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BGA Public Eye: Vacation paid for ex-CPS execs

Ten Chicago Public Schools executives who have left in the past several months walked away with an average of $13,000 apiece for unused vacation time, CPS records show.

Among them was Sherry Ulery, who was disgraced former schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s chief of staff. Ulery left with $20,000 for unused vacation pay.

The others included:

• Tim Cawley, chief administrative officer, $18,605.

• Markey Winston, chief of diverse learners, $17,577.

• Rhonda Saegert, chief of schools, $15,784.

Byrd-Bennett — who ended up pleading guilty to wire fraud, admitting she steered a $20.5 million, no-bid contract to a company that promised her kickbacks, and now awaits sentencing — isn’t among those who got to leave with a big vacation payout. She used up all of her vacation time when she took a leave of absence after the FBI raided CPS’ offices.

In 2012, the Chicago Board of Education cut in half the number of vacation days CPS employees can bank and later cash out. Today, employees with 10 years or less on the job can save up 20 vacation days. Those with 11 to 20 years can bank 25 days. Anyone who’s worked for CPS for more than 20 years can bank 30 days.

Kane County considers a toll bridge

Kane County officials are considering instituting a toll to help pay for the $115 million Longmeadow Parkway.

The roadway — being met with fierce opposition because of cost and environmental concerns — is expected to be as wide as four lanes and stretch 5.6 miles, from Huntley Road to Route 62 through Algonquin, Barrington Hills and Carpentersville.

Kane County’s plan is to charge a toll to cross a new bridge over the Fox River — $1 or less for passenger vehicles, with the cost fluctuating depending on the time of day. Trucks would pay more.

The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority could help Kane County collect tolls via I-PASS, the electronic toll payment system that’s used on state tollways.

Tom Rickert, Kane County’s deputy director of transportation, says charging a toll isn’t ideal but probably necessary.

“The chances are likely this will be a toll bridge,” says Rickert.

But unlike the state tollway system, which decades ago promised to eventually do away with tolls, only to renege on that promise, Kane County would eliminate tolls once the $35 million or so in projected construction loans covering just the bridge work are paid off with toll revenues, according to Rickert. He says that probably will take no more than 20 years.

The county has the approval it needs to start the initial phase of the project — which has been talked about for decades — but is awaiting state and federal government signoffs for the entire project, according to Rickert, who says the toll-bridge idea has gotten some attention.

“I know there are a lot of agencies statewide and even at the federal level who are saying, ‘We want to see how Kane County does this,’ ” Rickert says.

Ex-state’s attorney’s investigator pleads guilty in kiddie porn case

Terry Meagher, a former investigator for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, will be sentenced next month after pleading guilty to transportation of child pornography.

Meagher is expected to get at least five years in prison, federal court records show.

Using the screen name “trckgirl69,” Meagher visited a file-sharing network in 2012 and “engaged in conversation with a user who, unbeknownst to Meagher, was an undercover law enforcement officer” from out of state, according to court records.

After Meagher shared a password, the undercover officer downloaded files from Meagher’s computer and found 88 image files of kiddie porn that “depicted real prepubescent minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, as well as sadistic and masochistic conduct,” the records show.

Separately, Meagher secretly photographed the private parts of a child under his care, the records show.

Meagher’s attorney had no comment.

This was written by the Better Government Association’s Robert Herguth.