Some commissioners change their minds about furlough days

September 23, 2011

Two Cook County board commissioners have changed their minds about taking furlough days. Board members have spent the week debating whether they should have to take unpaid days off, even though it was in the budget.

Commissioner Joan Murphy had refused to take the days off and asked to be reimbursed; now, she said she's going to return the money.
"What I am going to do is I am going to write a check to the county for the full amount of those furlough days. And that amount is 3,269.23," said Murphy. "However, I am not going to take those days off, I am going to be available for my constituency, I'm going to work those days."

Commissioner Robert Steele also asked to be paid back, but has not cashed his $800 check, which he said he's giving back.

Both Murphy and Steele said they're not unified with their three remaining colleagues who have resisted having to take the days. Murphy, responding to colleague Larry Suffredin's claims she's aligned with those who wish former county board President Todd Stroger was still in power, said she supports current president Toni Preckwinkle.

"We disagree vehemently on this particular issue, but it doesn't mean I won't for what she needs or what she wants on something else," said Murphy. "And I have, in the past."

Murphy said she's not worried about her budget being cut during negotiations for 2012, but believes she should get more money than some of her colleagues because of her larger, suburban location. She argued that her location makes it difficult to travel inexpensively to meet with constituents and that there's less other governmental support for them to deal with their issues.

Three other commissioners have stuck by their decision to boycott the furlough days; they are William Beavers, Earlean Collins, and Deborah Sims.