Top Pay for Part Time County Appointments…and Friends

Maybe it should be called Cronin County instead of DuPage County, because one person, Dan Cronin, Board Chairman of DuPage County, sure does have a lot of power to make political appointments here. Maybe it’s not surprising, then, that some political donors and friends of Cronin end up in Appointments.  Ask Jeff Redick- he was appointed in 2014 to the Forest Preserve District and makes $53,000 a year in that part time position, when he isn’t practicing law in Dan Cronin’s own law firm. Or ask Gerald Cassioppi, Cronin appointed him to the DuPage County Ethics Commission in a paid appointment and he donates to Dan Cronin.  It’s a cozy business in DuPage County. Some call it a closed loop.

Over 200 individuals are appointed to serve on part time County Agency Boards and the price tag for these appointments runs over half million dollars to the County, without adding hourly fees and even perks like expenses, health care and life insurance where applicable and Cronin, with County Board approval, appoints most of them. (www.DuPageCo.org/CountyBoard/AppointiveBodies.aspx)

Did you know that the DuPage County Airport Authority is comprised of 10 appointed members who each receive $10,000 a year in compensation?  When roads are full of potholes and stormwater flows, why are taxpayers footing the bill for over $100,000 just for Board salaries for an amenity most do not use?  The DuPage Airport Authority meets six times a year and appointments last for 5 years.  That’s $50,000 for 30 meetings or $1,666.66 per meeting. Minutes from the January 24, 2018, show a meeting time of 127 minutes which calculates to about $13 a minute, or about $787 an hour.  Dan Cronin appoints the Authority and many of them return the favor, contributing campaign funds. (www.IllinoisSunshine.org)  What do taxpayers get?  Tax burden and more of the same closed loop politics.

The Election Commission costs taxpayers $82,500 a year for 3 commissioners and 12 meetings a year.  That’s $27,500 a year pay per commissioner.  Despite a chaotic primary night at the Election Commission, Dan Cronin did not dismiss one of his appointees.  Records show Election Commission Chair Cathy Ficker-Terrill donated to Cronin in 2010, 2013, 2014, 2017 and 2018. (www.IllinoisSunshine.org)

The waste incurred in paying part time board members so generously is egregious and does not benefit taxpayers in any meaningful way. Why exactly does the County Board offer Wheaton Sanitary District’s three appointees health insurance in addition to the $6,000 each is paid for 12 meetings?  It’s time to shine a light on this old school culture still being played at the County Board level.

Back in 2012, Cook County addressed the inherent waste in overpaying political appointees when it voted to require attendance in certain Boards for pay and lowering some compensation, saving the County over $300,000 a year.  When DuPage County finances are tight, reducing and discontinuing appointment pay is common sense. Serving the County in public service is an honor that should not require pay in many positions. And the appointments and donor lists overlapping says alot about how this County is run and the need for a draining of what even our President might categorize as a swamp.

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