2 Cook Co. Commissioners Flip-Flop on Unpaid Days

Collins insists she and her staff have sacrificed enough

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    Faced with the reality of smaller checks, two Cook County board members changed their minds about taking 10 unpaid days. 

    Commissioner Earlean Collins joined Commissioner William Beavers in opposition to taking five furlough days and five government shutdown days.
    Beavers told the Sun-Times he believed doing so would violate the Illinois Constitution that makes it illegal for sitting elected officials to get their pay raised or reduced.
    Collins and Beavers both flipped-flopped from the unanimous budget vote the board cast last February.
    This is the view Collins expressed a couple of days before voting to take unpaid days.
    “Can I give up 10 days? Yes. Absolutely,” she said.
    However, the commissioner, who like her other elected colleagues, earns $85,000, did a 180 degree turn seven months later.
    "I will not sit by and take my cut because I know this board nor the president can cut my salary," she said at Tuesday's meeting. Collins stressed she and her staff have sacrificed enough with the budget cuts for her district office.
    The county faced a $500 million shortfall in its $3 billion budget. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle pushed for the unpaid days proposal for 23,000 plus county employees in hopes of saving $29 million by Nov. 30.

    The county has saved $16.2 million as of the end of August, said Kurt Summers, Preckwinkle’s chief of staff.

    Preckwinkle gave her reaction to Collins’ change of heart. “I haven’t asked any one commissioner to do something I haven’t done myself,” said Preckwinkle.