Suffredin- Changing County Government  

Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine


  Office phone numbers:  

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.


Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

  Cook County is the second most populous county in the nation. It is the 19th largest government in the U.S.

Ex-forest workers blast job 'reform'

Monday, June 28, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times

A reform move at the Cook County Forest Preserves has been twisted into a way for the county to replace longtime workers with "clout" hires, former workers allege.

The only difference between the politically connected new hires and the workers with close to 10 years' experience who were let go is that the new hires had taken a three-day training course in setting controlled forest fires that the other workers had tried to sign up for but were told was unavailable, they said.

The former workers say there is no reform that Forest Preserve District political bosses can't convert into an anti-reform.

The controversy stems from the county creating a new job category of "resource technician," with an expertise in forestry, and phasing out the old category of "woodsman," which focused on cutting trees and grass. Forest Preserve District bosses created the new position in response to environmentalists' concerns.

"They were supposed to be able to do ecosystem restorations," said Steve Packard of the Friends of the Forest Preserves.

"They needed to have training with chain saws, have a herbicide license, be trained in controlled burning. It was all very positive because the district has so much catch-up to do compared to other districts."

The change coincided with layoffs that the district announced to plug a $20 million deficit. Despite criticism from some commissioners, the county laid off about 100 laborers, woodsmen and other workers instead of top management that commissioners accused of causing the deficit.

Under union contracts, workers with the least seniority were to be laid off first.

In January 2003, Carl Lewis, Jon Gibson and another longtime Forest Preserve District employee, Herman Morrow, reported for duty as woodsmen and told supervisor Tim Carroll they wanted to be trained to handle controlled burns and pesticides/herbicides so they could qualify for the new "resource technician" positions, they said.

Unknown to them, the burn class was to be held Feb. 26, 27 and 28, 2003. They had periodically asked Carroll whether any class was to be held, and he told them he had no knowledge, they said.

Carroll declined to be interviewed. Forest Preserve District spokesman Steve Mayberry said all employees were offered training.

On Feb. 25, a day before the training was to be held, another employee recalled Carroll telling him, "We're going to send you to fire training, but don't tell nobody. Keep it to yourself."

That employee, who asked to remain anonymous, had already decided he was going to retire and opted not to go to the training.

But Lewis, Gibson and Morrow, who had asked for the training, said they were never told about it. Someone left a flier for the training on Gibson's windshield after it was over. They then realized that Carroll had been out of the office those three days.

Class attendance records confirm that Carroll received the three days of training. Also getting the training was Marvin Coleman, who had been hired eight years after Lewis, Gibson and Morrow, the attendance records show. Coleman had been laid off by the Forest Preserve District under the seniority rule, but a supervisor told him before he was laid off that he would be rehired April 1, Gibson recalled Coleman telling him.

On April 1, Lewis, Gibson and Morrow were laid off. Coleman was hired back on.

Mayberry, the Forest Preserves' spokesman, insisted that nobody from the Forest Preserve District told Coleman about the training.

"Mr. Coleman found the information online, at the Chicago Wilderness Web site," Mayberry said.

But Lewis, Morrow and Gibson said they suspect the real reason is that Coleman and the other less-senior employees who were quietly trained and hired back had more clout than they did. The politicians who originally helped Lewis, Morrow and Gibson get their Forest Preserve District jobs had fallen from power.

All three men filed grievances though their Teamsters union local and also through the state's Department of Human Rights. Gibson's case has been dismissed, clearing him to file a lawsuit, which he said he is considering. Morrow is also considering a lawsuit.

Recent Headlines

Illinois Supreme Court sets civil, criminal fee schedule
Thursday, February 14, 2019
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Seniors: Are your Cook County property taxes delinquent? Your home could be at risk
Thursday, February 14, 2019
WLS Abc 7 Chicago

Editorial: Look out, taxpayers: When governments have more pensioners than employees
Thursday, February 14, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Hundreds of accused criminals on electronic monitoring are missing
Wednesday, February 13, 2019
ABC Channel 7

Glenview adopts Cook County minimum wage and sick leave ordinances, effective July 1
Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Lawsuit over property tax assessments survives challenge
Monday, February 11, 2019
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Thursday, February 07, 2019
Special to

Cook County Jail detainee dies at Stroger Hospital
Thursday, February 07, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

The Cook County Sheriff’s Office Says Its Gang Database Is on Lockdown, but Questions Remain
Thursday, February 07, 2019
Pro Publica

Charges dismissed against man accused of threatening judge
Thursday, February 07, 2019
Daily Herald

Double Down: Twin Brothers Rehabbing Chicago
Wednesday, February 06, 2019
Chicago Defender

Slowik: Residents, officials celebrate rehab work at public housing sites
Wednesday, February 06, 2019
Daily Southtown

Class action: Evanston can't charge 'convenience fees' to people paying tickets online
Wednesday, February 06, 2019
Cook County Rercord

390 arrested in nationwide prostitution sting, including 38 in Cook County
Wednesday, February 06, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

As we build a road, we will protect the forest preserves
Wednesday, February 06, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Campaign to weed out European buckthorn across the suburbs
Tuesday, February 05, 2019
Northwest Herald

Airbnb hosts in Cook County earned $109 million last year: report
Monday, February 04, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County senior exemption deadline extended
Monday, February 04, 2019
Daily Herald

Decadelong legal battle over Barrington Hills horse farm — eyed as huge forest preserve — may be nearing resolution
Monday, February 04, 2019
Chicago Tribune

EDITORIAL: Protect iconic forest preserve from concrete overkill
Sunday, February 03, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.