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Send in the clowns

Wednesday, Aug 23, 2006

The former patronage honcho for Cook County government didn’t exactly get the boot this week. In fact, nobody seems to know what his new job is.

Monday, new county board president Bobbie Steele was at a loss to explain what Gerald Nichols does other than act as the godfather of good jobs, so she gave him the boot. It turns out he went from one unexplainable county job to another.

ABC7 went looking for Gerald Nichols in the Cook County Department of Administration. He wasn’t in Tuesday — and no one knows if he’ll be in Wednesday. Nichols has been getting a lot of unwanted publicity thanks to a Sun-Times series that claims he put the fix in for county job applicants who had clout.

His secretary — who asked to be called an assistant — identified Mr. Nichols new job as handling the “administrative business” of county government. The county president’s spokeswoman couldn’t provide a job description either.

“I’m not sure his job title, but I know he’s going to give the residents of Cook County the bang for the buck,” said Chinta Strausberg, Cook County spokesperson.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Snidely Whiplash - Wednesday, Aug 23, 06 @ 6:31 am:

    Hasn’t he banged us enough already???

  2. - Watchful eye - Wednesday, Aug 23, 06 @ 7:25 am:

    I hope they bring the cameras back today, and tomorrow, and keep showing up until they find him at his desk doing something. That or send the cameras to Todd’s campaign office and see if he’s there.

  3. - Tom - Wednesday, Aug 23, 06 @ 7:34 am:

    I admit, Steele had me fooled for a bit. I was so eager to see some good news from Cook gov’t that I missed where she had Nichols moved upstairs. Now he doesn’t see fit to show up. It’s time to remove him from the payroll.

  4. - Squideshi - Wednesday, Aug 23, 06 @ 7:40 am:

    I’m glad to see the media exposing this.

  5. - one of the 35 - Wednesday, Aug 23, 06 @ 8:34 am:

    This is classic. Nobody can figure out what the guy does…..but he has an assistant to help him do it.

  6. - Cassandra - Wednesday, Aug 23, 06 @ 9:30 am:

    Again, Steele was given her current job by the Daley Democratic Machine because the Machine wants as many controversial issues as possible handled before the obviously inept Toddler Stroger gets into office. She got the head of the Juvenile Correctional Center to resign…he was become just too controversial…but replaced him with another County hack. She moved Nichols
    out of the limelight, at no cost to him; the Machine is no doubt concerned about what might happen if he flips when the feds start an investigation of patronage hiring at the county. She will have to do something about the budget.

    The idea is that the Toddler has a smooth, easy
    ride for the first couple of years at least of what will no doubt be a tenure of decades, if Chicago/Cook County voting patterns persist.

  7. - John Lee Pettimore - Wednesday, Aug 23, 06 @ 9:45 am:

    Speaking of clowns, where is Peraica on this issue? Is he hiding because his son is a payroller, too? Deet Deet deedle leedle deet deet deet deet.

  8. - Ron Burgundy - Wednesday, Aug 23, 06 @ 10:47 am:

    Cook County Government: We Don’t Know What We’re Doing, But We’re Doing a Good Job at It.

  9. - PalosParkBob - Wednesday, Aug 23, 06 @ 11:03 am:

    e pluribus unum (one out of many)

    I’ve worked with many federal, county, municipal, and public school organizations, and I have yet to see one that couldn’t easily cut between 10 and 20% of its budget by getting rid of all the “make work” and patronage jobs, and not decrease the level of service to the community.

    One of the worst organiztions for this kind of abuse is the Cook County Board of Review, where almost all of the 120 members of the staff seem to be “adminstrative assistants” or “deputy commissioners” who are also politically connected campaign workers.

    The CCBOR is the ultimate in patronage politics. We have a grossly incompetent and patronage ridden Cook Assessor’s office that does a horrendous job of performing assessments regarding factual info and uniformity, and rather than create an oversight Board that would hold them accountable for making the assessments uniform and accurate, the Legislature creates a 120 job patronage force where cronies can get elected as commissioners and dole out the jobs.

    Worse yet, they make taxpayers go through all sorts of effort to correct mistakes made by the Assessor, and leave bad assessments on the books if the taxpayer doesn’t take aggressive action to correct mistakes he didn’t make.

    Of course, hiring a politically connected law firm to file a challenge on your behalf greatly enhances your chance of success.

    The CCBOR, one of the best examples of pure politics and patronage ever created by Illinois Republicrats.

  10. - Bubs - Wednesday, Aug 23, 06 @ 11:10 am:

    At $114,000 per year (paid out of the budget of a Department he has not visited in years), there had better be one HELLUVA lot of bang!

    And lunch with Todd Stroger does not count.

  11. - Alan - Wednesday, Aug 23, 06 @ 11:12 am:

    Tom, not your fault that you thought Steele was actually doing something. The news stories, especially the Sun-Times, was incredibly misleading.

    I thought this patronage guy really had gotten “the boot” as the headline and the lead of the story said. I was almost through reading the rather long story when the writer casually mentioned that the guy had simply been moved upstairs and would receive his same $114,000 salary for apparently doing nothing.

    Shame on the Sun-Times and the other newspapers for printing this so-called “story.” It’s only a story when something changes. And nothing has changed in Cook County. That’s for sure.

  12. - Sweet Brick - Wednesday, Aug 23, 06 @ 11:27 am:

    That spokeswoman made me laugh. Was she serious? She doesn’t know what he does but he does a damn good job! Are you kidding me? She does a good job at spin control.

  13. - annoyed all the time - Wednesday, Aug 23, 06 @ 11:48 am:

    When Cook County went to privatize their golf courses too there was an unbelievable amount of patronage jobs there making boatloads. I believe that one figure thatthrew me off was the started at Caldwell golf course making $27.00 per hour. I wonder where they all went… Cook County really is the worst.

  14. - annoyed all the time - Wednesday, Aug 23, 06 @ 11:51 am:

    For you golfers I meant the ’starters at Caldwell’… for non golfers that means the guy who calls you to the tee.

  15. - Anon - Wednesday, Aug 23, 06 @ 11:54 am:

    Ask the “reformer” Suffredin to publicly comment on what he thinks about this.

  16. - Ravenswood Right Winger - Wednesday, Aug 23, 06 @ 12:06 pm:

    More cannon fodder for my guy Tony Peraica!!
    How did Chinta get her job?

  17. - Tom - Wednesday, Aug 23, 06 @ 12:32 pm:

    Stroger’s camp will try to keep this away from substantive issues as much as possible. They understand many Dems are not pleased with the party in Cook. Instead they will launch a vigorous smear campaign against Peraica, calling him a racist homophobe who will take away all abortions.

    Many of the “reform” Dems who claim they will vote Peraica will gobble up this rhetoric and believe that Peraica is a Neanderthal. That, in a nutshell, is how Todd Stroger will be elected and maintain the bloated, patronage-larded Cook govt.

    Stroger’s campaign will be ugly, and I can understand why (Peraica’s will likely get ugly to counter Stroger). Many blacks look at the city and see Daley’s patronage army primarily benefitting connected whites and Latinos. They want Todd Stroger to be elected to maintain a patronage refuge for blacks. While patronage is wrong, it’s understandable that blacks want their piece of the pie.

  18. - Ashur Odishoo - Wednesday, Aug 23, 06 @ 1:52 pm:

    What surprises me about the Patronage is that everyone knew about the Shakman decree. They didn’t even try to hide it on the county level.

    I think the Federal judges will come down hard for ignoring their order.

    Ashur Odishoo
    State Representative 11th District

  19. - Anon sequitur - Wednesday, Aug 23, 06 @ 3:36 pm:

    I’ve known Gerald Nichols for years and he is one of the nicest guys I know in Cook County government. I only wish I had known how much clout he had.

    But what I love most is the “holier than tho” response by Republicans. Here in DuPage County, no Democrat could ever get a job in county government under any circumstances, political or merit, despite the fact that more than 40% of the county voters openly vote Democrat. Where is the U.S. Attorney and FBI?

    Meanwhile, Brickhead has never once opened an investigation into corruption in the county, yet was embarrassed to have one revealed in his own office. Glass houses anyone?

  20. - Truthful James - Wednesday, Aug 23, 06 @ 4:00 pm:

    Nichols most important job would have been to keep the Cook County Democrat annual fund raising flowing big. What Gerald giveth, Gerald can take away. And that goes for his own giftees to the party.

  21. - Snidely Whiplash - Wednesday, Aug 23, 06 @ 8:46 pm:

    Where is the furor over this man being paid $100k-plus per year out of the Highway Dept.’s budget when he doesn’t even WORK for the Highway Dept.??? He should’ve been an employee of the President’s office! Mr. U.S. Attorney, c’mon down!

  22. - Rich Miller - Friday, Aug 25, 06 @ 1:46 pm:

    Hey, “Drew” I know who you are. Just be aware, Randy, that calls have been made.

  23. - Rich Miller - Friday, Aug 25, 06 @ 1:47 pm:

    “Oswald,” using a different name is no use. I know who you are.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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