Cook County Assessor (and Democratic Central Committee Chairman) Joe Berrios just cost the taxpayers $529,000 – the settlements we’ll be paying to 11 county workers he fired so he could replace them with family members and political cronies.
Berrios said he didn’t know the firings were impermissible because “I thought they were all at-will employees.” Considering that political hirings and firings have been illegal for 40 years, Berrios should have known better. Most likely, he doesn’t care. When questioned about his hiring practices, Berrios claims he’s not subject to county ethics rules that prohibit nepotism. Then he asks why his enemies are picking on a Puerto Rican kid from Cabrini-Green for doing what the Bridgeport and Beverly Irish have done for generations.
The Tribune suggests Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle withhold $529,000 from Berrios’s next budget. Ward Room has a better idea. Make the Berrios family pay it back. They were the beneficiaries of Uncle Joe’s firing-and-hiring spree. Here’s a list of all the Berrioses on the public payroll, and how much they earned, as of late last year.
Joe Berrios, Cook County Assessor: $125,000
Carmen Berrios (sister), Deputy Assessor: $107,841
Erasmo Berrios (brother), retired highway maintenance worker, Illinois Department of Transportation: $86,189 pension
Toni Berrios (daughter), Illinois state representative, $74,569
Miguel Berrios (brother), highway maintainer, Illinois Department of Transportation: $73,020
Vanessa Berrios (daughter), manager of industrial and commercial valuations, Assessor’s Office: $72,444
Joey Berrios (son), manager of residential field, Assessor’s Office: $72,444
Maria Elena Cruz (sister), retired principal, Moos Elementary: $67,995 pension
George Berrios (brother), mechanical assistant, Cook County Department of Facilities Management: $67,828
Hector Berrios (brother), toll collector, Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, $60,894
Maria Berrios (sister-in-law), deputy member, Cook County Board of Review: $57,109
Erasmo Berrios (nephew), administrative assistant, Cook County Department of Environmental Control: $56,442
Wilfredo Cruz (brother-in-law), deputy member, Cook County Board of Review, $52,122
Stephen Berrios (nephew), law clerk, Office of the Chief Judge, Cook County: $44,655
George Erasmo Berrios Jr (nephew), executive assistant, Illinois Secretary of State: $39,996
Overall, various Berrioses are collecting $1,058,548 in public pensions and salaries each year. If they were all docked 10 percent, they could pay the county back for Uncle Joe’s transgressions in five years.