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As hiring oversight is set to end, alderman hires Todd Stroger

Todd Stroger presides over his last meeting as Cook County Board president December 2010. | sun-times library

Todd Stroger presides over his last meeting as Cook County Board president in December 2010. | sun-times library

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Updated: June 23, 2014 12:06PM



Brace yourself, citizens of Chicago.

Todd Stroger is returning to a government payroll near you.

What timing.

Word that Stroger is being hired as a Chicago aldermanic contract employee comes on the heels of news this week that Michael Shakman, the nemesis of city patronage hiring, declared himself finally satisfied that real progress has been achieved in stopping the politically connected from latching on to city jobs. And, hence, the decades-long court oversight of political hiring that his lawsuit initiated is no longer necessary.

The thing we always forget about the Shakman decree is that it never applied to the City Council, that Byzantine legislative body that remains mired in the cronyism of the 1950s like dinosaurs before the Ice Age. Thus, even today, aldermen can hire their mother’s brother’s nephew’s bookie knowing nobody can stop them.

On Friday, 21st Ward Ald. Howard Brookins confirmed that he is hiring Stroger on a month-to-month basis, paying what would amount to between $25,000 to $30,000 a year.

Why do we care?

C’mon, let’s count the ways.

Todd, the 51-year-old son of late County Board President John Stroger, virtually got all his jobs (and soon-to-be accumulated pensions) thanks to his dad.

In those taxpayer-funded offices, Todd played a lot of video games during Springfield legislative sessions and basketball at Chicago’s tony East Bank Club.

Stroger was ousted in 2010 by the estimable Toni Preckwinkle. Ever since, he has been largely unemployed and casting about for a return to the payrolls of government.

Won’t Brookins take some heat for this hire?

“Todd is still highly respected in my community,” Brookins told me by phone Friday afternoon, “and can help me in a variety of ways.”

Let’s remember, back when Todd was the man in charge of the county, he took heat for trying to give a patronage job to Brookins’ wife, Ebonie Taylor-Brookins. Ultimately, it was the county hiring monitor that forced him to back off.

The two men have other things in common. Like powerful political fathers. Howard Brookins Sr. was a longtime state senator and friend of Todd’s powerhouse dad, John.

And both are keenly aware of recent, uncomfortable corruption investigations.

Ald. Brookins has just witnessed the federal indictment of his chief of staff for allegedly taking a cash bribe to locate a liquor store in the alderman’s ward. Brookins has not been charged in this case, but an “Alderman A” is listed in the complaint as being allegedly aware of the bribe offer.

Todd Stroger, meanwhile, has just watched his childhood friend and former top aide, Gene Mullins, go to prison for taking $35,000 in kickbacks on county contracts during his administration. And another top aide, Carla Oglesby, was locked up in April for stealing $300,000 in public money during his time in office.

Stroger, like Brookins, is not charged with any crime.

But clearly, Brookins and Stroger have each other’s shoulders to cry on when it comes to sad things happening to their pals.

Especially, since word around the city-county building is that everyone else is afraid to come near them.

Email: cmarin@suntimes.com

Twitter: @CarolMarin



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