A federal court monitor ruled that Berrios dumped the workers for political reasons when he took over the office. That was illegal, because they were in jobs that are protected by a federal consent decree from political retaliation.
Shocking. Just shocking.
But not so much.
So, we know how much this is going to cost taxpayers: $529,000.
And how much will it cost Berrios? Nothing. Not a dime. That's not right.
Berrios revels in patronage and nepotism. He has at least a dozen family members on various government payrolls. He thumbs his nose at anyone who objects that he put his sister and his son on the assessor's payroll. They were easy to find — they worked downstairs at the county's tax review board, where Berrios served as a commissioner before voters elected him assessor.
And what a bonus! His daughter already worked at the assessor's office when he got elected. She got a promotion and a $10,000 raise when daddy took over.
When the county's ethics board and inspector general suggested he fire his family members and pay a fine for violating the rules, Berrios decided the rules don't apply to him. He is independently elected, he said, and doesn't have to comply with the county's ethics ordinance.
Of course, Berrios doesn't care because it's not his money. It never is. Cook County taxpayers, it's your money. You will pay for the illegal firings. You will keep paying for the court monitor assigned to weed out patronage in Cook County. The latest case of the 11 fired workers makes clear the federal courts will be there for a long time.
So why should taxpayers get soaked for this $529,000 penalty?
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, county board members: Take the money out of Berrios' budget. Force him to cut $529,000 in spending. Start with the line item for his $125,000 salary. He might actually have to lay off some workers. Even some named Berrios.
Preckwinkle will begin weighing next year's budget for countywide office-holders this fall.
The effort to force Berrios to deal with the consequences of his actions should start with the budget she introduces. She endorsed Berrios in 2010, even though she knew all about his ethical lapses.
Ms. Preckwinkle, commissioners: Don't reward Berrios with a budget increase. Make him cut $529,000. He needs to make taxpayers whole.