Monday, March 07, 2011

An elected official filing for unemployment

In 2006, Todd Stroger won his father's old job as County Board President. His father had a debilitating stroke one week before the primary election that year and vacated his primary nomination and his job that summer. Yeah even with a debilitating stroke John Stroger won the primary election.

I'm going to avoid calling Todd a disaster in office. He has his supporters who will say the Cook County Budget wasn't in as bad a shape as even the City of Chicago, Illinois and the federal budgets are currently. Still even coming from a political family, I'm not certain that Stroger had the political skill to make it at such a high level as leading a county.

Here's the story from the Sun-Times:
Like thousands of Illinoisans who have lost their jobs, former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger has applied for unemployment benefits.

But newly minted Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s administration officially “protested” the claim with the state’s unemployment agency.

“. . . Former Board President Todd Stroger did submit an application for unemployment,” said a source in the Preckwinkle administration who is familiar with the application. “That application was protested because, as a former elected official, he is ineligible.”
Those benefits are tied to wages earned in the year leading up to the job loss. But state law doesn’t recognize the wages an elected leader earns in office when it comes to unemployment benefits.

“When someone applies, their weekly check is based on how much money they’ve earned,” [Greg Rivara, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Employment Security] said. “Could be from one source, could be from multiple sources, but wages earned from doing the job [someone was] elected to don’t figure in.”

In other words, it’s as if they didn’t work — or earn a dime.

That could effectively disqualify Stroger from collecting unemployment benefits — at least benefits resulting from his elected position.

It would be different if he were a regular county employee or worked in the private sector. If he could prove his case — that, say, the voters didn’t fire him for cause but that he lost his job through no fault of his own — he might qualify for unemployment, according to state law.
Not sure what to say about this. This revelation may be one reason why he's no longer County Board President. In fact this revelation may also show a lack of political skill. Indeed if he was interested in the insurance business as indicated in the article, I'm starting to wonder if he had actually started looking since before he lost his primary election.

All the same this is a bad idea, especially when plenty are looking for work today who were never elected officials. It may well be safe to say Stroger was one casualty of the election where incumbents weren't safe at all.

Furthermore, he can't rule out a return to politics. At the same time he's young enough where he could make a comeback in the future. Let's hope that he hones his skills and/or stay in a position that doesn't give him as much exposure as being at the County Board has.

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