Fired County Employee Back on Payroll

Byron Steele unexpectedly fired two months ago in what some thought was retribution for brother's vote

By BJ Lutz
|  Friday, Nov 13, 2009  |  Updated 4:15 PM CDT
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If it was revenge, it apparently wasn't all that sweet.

Two months after being booted from the Cook County payroll in what some thought was retribution for his brother's vote to reduce the county's sales tax, Byron Steele is back on the books.

Steele, the brother of Commissioner Robert Steele (D-Chicago), started a new job this week as an energy manager with the Environmental Control Department, the Chicago Tribune reported.  The position had reportedly been vacant for the last six years, but suddenly needed to be filled.

His new post pays about $10,000 less per year than the $100,000 he was previously making overseeing maintenance at the Cook County Jail. 

Steele was unexpectedly fired two months ago, and the decision did not sit well with the politically-connected family.  Commissioner had voted twice against Cook Board President Todd Stroger's veto of a sales tax repeal, and the family saw the firing as a revenge move. 

Steele maintained that his job evaluations were consistently in the excellent to superior range, but was told that his fireing was "a decision from the president. It comes from on high."

Stroger denied revenge and said the termination was based on county-wide efficiency.

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