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Former Stroger campaign staffer gets county consulting job

Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Chicago Sun-Times
by Lisa Donovan

A one-time campaign staffer for Cook County Board President Todd Stroger was awarded a $15,000 consulting job to help the county negotiate contracts with its labor unions.

Raymond L. Harris Sr., of Bolingbrook, worked on the Stroger campaign briefly,  but that wasn’t the reason he was tapped, said Stroger spokesman Eugene Mullins.

“It’s not because he was a campaign worker — it was because of his extensive experience in labor relations,”   Mullins said. “He has over 40 years experience, and he’ll be sitting at the table with the ...  bargaining units.”

Harris, who is retired from  the  American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, is described as an expert in labor negotiations  — even working on 13 previous collective bargaining agreements in the county — in a recommendation letter written by the county’s human resources chief Joseph Sova.

Suburban Republican Commissioners Timothy Schneider and Tony Peraica were the only ones who voted against the contract, with five other commissioners absent, and the remaining 10 commissioners approving it.

“This is yet another appointment of a former political worker to the county payroll,” Peraica said. “I think it’s inappropriate. I think it’s something that shouldn’t be allowed or condoned.”

Democratic Commissioners Joseph Mario Moreno and Deborah Sims both said Harris’ vast expertise in labor makes him a top-notch candidate for the job.

Harris was initially in line for a one-year, $60,000 contract, but the deal was amended to $15,000 and would conclude in November — providing the new Cook County Board President a chance to decide whether Harris should continue.

Democratic Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th), Republican Roger Keats, and Green Party candidate Tom Tresser, are all on the ballot for the Nov. 2 election.

Harris, who did not return a call for comment, also received a $5,000 contract from the county in May for consulting work.



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