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Stroger gives Rufus Williams's wife a big raise to $230,000 at Cook County

The Chicago Tribune reported on Thursday, May 6, 2010, that Todd Stroger, outgoing President of the Cook County Board, has given Jaye Williams a raise of $54,000 (to $230,000). Jaye Williams is the wife of former Chicago Board of Education President Rufus Williams, who was ousted by Mayor Daley following the appointment of Ron Huberman as CEO of Chicago's public schools in January 2009. Why should this matter to CPS workers? It's an indication of how things operate in Chicago under Daley. The people with major clout rotate among various agencies at high salaries. The only question the Tribune doesn't answer is why the salary of the Chief Financial Officer of the Cook County Board merits a major news story, while the salary of the Chief Financial Officer of the Chicago Public Schools doesn't.

Rufus Williams (above) was appointed to the Board of Education by Mayor Richard M. Daley and became Board president after Michael Scott left in 2007. Above, Williams presides over the Board meeting of March 26, 2008. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.

Lame-duck Stroger gave aide $54,000 pay hike... One of several raises not approved by County Board, finance chairman says, By Hal Dardick, Tribune reporter, 7:56 PM CDT, May 6, 2010

Cook County Board President Todd Stroger handed a $54,000 raise to his chief financial officer, one of several recent salary sweeteners that prompted county commissioners to seek an accounting by Friday.

Stroger recently boosted the salary of CFO Jaye Williams, the wife of onetime Chicago Board of Education President Rufus Williams, to $230,000, up from about $176,000, commissioners said. Details of the increase surfaced just days after the board curbed Stroger's authority to hire and spend money in response to a new hiring scandal in his administration.

Jaye Williams is one of several county employees who received raises without County Board approval, in violation of a December resolution aimed at controlling costs, said Commissioner John Daley, D-Chicago. He expects to receive a report Friday detailing all the raises.

"It concerns me that anyone would receive a pay raise contrary to what it said in that resolution," said Daley, chairman of the Finance Committee, making it clear he was not singling out Williams. "This is what we tried to stop. I don't like to see pay raises after you passed the budget."

Eugene Mullins, Stroger's spokesman, said other countywide elected officials and commissioners also handed out raises without board approval. "The only thing that people seem to be interested in is that Todd did it," he said.

Mullins, Stroger's boyhood friend, confirmed he got a raise, saying it was his first since he was hired two years ago. Commissioners said another went to Carla Oglesby, whom Stroger placed on unpaid leave after it was revealed that her public relations company got a $24,975 contract from Stroger's administration days after she was hired. The amount was just under the threshold that requires board approval.

Mullins defended Williams. "Her salary is commensurate with all other CFOs who handle budgets of more than $3 billion," he said.

William's predecessor, Donna Dunnings, was paid about $176,000 a year. Stroger forced Dunnings, his cousin, to resign a year ago amid the controversy over Stroger's hiring of a former steakhouse busboy.

Stroger, whose term expires in December, also has come under fire for buying new furniture for his executive office and giving a $24,995 contract to a Maryland consultant who earlier was hired to straighten out his campaign finances.

"This situation is absurd," said Commissioner Timothy Schneider, R-Streamwood.

Attempts to reach Williams, who was among just a handful of county executives to attend Stroger's election-night party, were not successful.

Commissioner Larry Suffredin, D-Evanston, said she came to his office Wednesday to plead her case by saying other chief financial officers with her education and experience make similar salaries.

"It may be appropriate pay, but we're so far from dealing with that issue," Suffredin said. "It has to come before the board. ... We didn't want all kinds of people getting pay raises, because that will impact the budget moving forward."



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