Three-Year Security Tabs for City, County, State Officials Nearly $27 Million

By Chuck Sudo in News on Dec 27, 2010 8:48PM

2010_12_27_bodyguard.jpg The Sun-times published an interesting piece today where they reviewed the taxpayer costs of security details for city, county and state officials. It's interesting as to the costs of these security details, but also who receives them. Let's take a look, shall we?

First, the city. It's sort of expected that Mayor Daley gets a security detail. He is mayor, after all. But three other officials also receive security details: City Treasurer Stephanie Neely; 14th Ward Alderman Ed Burke; and an unnamed official. Burke, the powerful Finance Committee chair, provided documents to the Sun-Times that showed the Finance Committee paid $3,000 for two bodyguards to accompany him to the 2008 Democratic in Denver, and another $1,300 for two trips to Springfield and Washington, DC. Why Burke needs a security detail, we don't know. But we do know that he's had security since the "Council Wars" era, and we're well past that. It's also unknown why Neely needs a security detail, although police department officials said the bodyguards don't follow her for out-of-town business. And it's anyone's guess who the unnamed official is. One person we can cross off any list: City Clerk Miguel del Valle, who said he didn't need his own security detail.

The city budgeted money for 30 security detail officers next year, equal to the number of officers marked as security by the State Police for Gov. Quinn, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Secretary of State Jesse White. And county taxpayers were on the hook for former County Board President Todd Stroger's detail which ballooned from three in 2007 to five by the end of last year, to the tune of $1.1 million over a three-year period.

Overall, the combined taxpayer bill for bodyguards for city, state and county officials is an astounding $26.9 million.

The easy answer would be to do away with the frivolous security. The Illinois State Police makes its recommendations as to which executive level officials receive security details. At the city level, it's up to the POlice Superintendent, who's usually appointed by the mayor.

Then there's the question of how much security will Daley receive after he leaves office. Former Mayor Eugene Sawyer received a security detail as late as 2006. Former Mayor Jane Byrne said she's never had a security detail since she left office. And there as always a cop posted outside the Daley family home in Bridgeport long after Daley's father passed away, keeping watch over the family matriarch, Eleanor "Sis" Daley.

With budgets at the state, county and local levels held together by not much more than spit and bailing wire, every line item receives extra scrutiny.