Opinion: Berrios Family Owes Us $529,000 - NBC Chicago
Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Opinion: Berrios Family Owes Us $529,000



    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.