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Board OKs pay hikes, Beavers slams hiring in prosecutor's office
COUNTY | Too few minority state's attorneys?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Chicago Sun-Times
by STEVE PATTERSON

Thousands of Cook County's nonunion employees will be getting raises soon, putting an end to months of tense debate.
But it is the employees who will be getting the biggest raises -- state's attorneys, at 12.75 percent by next year -- who drew some criticism as the County Board approved spending $21 million to pay for the hikes on Tuesday.
The boost will give non-unionized state's attorneys pay parity with unionized public defenders, while also delivering 3 percent raises for other employees.
But Commissioner William Beavers derided the lack of diversity in the prosecutor's office, rattling off statistics showing just 7 percent of assistant state's attorneys are black -- with all minorities making up just 15 percent.
"What kind of parity is this?" he asked.
African Americans were 26.4 percent of Cook County's population in 2005, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Devine defends diversity
State's Attorney Richard Devine defended his office's hiring practices, saying the percent of black prosecutors exceeds the percent of black students in law school. He welcomed any ideas to improve diversity and said Beavers had never raised this concern with him before.
Commissioner John Daley said, "It's a disgrace that race has to be brought into this."
Beavers wants the county to demand the prosecutor's office accurately reflect the county's racial makeup, while also demanding prosecutors swipe in and out to prove they worked a full day.
His request was deferred until next month.


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