Clerk Dorothy Brown Requests Pay Increase

Cook County's Clerk of the Circuit Court requests a pay raise.

Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown has requested a pay increase from Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and the Cook County Board of Commissioners, according to a letter from Brown obtained by Politico.

“I am writing to advise you of a gross inequity between the salary of the position of Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, in comparison to the salaries of other Cook County Public Safety officials, the Clerks of the Court of the next two largest counties in Illinois (Dupage and Lake), and other Cook County-wide elected officials,” Brown wrote in the letter, dated May 3. “The comparison relates to the number of employees managed by each official, which is indicative of his or her level of responsibility.”

Brown added that her $105,000 salary is lower than other Cook County public safety officials, like public defenders ($194,574), state’s attorneys ($192,789), sheriffs ($160K) and chief judges ($188,076), despite the fact that some manage fewer than the Clerk's 1,684 employees.

Brown also claimed that other officials elected county-wide, like assessor, county clerk, treasurer, and recorder of deeds, receive similar salaries to that of the Clerk of the Circuit Court but are responsible for fewer employees.

“Again, there is no logical explanation for the salary inequity of the Clerk of the Court, who is responsible for managing such a large number of employees compared to the other county-wide elected officials,” Brown wrote.

Brown asked Preckwinkle and the board to add an ordinance to the May 11 Cook County Board agenda that would adjust the Clerk of the Circuit Court's salary to with an amount that would "be fair and equitable to close the disparity gap."

"Understandably, this is not the most opportune time to make this request, but it is only being made at this time because Illinois law requires that an increase for this position be made at least 180 days prior to the commencement of the next term," she wrote.

Brown recently beat out Ald. Michelle Harris and attorney Jacob Meister in the March Democratic primary. She will face Republican Diane Shapiro in the Nov. 15 general election. Brown was first elected to the role in 2000. 

In 2015, Brown's cell phone was seized by the FBI as part of a federal investigation into a 2011 land deal involving a campaign donor. Brown and her husband made tens of thousands of dollars from the deal.

Additionally, a former Brown employee pleaded guilty last month to lying to a federal grand jury about the sale of jobs and promotions within the clerk’s office. Sivasubramani Rajaram admitted to lying about the corruption in Brown’s office last July. He will be sentenced in September and faces up to 16 months in prison.

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