Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s decision to hire two short-term Democratic legislators is drawing accusations that their new jobs are a quid pro quo for voting to pass Gov. Pat Quinn’s income tax increase.
Last year, Michael Carberry and John O’Sullivan were appointed to replace state Reps. James Brosnahan and Kevin Joyce, who both retired from the General Assembly before their terms expired. Neither Carberry nor O’Sullivan ran for a full term. But both were around to vote for the tax hike. And both need jobs.
Thanks to Preckwinkle, these loyal Democratic soldiers are back on the public payroll. From the Tribune:
Now Carberry has landed as a nearly $100,000-a-year deputy director job in the county’s facilities management department. And O’Sullivan, the Worth Township Democratic committeeman, is making $85,000 a year as a regional superintendent at the Cook County Forest Preserve District.
Former County Board President Todd Stroger was criticized during his term for hiring the politically-connected. On election night last November, a victorious Preckwinkle told supporters she planned to “clean up county government by ending patronage.”
On Tuesday, Preckwinkle described her two new hires’ service in Springfield is a “credit” to their qualifications for county jobs.
That’s not how Taxpayers United of America President Jim Tobin sees it.
“Is it possible that these two ‘highly qualified individuals’ were hired as a reward for providing the necessary votes to pass Quinn’s 67% state income tax increase?” Tobin asked in Illinois Review. “Considering the drastic cuts in Cook County’s budget, they must be extraordinarily highly qualified individuals.”
That may be looking for a conspiracy where none exists, but O’Sullivan’s appointment is not what we expected from Preckwinkle.
The Tribune notes that O’Sullivan, a veteran of the county hospital system, was once fired for falsifying time cards, but reinstated with back pay after challenging his dismissal. In Chicago, some political principles are inviolate, whether a hack like Stroger or a goo-goo like Preckwinkle is in charge. O’Sullivan is a committeeman, so he’s entitled to a well-paying government job, even under a reform administration that’s cutting its budget.
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