Cook County Commissioner's kids get coveted summer jobs - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Cook County Commissioner's kids get coveted summer jobs

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Whether it's flipping burgers, cutting grass, or stocking shelves, summer jobs are scarce, especially jobs paying $9 an hour. But if your mom is a powerful Cook County Commissioner, it's a different story: your name goes on a list.

Former Orland Fire Protection District Human Resources Director Joanne Chavez Buchanan said she was given a list of individuals that she was told to hire for the summer program last year. For several years the district had hired a handful of kids each summer.

"I was a little stunned when I got that list because I didn't even advertise for this yet," Buchanan said.

And she was even more surprised to see the names of the two teenaged sons of Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman on the list, as well as another teen whose dad has given nearly $1,000 to Gorman's campaign.

Buchanan says the list of eleven names was given to her by Orland Fire Protection Board President Jim Hickey's assistant on the day Hickey was sworn in. Gorman has given Hickey political money and was a key supporter in his election.
"I was concerned. They wanted me to hire some individuals and I didn't have any information on them," Buchanan said.

We asked Hickey about the possibility of a connection between campaign support and the jobs and he said, "That really has nothing to do with it. [Gorman's kids] had applied for a long time, and the old administration never gave anybody a chance."

Buchanan disputes that, saying the Gorman children had never before applied for the summer positions.

Fox Chicago and the Better Government Association also noticed Gorman's children signed and dated their applications for employment nearly two weeks after Hickey first put their names on the hire list. Hickey says both kids had submitted applications earlier but they were lost.

Gorman's kids each made about $2,500 working for the district last summer. This year, so many kids applied they held a lottery to see who would get the jobs and once again the Gormans made the cut.

Buchanan was fired last summer, weeks after Gorman's kids were hired. In a statement, Gorman accuses Buchanan of trying "to pursue unfounded allegations against Orland Fire to deflect her own legal problems. She has used my children as pawns to politicize her own frivolous lawsuits, which is despicable!"

Hickey said this about Buchanan: "Everything that she says, I'd take with a grain of salt."

The allegations are included in a lawsuit filed by Buchanan on Wednesday in Cook County; a previous lawsuit was dismissed on a technicality. The Orland Fire Protection District is also suing Buchanan.

"She raised red flags to the administration that it wasn't right. She was doing her job, following the rules and nobody cared. And they fired her," said Buchanan's attorney Martin Dolan.

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