Thursday, April 23, 2009

Fun and games in Cook County

Remember the blog a few months ago about the county official caught flipping the bird at a county meeting?

Donna Dunnings was her name. And she’s a cousin to county board chairman Todd Stroger. Well, for our entertainment value, both Todd and Donna are in the news this week.

And you will love it.

Tony Cole was a college basketball player for the University of Georgia back in 2002. He was charged with aggravated assault with intent to rape and they booted him off the team.

Then in 2003 he was in trouble with the law again for threatening an ex-girlfriend with an Uzi (submachine gun). For good measure, he entered a guilty plea that same year for writing bad checks.

Sometime around then, he told reporters that he got an “A” in a class he never attended and received some goodies from the university, statements that brought the wrath of the NCAA down upon the school.

Then there were a few run ins with the law in Baton Rouge.

Then just last June Tony was charged with domestic battery.

Fast forward to October. County Board Chairman Todd Stroger met Tony Cole at Ruth's Chris Steak House. Tony was a busboy at the time, having worked there for three months.

Stroger was so impressed with him that he hired the busboy. Tony Cole began working for Cook County on October 14, 2008 as an administrative assistant. His starting pay was $48,249, not a bad bump in these tough economic times.

But just a few weeks later in November of 2008 Tony was arrested for violating an order of protection. So he calls his boss, Donna Dunnings (the finger lady) to bail him out. She paid $1,000 to bail him out. And one of Stroger’s cronies was present when he was bailed out. Stroger knew of this event.

Well, Tony kept making nasty phone calls to the ex-girlfriend until the judge called him back in and raised the bail to $40,000. Dunnings paid the additional $3,000 bail that time as well.

So, what do you do with an employee like that?

In Cook County you PROMOTE him. And so Tony was given a raise to $61,189 and put in the HR office of the county highway department.

So, here it is April 12th and the probation officers are worried. Tony has been AWOL four times and is hostile to the follow-up. They go to his house, Tony refused to cooperate, and he is hauled back to jail. Bail is now at $200,000 and no one is bailing him out.

Stroger fires Donna “Finger” Dunnings over the scandal and immediately calls the newspapers to inform them the situation was all Donna’s fault.

Now all sorts of finger-pointing is going on. Stroger says the state police took months to deliver a background check on Tony Cole and that he had no idea about Cole’s violent past. (You could always Google his name, Todd. That would give you more than enough to keep you from offering a busboy a $48K job.)

But Todd is looking rather foolish now since the Illinois State Police and the FBI keep very good records and have proof they notified Stroger back in November.

Oh, and they finally did fire Tony Cole a couple of weeks ago.
Does this explain why Cook County has the highest sales tax in the nation?

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