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Stroger, allies pound Claypool aide
Refused to switch sides, now his pay's an issue

Monday, September 17, 2007
Chicago Sun-Times

It could have been a masterful political coup.
Cook County Board President Todd Stroger recently tried to hire the top aide to one of his top agitators.
But ever since Doug Kucia, chief of staff to Commissioner Forrest Claypool, turned down what he said was a $115,000 offer to work for Stroger, Stroger and board allies have been publicly pounding the $90,000 Claypool pays him.
Tuesday, Commissioner Deborah Sims is introducing a bill demanding that Claypool reduce Kucia's salary to be more in line with the salaries paid to other county commissioners' staffers -- generally $70,000 to $85,000 -- after Claypool moved to hike it during the budget process.
Claypool, who regularly harps on what he says is Stroger's top-heavy administration, calls that "kind of flattering. It means he's getting under their skin."
Records show Claypool has one of the county's smallest office budgets, at $301,026, while Commissioner Larry Suffredin has the smallest, at $299,506. By contrast, Commissioners Earlean Collins and William Beavers have the biggest office budgets of any commissioners, at $348,519 and $334,795, respectively.
In recent years, the County Board shot down moves to make all commissioners' office spending equal.
Commissioner John Daley, who doubles as finance chairman, has the highest-paid staffer of any commissioner, records show. Kucia is the second highest paid.
Sims' beef is that Claypool sits on only one committee, so his staffers don't do as much work as others, she says. She called Kucia's $90,000 salary "an embarrassment."
"If anybody's chief of staff makes that much, it should be mine," said Sims, whose top aide makes just a few thousand dollars less than Claypool's.

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