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Another county official quits

Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Daily Herald
by Rob Olmstead

The growing financial shortfall at Cook County’s Bureau of Health claimed a victim Tuesday with the ouster of the bureau’s chief financial officer, Alvin T. Holley.
Cook County President Bobbie Steele accepted Holley’s resignation Tuesday, effective Friday, said Chinta Strausberg, spokeswoman for the president.
Holley had been under increasing pressure after his office blithely predicted months ago that the bureau would turn around under-budget patient payment rates and balance its budget by the end of the year. At the time, the county’s chief financial officer, Tom Glaser, and Comptroller Walter Knorr publicly expressed doubt about that prediction.
Glaser and Knorr were correct. The Bureau of Health’s shortfall has increased to the point that patient fees were $54 million under budget at the end of June and may be as much as $70 million under budget once July’s figures are calculated, said Gregg Goslin, a Republican county commissioner who had called for Holley’s resignation.
Putting further pressure on Holley was the revelation last week by Steele that she had found hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of old bills — at least one dating to 2003 — in the health bureau. At least one commissioner had speculated that the bureau had been hiding bills to make the books balance artificially.
Holley could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Before the announcement of Holley’s resignation, a prominent Cook County commissioner also called for another significant change in the operation of the health bureau.
Forrest Claypool, a Chicago Democrat, proposed an ordinance to be considered in September that would dictate that the bureau’s finances be overseen by the regular county comptroller instead of the finance staff of the bureau.
“The health bureau gave us false information about the financial condition,” said Claypool. “It’s just one of many, many problems.”
Steele’s spokeswoman said she had not seen the proposal Tuesday so could not comment on it.


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