Springfield – DNR, often criticized for having a top-heavy
administration, is doing business a bit lighter these days.
Deborah Stone, who was hired by the Rod Blagojevich administration
in 2003 as planning director of the state budget office and later
become a DNR deputy director, has been named director of Cook
County Environmental Control. That Chicago-based agency is a
regulatory office charged with issuing air-pollution permits for
construction and existing businesses. Stone, 54, will take home
about $110,000 in her new position.
Stone, who was also director of the Illinois Nature Preserves
Commission, was in the news more than once during the state’s
tumultuous 2009. In May of that year, her name appeared on a list
of DNR employees slated to lose their jobs if SB 1333 – a bill
designed to purge appointees of former governors Blagojevich and
George Ryan – was signed into law.
Then, in November of 2009, WLS TV in Chicago aired an investigative
story called “Air Defense.” In that series, the station revealed
that Stone and other state officials were being flown to and from
work in Chicago and Springfield on a regular basis. A WLS producer
filed a Freedom of Information Act request and discovered that
Stone had taken 61 such flights, putting her on the list of state
employees using the flights most often.
Stone, who has a master’s degree in public policy from the
University of Chicago, will serve as the “eyes, ears, and nose” for
the Environmental Protection Agency at the state and federal
levels, Cook County officials said in an announcement.
“Her new position will allow Stone to work with local communities
to collectively identify and address environmental matters,” a
press release stated. Among other things, she will be involved in
making the county “a greener place.”
The Department of Environ-mental Control employs 28 people and “is
responsible for improving and protecting the environment to foster
the well-being, comfort, and convenience of Cook County residents,”
its website says.
Stone will also hold the title of county chief substantiability
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said Stone began her
new job in early April.
At DNR, Stone’s work centered on the Preserves Commission, DNR
office with the purpose “to assist private and public landowners in
protecting high-quality natural areas and habitats of endangered
and threatened species in perpetuity, through voluntary dedication
or registration of such lands.”
Stone was one of three deputy directors at DNR. Leslie Sgro and
Travis Loyd are the other two. The administration also includes
Director Marc Miller, Assistant Director John Rogner and Chief of
Staff Jay Curtis.