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Alvarez, Preckwinkle reach deal to lay off fewer attorneys

Thursday, February 10, 2011
Chicago Tribune
by John Byrne

About 25 lawyers could still get laid off under an agreement on budget cuts announced today by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and State's Attorney Anita Alvarez.

Alvarez already has said she will lay off more than 100 administrative employees to meet Preckwinkle's benchmark of a 10 percent reduction to the state's attorney's budget, which was about $131 million last year.

A combination of other cost-saving measures in county government will allow Alvarez to lay off 25 attorneys or less, and not shut down any sections of the office, rather than firing 58 lawyers, as she initially said.

For its part, the State's Attorney's office will take over legal representation of the Cook County Forest Preserve District, saving legal fees that department has previously had to pay outside legal counsel, according to Jessey Neves, Preckwinkle's spokeswoman.

And Neves said Alvarez's office will coordinate with other county departments to more aggressively litigate cases of worker's compensation fraud by county employees, which Preckwinkle has highlighted as an area where the financially-strapped county government can cut costs without reducing services.

Alvarez's staff will also work to help other county departments improve their efficiency, according to Neves.

Preckwinkle is demanding significant cuts countywide as she attempts to pass a county budget that closes a $487 million shortfall.

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