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Toni Preckwinkle fires Cook Co. comptroller over tax reporting flap

Thursday, October 06, 2011
Chicago Sun-Times
by Lisa Donovan

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle fired Comptroller Constance Kravitz, whose office was responsible for a $90 million overstatement of tax revenues.

Kravitz, tapped by former County Board President Todd Stroger in September 2009, earned $165,000 annually. She was let go Wednesday.

In June, Preckwinkle announced that her staff was preparing financial reports for a routine audit of the 2010 fiscal year when they caught a discrepancy. When they dug deeper and examined reports for the previous year, they found duplicate journal entries for the sales tax revenue — $66 million — as well as the cigarette tax — $24 million.

One of Kravitz’s subordinates initially wore the jacket for double-booking the revenues and was fired. Now she’s gone.

“We had the $90 million misstatement on her watch,” Preckwinkle’s chief of staff Kurt Summers said, when asked about her dismissal. “But it was just time for us to go in a different direction.”

As comptroller, Kravitz was in charge of paying the county’s bills, from taking care of county payroll to cutting checks to vendors, and serving as the official recordkeeper of the county’s spending and revenues.

In recent weeks, Kravitz was publicly criticized during a County Board meeting over an error-riddled report her office released detailing which county employees had and hadn’t taken furlough days this year. Preckwinkle told her to redo the report and later referred publicly to the errors as “embarrassing.”

Reached Wednesday night, Kravitz said: “I wish them the best, and good luck to the person who replaces me, but I put my heart and soul in to that place.”



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