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Knorr leaving Citi for county
Chicago's former CFO accepts Stroger's job offer

Monday, April 05, 2004
Crain's Chicago Business

A long-time City Hall financial figure is returning to local government.
In a move with considerable political import, Walter Knorr, former chief financial officer for the City of Chicago, is taking over as comptroller of the much smaller Cook County government, effective May 1.

He will succeed John Chambers, 55, who is retiring, Cook County Board President John Stroger announced Monday.
Mr. Knorr’s arrival comes after months of open political warfare on the County Board, during which time Mr. Stroger had to make unprecedented concessions to win approval of his $3-billion 2004 budget. At least three commissioners are considering running for Mr. Stroger’s job in the 2006 election.

Mr. Stroger said his decision to bring Mr. Knorr to the other side of the city/county building is not a response to those troubles but an opportunity to “continue our responsible stewardship of taxpayers dollars.

“I am fortunate to be able to hire someone of Mr. Knorr’s caliber,” Mr. Stroger said.

"He brings experience in a financial system that is much more attuned to the 21st century," says Lawrence J. Suffredin Jr., one of the dissident commissioners who forced Mr. Stroger to scale back proposed tax increases to balance the county's budget. "I don't think any of us on our side of the budget issue will disagree with this appointment."

Mr. Knorr, 54, has worked for three Chicago mayors stemming back to the tenure of Jane Byrne. But his strongest political association is with the Daley clan, one of whose members—Cook County Commissioner John Daley, is a strong ally of Mr. Stroger’s and considered to be the most likely successor when Mr. Stroger retires.

Between 1989 and 2002, Mr. Knorr served as comptroller and chief financial officer for Mayor Richard M. Daley’s administration. He left to accept a lucrative position as a managing director in the public finance unit of Citigroup Global Markets, but associates say he did not enjoy working as a sort of super-salesman for the New York-based financial giant.

Mr. Knorr basically said as much himself Monday, when questioned about his new position. “I’m delighted to be here,” he said. “I made it abundantly clear when I left the city that public service was where my heart was.”

Mr. Knorr will be paid $150,900 a year with the county—far below the minimum of $200,000 a year industry sources said he was making at Citigroup. Asked specifically about his compensation, Mr. Knorr smiled and said it “could be assumed” that he’s taking a big pay cut.

Mr. Knorr will report to Thomas Glaser, Cook County’s incumbent chief financial officer. Asked how well they will be able to work together, Mr. Stroger said he views the pair as “a team,” with Glazier as “the boss.

“If you can’t bring all the parties together in my role, you’re in a spot,” Mr. Stroger added.

Mr. Chambers has worked for the county since 1972, the past 14 years as comptroller. Mr. Stroger praised his “unmatched” service and dedication.

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