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Stroger fires cousin ahead of “media circus”

Friday, Apr 17, 2009

* So, what was this about?

Cook County chief financial officer Donna Dunnings has resigned under pressure from her cousin, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger.

The resignation comes in the wake of Dunnings’ disclosure of a personnel matter that could affect her ability to do her job as chief financial officer, according to a statement issued by Stroger’s office. Stroger asked for and accepted Dunnings’ resignation, the statement said. […]

Dunnings had served in a variety of budgetary and finance positions in Cook County government for more than 20 years, including the past three years as chief financial officer.

* Stronger kinda sorta answered the question this morning…

…in an interview Friday morning on the WLS-AM show “Don Wade & Roma,” Stroger said the controversy stemmed from Tony Cole, a former college basketball star who received a patronage job in late 2008, and was fired after Stroger learned that he had a felony criminal conviction. […]

Stroger said on WLS that since being fired, Cole is “making allegations against Ms. Dunnings, all of which she tells me are not true.”

Nevertheless, Stroger said he concluded that Dunnings should leave her post, because the revelations would cause a sensational uproar in the media and among county commissioners.

“Being in the position she is, it will become a bit of a media circus. I don’t really think she will be able to perform her duties trying to fight off not only the papers, who would be interested in talking to her, probably, as much as possible, but even the politicians on the board who love to make political hay of anything that happens,” Stroger said.


Stroger won’t detail the allegations or provide information about the relationship between the man and Dunnings. But he says Dunnings has bailed the man out of jail a number of times.

From 2007

“I don’t care what her name is, what her bloodline is, she has great credentials,” Stroger said.

* Related…

* Forrest Claypool nearing run for Cook County Board president : Word is Claypool met recently with Jon Carson, Barack Obama’s national campaign field director, to discuss filling Claypool campaign jobs.

* We need tax relief, but not Stroger’s way

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - wordslinger - Friday, Apr 17, 09 @ 10:40 am:

    This Tony Cole sounds like a swell guy. Had public servant written all over him

  2. - Wow - Friday, Apr 17, 09 @ 10:46 am:

    So Claypool and Preckwinkle split the reform vote and Stroger slips back in again?

    Just what cook county needs.

  3. - Hair today, gone.... - Friday, Apr 17, 09 @ 10:50 am:

    Tony Cole…..probation violator, wrote bad checks, accused of rape. Yeah, great public servant. Makes you wonder what other characters are on the County payroll.

  4. - Carl Nyberg - Friday, Apr 17, 09 @ 10:55 am:

    Todd Stroger seems to be saying that b/c Dunning had credentials, he couldn’t have foreseen that she would not exercise good judgment.

    Part of hiring managers is to evaluate whether they have good judgment.

    And since she was kin of Todd Stroger, he should have had more information to evaluate Dunnings judgment.

    And it’s not hard to make the inference that Dunnings surmised she could give preferential treatment to herself and Tony Cole b/c the system is rigged for the connected irrespective of whether they provide services to the taxpayers.

  5. - Anonymous - Friday, Apr 17, 09 @ 11:01 am:

    Donna is another proud Northwestern Alum.

    Didn’t Rod go there to?

    What is up with NW?

  6. - Cassandra - Friday, Apr 17, 09 @ 11:04 am:

    Stroger shouldn’t be hiring his relatives and friends into high-paid county jobs (or any county jobs) but it’s legal. And Ms. Dunnings had budget office experience plus an MBA from Northwestern so she seems to have had the credentials as well.
    I wouldn’t read too much into this. Everybody makes mistakes in assessing others and she is paying for hers. Paying quite a lot, actually, given the exorbitant salaries received by mid and high level Cook County officials, virtually all of them hired through patronage of some sort from what we read..

    Stroger’s decision to ask for her resignation, along with his backpedaling on the sales tax, suggest that he’s feeling some re-election heat.
    Given Cook County voters long and passive history of voting for Machine Democrat incumbents, maybe this is a sign that change is a-coming. We can only hope.

  7. - soccermom - Friday, Apr 17, 09 @ 11:04 am:

    Who is advising President Stroger on pr strategy? Because geez, announcing her resignation with cryptic references to “allegations” — boy, that’s gonna put the fire out…

  8. - Dan S, a Voter and Cubs fan - Friday, Apr 17, 09 @ 11:06 am:

    Business as usual.

  9. - Anon - Friday, Apr 17, 09 @ 11:08 am:

    Sounds like he was her boy toy.

  10. - Anon - Friday, Apr 17, 09 @ 11:09 am:

    Hey, Anonymous, it’s NU. And why the envy? Go to Knox or Bradley?

  11. - Former Traffic Prosecutor - Friday, Apr 17, 09 @ 11:18 am:

    Wow: I think what happens in your scenario is that Stroger gets the Democratic nomination and then loses in the general to Paul Vallas or (shudder) Tony Peraica…

  12. - Al Swearengen - Friday, Apr 17, 09 @ 11:25 am:

    Don’t hang Donna on us NU folks. Kellog, or any grad school, doesn’t really count. Just like we don’t view Quinn as one of us becasue he went to law school there. I don’t think John Fritchey wants to be called a Wildcat either.
    Rod, however, we can proudly claim as our own.

  13. - Wow - Friday, Apr 17, 09 @ 11:29 am:

    Actually if it is Tony I think Todd still wins. Talk about the battle of the losers. But yes if it is Paul v. Todd then Cook County Wins!

  14. - Hair today, gone.... - Friday, Apr 17, 09 @ 11:39 am:

    =I wouldn’t read too much into this. Everybody makes mistakes in assessing others and she is paying for hers.=

    Sorry Cassandra but I disagree. Tony Cole is a convicted felon. Google his name and see what you get. Why should someone like Cole be given a county job when there are so many other qualified people with clean records in need of jobs? I think this speaks volumes about the county’s hiring practices.

  15. - Anon - Friday, Apr 17, 09 @ 11:43 am:

    Rod only went to NU part of undergrad and went to Pepperdine for law school.

  16. - Anita - Friday, Apr 17, 09 @ 11:50 am:

    Don’t we have some good alumni, somewhere? Because NU is not looking good here, and it breaks my purple heart.

  17. - Al Swearengen - Friday, Apr 17, 09 @ 12:16 pm:

    Warren Beatty. Doesn’t get better than that.

  18. - Anon - Friday, Apr 17, 09 @ 12:55 pm:

    Ann-Margret, Paul Lynde, Charlton Heston (take that one back).

  19. - Third Generation Chicago Native - Friday, Apr 17, 09 @ 1:36 pm:

    Tom Glaser moved out to put Donna Dunnings in, with a nice increase in pay for Tom of course.
    Joe Fratto moved into Todd’s Chief of Staff, who now will replace Donna Dunnings. And who will replace Joe Fratto as Todd’s Chief of Staff?

  20. - Cassandra - Friday, Apr 17, 09 @ 1:54 pm:


    I think there is a move in general to hire convicted felons to reduce recidivism. I don’t know who hired Mr. Cole or under what circumstances but my point stands. Even very competent executives make hiring mistakes. And if Ms. Dunning hired him, she is paying for hers.
    Stroger took the correct action in insisting that she leave. I’m not a fan of the Stroger administration but having made a few hiring mistakes myself in my day, I am not going to
    ding him on this one.

  21. - Judgment Day Is On The Way - Friday, Apr 17, 09 @ 5:04 pm:

    I’m anything but a fan of the Stroger administration, but I have had the opportunity to hear from, talk to, and ask a number of questions (Including follow-up questions) over the course of several hours of Ms. Dunning in a very tough, cold, hard environment - and I can guarantee you that most of the people on this blog wouldn’t of EVER wanted to find themselves in that environment. I also have had the opportunity to question others (good people who retired/got forced out at Cook County and/or the Forest Preserve) who had worked with her on different Cook County projects, and she had a rep as being a worker on the inside.

    She may have had a blind spot for this character, and made some stupid decisions as a result, but that doesn’t mean she wasn’t competent overall, and a good administrator (certainly in comparison to what’s left).

  22. - Lynn S - Monday, Apr 20, 09 @ 10:58 pm:,tony-cole-todd-stroger-call-bail-042009.article

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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