Stroger Fires County's Chief Information Officer

Antonio Hyton hired in '08 to oversee final phase of "Project Shield"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Cook County
    Antonio Hylton

    On the cusp of the February primary, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger has fired the chief executive of one of the county's most controversial programs.

    Antonio Hylton, the county's Chief Information Officer, was hired in the spring of 2008 to oversee the final phase of Project Shield, which to date has secured approximately $48 million in federal Homeland Security funds.

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    Project Shield is designed to equip 128 police departments in Cook County with computer and video technology in order to monitor a natural disaster or terrorist attack.  It has been plagued with a host of technical problems from the beginning as well as cost over-runs.

    Hylton's firing comes as Stroger faces a tough re-election next week against three Democratic opponents.

    Last month NBC Chicago and the Chicago Sun-Times reported the county was unable to produce written Quality Assurance reports for Project Shield from the politically-connected company Synch Solutions, which awarded the QA contract in 2008.

    Its owner, John Sterling, is the step-son of former Senate President Emil Jones, Jr., who in recent weeks gave Stroger's cash-strapped campaign a $100,000 loan.

    After NBC Chicago and the Sun-Times reported that Hylton’s office could produce no written QA reports monitoring Project Shield,  Hylton and the county discovered in fact there were 82 written reports but argued they were too voluminous and that national security could be comprised by their complete publication.

    Stroger’s office issued a statement, saying: "City and State elected officials make these same types of changes routinely."

    "President Stroger, like all chief executives in the public and private sector, has the authority and the responsibility to determine who will serve in senior executive positions in his administration," according to the written statement. "City and State elected officials make these same types of changes routinely. Senior management individuals serve at will, and President Stroger reserves the capacity to make staffing changes as is appropriate and as is within the scope of his legal authority and his governance responsibilities."

    Antonio Hylton could not be immediately reached for comment.

    To date, Project Shield is not only over budget but its projected completion date of fall 2008 has been pushed back to sometime in 2011.