The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Four County Commissioners Didn't Take All Their Furlough Days

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jan 10, 2012 7:30PM

William Beavers
Chicago News Cooperative and the Better Government Association obtained a report from the Cook County comptroller's office that showed which county commissioners didn't take all of their furlough days before the 2011 fiscal year ended Nov. 30, 2011.

Before we move on, is anyone surprised that William Beavers is on the list? The self-styled "Hog with the Big Nuts" was consistent in saying he wouldn't take the 10 furlough days he voted for last February, citing the Illinois Constitution, which prohibits increasing or decreasing the salaries of sitting elected officials. It's likely Beavers refused his furlough days as much to stick it to County Board President Toni Preckwinkle as much as he flouted the state constitution. Joining Beavers was Earlean Collins, who also voted for the furlough days. At salaries of $85,000 a year, the furlough days would have amounted to a five percent pay cut.

What's surprising is the names of the two commissioners who didn't take all of their furlough days. Commissioners Jerry Butler and John Fritchey only took half of their furlough days, according to the report. Butler, aka "The Iceman," told CNC that he would write a check for the days he didn't take. Fritchey said he assumed he didn't have to take the remaining furlough days because he returned $40,000 in unspent funds from his office's budget, which he said was more than what the county would have saved if he took the remaining furlough days. Fritchey even went so far as to present CNC with a copy of a letter he sent to the comptroller's office asking if he could skip them, and assumed that, since he hadn't heard a reply, he was in compliance.

County spokeswoman Liane Jackson said the furlough program proved tough to enforce. 10,400 county employees were exempted, many because they were deemed essential. Three other commissioners — Deborah Sims, Joan Murphy, and Robert Steele — originally refused to take their furlough days, but eventually reversed their stances.