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List shows Stroger made 6 top hires since election loss
Some received salaries higher than budgeted

Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Chicago Tribune
by Hal Dardick

Cook County Board President Todd Stroger has hired six top-level employees at salaries ranging from $95,000 to $150,000 since losing the February primary, records released Wednesday show.

Three were hired at higher salaries than the County Board set in its current budget, and two of those hires have been Stroger political supporters.

Frank E. Gardner, a River Forest lawyer, was hired by Stroger last month as an ethics counselor for the county's Human Rights Commission at a salary of $95,000 — even though pay for that post was pegged at $64,000 in the budget. Gardner has made contributions to Stroger's campaign fund and the 8th Ward Democratic Organization, which Stroger's late father, John, built into a political powerhouse.

The commission has "been short-staffed for several years," said Stroger spokeswoman Chris Geovanis.

Carla Oglesby, Stroger's campaign spokeswoman, was hired Feb. 16 as a deputy chief of staff at $120,000 a year — about $4,000 more than listed in the county budget.

The list of hires was turned over Wednesday to Finance Committee Chairman John Daley, D-Chicago, by Stroger's administration, as commissioners had demanded. The list will be discussed at a committee meeting next Tuesday, Daley said.

Oglesby, who returned to work Tuesday after serving a five-day suspension, is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the county inspector general. The office is looking into a contract awarded to Oglesby's communications firm just days after she was hired.

The list also showed previously disclosed raises that commissioners have criticized, including $54,000 for Jaye Williams, the county's chief financial officer, and $10,000 for Eugene Mullins, who is Stroger's top spokesman and a boyhood friend.

Commissioners approved three ordinances last week aimed at curbing Stroger's power in personnel matters, raises and contracts. Stroger vetoed one that seeks to put a hiring freeze on his administration.

The documents also revealed many hires at the independent Health and Hospitals System that appeared to be at salaries well above those in the budget. A spokesman for the system said all were for new positions that had not previously existed.


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