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'The sins of all Todd's errors'
Stroger's choice for finance chief -- his cousin -- faces fight from commissioners

Sunday, March 18, 2007
Daily Southtown
by Jonathan Lipman Staff writer

A growing number of Cook County commissioners are getting ready to fight board President Todd Stroger's choice for the county's top finance job: Donna Dunnings, his cousin.
"Donna sort of suffers the sins of all Todd's errors," said Commissioner Mike Quigley (D-Chicago), a sometimes-ally of Stroger's who plans to oppose Dunnings' nomination. "This kind of position, this kind of money, you should do a national search."
Critics heaped charges of nepotism on Stroger when he announced plans last month to nominate Dunnings, the county budget director, to replace Tom Glaser as chief financial officer. Glaser will become chief operating officer at the county health bureau, a new position.
About seven votes are lined up against Dunnings, which is not enough to block her nomination. But Larry Suffredin, chairman of the committee that will handle the hearings, says he expects Dunnings to face a tough day of questioning.
"She'll be questioned on how she could be the (county's) budget director and how we came up with a $500 million budget shortfall," Suffredin said. "Because I don't think anyone saw that coming."
Suffredin (D-Evanston), often a critic of Stroger, said he won't oppose Dunnings. His vote would be key to any successful attempt to block the nomination.
"The president is entitled to his team, and his team is entitled to help make him or destroy him," Suffredin said. "The fact that Donna is his cousin does not trouble me -- she's qualified."
Stroger's office declined to comment Friday.
Dunnings nomination is on the agenda for the county board meeting Tuesday. It likely will head to Suffredin's committee without an immediate vote, but commissioners mostly have picked sides already.
Chicago Democratic Commissioners Quigley and Forrest Claypool said they will vote against Dunnings, and the board's five Republicans are likely to join them.
"I can't support the continuous patronage that's going on here," said Commissioner Elizabeth Gorman (R-Orland Park). "I can't see the Republicans voting for this. It smacks the hard-working people in the face who are getting laid off."
About 1,700 people working for the county lost their jobs in the most recent budget, which Dunnings oversaw. In a negotiation that broke traditional alliances, Quigley and Gorman worked with Stroger to pass a budget over the objections of Claypool and Suffredin, who backed an alternate plan.
Stroger's other nominations also will see some opposition, and Suffredin plans to have hearings on all of them at once.
Stroger nominated Joseph Fratto, executive director of the Chicago Park District pension fund, to replace Walter Knorr as comptroller. Fratto was Stroger's boss when Stroger worked at the park district and is brother of Anthony Fratto, a longtime adviser to Mayor Richard Daley.
Stroger named Carmen Triche-Colvin to be county purchasing agent. She's the wife of Stroger's close friend and ally, state Rep. Marlow Colvin.

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