7 Months left for Stroger damage

Of course the Board voted to stop Todd Stroger from doing more damage to the County, and of course he vetoed it. Then the Board was unable to overturn his veto. The same bunch caved into the Toddler, helping him keep taxes high by increasing pensions, for years to come.

Excerpt from Tony Peraica's site, see end of blog for link and complete story.

The tally, 9-6 to override, fell short of the necessary 11 “yes” votes. The Stroger Six: William Beavers, Jerry Butler, Earlean Collins, Joan Patricia Murphy, Deborah Sims and Robert Steele. Steele and a seventh commissioner who gutlessly voted present, Edwin Reyes, had been co-sponsors of the original measure to tighten controls on Stroger.

Stroger staff confirms new furniture bought with taxpayer money

April 26, 2010

BY LISA DONOVAN Cook County Reporter
Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, who lost re-election in February and has eight months left in office, is using taxpayer money to spruce up his executive offices, his staff confirmed Monday.

While there was talk that a new desk for Stroger's office was on order, a Stroger spokesman said he had to research that and whether he'll be getting any other deliveries.
Why is Todd Stroger hiring and ordering new furniture?

For now, officials would only confirm that in recent weeks a new desk and floor-to-ceiling cabinet were delivered to Stroger spokesman — and long-time pal — Eugene Mullins' office in the president's executive 5th floor offices at 118 N. Clark. The pricetag for those items wasn't immediately available, said another Stroger spokesman James Ramos.

Sun-Times Columnist Michael Sneed broke the news over the weekend that Stroger, who lost re-election, has been buying furniture and hiring staffers.

"Our position is, the county has to still run whether it's seven hours, seven days, seven months or seven years," Ramos told the Sun-Times today.

But with a rollback of the sales tax hike set for July 1 and Stroger voicing concern in recent months over the county's financial health, isn't this the time for the lameduck board president to keep the purse strings tight?

Ramos said the county has to be staffed to keep the business of running the hospital and the court system apace.

While recycling old furniture is sometimes an option, some of the worn pieces date back to 1990s when Richard J. Phelan was board president, officials say.
"I had a folding chair" at one point, Ramos said. "There just wasn't enough furniture to go around. That's the reality of it. Every piece of furniture there, is just broken and messed up."

In March, Stroger's announced that Carla Oglesby, the spokeswoman for his losing re-election bid, would take over as his deputy chief of staff at a salary of $116,000 annually.

While she got a desk, conference table and coffee table plucked from a vacant county office, she did get a new office — within the confines of the 5th floor executive offices — and that cost taxpayers some money.

That's because Oglesby's assistant took the office of former deputy chief of staff Pam Munizzi, who retired, and Oglesby took a new space in Stroger's executive offices, part of a shuffling of staff work spaces in recent months.

The cost of removing three cubicles that once occupied what is now Oglesby's large office, repairing the walls where the cubicles were detached and painting both her office and the nearby executive office waiting area cost $1,132.80 in wages for two days of work, according to James D'Amico, director of the county's Facilities Management Department.
Oglesby requested his office do the repair work and haul in the furniture, a standard request D'Amico said.

But some of Stroger's critics are muttering about the timing.
That's because Oglesby serves in a Shakman-exempt position — which means the employee serves at the will of the president and in December the president will be one of three candidates: Democrat Toni Preckwinkle, Republican Roger Keats or the Green Party's Tom Tresser.

"We're saving the next president from the criticism of ‘you're spending money on new furniture,'" Ramos said.

Stroger defends big raise for top aide
May 7, 2010 1:53 PM
Cook County Board President Todd Stroger today defended the $54,000 raise he gave to his chief financial officer, saying she had taken on extra duties in addition to overseeing the county's finances.

"It is a lot of money," Stroger told WGN-AM host John Williams, who was asking about the raise given to CFO Jaye Williams. "But she actually is a chief financial officer of a $3 billion corporation."

Read more in Clout Street.

A key aide to Cook County Board President Todd Stroger says she's worth every penny of a controversial $54,000 pay raise.

Jaye Morgan Williams, the county's chief financial officer, sent letters to all 17 county commissioners Friday, explaining why Stroger boosted her pay from $176,156 to $230,000 for this year.

In the two-page letter, Williams, appointed by Stroger in August, noted that she helped deliver the county's 2010 budget within 90 days of her start date, finished a "woefully stalled" 2008 audit just 90 days into her tenure and was earning less than two of her fellow CFOs on the county payroll.

She said she's also taken on extra duties despite a 60-hour work week and at one point this year asked for "compensation consideration."

"As a professional with a long career in the industry, I do not want to get caught up in the current maelstrom and only ask that I be treated fairly," she wrote in a letter to the commissioners that was obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

A defensive Stroger echoed those sentiments Friday during a radio interview, saying Williams' salary is a "lot of money, but she actually is a chief financial officer of a $3 billion corporation."

Pay raises for Williams and other Stroger staffers are not only raising fiscal concerns but also questions among commissioners about whether they are legal.

In December, the county board passed an ordinance that freezes the pay of certain political appointees on the county payroll and requires board approval of pay raises for them - and Williams' raise was not approved.

Williams also lobbied commissioners Larry Suffredin (D-Evanston) and John Daley (D-Chicago), pointing out that she earns less than the county health system's chief financial officer ($350,000) and less than Stroger Hospital's CFO, whose salary is $210,000.

"What I said to her is, 'That's for another day. How did you get a pay raise without board approval?' " Suffredin said, recalling their Wednesday meeting.

He said Williams told him that Stroger and others signed off on the raise. Asked Friday whether he'd support the raise, Suffredin said, "I'm not making a judgment on the validity of it because I'm more bothered by the process. But I do think it's a significant jump in a bad economic situation."

In his discussion with Williams, Daley told her that commissioners needed to approve her raise.

"I said, 'There's no justification (for the raise) at this time,' " Daley said. "She wanted my position, and I said the board will have to review it - but as an individual commissioner, I have a serious concern with it."

A growing number of commissioners said the raises for Williams and others should be rescinded until presented to the board.

"I think we can rescind them," Suffredin said. "I think what we're going to have to do is look at each one, and if we determine a pay raise is improper, I would expect we'd create a system where over time (the employee would) repay it."

Stroger aide says mistakes led to contract fuss

May 14, 2010

BY LISA DONOVAN, Sun-Times Media
A top aide to Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, back to work after a five-day suspension, admits that she signed off on a no-bid county contract with her public relations firm.

She also admits fast-tracking the $24,975 payment to her firm.

But Carla Oglesby, Stroger's deputy chief of staff, said those actions simply were mistakes made by someone new to government work, adding that Stroger's other executive staffers signed off on the contract, too.

"I didn't steer a contract" to the firm, Oglesby said in an interview Thursday with the Chicago Sun-Times. "Ultimately I don't make a decision about what agencies and firms get contracts."

Oglesby, who joined Stroger's county staff about two months ago, said better training might have helped her avoid this. In addition, she wishes some of the veteran staffers - who knew she owned CGC Communications - had raised a red flag. The dollar amount of the contract is just under the $25,000 mark that requires county board approval.

Still, Stroger laid the responsibility for the situation at Oglesby's feet, handing her five days off without pay for signing the final contract and vouchers for payment.

"He said 'Carla, pay attention to what you sign,' " Oglesby said.

Her firm began work on the county homeland security public relations project in December, the same month that Oglesby was tapped to become communications chief for Stroger's failed re-election campaign.

Oglesby said one of her employees at CGC pursued the contract to get the word out to residents about federal relief funds for the 2008 floods around the Des Plaines River. Ulti mately, Stroger's communications chief, Eugene Mullins, recommended that CGC get the contract, Mullins confirmed Thursday.

Oglesby said she was too busy with the campaign to work on the contract.

After Stroger lost the Feb. 2 primary election, he told Oglesby she had done a good job on the campaign and asked her during a Feb. 10 meeting to join his executive staff, she said. She started Feb. 16 and claims that she divested herself from CGC and vowed not to take a paycheck from the firm this year. But she still is the firm's owner.

Meanwhile, the contract didn't receive final approval until two weeks after she started the job. As deputy chief of staff, she signed off on the pact as part of her duties. Her name also appears on payment vouchers.

"The fact that I signed it, I understand, I guess, why people have an issue with it. But in my mind the work was done," Oglesby said.

But her actions have been criticized because a county ordinance prohibits giving contracts to firms owned by county employees. The matter is being investigated by the county inspector general's office.

Despite the controversy, Oglesby doesn't regret taking the $120,000 county job.

"Are there going to be some mistakes made along the way? Absolutely. It is not intentional. It's not anything done in trying to get around things or do things you shouldn't be doing," she said.

And finally this is how it all unraveled

by Tony Peraica

It was quite a day here in Cook County.

First, the Cook County Board failed to protect the taxpayers by coming up short in a vote to override Todd Stroger’s veto of our hiring freeze.

More to the point — six county commissioners failed the taxpayers by voting against the veto override. The Chicago Tribune editorial board calls out these “Stroger Six”:

The tally, 9-6 to override, fell short of the necessary 11 “yes” votes. The Stroger Six: William Beavers, Jerry Butler, Earlean Collins, Joan Patricia Murphy, Deborah Sims and Robert Steele. Steele and a seventh commissioner who gutlessly voted present, Edwin Reyes, had been co-sponsors of the original measure to tighten controls on Stroger

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