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Audit Slams Management At Forest Preserve District

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(credit: Little Red School House)

(credit: Little Red School House)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The Cook County Forest Preserve District is the subject of a highly critical audit to be made public Wednesday.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Conway reports, the Chicago Tribune says the review was ordered by County Board President Toni Preckwinkle after she took office last year, and replaced all the top officials at the forest preserve, including the district superintendent.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Conway reports


The newspaper said among other problems, the audit found the forest preserve is so poorly organized that its workers have not received performance reviews in at least 15 years.

The audit also uncovered cases of jobs overlapping, and many employees unclear as to exactly what their job duties are, the Tribune reported.

Preckwinkle is expected to announce reform measures as she unveils the audit Wednesday.

The operations of the Forest Preserve District have been the subject of complaints among County Board members for many years.

Back in 2005, under late County Board President John H. Stroger Jr., the district was criticized by many commissioners for having a bloated budget, and bringing on suburban Democratic committeeman Sam Simone to oversee the refurbishment of picnic tables for a salary of $68,000 per year.

Among the strongest critics of the budget and management practices at the Forest Preserve was then-Commissioner Forrest Claypool, now president of the Chicago Transit Authority, who said waste and bloat in the budget could instead be directed toward refurbishing the district’s decaying toboggan slides. But in 2005, the district voted not to fund the slides, and they were all torn down within the following three years.

The Forest Preserve District oversees 68,000 acres of forests, prairie and wetlands in Cook County, as well as Brookfield Zoo and the Chicago Botanic Garden.

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