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Preckwinkle Okay With Suing Berrios For Nepotism

By Chuck Sudo in News on Oct 11, 2012 4:00PM

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle (left) and County Assessor Joe Berrios.

Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios supported Toni Preckwinkle’s 2010 campaign for County Board President but that doesn’t mean Preckwinkle is a Berrios stooge. Preckwinkle told the Sun-Times Wednesday she supports legal means to reprimand Berrios for hiring relatives to work in the Assessor’s office.

The Cook County Board of Ethics recommended that Berrios remove his son and sister from his office’s payroll in June, claiming their employment violates the County Ethics Ordinance which, among other things, prohibits elected officials and other county employees from hiring or directly supervising a relative. (Berrios also has a daughter who works for him but she was employed prior to his taking office.)

Berrios, who also chairs the Cook County Democratic Party, has long said that those rules don’t apply to him and, besides, his son Joey, daughter Vanessa and sister Carmen Cruz have invaluable experience in their jobs.

The Sun-Times obtained a letter from the County Ethics Board through the Freedom of Information Act in September asking the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office to represent them, or hire an outside attorney, in forcing Berrios to pay the $10,000 fine for each relative on his payroll, and restated their demand that Berrios fire his relatives. (That fine was not applied to Vanessa Berrios.) Preckwinkle told the Sun-Times the Ethics Board has her support and the ethics ordinance applies to all Cook County employees, even our Latino Boss Tweed.

“I’ve talked to Joe and he said he’s going to pursue his own interest,” Preckwinkle said, another subtle way of Berrios telling someone to “fuck off” as we’ve read. Berrios attorney Steven Puiszis, appointed last year to represent him in this matter, called the decision to pursue litigation “unfortunate waste of taxpayer dollars.”

So is having a lawyer appointed to represent a government employee who's charged of violating an ethics ordinance. Ah, irony: you're so sweet.