demanding shift is desired by senior security staff, but Dunlap wants to move more experienced workers to open jobs on the day shift.
Dunlap said filling jobs has become more difficult because applicants must meet tougher standards since the center was taken over by Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy Evans.