Whose right and whose wrong?

Another rainy day in the City.
At last Cook County Board meeting the subject of shutting down the referral computer used by primary care doctors at clinics, that is used to refer patients to specialists at the Cook County medical facilities was written about extensively in local newspapers. Dr. Simon said he cut down the Sirus (sp?) systems because if patients go to the ASC (Ambulatory Screening Clinic) and see a primary care doctor the County will get more Federal reimbursement. Dr. Simon said that if they go to the clinics that are associated, with the Advocate, Adventist, or whatever health care network they are associated with clinics, they should be referring patients to their hospitals, and not Cook County because the primary care doctor's get the most federal reimbursement. If this is true, then I could see Dr. Simon's point. A lot of hospitals want top dollar for their services and the federal government does not reimburse at top dollar. Dr. Simon pointed out that 10-20 million dollars of costs are incurred by the 16-20% of patients referred from non-Cook County primary care doctors. Commissioner Beavers had Simon step up to the microphone to answer questions because "he sounded like he was in a ditch".
But then again I have a PPO and I see how much discount the PPO gets off the bill and wonder, if I paid cash this bill would be outrageous, I would not get a discount. I wonder how this billing system is so crazy, wouldn't it cost less to have one set price, and not dependent on which insurance or which payment method? Commissioner Sims brought up that patients could just have their tests results faxed over to the ASC, if they don't bring with them. Now seriously, aren't Doctors offices so busy that they don't have time to fax everything everywhere? Is this a feasible option? How long will it take to get something faxed over? Will patients have to return to the clinic again because the results are not there for their visit?
Will the receiving fax at the ASC be so bogged down with faxes that it will be someones full time job to sort through all of them and make sure all pages go with each other? Couldn't they just keep the referral system up to hold test results?
Judge Nowicki who is assigned to uphold the Shackman certification in hiring was at the meeting. Judge Nowicki was also very unprepared to answer any questions at the meeting. One question she did answer to Commissioner Peraica was will the costs of her services go up, and she answered yes.
The Anderson Elevator contract was debated. Commissioners Sims and Steele were not happy with the quality of the work, especially on the floors with regards to tile coming up in elevators. Commissioner Sims remarked that it looked like it was the same grade as kitchen tile, Bruce Washington who was in charge of the project assured them that only commercial grade tile was being used and that the work is not complete.
Commissioner Peraica asked controller Fratto why $100,000 fees were being charged on an $800,000 account by Seaway Bank? No answer. My question is why does Cook County do so much business with Seaway Bank? Also many departments are over budget this year, in the first quarter most are at 32%-42% or more of their expenditures, the answer was because of layoffs and paying out compensation times and vacations. It was also commented that the cigarette tax revenue was down, and it could be because of all the no smoking regulations.
Maras O'Leary, the Chief Information Technology officer left, when asked why President Stroger said she was fired for cause, and that's as far as went with that.
Commissioner Peraica asked Zelda Whittley, under sheriff how the program of more home monitoring devices was going, because some prisioners who cost $130 a day could be home at $16 a day. Apparantly they are still working on that. Commissioners Quigley and Maldonado said they have been meeting with Sheriff Dart and encourage more to do so since he is willing to work on things with them. Was that supposed to be a direct jab at President Stroger?
Dr. Martin was there explaining that children with high lead levels from certain incomes were eligible to have lead removed from their homes. Commissioner Peraica wanted to know where the homes were, so they knew where money was going. Due to HIPA, the privacy information patient act, they could not disclose that information. Commissioner Peraica insisted they should know approximately where the homes were without disclosing the minor children's names.
The janitor issue was brought up again, this time in regards to when the marriage court would be moving out of the Cook County Building. At this time there is not date on that, and the Cook County Building will continue to be cleaned by janitors from the Sheriff's department.

Crain's point of view“Due to draconian budget cuts, the county is forced to examine every aspect of health service delivery,” states the letter, signed by the county’s interim health chief Robert Simon.
The county will review the system and report back to its referral partners by the end of May, the letter states.
For patients who need an urgent referral, Dr. Simon instructs physicians to send them to the county’s main outpatient screening center on the campus of John H. Stroger Hospital — a facility notorious for long wait times.
The move is seen by many local providers as “a layer of bureaucracy to keep people out of the specialty clinics,” said Wendy Cox, CEO of Chicago Family Health Center, which operates four primary care clinics on the South Side.
“These people still need care,” Ms. Cox said. “You’re not shutting off the demand. All you’re doing is creating a bottleneck for people to get in for treatment.”

Dr. Lee Francis, vice president of medical services at Erie Family Health Center, in a letter to Simon wrote that suspending the system will result in more costs because physicians will not have access to patients' medical records and will have to reorder tests. He added that the health bureau "will incur the expense of hundreds, if not thousands, of additional ambulatory" visits.

More CPS graduates going on to college
HIGHER EDUCATION | Public school kids also heading for tougher institutions in larger numbers

April 25, 2007
BY ROSALIND ROSSI Education Reporter/rrossi@suntimes.com
The number of Chicago public school graduates going on to college is on a steady uptick, rising from 44 percent to 46 percent to 48 percent over the last three years, CPS officials revealed Wednesday.

Even so, the college enrollment rate of CPS grads is still well below the national average of 64 percent, a target the system hopes to eventually hit, said Greg Darnieder, CPS head of post-secondary programs.

• Where the grads are
"We know there are pockets of our kids who have tremendous ability who are not going to college,'' Darnieder said.
Last year, more than half of CPS female graduates enrolled in college by November, compared with only 45 percent of male ones, data showed. Latino males were least likely to go on to college (36.7 percent did so in 2006); Asian females were most likely (78.1 percent).

More also made it into tougher schools, with 66.4 percent of 2006 grads entering four-year colleges vs. 64 percent the year before.

The University of Illinois at Chicago once again was the No. 1 CPS destination, absorbing 6.8 percent of all college-bound CPS grads.

Picking up steam was the even more selective U. of I./Urbana, which went from No. 4 to No. 3 in popularity. It got 6.4 percent of last year's grads, up from 5.7 percent.

DePaul University also moved up, from the No. 11 to the No. 10 destination. Brian Spittle, DePaul's assistant vice president for enrollment management, said he's seeing more CPS grads enter DePaul with honors, Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes.

As a result, CPS grads have slightly better one-year retention and six-year DePaul graduation rates, Spittle said.

CPS officials conceded that a small part of the 2006 college enrollment boost may have been due to the addition of Robert Morris College to the tracking system. About 200 CPS graduates enrolled in Morris last year who would not have been counted in past years.

College No. of students enrolled % of total CPS class
1. University of Illinois at Chicago 564 6.8
2. Northeastern Illinois University 551 6.6
3. University of Illinois at Urbana 528 6.4
4. Wright College* 520 6.3
5. Harold Washington College* 464 5.6
6. Northern Illinois University 345 4.1
7. Daley College* 319 3.8
8. Chicago State University 260 3.1
9. Malcolm X College* 242 2.9
10. DePaul University 238 2.9

*Part of the City Colleges of Chicago

Troutman, Rezko, Troutman real Estate deals

Like Cook County can afford 7 Million
"The record strongly suggests that the special prosecutors' investigation and resultant report, which cost the taxpayers of Cook County $7 million, were driven, at least in part, by pro-law-enforcement bias and conflict of interest, were riddled with omissions, inconsistencies, half-truths and misrepresentations, and reflect shoddy investigation and questionable prosecutorial tactics and strategies," the report concludes.

Arenda Troutman, and her mother are living in low income residences,hmm, I thought Alderman made close to 6 figures? Arenda Troutman has been voted out of the 20th Ward as alderman, for many good reasons, and more keep surfacing.
Bad real estate deals
A dozen years ago, Ald. Arenda Troutman's father owned a nine-unit apartment building that was surrounded by seven other decrepit buildings on Chicago's South Side.
The Woodlawn Preservation and Investment Corp. -- a powerful not-for-profit community development group, known as WPIC and led by Bishop Arthur Brazier -- wanted to take over and redevelop all of the buildings as apartments for low-income tenants.
Indicted Ald. Arenda Troutman (20th) supported Rezko deals.
The late Benjamin Troutman, father of Ald. Arenda Troutman (20th), got a state loan to rehabilitate 10 apartments in this building — but the building has just nine apartments.
And he got to keep it.
Brazier and Rezko got a city loan to fix up their seven buildings.
Troutman wasn't eligible for a city loan, state records show, because his daughter was an alderman. So, with the help of another Brazier not-for-profit group -- the Fund for Community Redevelopment and Revitalization -- Troutman's father got a $500,000 loan from the state to fix up his building.

Troutman was indicted earlier this year on charges that, in exchange for her support for a proposed development, she took $5,000 in cash from someone she thought was a developer. It turned out to be an undercover agent, according to the FBI.
Troutman has received more than $20,000 in campaign contributions from Rezko, his family, his businesses and business associates, records show.
Troutman's father died soon after his building was fixed up. His wife, Iris Whitmal Troutman, and son Phillip now manage the building at 1025 E. 62nd St.
The Benjamin Troutman Apartments have been cited by state inspectors for a series of minor problems, records show. An inspector also noted a more-basic problem: The building has just nine apartments. Troutman's father told the state it would have 10, but no one ever got a zoning variance to put an apartment in the basement, state records show.
An inspector also found another possible problem: The alderman's mother apparently was living for a time in one of the low-income apartments.
"Mrs. Troutman appears to be living in one of the units,'' according to the state inspector's April 9, 1999, report. "I didn't notice a lease with her name on it.''

Meet the new members of the City Council

Pictured are the new members of the City Council.
Surprising news, Frank Kruesi, president of the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) resigned. Does it make anyone feel better that Ron Huberman, has hands on experience because he drove a bus while in college?
Earlier this year, Phil Cline, Police Superintendent resigned, and they are narrowing down the recruiting agency to three that find another Police Superintendent, three weeks after Phil Cline resigned. It should be another 3 weeks to pick a recruiting agency. Then how much longer will the agency take?

CTA Frank Kruesi replaced
Chicago Transit Authority president Frank Kruesi resigned today amid a massive railway reconstruction project and complaints about service on the buses and trains that serve 1.5 million riders a day.
Mayor Richard Daley immediately recommended the CTA board hire his chief of staff, Ron Huberman, to replace Kruesi, who spent almost a decade at the helm of the nation's second-largest transit system.
"I want him to examine the CTA from top to bottom," Daley said of Huberman, who has been Daley's right hand man for two years and previously headed the city's Office of Emergency Management and Communications.
It's not clear what Kruesi will do next, and Daley dodged a question about whether Kruesi would be involved in the city's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Chicago beat out Los Angeles to be the U.S. Olympic Committee's bid city, and Chicago's mass transit system was something officials touted.
"It's time for me to do something else. I'm ready to do something else," said Kruesi, who previously was an assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Transportation.
At the news conference, Huberman said he had hands-on transportation experience because he drove a school bus for three years while in college. He said he was committed to belt-tightening at the CTA and other changes because "the mayor has made it clear to me that everything's on the table."

Cook County fires medical examiner The only thing is I feel bad when I see so many very elderly working, because they have to, and Virgil might be one of them.
Southtown caught Poole driving for work while using invalid license
An 86-year-old Glenwood man might be back on the road in his battered little silver Kia, but he won't be driving for Cook County any longer, officials said Thursday.
Virgil M. Poole was fired Wednesday from his job as a Cook County medical examiner after he lied to them about having his driver's license canceled, a spokesman said.
Poole's erratic driving and invalid license were uncovered in a Daily Southtown investigation that followed him for more than 60 miles as he made his way March 14across the South Side from funeral home to funeral home. His license already had been canceled for more than a week.
While traveling from the Stein Institute, 2121 W. Harrison St., to area funeral homes to examine bodies of people who likely had died of natural causes, Poole ran red lights, cut off semi-trucks and swerved across yellow dividing lines.
Poole had been suspended without pay March 21, pending administrative hearings. Poole and his union representatives presented evidence at a hearing last Friday that his license was reinstated April 3.
His union fought to keep him in his $30,000-a-year job, but county authorities decided to fire Poole because he "misled them about his driving privileges," county spokesman Steve Mayberry said.

Cook County Settlements approvedDorota Spyrka came to Stroger Hospital in June 2000 suffering from pneumonia. But the 41-year-old Polish immigrant developed a pulmonary embolism, and after a doctor cut off the drug helping her recover, she died.
Now, Cook County taxpayers will pay the family of the Chicago woman, who was a married mother of two, $10 million to settle their lawsuit.
A $950,000 settlement for the 2003 death of county jail inmate Marie O'Donnell-Smith and $950,000 more for the 2004 death of Kanisha Banks' newborn at Provident Hospital.

A $350,000 payment to the family of Michael Kruse, a jail inmate whom attorneys said died while pleading for medical care, and $335,000 for the 2003 death of Carol Sell, who died months after she fell through revolving doors at the Markham courthouse.

A $160,000 settlement to county employee Wendell Reyes, who complained that he was denied a job at Provident because he's Asian-American.

The board also approved a $4.5 million settlement with AT&T, which agreed to reimburse the county for improper fees.

Too many talking trash

The 16th Ward had two very intersting Candidates/Charactors running for Alderman.

Coleman and Thompson
April 9, 2007 - Personal problems and community blight are the main issues surfacing in the aldermanic runoff election for Chicago's 16th Ward.
Shirley Coleman has served as alderman in the troubled Englewood community for 16 years. An ordained minister, Coleman claims to have helped her opponent, JoAnn Thompson, recover from alcoholism and homelessness 15 years ago. Thompson is candid about her problems, but she said Coleman had nothing to do with her recovery.
"My recovery represents hope. I wanted the residents to know I'm one of you. We can do better," said JoAnn Thompson, 16th Ward candidate
Thompson, a Cook County correctional officer, said her recovery from alcoholism in the early '90s after the death of her husband symbolizes hope for low-income residents in struggling communities like Englewood. She was also homeless.

Coleman, by the way, is no stranger to personal tragedy of her own. Her ex-husband was executed in 1995 for rape and murder. Coleman is the only Chicago alderman who is an ordained minister and pastor. For the last 11 years, Coleman has been a Baptist minister at the Spiritual Holistic Church where she delivers sermons and teaches Bible classes. In 1995, Coleman's ex-husband, Hernando Williams, was executed for murder and rape.

Somehow I get the feeling we will hear more about Jesse Jackson Jr. now that his wife Sandi is Alderman of the 7th Ward
Jesse Jackson Jr. in the local news
Sandi Jackson said she can't wait to get started as 7th Ward alderman.U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-2nd) didn't want his wife to take her seat alone. He wanted her to have allies.
On Wednesday, Jackson claimed to have accomplished all he set out to do for his wife, Sandi, with a whole lot of help from organized labor.
"Very seldom, if ever, does a spouse have an opportunity to shape the environment in which their (partner) might enter. This is a unique opportunity we've had to play some role in that," Jackson said.
"I feel especially blessed to have a husband who is so mindful of what it's like to have colleagues who are willing to work with you to bring back the resources your community needs to flourish," she said. "Being in the same industry helps so much. I completely understand what he's going through, and he understands what I'm going through."
"I feel especially blessed to have a husband who is so mindful of what it's like to have colleagues who are willing to work with you to bring back the resources your community needs to flourish," she said. "Being in the same industry helps so much. I completely understand what he's going through, and he understands what I'm going through."
In addition to Dowell's election, Jackson claimed to have played at least some role in the election of Bob Fioretti in the 2nd Ward, Toni Foulkes in the 15th, JoAnn Thompson in the 16th and the re-election of Aldermen Howard Brookins (21st) and Joe Moore (49th).

Something worth mentioning while Cook County Clerk David Orr is patting himself on the back, is only 12 Wards were voting in run-offs, that's 38 less Wards than most elections.
Cook County Clerk David Orr sounded almost smug Wednesday as his office held its first major election without major snags since getting new equipment last year.
The office had more than 98 percent of its results counted by 10 p.m., Orr said, although it wasn't always clear to users of the county Web site just how much of the vote remained uncounted.

Final Aldermadic Elections, Tillman the dinosaur out

Alderman's race results

Some will be celebrating, some won't. The Union backed candidates won. The candidates that were not loud, bullying, and arrogant in the debates won. Pat Dowell won the Third Ward, she was the soft spoken candidate, she also called her loud boisterous opponent Dorothy Tillman, a dinosaur. It seems like, the old politicians that are loud bullying and obnoxious lost big. Shirley Coleman now soon to be ex-Alderman of the 16th is another less than quite Alderman who lost, to another soft spoken one, Joann Thompson. Maybe people don't want to be screamed at anymore. Maybe all the noise and no action is extinct?

The campaign had become increasingly nasty, with Haithcock repeatedly calling Fioretti a stalker (based upon an order of protection from abuse order that had been lodged against him by a former female acquaintance) and Fioretti threatening to sue.

The other big change will take place in the 3rd Ward, where longtime Ald. Dorothy Tillman was upended by Pat Dowell. Tillman's loss removes one of the longest-serving aldermen and ends the tenure of the flamboyant, confrontational and controversial Tillman, who came into office with Harold Washington in 1985. Dowell was endorsed by Cong. Jesse Jackson, Jr. Her win gives the congressman yet another ally on city council.

Other incumbents defeated were Shirley Coleman in the 16th Ward, who lost to Joann Thompson, and Michael Chandler in the 24th Ward, who lost to Sharon Dixon. The Chandler-Dixon contest was the closest of the night, with less than 200 votes separating them.

Unions score key victories in council
Tillman, Coleman fall to labor allies

By Dan Mihalopoulos and Rick Pearson
Tribune staff reporters
Published April 18, 2007, 12:58 AM CDT

An unprecedented wave of union support propelled at least four challengers to victory Tuesday over incumbent aldermen backed by Mayor Richard Daley, including veteran Ald. Dorothy Tillman (3rd).
But despite a multimillion-dollar infusion of union cash and campaign workers, incumbents Bernard Stone (50th) and Howard Brookins (21st) survived strong challenges in Tuesday's runoff election, with the mayor's help.
From City Hall to D.C.
Labor claimed its most notable victories in the 3rd Ward, where Pat Dowell unseated Tillman, and the 16th Ward, where Joann Thompson easily defeated 16-year council veteran Shirley Coleman.

Tillman, a self-styled maverick, had gratefully accepted Daley's help against Dowell, who works for the University of Chicago.

"The people of the 3rd ward, this victory is really yours," Dowell said.

With all of the precincts counted, Dowell had a 666-vote edge. Tillman went home for the night after telling supporters the race was too close to call.

Another Daley-backed incumbent, Madeline Haithcock (2nd), fell to lawyer Bob Fioretti, and union activist Toni Foulkes took the open seat in the 15th Ward.

"The unions had a lot to do with it," Haithcock said.

In the 49th Ward, the union's biggest council booster, Ald. Joe Moore, claimed victory over Don Gordon late Tuesday with a 138-vote lead and one precinct that could not be counted because of computer problems.

Ald. Ted Matlak (32nd), a Daley loyalist, left his headquarters before all the votes were counted, but unofficial results put him 122 votes behind challenger Scott Waguespack. The challenger claimed victory but Matlak did not concede.

Daley won a landslide victory in February and will maintain the loyalty of most council members. But the union onslaught marked the first serious challenge to his dominance of city politics.

The results of the 12 runoff races could translate into the biggest change in the City Council since nine incumbents lost in 1987. Three incumbents already had lost their seats in the Feb. 27 primary.

Unions sought to claim credit for the sudden volatility in a council that largely has been unquestioningly loyal to Daley for much of his 18-year tenure.

Relations between labor and Daley historically were excellent, but soured in recent years. The feud reached its low point last year, when Daley used his first-ever veto to reject a union-backed ordinance that would have raised wages and benefits at "big-box" retail stores such as Wal-Mart and Target. Daley's veto was sustained after a contentious council vote.

While loyal aldermen used to be able to depend on powerful patronage groups in Daley's political organization, that ability to help allies fend off challenges was diminished by an ongoing federal probe into fraudulent city hiring.

Hoping to fill the power vacuum left by the decline of the pro-Daley patronage armies, unions flooded wards with campaign workers and spent massive amounts for their endorsed candidates.

Six labor groups reported spending almost $2.6 million on council campaigns since Dec. 1, state records show. The Service Employees International Union led with at least $890,000 behind their aldermanic choices in the seven-week runoff campaign alone.

Jerry Morrison, executive director of SEIU's State Council, said that Tuesday was "a huge night for working families in Chicago."

"We've created a debate in Chicago for the first time," Morrison said. "It was definitely worth the money."

Dennis Gannon, who heads the Chicago Federation of Labor, said it appeared that his group's candidates would win in at least five of eight contests.

Todd Stroger, What is he thinking?

You have to wonder what Todd is thinking? I know Steve Mayberry, soon to be ex-spokesman, must be counting his days until he is done with answering questions on all Todd's escapades. Now here is someone who was not paid enough for what he had to do. Good luck Steve! Maybe you can take a few days off.

Another Steele, Cook County Employee, possibly moving up
Holden -- sister to Commissioner Robert Steele and daughter of former commissioner and interim board president Bobbie Steele -- is the highest-paid official in the county's bureau of information technology after Maras O'Leary, earning $125,000 in 2007, according to budget documents.
Holden was the "information security officer" at Stroger Hospital, making $86,203 a year, until her recent transfer to her new post as "program manager," one of only two people working directly under Maras O'Leary.
Stroger said he'll be interviewing for Maras O'Leary's replacement. He ridiculed the idea of giving Holden the job, but did not rule it out.
"I just got in the building 10 minutes ago, so I hadn't heard the rumor yet," Stroger told a reporter. "So you just filled me in; thank you."

Now that the referral computer system is shut down, all patients needing a specialist must go through the whole process at the Health system, entering through the Emergency room, having tests redone, and now there is a lack health care personal this will overburden the already overburdened system
Who's been cut at bureau of health?
Doctors: 260
Nurses: 230
Other (clerks, technicians, therapists): 189
Administrators: 112
Oak Forest building service: 106
Stroger police: 73
Oak Forest laundry: 36
Oak Forest food service: 19
An additional 670 positions in the Bureau of Health were reduced to $1, but the county would not provide a breakdown of those jobs. Stroger's office says those jobs can be restored without county board approval.

Definitions used :
Doctor -- any doctor, physician or resident who is not a chairman or coordinator. Also dentists, psychologists.
Nurse -- any nurse, RN, LPN, nurse practitioner, certified nursing assistant or physician's assistant not a chairman or coordinator.
Administrator -- anyone with chairman, coordinator, administrator, supervisor in their title or any "assistant" making more than $70,000

10 days off without pay by November 30thAll nonunion employees in 38 divisions under the president will be affected, according to Stroger spokesman Steve Mayberry.

(A conflicting memo dated last Wednesday, however, indicates Stroger may attempt to force unionized workers to take furlough days as well. The unions are threatening to file a grievance).

Ok, so Tom Dart gave in and will hire more than the 15 Janitors back the Cook County Board wanted. Does this mean Tom and Todd will be having a cocktail together some time soon? Maybe they can get a pass to one of the Chicago Park district's golf courses and discuss things over a game?

Cook County to rehire janitors

April 16, 2007
Staff writer Jonathan Lipman
About 40 Cook County janitors laid off in past weeks because of budget cuts will be rehired.

Board President Todd Stroger and Sheriff Tom Dart announced the plan at a news conference this afternoon. Dart’s office employs the janitors responsible for cleaning county buildings.

As part of cuts passed in February to close a $502 million budget deficit, the county laid of 61 janitors and left 18 open positions unfilled.

Dart, who had strongly objected to the cuts, immediately pulled all janitors from the county headquarters building on Clark Street, where Stroger and the commissioners work. Dart called the move necessary with his reduced staff, but critics labeled it political payback.

Stroger hired a cleaning service on an emergency contract, but the county board later refused to ratify the deal, forcing Stroger into negotiations with Dart.

Dart had agreed to handle some but not all of the cleaning in the county building, leading to a compromise last week that had commissioners and senior administrators hauling their own trash into the corridors.

Dart has pushed for the rehiring of janitors, and financial details are expected later today.

"The rehiring of these workers has been made possible by reallocating funds from a contract for cleaning services at the Juvenile Court Complex," the county said this morning in a statement.

16th Ward Church top, 15th Ward Church bottom picture. The way they keep redrawing the Ward maps, if you are on an end of your Ward, you can easily end up in another ward without ever moving. I personally would have a hard time voting in either the 15th or 16th Ward in the runoff, because I don't really like any of the choices. When Ted Thomas announced retirement as 15th Ward Alderman, out came everyone that wanted to be Alderman, there were too many choices. Either way, both Wards border mine, so I will be watching these elections closely. The Predictions are:

15th Ward
Russ Stewart: N/A
Jay Stone: "There's no incumbent. So go with whoever got the most votes in the first round. Foulkes got 2,037, Simmons-Stovall 1,603--it's Foulkes"
Richard Carnahan: "Foulkes...will be a gem on the Council come April 18"
AlderTrack: "Score another ward for the SEIU; Foulkes should win easily"

16th Ward
Russ Stewart: "She [Coleman] will lose the runoff [Thompson]"
Jay Stone: "Thompson got more votes, Thompson will win"
Richard Carnahan: "Au revoir Alderman Coleman; Hello, Alderman Thompson"
AlderTrack: "With apologies to Sheb Wooley, 'It was an S-E-I-U giant purple incumbent eater'" [Thompson]

I can see this costing more money. OK the summation, so the computer system used by private physicians will be disconnected. So when a patient in severe financial need needs a referral to a specialist they can't pay for, and are referred to a Cook County Medical facility, i.e. Stroger Hospital, they just go see the specialist, and the specialist has access to all tests and medical records. Now, with the system shut down, the patient in need of a specialist must go through the walk in clinic, emergency room or the like, over burdening that system, and start all over again with all evaluations and testing. This not only hurts this patient by delaying treatment, which could end up more costly to treat something in a more advanced state, but makes other patients wait for treatment, by adding more work to limited personal resources.
Cook County to tighten up medical referrals

By Judith Graham
Tribune staff reporter
Published April 15, 2007

Thousands of poor patients across Chicago may have a harder time getting specialized medical services at Cook County under a new policy that starts Monday.
Before, private community clinics could refer needy patients with conditions such as cancer or diabetes to Stroger Hospital's specialty clinics via a sophisticated computer system. Apparently, that system is shutting down.
Now, patients from private clinics will be required to go to a single county walk-in clinic near Stroger to get referrals, a move that critics say will aggravate already long waits for care.
The computerized system had streamlined the referral process, relying on medical information from private physicians to approve appointments and rank them in order of urgency. Dozens of private clinics and more than 5,000 patients participated every year.
Two weeks ago, Dr. Robert Simon, interim chief of Cook County's Bureau of Health Services, sent a letter to private clinic operators announcing he was suspending use of the system due to "draconian budget cuts." He said he was creating a task force to examine its future.
That doesn't make sense, complained Dr. Lee Francis, vice president of medical services at Erie Family Health Center on the West Side.
In a letter to Simon, Francis warned that the new arrangement will force patients to arrange consultations with county doctors who have no knowledge of patients' medical histories and who will need to re-order tests, adding to costs.
The health bureau "will incur the expense of hundreds if not thousands of additional ambulatory [visits]," Francis said. The walk-in clinic has been overwhelmed already, after its hours were cut by almost one-third earlier this year, observers noted.
"It's a total waste to ask people to come in and wait in these lines to see a doctor they don't know to recommend what care they should get next," said Dr. Art Jones, chief executive of Lawndale Christian Health Center.
"This is just a way to cut access to the specialty clinics," Jones said. He predicted patients will stay home, wait until their conditions worsen then go to Stroger's emergency room.
A Cook County spokesman did not return calls seeking comment last week.
Experts said they were puzzled by the health bureau's move in light of the recent decision to close more than a dozen county-run medical clinics. Seven of those clinics stopped operating a week ago, and thousands of patients will need to be seen in other settings.
Private clinics can provide basic care to those county patients; in return, they want the ability to refer the patients to county facilities for specialty services, such as MRI scans or orthopedic exams, leaders said. This kind of cooperative arrangement has been in place for years, but clinic leaders worry that it may be jeopardized by upheaval at the health bureau.

"We have worked with the county as partners, and we want to be their partners going forward," said Joan Sheforgen, chief executive officer of PrimeCare Community Health. "But this decision was made without us."

Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune

All the advertising around town paid off!

If Chicago finally gets the Olympics, how many natives are going to avoid the Loop during the whole ordeal? I for one will stay South!

Chicago wins US Olympic bid

WASHINGTON -- Chicago today won the right to represent the United States in competition for the Olympic Summer Games of 2016.

United States Olympic Committee Chairman Peter Ueberroth made the announcement here just before 3:15 p.m., following a dramatic opening of a sealed envelope containing the final vote of the USOC committee.
Chicago was chosen over Los Angeles to be the U.S. host city for the 2016 Olympics.

“It was a very tough decision,” Ueberroth said before opening the envelope. “If I had all the power — and sometimes people accuse me of that — I would take the map and merge the two cities, because I’ll tell you what: If you could take the mayors of these two communities and have them run our country, we would all be better off.’’
A “very nervous” Mayor Daley was on hand for the announcement.

“I jumped right out of the seat,” the mayor said of his reaction after the announcement. “I was like a little kid watching the Olympics.”

Next up: a 2009 vote by the International Olympic Committee, which will choose among a host of cities that could include Rio de Janiero, Madrid and Tokyo.

The USOC board voted to support Chicago’s bid over a plan presented by Los Angeles.

Chicago is offering a compact games centered around the lakefront, including a privately-financed $1.1 billion Olympic Village near McCormick Place, a $366 million temporary stadium in the south side’s Washington Park and a $78 million aquatics center in Douglas Park on the city’s west side.

Chicago officials have maintained that the nearly $3 billion operating budget can be covered by Olympic revenues, including television contracts and sponsorship monies. However, the city has pledged $500 million in the event revenues fall short, and Gov. Blagojevich is working to develop a $150 million “safety net.’’

Chicago officials insist it is unlikely that taxpayer dollars will have to be tapped as they are predicting the games will generate a $525 million surplus. The Chicago Park District is kicking in $15 million for the aquatics center, which it would be able to use following the games.

Today’s vote came after a both cities made final pitches here that included questions by the USOC board. Chicago’s six-member team was led by Mayor Daley and Patrick Ryan, the insurance magnate who serves as chairman of the Chicago 2016 committee. Also presenting was the mayor’s brother, William, a former U.S. Commerce secretary whose global business contacts were seen as a plus as the city must now win 60 votes from the IOC to host the Summer Games.

Talking to reporters here before the vote, Mayor Daley said the city’s pitch included Chicago’s history as a place built by immigrants. “Chicago is such an international global city – every community is represented throughout the world.”

Southwest Side Native comes back to town

Yes, Paul Vallas is coming back into town. One of the good things Mayor Daley did was to take over the CPS -Chicago Public School. I went through the CPS all the way until HS graduation, and it was in need of a lot of work. I did not realize how bad it was until I got older and saw other than CPS. No, I was not one of the parochial school kids that all hung around with each other and stayed away from us CPS kids. But seriously the CPS has improved tremendously since 1995, and I give Mayor Daley and Paul Vallas a lot of credit for it. I wonder if Paul Vallas got the Democratic nomination over Rod Blagojevich what things would be like now?

Paul Vallas
CEO of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS). From 1995 to 2001 as CEO of the CPS, Vallas led an effort that was acknowledged by then President Bill Clinton as a model reform of a large school district. His accomplishments included rising test scores, successful relations with the teacher's union, balancing the budget, and instituting several new programs included mandatory summer school, after school programs, and expanding alternative, charter, and magnet schools.

The position of CEO of the CPS was created by Mayor Richard Daley after he successfully convinced the Illinois State Legislature to place CPS under the mayor's control. Vallas had previously directed the budget arm of the Illinois State Legislature and served as budget director for Daley.

Controversy plagued Vallas towards the end of his reign as CPS CEO. Following criticism from the mayor, and the election of a union president who ran on an anti-Vallas platform, Vallas resigned in 2001 and announced shortly there after he would run for Governor of Illinois as a Democrat. Vallas lost in the Democratic primary to now Governor Rod Blagojevich by a slim margin.

Vallas coming back to Chicago
April 13, 2007

Southwest Side native Paul Vallas is coming home.
Vallas will be leaving his post as chief executive officer of Philadelphia's public schools, and relatives say he's been looking at homes in the Beverly community and the south suburbs via the Internet.
His brother Dean Vallas said the schools chief wants to buy a house and spend more time with his children.
"The decision is, where do you want to plant your roots?'' Dean Vallas said. "He's coming home to Chicago. ... His wife and kids want to come home.''
Vallas has led the 174,000-student Philadelphia system through major changes, but financial troubles still affect the schools.
Vallas, 53, became the district's chief executive in July 2002 after leading Chicago's public schools for six years. He has declined to set a departure date but said he will finish the school year.
Vallas disclosed in October that the district's $2.04 billion budget had a $73.3 million deficit and large cuts would be necessary.
"This will likely be my last budget. But I haven't decided what I'm going to do next," Vallas said.
His brother said Vallas is "looking at opportunities in the public and private sector,'' including consultant work.
Asked if Vallas would consider another political run here, Dean Vallas noted that he and Vallas finally payed off a $537,000 gubernatorial campaign debt in January.
"When you've had to extinguish hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign debt and rent a house for five years, do you want to go out and go back into debt?"
In 2002, Vallas ran for Illinois governor, finishing second to Gov. Rod Blagojevich in the Democratic primary.
AP, Chicago Sun-Times

More Slush today.

Spring Slush in ChicagoBut the wet, slushy snow came as enough of a surprise to motorists to cause up to 50 accidents across the Chicago area, Illinois State Police said.
The Cubs game was called off.

Donna Dunnings, cousin of Todd is sure she'll get the votesAnd Takashi Reinbold, who Stroger wants to take Dunnings' place as budget director, has his name on an 11th-floor office, along with his possible new title. On Wednesday afternoon, his name had tape over it.
The Stroger administration is "suffering from a case of premature posting," Commissioner Mike Quigley said. "I don't think they have the votes for some of these, and doing things like this is just daring people to take them on. They just don't get it."
When Suffredin was told Dunnings Lewis' name and title were already on an office door, he replied, "You're kidding me," before giving her the benefit of the doubt, saying her appointment should be based on qualifications, not her political or family ties.
But a concern to some is an ethics ordinance prohibiting relatives from supervising each other -- a status Stroger would hold over Dunnings Lewis if she gets the job.

It's going to be interesting what will become of Dorothy Tillman, Alderman of the 3rd Ward. If she wins, she will still be out there with all her antics. If she looses I am sure she will be too.

Excerpt from John Kass's Chicago Tribune Column, April 12th:

From there you could spot aldermen in need of his help. Ald. Dorothy Tillman (3rd) was in her big hat, trying to bluff with a pair of twos, and Ald. Bernard Stone (50th) aging and tired, waited for Daley's praise for helping Asian merchants get city deals, a coincidence if there ever was one.
These two former adversaries are now on Daley's team, their toes not quite touching the bottom of the pool, hoping the mayor will keep them floating.
Another in trouble is Ald. Vi Daley (43rd), but I missed her. Her trouble was foreshadowed during the last election when the North Side's lakefront 43rd Ward Democratic organization -- now a satellite of the powerful Southwest Side's 19th Ward -- could field only a handful of political workers for Vi. I mean fewer than 15.
A few years ago she was quite the loyalist, supporting the controversial sale of the massive Clark Street CTA bus barns to mayoral friend and developer Michael Marchese, who bought the property for $6 million less than former Ald. William Singer (43rd) was willing to pay. Marchese made a fortune. Now Singer has the FBI on his back, and he might know something about how that Marchese deal went down.
Though the mayor formally supports Vi (no relation) for re-election, her opponent, Michele Smith, has been squired around the ward by former Ald. Marty Oberman, a friend of mayoral political brain and 19th Ward boss Jeremiah Joyce. Voters see Oberman and Smith and see adviser and candidate. But aldermen see them together and figure Joyce is at work. If Vi exits, City Hall might breathe easier.
But either way, no matter who loses in the 43rd, Daley wins. They'll all be his, except perhaps for newly elected 7th Ward Ald. Sandi Jackson, the wife of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. He is playing political boss himself these days, backing candidates, though he didn't dare challenge the mayor for re-election.
"Oh, Jackson, he's a betrayer," crowed Tillman, whose opponent, Pat Dowell, is backed by Jackson. "The unions say jump, and Jackson's got to jump. He's a betrayer. He's the biggest factor in mobilizing my community."
I imagined Jackson laughing. There once was a time when Tillman shrieked Daley's name in anger, mocking, engaging in histrionics, relying on the Jacksons and others for protection. But in the 1990s she was opposed for re-election by Wallace "Gator" Bradley, a confederate of Gangster Disciples street gang king Larry Hoover. Tillman ran to Daley for help and survived, as if by design.
"I don't mind [Daley's] help. If he does something I don't like I'll vote against it," Tillman said. "But the issue is Jackson, the betrayer."
As she spoke, unintentionally funny, the mayor stood across the room, petitioners and hustlers pleading, making pliant hand gestures.
He looked over at the crowd around Tillman. He must have been tempted to grin, but he didn't, knowing that no matter who wins in the wards next week, he's still the boss.

What a difference a day makes.

Todd Stroger gets fined, will the fines go to help the Cook County Budget? At least the Sheriff is using his confiscated money to reinstate sheriff's. Will Cook County try to do business new establishments? Seaway bank is yet in another Cook County controversy, this time involving missing funds in the Sheriff's department. Cook County continues to do business with Sutton Ford even if it means buying new Toyota's. We will have to wait to the next meeting to find out why the County is buying other than Ford's at the Ford dealer. No one seem to know, they will have to look into it.
I found a humorous, but unfortunately, an article with a lot of truths, from the editorial part of the Chicago Tribune.
One day in Chicago it's a cold April, the next day it is raining sleet and slush and killing all our Spring flowers.
I can't wait to see if Sandi Jackson does something, finally with all the acreage of land once used by the Steel Mills. Those pictures of a sad, desolate pathetic area were posted yesterday. One bright spot in that area is the Chicago Park District's Calumet Park, pictures posted a couple of days. I will be out there a lot more when the weather, finally gets better, and report back. For any who want to brave the far south side, all the way east, Calumet Park has a nice beach, a boat launching area, and a lot of divers go out there because there are ship wreaks to explore. I hope the weather gets better soon so I could spend some time out there!

Stroger gets campaign fine

April 11, 2007
By Steve Patterson Special to the Daily Southtown
State officials want to slap more than $250,000 in fines on Cook County Board President Todd Stroger’s campaign committee for failing to properly report contributions.
Election officials say it is one of the biggest penalties they have leveled and it comes after months of complaints about problems with other Stroger-related campaign accounts. Was he using Seaway bank here too?
But Stroger attorney Burt Odelson says it’s all due to “clerical errors.”
“We’ve had auditors go through all the reports and they’ve straightened everything out,” he said.
Campaign finance fines are regularly negotiated down and first-time violators such as Stroger never face more than 10 percent of the fine initially recommended. The State Board of Elections found 78 contributions to Stroger before the November election that his campaign still has not reported.
“With that many, you’re not looking at a mistake; it’s willful disregard for the law,” said Cindi Canary of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.
Stroger has failed to report $255,816 in donations, the exact amount he’s being fined, records show.
Chicago Sun-Times

Todd Stroger's message
Published April 10, 2007

Todd Stroger's recent hiring of a $100,000-a-year assistant, Andre Garner, to shape Stroger's public message is a waste of Garner's time and taxpayers' dollars. We've been observing the new Cook County Board president for more than four months, which we think qualifies us to convey Stroger's message to the hapless citizens he purports to serve.
Mr. Stroger, we hope you like the message we've drafted for you. No, we won't accept any compensation. Knowing we've helped you speak the truth to the people is payment enough:
Family members, friends, anybody I haven't yet put on the Cook County payroll,
Maybe you hear the whispers around the County Building that I don't work very hard and don't care very much. That the Chicago ward bosses and even the big-time Democrats are embarrassed -- worried -- about my inability to act like I'm interested in this $3
billion government. That increasingly they dismiss me as a one-term puppet who'll protect their pals' cushy jobs and lucrative contracts without even pretending I'm engaged.
Not so. As you see, I'm engaged. Right now I'm engaged in getting as many of my people as I can into high-paying county jobs. I'm asking the County Board to make four interim appointments permanent: I want my cousin Donna Dunnings as the county's chief financial officer, I want my Chicago Park District crony Joseph Fratto as county comptroller, I want my dad's hiring wizard Mark Kilgallon as chief administrative officer (now that the FBI agents have stopped raiding his office). Oh, yes, and I want my friend Marlow Colvin's wife, Carmen Triche-Colvin, as purchasing agent.
I know that my talent searches -- searches that don't reach beyond my little world -- infuriate some County Board members. They must think I care that angry voters keep asking them, "What are you going to do about Todd Stroger?" And those Illinois congressional Democrats who privately scolded me a few weeks back about the slipshod government I run? You can see how much I listened to those pinheads.
Truth is, I'm just here to baby-sit the patronage and contracting empire that the mayor and all the other Democratic big shots here need protected. There are enough Republicans and reform Democrats on my board to give me grief, but they're so busy bickering that I can do whatever I want. That panel of experts I said I'd convene just as soon as we finished the 2007 budget to streamline county government for 2008? Well, do you see any blue-ribbon panels?
Why should I bother? All the Democrats -- Barack Obama, Dick Durbin, Rich Daley, Rod Blagojevich, Lisa Madigan, Jesse Jackson Jr., Rahm Emanuel, Bobbie Steele, Dick Devine -- they all endorsed me last year. They put up their reputations to craft a "reformer" image for me.
And they'll all endorse me again.
When my dad sat in this chair, not everybody agreed with him. But they knew he cared deeply about serving the people of Cook County.
Maybe I'll grow into my father's shoes. Or maybe I won't.
It doesn't matter.
Because the Democratic pols and ward bosses who put me here will take care of me.
Just like I'm taking care of them.

Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune

Was Sheriff Tom Dart wrong and playing politics?

The answer to the above question is yes if you ask the Cook County Board. I am thinking the Sheriff would have another answer.

The last Cook County Board meeting got really heated when the subject of cleaning came up at the Cook County Building. Under state law the Sheriff's office has to provide cleaning services to all building with Cook County Court rooms. Yes, the County Building has a courtroom in the basement for performing marriages. The Cook County Sheriff, Tom Dart pulled all the janitors from this building when the budget was approved because he had to cut a lot of positions.
The board argued why did they all come from the County Building? Zelda Whittley, Under Sheriff was there at the board meeting to represent the Sheriff's department. Zelda said that they will use SWAP, ( the Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program - S.W.A.P.) which these SWAP workers will be used for common area's and not offices. Zelda Whittley did say the Cook County Janitors employed by the Sheriff's department went through screenings including drug and alcohol, but the SWAP did not. Of course the Board wondered why they took all the Janitors from the County Building and not some from all over. Zelda Whittley did say that the layoffs were by seniority and they will be called back by seniority, but the Janitors were moved around to different courthouses after the layoffs. The board was still upset because Janitors that were at the County Building who were not layed off were relocated to other buildings. Commissioners: John Daley, Bill Beavers, Mike Quigley, and others called this move of eliminating Janitors at the Cook County Building where Todd Stroger and the Cook County Boards offices a political move by the Sheriff.
The Board voted on cancelling the contract of We Clean because it was too costly. Zelda Whittley did say that of the 61 Janitors layed off, 19 of them were still recieving benefits due to proven hardships. There were actually 83 janitor positions eliminated, only 61 of them were filled. When Commissioner Joan Murphy asked how may Cook County Sheriff's Janitors were cleaning the building before the budget cuts, Zelda Whittley said 35, when Joan asked We Clean they said they were using 21. Commissioner Murphy said to bring the 19 receiving benefits back and have them do the job since they are being paid benefits anyhow. All of the Board members liked that idea. There are also union concerns about laying off the janitors before 5 months which could also result in litigation costs. Todd Stroger insists he talks to the Sheriff's Department often and he will continue talks. Somehow I don't think Tom Dart and Todd Stroger golf or do happy hour together. Of course many janitors attended the meeting and were very happy with the Cook County Board by all the clapping, especially when they voted down renewing the cleaning contract.

One interesting thing that the Commissioner Schneider wanted to know if a Toyota truck bought from a Ford dealer was new? It was. He then asked why is a Ford dealer, Sutton Ford, selling a brand new Toyota Truck? He wants to know how that happened? Of course no one knows!

When workman's compensation approvals came up Commissioner Schneider brought up the fact that the same employee who was awarded $1000 for stress from her supervisor is here again with a claim for $5500 for getting tendinitis for pushing a cart with files. And another employee got 14K for injuries due to picking up a garbage can. The board is looking into different garbage cans and procedure's to avoid this type of expensive claim.

Commissioner Peraica asked Donna Dunnings, Chief Finance, cousin of Todd Stroger, walking without a walker at this meeting, why the final budget is not ready because it's been at least 40 days since it was approved? She said she is working on it with all the amendments etc.

Commissioner Peraica also asked why $20 million was being spend on Psychiatric services at Cook County Jail, Cermak Hospital, and the Juvenile Detention Center. He brought in a study from Columbia University that was done on over 8,000 people who were misdiagnosed with depression. He said if I ended up at Cook County Jail I would be depressed but who would not, the situation alone is depressing, but are they really depressed and in need of all the medications and Psychiatric services?
Commissioner Mike Quigley brought up the point, "I hope they don't survey people who watch Cook County meetings."

Zelda Whittley, the Under Sheriff was asked about the missing money from the Sheriff's department. She said that $99,000 was bank fees and $110,000 was accounting errors. Commissioner Peraica asked if the bank they were using was Seaway, she said yes. Commissioner Peraica asked, "of course the same Seaway bank that is already under investigation for bank fees of $186,000 in another Cook County situation". Commissioner Bill Beavers asked how long have they been doing business with Seaway and who was the bank they used before them. The answer was since 1994 and they did not have the answer to the previous bank readily available.

The board discussed Julia Nowicki, who with her staff is being paid $30,000 a month to go over each job, evaluate it and see if it is Shakman exempt etc. Many of the Commissioners were having a hard time meeting with Julia Nowicki, and she had cancelled many meetings with a few of them. Commissioner Deborah Sims said that she was able to meet with her but also suggested she meet with the whole board at the same time so that everyone is hearing the same thing. That is something the board agreed to and will work on that. Commissioner Peter Silvestri also said he met with Nowicki. The board also brought up that they have another inside department doing the same thing, and why? They also agreed they need an independent outside evaluation.

On a positive note from the Cook County Board concerning the Sheriff's department. The Sheriff is going to use $1,465,000 of money confiscated from narcotics to reinstate 15 sheriff's police officers to the narcotics division, bringing that total back to 35. Zelda Whittley also let the Board know that they just had one of the biggest drug busts in Melrose Park and that Cicero gang activity has increased and there are still many unsolved murders there. The Sheriff's department wants to use additional confiscated funds to get the canine unit back up to prior, before budget cut status, including training. The Board was happy about all of this. The Board also asked Zelda Whittley what money they receive from the State and Federal Governments. She said $400,000 from the State and $400,000 from the Federal Department of Treasury.

Commisioners Deborah Sims and Tony Peraica attended a State Screening at 76th(S) and Ashland for Breast cancer. They did bring up the fact that African American women have an increase in breast cancer and that early detection is the best way to prevent deaths. They also brought up the fact that the Cook County Health care system has a backlog of at least 9,000 waiting for breast cancer screening.

A lot of time was spend and arguing by the Board was spent on when is an item amended and when it is considered changed so much that it is a new item which goes to litigation for two weeks and costs more money as well as time on a refferal?

And of course Andre Garner was at the meeting, expressionless and occasionally taking notes. Notes on what? How to improve Todd's image so he can have another term as President?

OK, since I am on a roll. I saw the debate done by Carol Marin with Dorothy Tillman and Pat Dowell for the 3rd Ward Alderman. Dorothy Tillman should have been stopped from repeating herself, about Pat Dowell leaving the Mayor's office, and campaign funds from unions, Carol should have let Pat Dowell talk more. Dorthy Tillman was in her full blown usual form of arrogant, bold, in your face attitude. My early remembrances of Dorothy Tillman are her ripping a painting of Mayor Harold Washington off the wall of The Art Institute and going out the building with her big hat and entourage. I guess if the court would not approve removing the painting due to freedom of speech, she took things into her own hands. She was on the evening news almost every night on this issue, until she took it upon herself to act as she wanted, then there were repeated showings of her act. Maybe she was slapped on the hand? Maybe she wasn't.

Cook County meeting written by a professional writer
The Cook County Board voted 10-2 Tuesday not to approve a $357,000 no-bid contract with We Clean Maintenance and Supplies Inc., a private janitorial services company brought in to clean a portion of the county building after the lay-off of 61 union janitors.
Members of Service Employees International Union Local 73, to which the laid-off workers belong, held a press conference prior to the board’s vote. They alleged the County violated a labor agreement that requires five months' notice of a decision to privatize work.
Workers were dismissed in early March, and their health benefits expired March 31. They won a temporary restraining order restoring benefits to 19 employees considered to have hardship claims. A hearing on a preliminary injunction is scheduled for April 23.
We have a contract that says you can’t make a final decision without a five month cooling period, during which we try to make adjustments in our rate to keep these jobs,” said Joanna Misnik, communications director for SEIU Local 73. “We have people on dialysis, people fighting breast cancer, and that’s why were seeking the injunction.”
The contract caused heated debate among the commissioners. Some wondered who's responsible for cleaning the county building. The Cook County Sheriff’s Office had historically overseen the cleaning services because a marriage court is located in the lower level.

The Clerk's Web Site down again?

This is a green stone church in the Pullman area about south 112th street. There are not a lot of Church's with green stones in this city, but this is one of them. The Pullman area is on the far south side of Chicago, named after the Pullman railroad car factory which is mostly burnt down due to vandals a few years ago. This is Holy week so it's appropriate to post a church or two.
I know Steve Mayberry has got to be counting down the days until his term as Todd Stroger's spokesman ends. I feel for him, I really do.

More Todd Fans protest in the extreme cold that cancelled yesterday's White Sox game
With the height of rush hour approaching Friday afternoon, some of the most severely injured patients at Oak Forest Hospital took matters into their own hands.
Draped in blankets to guard against the day's bluster, about 20 of them positioned their wheelchairs into oncoming 159th Street traffic. The backups started immediately, followed by horn blasts and a visit from Oak Forest police. Within minutes, the demonstration was over.
Opposing a plan by Cook County to pare down or scrap long-term medical care at the hospital, which the patients contend would put many of them on the street.
The county notified the residents this week that it plans to discontinue the long-term service Sept. 1. The discharge process starts May 1.
County spokesman Steve Mayberry said two options are being considered for the long-term residents, many of whom are paralyzed and indigent.
The first is to reduce the number of beds in the program from 220 to 70. Those patients who receive Medicaid would be transferred to facilities that accept the plan.
The second option is to eliminate all long-term care. The notification letter sent this week merely starts that process, Mayberry said.
Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, along with his health chief, Dr. Robert Simon, have proposed ending the hospital's long-term care to help reduce the county's roughly $500 million budget deficit.
Patients might not be the only ones who are impacted.
Byron Hobbs, president of Service Employees International Union Local 20, which represents 600 workers at the hospital, said about 85 jobs would be eliminated.
Dr. Jody Ashenhurst, a hematology and oncology specialist at the hospital, said the possible demise of long-term care is another example of the gradual dismantling of Cook County's health care system.
Ashenhurst predicted that many patients will be "warehoused" in private nursing homes that cannot provide the same level of care they get at Oak Forest Hospital.

Andre Garner out to save Todd Stroger from himself

The first thing Andre Garner can do for Todd Stroger is show him not to chuckle and grin so much. How long will Andre last? He will also have to deal with Lance Tyson, Todd's Chief of Staff, aka Chief Handler, just making Andre's job much harder.

Andre Garner

Citizens want citizens to investigate police matters in Chicago
The proposal comes in the wake of an infamous videotaped beating of a female bartender by an off-duty officer -- and less than a week after police Supt. Phil Cline announced plans to resign.
And a law professor has now released data showing that the department during the past few years has meted out punishment in less than 1 percent of cases of alleged police abuse -- a percentage far below that of other big-city police departments.

Cook County employees cleaning their own offices

But there aren't enough workers, Dart's office said, so county employees will have to collect their own trash and haul it into the corridors to be picked up.
"We're cleaning our own offices now," Commissioner Joan Murphy (D-Crestwood) said with a laugh. "We had volunteers. Commissioner (Robert) Steele said he'd take his turn. We were all going to draw straws to see who was going to do it first."
The building's janitors all work for Dart, and he pulled them out of the building shortly after the county cut 80 janitors as part of countywide budget cuts in February.
Stroger hired a private firm on an emergency basis, but the board voted down the contract Tuesday, leaving no one to clean the building.
Stroger's and Dart's staff met to broker a deal, and community service workers started Wednesday night cleaning all the common areas and public rest rooms at the county, Dart spokesman Bill Cunningham said.
Dart's office had proposed that solution before, but Stroger was worried about security. All of the community service crews are working off criminal convictions, and some county offices handle sensitive material such as court files and personal financial data.
The sheriff's department is asking all county building workers to do what they can bagging their trash and keeping things clean.
Dart's office does not consider the deal a permanent solution, Cunningham said, and favors restoring some of the cut positions. The union representing janitors has sued the county to get back the jobs cut during countywide budget reductions in February.

David Orr Cook County Clerk already is worried about voter issues
Orr's office discovered the suspicious cases through routine checks of absentee voters. His office will monitor voting next weekend at area nursing homes.

Todd Stroger still laughing

No wonder Steve Mayberry resigned as Todd Stroger's spokesman. When Todd Stroger is asked a serious question he answers "I don't know" and laughs. Now Andre Garner is the new director of public affairs, but he will not be talking, and to the media. Being a spokesman for Todd Stroger would big the worst imaginable job possible. First you would have to act as a handler for him, to keep your job from being the worst ever. I don't think anyone is ignorant enough to ask Steve Mayberry why he resigned. I wish Steve Mayberry well, I know he had a very difficult job keeping damage control down. We will have to see who will be talking for Todd Stroger. If he has any sense what-so-ever he will speak as little as possible. I have the feeling he has been told that many times before since he never went to or spoke at any of the Public forums.

County Cleaning ProblemsJanitors at the Cook County building were laid off last month.

The Cook County Board voted Tuesday against signing a $357,000 contract with We Clean Services, the company that’s been doing the work since then.

So who’s cleaning the building at 118 N. Clark St.?

“I don’t know,” Board President Todd Stroger said before laughing.

County officials plan to meet this week to discuss the janitorial work. Until then, Sheriff Tom Dart plans to use work-release inmates to clean common areas, with employees responsible for their own offices.

Cook County Hiring problems Vanaria is accused of abusing his position as a medical education coordinator at Oak Forest Hospital between Jan. 25 to Feb. 21 by promising a job to a 21-year-old certified massage therapist in exchange for sexual favors, prosecutors said.

Todd Stroger still on the campaign trail

Todd Stroger accuses other Commissioners of still running for President, but Andre Garner sounds like he will constantly be running Todd Strogers campaign. Steve Mayberry is resigning as spokesman, I can't blame him here considering who he is/was spokesman for.
At least it's getting greener around here!

Todd Stroger and his spokespeople

Who will talk to the press?

April 4, 2007
By Steve Patterson Special to the Daily Southtown
Cook County Board President Todd Stroger has hired a $100,000-a-year assistant whose job is to help craft Stroger's "message" and devise his public relations "strategy."

Andre Garner is the new director of public affairs, but he made it clear he won't be speaking to the media.

"I want to help find ways to better communicate to the public what is provided by county government," he said.

Garner replaces Chinta Strausberg, who in recent months also stopped speaking to the press. She's Stroger's new $95,000-a-year liaison to churches and community groups.

Stroger also has created a new $86,000-a-year job for longtime deputy spokesman John Gibson, whose job description no longer involves speaking to the press. He is to "better inform the public" about services available at county hospitals, which each have their own spokesmen.

And Stroger's actual spokesman, Steve Mayberry, the guy who speaks to the media, is resigning to take a job in the private sector. His $75,000 annual salary is paid by the forest preserve district.

"How many high-paid PR people does (Stroger) need who don't talk to the press?" asked Commissioner Forrest Claypool (D-Chicago), a frequent opponent of Stroger.

Stroger has been under fire for loading up on highly paid management jobs while frontline workers such as nurses, custodians and prosecutors are being laid off by the thousands. The controversial move to hire Garner isn't quieting that criticism.

Garner has worked in press offices for the city of Chicago, the Chicago Housing Authority and for Ald. Madeline Haithcock (2nd).

Chicago Sun-Times

Tribune sold, Police Spt. Cline resigns

Not a total shock on Police Supt. Cline, considering the latest police incident with an off duty cop beating a bartender up.

The Tribune has been for sale, most figured it would sell in pieces, but the Cubs are going to be the piece tore off.

Cline resignsPolice Supt. Phil Cline abruptly resigned Monday, an attempt to stem damage done to the Chicago Police Department's image around the world with the potential to sink Mayor Daley's Olympic dream.

"Leaving during these times of challenge makes my decision even more difficult," said Cline, 57. "Mayor Daley has given me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lead the best police department in the country and I thank him for that."

Tribune tower pictured, WGN radio home
Trib's holdings
A look at assets of Tribune Co., which agreed Monday to be bought out and taken private by investor Sam Zell in a deal valued at about $8.2 billion:

Owns and operates 11 daily papers, which accounted for 74 percent of company revenues in 2006: the Los Angeles Times; Chicago Tribune; Newsday (New York); South Florida Sun-Sentinel; Orlando Sentinel; The Sun (Baltimore); Hartford (Conn.) Courant; The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.); Daily Press (Newport News, Va.); in process of closing on sale of Connecticut dailies The Advocate and Greenwich Time to Gannett Co. for $73 million.

Owns and operates 23 TV stations and superstation WGN on national cable. TV stations include The CW Network affiliates in New York; Los Angeles; Chicago; Dallas; Washington, D.C.; Houston; Miami; Denver; St. Louis; Portland, Ore.; Indianapolis; San Diego; Hartford, Conn.; and New Orleans; Fox television affiliates in Seattle; Sacramento; Indianapolis; Hartford, Grand Rapids, Mich., and Harrisburg, Pa.; MyNetwork affiliates in Philadelphia and Seattle; and an ABC television affiliate in New Orleans. Also owns WGN-AM radio station in Chicago and CLTV, the regional 24-hour cable news channel in Chicago.

Entertainment operations include the Chicago Cubs baseball team (above) and Tribune Entertainment, which distributes its own programming together with programming licensed from third parties.

Major stakes in CareerBuilder, an online recruiting company; Classified Ventures, a network of automotive and real estate classified advertising Web sites; TV Food Network, a 24-hour cable/satellite television network focusing on food and entertaining; Comcast SportsNet Chicago, a 24-hour cable/satellite television network focusing on Chicago sports teams; ShopLocal, which transforms traditionally print-based retail promotions into search-based interactive formats; Topix.net, an online news and information aggregation Web site; TMCT and TMCT II; partnerships involving the Chandler Trusts, leading Tribune shareholders.

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