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With Berrios in Mind, County IG Issues Advisory Against Hiring Relatives

By Kevin Robinson in News on Dec 22, 2010 3:00PM

Joe "I won the election" Berrios
Just a few weeks after the news that Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios hired his son and sister, county Inspector General Patrick Blanchard and ethics board chief MaryNic Foster have issued a two-page "advisory" cautioning against hiring family members. While the report was not aimed directly at Berrios, the timing of the advisory, along with the fact that Berrios was among the recipients of the memo has forced Berrios's office to defend the hiring.

“It’s like beating a dead horse at this point,” spokeswoman Kelley Quinn told the Sun-Times. “We’re talking about two people with a combined 20-plus years with Cook County.” The advisory points out that the Cook County ethics ordinance prohibits elected officials and other county employees from hiring or directly supervising a relative.

In spite of the fact that Berrios claims he hired his son and sister because "they've got experience, and I'm hiring people with experience," Blanchard and Foster note in their report that “we are unaware of an employment protocol that would support a deviation from the ordinance when the covered employee possesses a high degree of competence and qualification for a position.” They both also told the Sun-Times that they issued the advisory of their own initiative, although they didn't elaborate when asked by the paper if they were investigating the hirings in Berrios's office. Regardless, we figure Berrios will stick to his guns if asked about his rational for putting his immediate family on the payroll: "I won the election."