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Cook Board OKs Preckwinkle appointments

Tuesday, January 04, 2011
Daily Herald
by Ted Cox

The Cook County Board rubber-stamped appointments by President Toni Preckwinkle today as she continued to “clean house” after replacing Todd Stroger.

The board approved the appointment of former state treasurer candidate Robin Kelly of Matteson as chief administrative officer, and also the salaries of top Preckwinkle staffers. Chief of Staff Kurt Summers Jr. is getting $182,000, Deputy Chief of Staff John Keller $116,000 and Director of Communications and Public Affairs Jessey Neves $105,000, at a combined reduction of $14,000 from the pay given their counterparts under Stroger.

Preckwinkle said after today's Cook Board meeting that those salaries would hold under the 2011 budget to be approved next month, and that she would meet her own call for a 21 percent budget cut by not filling open positions in her office.

Preckwinkle also said she would be meeting Monday with state officials over emergency flood grants withdrawn by the state when they were improperly administered by the previous administration. It was unclear if the flood grants would be redistributed, but Preckwinkle said, “We've got to clear that up.”

Elmwood Park Republican Commissioner Peter Silvestri said he had been “very impressed” by Preckwinkle's quick response to the loss of the state funds.

Similarly, Preckwinkle appointed Karin Norington-Reaves to head the President's Office of Employment and Training, again at the behest of state calls for reform. “This has been a troubled agency for a long time,” Preckwinkle said. “It was clear they expected significant change, and we're going to try to provide it.” Norington-Reaves, who cut her teeth politically and professionally at the Citizens Utility Board, comes with state credentials as deputy director of the Office of Urban Assistance in the Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity.

In an unconnected promotion, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez named Shauna Boliker first assistant state's attorney. Boliker moves up from serving as chief of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau to replace Adrienne Mebane, who retired last month after 20 years in the state's attorney's office. Fabio Valentini replaces Boliker as head of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau.

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