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Stroger urged to fight jobless claim
COOK COUNTY | 3 commissioners say fired aide shouldn't get benefits

Monday, November 01, 2010
Chicago Sun-Times
by Lisa Donovan

Two Cook County commissioners are pushing lame-duck Cook County Board President Todd Stroger to fight the unemployment claim filed by Carla Oglesby, his former deputy chief of staff.

Stroger fired her last month after she was charged with stealing $300,000 from the county by rewarding her pals and her own firm a series of no-bid contracts for work that was never done.

Commissioner Larry Suffredin is concerned that Stroger is being wishy-washy about her unemployment claim.

He talked to the outgoing board president about fighting the claim right after Oglesby filed for the benefits, but says he couldn't get a firm commitment from Stroger.

"I said, 'You know we need to fight this claim,' and he said he didn't know what he was going to do," Suffredin told the Chicago Sun-Times.

So Suffredin, a Democrat who represents the North Side and nearby suburbs, along with Commissioner John Daley, a Democrat who represents the Southwest Side, came up with a written resolution calling on Stroger to fight the claim.

Under Illinois law, employees discharged for misconduct in connection with their work or let go for a felony or theft on the job may be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.

In a report last week, Cook County's ethics board listed a series of violations by Oglesby, including signing off on a contract for her public relations company and expediting payment to CGC Communications for PR work that allegedly was never done.

Between the criminal complaint and the ethics board findings, "I think that's sufficient grounds to reject unemployment compensation," said Commissioner Tony Peraica, a Republican who represents the west suburbs.

The resolution, which could be voted on at Wednesday's meeting, doesn't have teeth, but it sends a message, Suffredin said.

"We're instructing the CEO of this county to take a position, to tell him the board wants an objection filed," Suffredin said.

A Stroger spokesman didn't return a call for comment.

Once an employer receives notice of an unemployment claim, the employer has 30 days to file an objection.

The matter could be resolved through a series of hearings shepherded by the Illinois Department of Employment Security. If it can't be resolved through the state, the case could go to Cook County Circuit Court.

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