County Brings In New Homeland Security Management After $1.5M Mistakes

CHICAGO (CBS) — Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said her staff is straightening out some problems with management and finances at the County’s Department of Homeland Security.

Preckwinkle said there’s been a lot of turnover at the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and new leadership is being put into place.

“In our efforts to assist them in their financial operations, we’ve found that grant funds were spent on items and activities that were deemed ineligible by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency,” she said. “We’re in the process of putting in place new management, and I’ve already hired a deputy director and a director of financial control.”

It was late last year that Preckwinkle fired the department’s executive director, Ernest Brown, who was a former deputy superintendent at the Chicago Police Department. He’d only been on the job with the county 13 months before his ouster.

“I asked for his resignation, and he declined to resign, so I fired him. I did so on the basis of information that I learned about his tenure in the Chicago Police Department. I lost confidence in his ability to lead the department, and once I removed him from that office, we began doing a very thorough investigation of spending patterns and practices, and discovered that there were a number of things that were amiss,” Preckwinkle said.

The irregularities were expenses of $1.5 million made without prior permissions or proper paperwork. Preckwinkle said staff is being better trained now.

Brown died of an apparent heart attack a couple months after he was fired.

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