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County exec who ran troubled jobs office is promoted
Todd Stroger names Karen Crawford as his $182,000-a-year chief of staff

Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Chicago Tribune
by Hal Dardick

Cook County Board President Todd Stroger picked the woman who oversaw a troubled job training program to serve as his top executive during the final three months of his administration.

Karen Crawford, who ran the President's Office of Employment and Training until January, will become Stroger's chief of staff next month, a county spokeswoman said Monday. Joseph Fratto, who now holds the job, is leaving to work for county Treasurer Maria Pappas.

During Crawford's tenure, the county job program lost millions of dollars in federal funding meant to train thousands of workers because it spent money inappropriately or failed to spend it before deadlines, state officials have said. Stroger's administration, however, has tried to put much of the blame on the state, saying it was tardy in distributing federal money used to fund job training.

Crawford, a 47-year-old certified public accountant, started working for the county in 2003. At the start of his term nearly four years ago, Stroger promoted Crawford to straighten out a job training agency long accused of mismanagement and, in the case of some of its top officials, theft.

In April 2008, commissioners criticized Crawford for returning $2.5 million in job training funds to the state because of misallocation and poor documentation — then seeking the board's approval 10 months later.

Crawford had been making $120,000 a year as a deputy comptroller. As chief of staff, she'll make about $182,000, the same as Fratto's current salary, the spokeswoman said.

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