Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica (R-Riverside)
today helped a South Suburban Democratic political boss win appointment
to a county panel that determines whether non-union workers have been
Absent Peraica's favorable vote, Thornton Township Supervisor Frank
Zuccarelli—also the township Democratic committeemen—would not have
become the newest member of the Employee Appeals Board.
Zuccarelli joins Rita Rezko, the wife of Tony Rezko, who awaits
federal sentencing on political corruption charges, lobbyist William
Filan and two others on the part-time panel. Each is paid $38,500 and
receives full benefits, including health care.
The county board voted 9-7 to approve Zuccarrelli. If Peraica had
joined his fellow Republicans and three self-styled independent
Democrats in opposition to County Board President Todd Stroger's
appointment, the vote would have failed.
In the 2006 Democratic primary, Todd Stroger’s father, John, made
his strongest suburban showing in Thornton Township, where he got
16,258 votes to Commissioner Forrest Claypool’s 5,659.
Todd Stroger later replaced his father for the general election
after John Stroger suffered a debilitating and ultimately fatal stroke
before the primary.
Peraica, typically a Stroger foe, praised Zuccarelli's work as
township supervisor. “When you consider other occupants there, like
Rita Rezko, he’s probably an improvement,” Peraica said.
Zuccarelli, meanwhile, told commissioners he would not let political considerations influence his decisions.
“If there’s someone (before the board) I had a personal relationship
with, I’d recuse myself,” Zuccarelli said after being appointed.
Zuccarelli also said he’s recommended people for county employment,
adding that none have ever received a job. County payroll and state
campaign finance records show 14 county employees earning at least
$52,000 have donated more than $29,000 to the Thornton Township
Cook County Commissioner John Daley (D-Chicago) suggested Zuccarelli
was hardly the only person in county government who must balance
“We, as board members, hold many other jobs as attorneys, insurance
(company owners), committeemen,” said Daley, who owns an insurance
agency and is a Democratic committeeman.
Commissioner Larry Suffredin (D-Evanston), who chairs the committee
that considered the appointment, voted against it. “I just don’t
believe anyone who is a sitting committeeman should sit on this
particular board,” he said.
Immediately after being appointed, Zuccarelli tendered his
resignation as director of satellite offices for Cook County Recorder
Gene Moore. Zuccarelli was paid $88,000 in the post. Because he was
there only five years, he will not receive a pension, he said.
Zuccarelli said the new part-time post better suited him because he
plans to devote more time to township work and return to college to
study for his master’s in public administration.
As township supervisor, an elected post, Zuccarelli is paid $56,000
a year. He also receives a $1,100-a-month for expenses and an
$837-a-month car allowance.