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Forest Preserve driving scofflaws targeted

Monday, December 13, 2004
Chicago Tribune
by MAUREEN O'DONNELL

The head of the Cook County Forest Preserve District vowed Sunday to crack down on district workers who don't have driver's licenses, even though their jobs require them to be behind the wheel.

In addition, a county commissioner said he would take action to prevent the problem in the future -- not only in the Forest Preserve District, but throughout the rest of county government.

A Chicago Sun-Times investigation published Sunday prompted the responses. Fourteen forest preserve workers who needed licenses were without them, the newspaper reported. Some had drunken driving arrests. Some failed to apply for licenses.

"If in fact it comes to pass that they cannot produce a valid driver's license, then, as I stated, termination will in fact occur," said District Supt. Steve Bylina.

At a separate news conference, county Commissioner Forrest Claypool took aim at the district.

"This is a classic example of the culture of patronage politics compromising public safety,'' said Claypool, flanked by Shelly Anderson of the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists.

Claypool plans to introduce an ordinance Monday requiring forest preserve workers who have to operate vehicles to have licenses, with monthly monitoring of their driving records. He expects to propose a companion measure at Tuesday's County Board meeting mandating licenses for all county workers who drive on the job.

There are an estimated 27,000 county employees, so the number affected could be sizeable, he said.

 

 



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