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Stroger's cousin wins finance post

Thursday, May 03, 2007
Daily Southtown
by Jonathan Lipman Staff writer

Cook County Board President Todd Stroger's embattled choice as the county's chief financial officer, his cousin Donna Dunnings, won board approval on Wednesday.
Although Dunnings' nomination appeared to be in trouble since Stroger announced it in February, the board's legislative committee, which includes all commissioners, OK'd it by a 10-to-6 vote.
Only the five Republican commissioners and Commissioner Forrest Claypool (D-Chicago) opposed it. Commissioner Mike Quigley (D-Chicago), who had promised to vote against Dunnings, was out of town.
After the vote, a defiant Dunnings had a curt response to her critics: "Get a life."
Those critics said they could not accept the precedent of the county's chief executive appointing a relative to the top finance job.
"We cannot change the culture of operation and the public perception of our government until we look beyond the walls of this government (in filling top positions)," Commissioner Peter Silvestri (R-Elmwood Park) said.
Dunnings, the county's budget director since 2004 and a 20-year veteran of the county work force, has an MBA degree from Northwestern University and has spent weeks lobbying commissioners to approve her for the job. She voluntarily has agreed to forego the $10,000 bump in pay she would get to her $142,000 annual salary.
But every commissioner, even those who voted against her, said Dunnings' qualifications were not the problem. "This is not about you," Commissioner Jerry Butler (D-Chicago) told her. "This is about some folks who would do anything to bring down this administration."
In similar split votes, the county board also approved Stroger's three other nominations:
• Mark Kilgallon, the director of human resources when the county department was raided by the FBI last year, was approved as chief administrative officer. Kilgallon said federal prosecutors have told him he's not a target of their investigation.
• Carmen Triche -- former purchasing agent for the county forest preserve district and the wife of Stroger's childhood friend, state Rep. Marlow Colvin -- becomes the county's purchasing agent. Triche pointed out that she married Colvin only recently and has worked for the county since 1990.
• Joseph Fratto, the former Chicago Park District pension fund director who was Stroger's boss when Stroger worked at the park district, now is the county comptroller.


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