Why does court clerk need a chauffeur?
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Cook County judges don't routinely have security guards, but Dorothy Brown -- the clerk of Cook County Circuit Court -- does.
To look at it another way, that means the people who put criminals in prison don't get protection, but the person who makes sure that court files -- pieces of paper -- get from one place to another does.
Only in Cook County.
That bit of nonsense grabbed our attention this week in a Fox News Chicago report that revealed that Brown's security officer also acts as her chauffeur, picking her up in the morning, grabbing the newspaper off her front stoop, depositing her back home in the evening and grabbing her mail.
The cost to taxpayers?
Sixty-three thousand dollars a year for the driver's salary.
Brown refused to concede to Fox News that she has a chauffeur.
He's a security officer, she insisted, who has many jobs, only one of which is to drive her around in a county-issued SUV.
"He . . . drives that vehicle, which is not any easy job," she said. "I'm like a law enforcement person."
With all due respect, Ms. Brown, you are not. A real "law enforcement person" would be Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, who manages to drive himself to work.
Brown said she needs security because she gets death threats from angry people who see her name, as clerk, stamped on court documents.
We have no doubt there are all manner of nuts who write all kinds of letters. And if an investigation determines a threat is serious, Brown absolutely should get special attention from the police, when needed. But we're still fuzzy on why somebody must drive her to work.
And here's another thing about that chauffeur: His position in the county budget is listed as a "systems analyst."
"Well, you know, that's just a functional title," Brown explained.
A "functional title" no doubt intended to hide the fact that he is her chauffeur.
To be fair, Brown is following in time-honored county tradition. A chauffeur who worked for the county's former hospital chief, Ruth Rothstein, once was tucked in the budget as a "management analyst."
Let us propose a deal. We will agree not to write another word about Brown's driver if she will agree to list his job title with strict accuracy in the budget.
We suggest "guy who drives me around and fetches my newspaper."