Deborah Sims | Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 22, 2011 3:26PM
The list of Cook County commissioners refusing to take 10 days off without pay before the year’s out, part of a countywide plan to close a huge budget hole, is growing.
Commissioners Joan Patricia Murphy (D-Crestwood) and Deborah Sims (D-Chicago) said Wednesday they never intended to abide by a budget deal that called on most of the 23,000 county employees to take five unpaid days off in addition to five government shut-down days this year.
Commissioners William Beavers and Earlean Collins, both Chicago Democrats, have also said they’re not taking the time off without pay either, calling the furlough and shut-down days illegal pay cuts.
“It’s against the law to do it,” Murphy said. “And they’ve cut so much out of our budgets — they’ve cut travel — and we (commissioners) haven’t had a raise since 2002.”
The commissioners referred to the Illinois Constitution, which doesn’t allow for an increase or decrease in pay during the term of an elected government official. But that provision doesn’t prevent commissioners, who earn $85,000 annually, from voluntarily giving up some of their pay.
All five commissioners sent letters to the county comptroller, asking for reimbursement for money taken from their paychecks, according to documents obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.
“I am requesting any and all monies deducted from my salary due to furlough or shut-down days be reimbursed to me at your earliest convenience,” Murphy wrote in a July 27 memo to the comptroller’s office.
Sims said she voiced concern over the 10 days off without pay but voted for the budget package that contained it, knowing full well she wouldn’t take the pay cut.
“I said I disagreed with the furlough days,” Sims told reporters on Wednesday. “It destroys the morale of the people.”
Commissioner Robert Steele (D-Chicago) said he will take seven days without pay but has asked the county pay him for the three other days as a “personal protest” and will give that money to a “private organization.”
The furlough days have “not been working very well for us in this year,” Steele said, adding that many county employees haven’t taken the days off and don’t plan to.
County officials said in February that the savings from the 10 unpaid days would add up to about $38 million. But this week, county board President Toni Preckwinkle’s chief of staff said the savings would be closer to $29 million.
The 10 days without pay for the 17 commissioners represents a minuscule amount of the savings needed to close a $487 million hole in county government’s $3 billion operation — money that pays for the county court system, sheriff’s police, the county jail and the health care system
These ASSHOLES came up with the whole furlough days idea a year ago, too help balance the budget. So what do four black people do when they change their mind? Get the crazy old cracker to send the comptroller a letter.