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Court clerk lays off 170 county workers

Cook County Circuit Clerk Court Dorothy Brown’s office handed pink slips to 170 employees on Monday, part of the belt-tightening in county government as officials work to plug a half-billion deficit.

Brown, whose office is the official record keeper of county court cases — from murders to foreclosure suis — didn’t say where the layoffs were happening.

In a prepared statement, she did say: “This is a painful day for all of us at the Clerk’s Office,” Brown said. “We did what was requested, but it’s not without realizing that people are being laid off during a tough economic time. This lay off will put a high strain on the Clerk of the Circuit Court’s ability to perform its statutory and constitutional responsibilities.”

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle asked Brown and other county elected leaders to cut 16 percent. For the clerks office, that means slashing $12.4 million this year, according to Preckwinkle’s proposed $3.1 billion spending plan. Cook County commissioners have a Feb. 28 deadline to approve the final budget package.

Preckwinkle said in her budget address earlier this month that layoffs could reach 2,000 in a payroll of 23,700 employees.

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