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MIHALOPOULOS: Pop-tax layoffs hit county hard, but not Pop Evans’ kids

Sunday, November 26, 2017
Chicago Sun-Times
by Dan Mihalopoulos

Nobody is protesting Cook County’s 2018 budget cuts more loudly than Timothy C. Evans, the chief judge of the county’s courts and former independent mayoral candidate.

When county commissioners approved the spending cuts Tuesday, Judge Evans did what lawyers usually do.

He threatened to sue.

OPINION

“We are considering our legal options, and we expect to say more on this matter early next week,” Evans said in a statement.

In any event, the layoffs in his office will not touch the two people he employs who are closest to him: his twin daughters, who just turned 46 years old last month.

They are doing better than ever. One of the Evans sisters, Catherine, just got a promotion and a big raise, according to county officials.

On Sept. 5, Catherine Evans was promoted to the title of court systems manager in her dad’s office. We, the taxpayers of Cook County, pay her $121,559 a year in her new role.

It was the second time Catherine Evans has been promoted since her dad became chief judge in 2001.

This latest promotion came with a pay raise of nearly $10,000, or 9 percent. Before landing her new gig, Catherine Evans was making $111,677 as a legal systems analyst for the Office of the Chief Judge.

Catherine’s sister, Cynthia, continues to serve as deputy jury administrator in dad’s office. She also gets a six-figure, taxpayer-funded salary — $100,840 a year.

Like Catherine, Cynthia Evans started working for the county court system in the mid-1990s, soon after her dad became a judge. Cynthia Evans has received three promotions since her dad became chief judge.

The Evans twins need not worry about the layoffs.

 

“Regarding the two individuals you inquired about, public documents indicate neither is . . . scheduled for layoff as part of the cuts included in the budget approved by commissioners,” Frank Shuftan, spokesman for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, said of the Evans sisters.

Evans’ spokesman, Pat Milhizer, defended the recent promotion of Catherine Evans.

Her predecessor in the post resigned last summer. In her resignation letter to Judge Evans, she suggested that he promote Catherine Evans — who had been No. 2 in her department since 2005 — to succeed her as director of the Guardianship Assistant Desk for Minors.

The job opportunity was not publicly advertised. Milhizer said not posting such an opening is “not unusual with a promotion of this nature.”

Catherine Evans’ new job involves having to “work closely and serve as direct contact with the Office of the Chief Judge.”

“Ms. Evans is a 22-year veteran of the court system who has the experience, temperament, ability and communication skills to perform the responsibilities,” Milhizer said. “She meets the qualifications for the job.”

The county government had to make drastic cuts because they created a $200 million hole when they repealed the deeply despised pop tax last month.

Also apparently immune from the budget cuts are the sister and daughter of Cook County Assessor and Democratic Party Chairman Joe Berrios, records show.

Berrios has fought hard for years for the right to engage in such nepotism. He’s an unapologetic defender of old-school politics that allow the victors — along with their kin and allies — to hoard the taxpayer-funded spoils.

So it’s the nepotism of Judge Evans that’s more disappointing. A darling of Chicago reformers in the volatile “Council Wars” era in the 1980s, he never got to assume the mantle of Mayor Harold Washington, who died 30 years ago this month.

Instead, he long ago made his peace with the local political establishment that reasserted itself after Washington’s death. This way, Evans and at least the next generation of his line can help themselves at the government trough like so many political hacks before them.

Now, Evans says he’s concerned about “the impact these layoffs will have on the judiciary, its employees and the public.”

His own flesh and blood will not be impacted as much as some others who work for him.



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