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Commissioners target high-paying jobs
Would cut 397 managers from Cook County rolls

Thursday, February 15, 2007
Chicago Sun-Times
by STEVE PATTERSON Staff Reporter

A dozen Cook County Board members Wednesday proposed whacking hundreds of high-paying political jobs in favor of more prosecutors, public defenders, nurses and police.
Their alternate budget came in response to County Board President Todd Stroger's budget plan, which would wipe out thousands of front-line jobs while preserving many higher-paying positions.
Would save 978 workers
An unlikely, bipartisan alliance of commissioners, surrounded by union officials, offered a budget that would wipe out many high-level jobs held by politicians and their friends and relatives.
It calls for cutting 397 higher-paying jobs and using new revenues to restore 978 front-line workers.
Just minutes after their proposal was unveiled, the calls began pouring in -- an outcry about the critical need for these particular management jobs and the political implications of cutting them.
"There's going to be lots of pressure on commissioners to backtrack," county Commissioner Forrest Claypool said. "It's important that commissioners stand firm."
Switching sides?
But two -- Robert Steele and Joan Murphy -- didn't realize the cuts they were endorsing affected some of their own relatives, and Murphy said she might reconsider.
Some commissioners supporting the new proposal previously backed Stroger's plan, leading some to wonder what they're really going to support.
After weeks of budget hearings, it's clear that the public wants more management jobs cut from the county payroll before frontline workers lose their jobs, commissioners said.
Compromise likely
Stroger said he had "worked hard . . . to put out the best budget" he could, but he can support other cuts "if they have found workers that they think are unnecessary to the running of the government."
On Tuesday, he presented amendments to restore some of the jobs he initially wanted to cut -- a sign that a compromise is likely.
Commissioner John Daley, who indicated he wasn't invited to join those presenting new cuts, said "you have to cut at the top, middle and bottom" to make a real impact.
That's what's likely to come between today and Feb. 22, when commissioners meet to begin the process of passing a budget that must be authorized by Feb. 28.

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