The Cook County Board voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to impose a 72-hour notification period on all county hiring, raises and other spending and to freeze hiring countywide in moves widely perceived as rebuffs to lame-duck President Todd Stroger.
"It is unfortunate we have to address this and micromanage," said Chicago Democratic Commissioner John Daley, chairman of the finance committee.
"It creates transparency," said Evanston Democratic Commissioner Larry Suffredin, who insisted the actions did not alter the balance of power between Stroger's executive office and the legislative commissioners.
Orland Park Republican Commissioner Liz Gorman said the measures were meant to "return accountability" to county government. She took issue with "having campaign staffers put on payroll," a reference to Carla Oglesby, Stroger's campaign spokeswoman. Oglesby was hired as Stroger's deputy chief of staff after he lost in the Democratic primary in February, just as her public-relations firm was being awarded a $24,975 county contract. That contract was just under the $25,000 threshold required for county board approval, which brought the spending issues to a head.
"I always look out for the taxpayers' money, first and foremost," Stroger replied, while acknowledging, "Sometimes mistakes are made and we correct them."
He later said Oglesby had been placed on unpaid leave.
"I'm all for transparency," Stroger said. "Actually, I support this, too."
Yet, Stroger called the hiring freeze "an encroachment on the administration" and later announced his intention to veto it.
The measures, however, passed by seemingly veto-proof majorities. The 72-hour notification on spending and contracts passed 16-1, and a move to expand a hiring report and report all hiring within 72 hours passed unanimously. The hiring freeze, specifically effective through the end of Stroger's term at the end of November, passed 16-1. Chicago Democratic Commissioner William Beavers was the only "no" vote on both.
Glenview Republican Commissioner Gregg Goslin said all three measures are positive and should be extended to the next administration as well.
The board also sent to committee a proposed boycott on county business with Arizona, in protest of its new immigration law.