Treasurer Cuts ‘Party Planners’ In Wake Of Investigative Report

Send Your Tips To Pam Zekman

CHICAGO (CBS) — Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas is making some big changes after the 2 Investigators and the Better Government Association raised questions about the high salaries paid to her driver, her cleaning lady and now her party planners.

Pappas is proud of the parties she regularly gives in the treasurer’s office to celebrate various ethnic groups and holidays. It’s all part of the Treasurers Outreach Program, or TOPS, which also distributes tax bill information in foreign languages in brochures and on its Website.

“I’ve worked with 87 foreign consulates,” Pappas told CBS 2’s Pam Zekman in an earlier interview. “You should come over there and see some of these functions, these outreach receptions.”

But in CBS 2’s ongoing investigation with the Better Government Association, former employees complain that the events are an improper use of tax dollars for an agency that collects and distributes county property taxes.

bga logo december2010 copy Treasurer Cuts Party Planners In Wake Of Investigative Report

Better Government Association logo. (Credit: BGA)

“This looks like another example of using people for jobs and tasks and responsibilities that have nothing to do with what they’re budgeted to do,” BGA Executive Director Andy Shaw says.

Former employees say they were required to work the parties and, for example, take photographs of guests with Pappas that she later autographed and sent them. Others were pressured, they said, to work as waiters serve food.

“Nobody is forced to do anything,” Pappas said in response to the claims.

Now CBS2 and the BGA have also learned that Pappas employs two women to plan the office events.

One of them is Hazel Barr, described in the press as a “longtime party planner.” She is listed on the treasurer’s budget as an assistant treasurer earning $95,382.

Patricia Michalski is listed as chief of government and community affairs, earning $96,375.

Just days after CBS and the BGA inquired about the jobs, Pappas said she is terminating the TOPS program, terminating Barr and Michalski, and transferring two part-time employees to other tasks.

“While I regret ending this valuable program, budgetary pressures compel it,” Pappas said.

She said she plans to use some of the savings “in an effort to reclassify my employees with job titles that more accurately reflect their work.”

Employees such as Emanuel Hatzisavas works as a driver for Pappas but is listed on the treasurers budget as a $94,000-a-year program leader. Pappas previously said she needed Hatzisavas to work as a driver for security reasons. Now he will be reassigned as a supervisor in her operations division.

Pappas said she is still fearful of threats the office has received and is discussing them with the Cook County Sheriff’s Department. A spokesman for the sheriff says the agency has offered to provide security training to Pappas’ designated staff member.

Also Friday, Pappas said that Teresa Kawa, who Pappas paid $4,500 a year to clean her condo twice a week, will no longer clean her home “to avoid the appearance of impropriety.” As CBS and the BGA previously disclosed, Pappas also hired Kawa to clean the treasurer offices because she did not trust anyone else to do it.

Kawa is listed in the budget as a $57,000-per-year administrative analyst.

Pappas says job titles for Hatzisavas and Kawa will be changed to reflect their actual duties, as part of her review of every position in her offic

As for all the changes, the BGA’s Shaw says: “Better late than never to do the right thing.”

Click here to contact the Better Government Association.

More from 2 Investigators
  • Pappas-2-b-Unemployed

    This is an egregious violation of public trust.

    We need to vote her out of office immediately.

  • Larry

    Indicative of the entire Cook County Government. Tip of the iceberg, folks.

  • Ileeny

    How do I get a job working for this woman? I do pay property taxes. She is dishonest and a cheater. She should leave office immediately.

  • mike

    Iss GREEK!! OKAY??? No worrry ’bout eet!

  • mike


  • Patrick

    How is this not an offense worthy of removal from office? Lying…Stealing…My God.

  • Tweets that mention Treasurer Cuts ‘Party Planners’ In Wake Of Investigative Report « CBS Chicago --

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by You Post Chicago, Jim Kerr. Jim Kerr said: #chicago #news Treasurer Cuts ‘Party Planners’ In Wake Of Investigative Report […]

  • Nancy A. Fallen

    Two wrongs don’t give her the right. Pappas is a lying, cheating and thieving crook!

  • streamwood bill


  • Mr Voter

    …ok so your house cleaner is caught along with another lackie …this this Crook County Slob woukd back off…no way sticks in your pay by putting them on the payroll, now they have reiterment, insurance….etc..etc. I been looking for a job, how come hiring is not posted in the paper, her and Lame Quinn ( hiring the women ,got her vote she got a state job, after being tossed out of office) …Where is Lisa looking into the corruption or Anita…oh their ORDERS are look the other way, hope you suckers keep voting the same slime in this is what you get……AND what does she mean the only one i trust to clean my office? …what are you scared they might find a kick back bag ?….
    IL. Land of Corruption………….

  • RippedOffTaxPayer

    An acorn never falls far from the tree!

  • Dan

    Oh what’s the difference, go ahead and vote her out. Just realize some other crook with the inside track will take her place, get rid of her lackies, and bring their own in.
    Just like Joe Berrios did, all you chumps voted him in and will vote in the future crooks as well, it’s just the way it is.

  • nick

    Why hasn`t mr Shaw investigated with as much vigor Mr`s Daley ,Madigan,Dileo,Banks,Stroger,Burris,and many others in our wonderful
    crook county??Could it be that Mr Shaw is himself beholdiing to the afore politico`s in some fashion and NOT MS Pappas?

    • Philip J. Wayne


  • Philip J. Wayne


  • Southlooper

    Aren’t criminal charges a possibility? If she had any shame she’d resign.

  • OB

    All employees discussed in this article are PAID WAY TOO MUCH. Over 90k a year to drive her pompous ass around. Give me a break! This is outrageous. I am sure all 4 of these positions could be eliminated and NOBODY would be effected and taxpayers would save almost 400 THOUSAND dollars! Cook county business as usual.

    • Maysoon

      Pat Michaslski, the so called ‘party planner’ is a highly respected public servant who has tirelessly served the constituents of Illinois with dignity and pride, for decades. She has provided informative outreach to millions within the 52 ethnic communities, and garnered the esteem of countless citizens from all walks of life.. I had the honor and privilege to work for Pat years ago, and I can honestly say that I have never met anyone who has her work ethic, drive and determination. Whether dutifully serving former mayors, governor’s, and most recently the Cook County Treasurer, Maria Pappas, Pat has endeavored to engage and deliver the messages, programs and policies of these respective leaders to the millions of constituents of Illinois, via numerous media outlets, meetings and events. For the thousands of Illinois citizens who know her, Pat has been the bridge and voice of the diverse and rich ethnic communities of Illinois I am deeply saddened that after all these years of public service, her role has been mis-characterized as ‘just a party planner.”

      • Virginia

        If she is more than a party planner, or Pappas publicist, why won’t Pappas release Michalski’s work product? What did her husband do while he was simultaneously on Pappas’ payroll? Michalski ran Pappas’ senate campaign out of Pappas’ office. We paid for that. Thousands and thousands of dollars were wasted to throw parties to publicize Pappas, but the party is coming to an end.

  • sam

    if there are any justce in the city of chicago she should kick out of the jop just like A CRIMINAL and if they dont they are all A CRIMINAL and just like her

  • Anthony

    Lies, lies, lies and more lies. Pappas is the queen is deceit and corruption. She is also pathologically incapable of being honest. She has grave mental illness from what I understand. Where are all the elected officials demanding her ouster and indictment? They are all cut from the same cloth and watch each other’s back. You can look into Pappas’ eyes in those interviews and see that all the synapses are firing. Where is her husband or chief of staff?? Where are her friends to pull her to the side to insist she get help for her mental illness. The only person who can get to the bottom of this is the U.S. Attorney. Please, a good use of our tax dollars would be a full fledged investigation into Pappas. Convene a grand jury and let’s send another corrupt Chicago political to the clink.

  • Back of the Yards Trash

    87 consulates??? Who does this woman think she is, Hillary Clinton?? What a waste of our tax dollars, paying for her to self-promote and build a donor list. Her job is simple. Send out the tax bill, collect the money and distribute it to the agencies. Our job as property owners is also simple. Get the bill and pay it.

    Stop wasting our money you pathetic skank!! You sicken me. Maybe she is befriending all these consuls general (who don’t pay property taxes by the way) to find a safe haven for her to flee to when she is indicted. Pappas thinks that by giving the Bulgarian consul general a piece of cake, he will put her up in a villa when the charges come down.

    Note: Earth to U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald — What in the hell are you waiting for??

  • What I’m Watching—Jan. 24, 2011 | The Shaw Blog

    […] party planners pink-slipped. In the wake of BGA/CBS2 investigations into the conduct of Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas (the high salaries for her driver and cleaning lady), she fires two party planners, each making […]

  • Corinne Meier

    Hey readers- if you notice this or anything else for that matter that seems just a bit extensive – please bring your solutions to problems here:

    Somoene needs to provide Maria Pappas for some free marketing advice or how to get someone who will do the jobs for free! :D

  • DM

    Has Andy gotten the proper permits for his illegal bed and breakfast yet ?

  • vincent coleman

    II’d keep my eyes on this one. She will keep her “aides” on the payroll. They will simply keep a lower profile so they cannot be detected by Zekman et al.

    Pappas is simply waiting for the storm clouds to pass and then it’s back to business as usual with the parties and who knows what in the treasurer’s office.

  • Ray Hanania

    No one complained when Pat Michalski was working for Harold Washington, Mayor Daley, Jim Edgar and Governor George Ryan organizing ethnic events to insure that ethnic groups traditionally left out of the system were brought in … these events — that the BGA and CBS disparagingly call “parties” were important gatherings for ethnic groups to engage government. I didn’t see the BGA fighting to get ethnics included in government events and how many ethnic groups are represented in the BGA’s staff?

    My guess is Pat Michalski is a victim because of the other issues and the improper way the BGA described her work as “party planning.”

    If that’s the case then the BGA could be called a political party, too.

    very sad
    Ray Hanania

    • Anthony

      What is sad is that you once again demonstrate a profound lack of ethics, Hanania. Pappas was a former client of yours. Like Michalski and the other do-nothings on her staff, you too benefitted from the Pappas gravy train. You once loved another treasurer in this town named Miriam Santos, and defended her … before she was indicted and went to prison. Pappas makes your former girlfriend look like Bo-peep. You know and I know that Michalski was hired to run Pappas’ senate campaign, while being paid by you and me, the taxpayers. County treasurer is not the governor or mayor of the third largest city in the county. There is no need to her to pretend she is anything more than the county bill collector under the guise of community outreach. My question to you is, are you concerned Pappas’ ankle bracelet will leave a mark on your shoulders?

  • Tweets that mention Treasurer Cuts ‘Party Planners’ In Wake Of Investigative Report « CBS Chicago --

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sandra Czyznikiewicz, Ray Hanania. Ray Hanania said: BGA and CBS trash ethnic outreach as "party planning." Pat Michalski has been ousted, one of few doing the work […]

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