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Cole: 'Stroger should have never fired me'
OUT OF JAIL | Says he'll reveal 'facts' about who had it in for him

Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Chicago Sun-Times
by Mark J. Konkol

Tony Cole, the man at the center of a Cook County hiring scandal, sprinted out of jail Monday and hopped on a CTA bus to avoid a throng of reporters.

He left jail broke and homeless and angry at the judge who kept him locked up for 62 days on $200,000 bond while awaiting trial on charges he violated an order of protection against an ex-girlfriend.

"My case was continued five times because [the witness] didn't come to court. Why was my case not dismissed?" Cole asked when the Sun-Times caught up with him on the No. 94 bus. "Now I don't have an apartment. The judge did that."

But Cole said he isn't upset with County Board President Todd Stroger, who hired the steakhouse busboy to a patronage job and later fired him for allegedly lying about his criminal past on a job application.

"President Stroger should have never fired me," Cole said about the man he still considers his "mentor."

Cole said that when he worked for the county, Stroger often invited him to play basketball at the East Bank Club, political events and for chats "about life and serving and helping the people" in his office.

At one political event, Cole said he was amazed that Stroger introduced him as "the future of Cook County."

Cole said he blames the "powers that be" -- what he characterized as a sometimes feuding gaggle of county political hacks close to Stroger -- for his firing.

He said top highway department officials had it out for him and soon he will reveal the "facts" about that situation.

Cole claims to have county documents, time sheets, e-mails and recorded conversations that show not everyone in county government is telling the truth about him.

As for Cole's expected "explosive allegations" that led Stroger to fire his first cousin and Cole's former boss, Donna Dunnings, Cole said he'll make those public, too.

Cole remained cryptic about the "facts" he plans to reveal later by quoting a saying he said Stroger once told him: "In politics, money can be traced. Favors can't."

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