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County's job ax spares some with clout

Friday, March 02, 2007
Chicago Sun-Times
by STEVE PATTERSON

Cook County taxpayers will soon have hundreds fewer nurses at hospitals, prosecutors in courtrooms and police patrolling the county.
But they'll still have a liaison to unincorporated Cook County.
And a $110,000-a-year county spokeswoman who doesn't publicly speak.
For all the cuts board president Todd Stroger made in a $3 billion budget, he remains under fire for the jobs that didn't get cut -- many held by those with political clout.
Like John Rita, father of state Rep. Bob Rita (D-Crestwood), who is the county's $90,000 liaison to unincorporated areas.
Though Stroger officials say Rita regularly deals with township officials and others in the suburbs, commissioners who once held township jobs say they never heard of him.
Stroger's sister keeps post
State Rep. Joe Lyons, Cook County's $87,000-a-year director of employee training and development, was going to lose his job under a proposal presented by Commissioner Forrest Claypool and 11 others. But in the end, Lyons' job was saved.
While Chief Judge Tim Evans lost 221 jobs, the $99,000-a-year chief administrator's position held by Stroger's sister, Yonnie Clark, wasn't one of them. Evans said she's been assigned work that still isn't complete, but the job could be cut later.
"We could have done more to fix what's wrong with county government," Commissioner Tim Schneider said.
But Commissioner Gregg Goslin, one of three Republicans to back Stroger's budget, says 2,000 positions eliminated from the budget are meaningful cuts. "There are 1,000 less jobs at the most sacred of sacred cows -- the Bureau of Health," he said. "We never cut there."
Still, he said jobs like Rita's are "now on our radar."


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