Prosecutor wants to ground BlagojevichSPRINGFIELD -- Like Dad taking the car keys away from a troublesome teenager, a lawmaker wants to ground Gov. Rod Blagojevich for not finishing the state budget.

Rep. Bill Mitchell is proposing banning the governor and legislative leaders from flying on state aircraft if they haven't agreed on a budget by the May 31 deadline -- as happened last month.

The Forsyth Republican's longshot legislative dart is aimed squarely at Blagojevich.

The Associated Press reported last week that Blagojevich is spending at least $5,800 for each round trip from his home in Chicago to Springfield for budget negotiations. He has been making the flight about three times a week in the overtime session.

The AP analysis of state records, combined with Blagojevich visits to Springfield after the latest official records, suggests the cost to taxpayers is about $82,000 and rising.

"If you can't do your jobs before May 31, your perks of office will stop, and you're going to come down to Springfield in your Chevy just like rank-and-file members, and you'll act like everybody else," Mitchell said Tuesday.

Stroger hospital not being used by the Strogers

If anyone saw the last Cook County Board Meeting, Dr. Robert Simon, interim Chief Bureau of Health, spent a lot of time letting everyone know that the Cook County Hospitals are just as good if not better than the Mayo Clinic. Why hasn't either Stroger, Toddster or Daddy ever been a patient there?

The last Cook County Board meeting started with Dr. Simon, interim Chief Bureau of Health. He had many overhead presentations showing what the Cook County Bureau of Health does, and what it needs. He was proud of the neonatology unit working with 20% less doctors and much sicker patients than most neonatonlogy units, and doing better than them. He was also very proud of the CORE center, where they treat HIV patients. He went on to say that 1 out of three Cook County patients are treated there along with 1 out of every 5 in the State.
Dr. Simon went on to say that the trauma unit has 75% of its patients as blunt trauma, either from construction accidents, other accidents, or car accidents. He said that 40% of trauma cases come to Cook County and they have a 99.5% mortality rate which is the highest of anyone.
Dr. Simon said costs he can't control that keep going up are pharmaceuticals and capital expenses. The things that are also contributing to increased expenses are the uninsured and under insured which are continuing to rise. He gave an example of the person working at White Hen, or the Laundry mat do not have insurance even though they are working. He said that they need more primary care clinics, especially for these people who will only be treated for injury at a hospital, but need to be screened for cancer, stroke risk, and heart trouble. He sees that the cases of cancer, stroke, and heart attack will increase without more primary care centers for screening.
Dr. Simon showed a map where Oak Forest Hospital is and where there is more and increasing poverty, all in the vicinity of Oak Forest Hospital, thus making his point of increasing services there.

Commissioner Forrest Claypool asked what Rahn Emmanueal and Dick Durbin are doing to help with Federal aid, and they were quoted as saying that there are so many layers of patronage jobs that this is inhibiting aid. Dr. Simon disagrees with this, and says there is too few in management. Commissioner Tony Peraica went on to say that isn't the Hospital loosing aid due to vacancies, which are 50% at Oak Forrest Hospital, 25% at Providence, and a whole wing was closed at Stroger Hospital? And that the ER is busting at the seems, so shouldn't they be looking at other facilities to partner with like the VA, profit and non for profit to help out? Commissioner Moreno said that that is being worked on in his committee, and Peraica said he did not know about the committee meeting, where Commissioner Jerry Butler said that's how they wanted it, and everyone laughed. Commissioner Bulter went on to say that the Bureau of Health generates more money than the corrections and detention centers. Commissioner John Daley went on to say that 47% of the patients are self pay which means that they don't see a dime from them, and other hospitals only see 8% of these patients. Commissioner Larry Suffredin went on to say that money for health care is being siphoned off to fund the war and Durbin and Rahn should work on this. Suffredin also brought up the fact that there are 804 ambulance bypasses and do most come to Cook County which is almost never on bypass and is this why there is an increase in the ER. Dr. Simon went on to say that he also oversees Rush ER and he does not remember them going on bypass. OK, so if Simon is still overseeing Rush, how can he be doing this and Cook County Bureau of Health and do both well?

The IT person Julie, talked about the "Superbill" and had an overhead presentation. She said she is working with Cerner. This Superbill replaces paper and must have the physician, procedure(s), and diagnosis.

John Cookinham, CFO Bureau of Health said that many patients were not being billed and that they were going to an outside vendor, bills were returned and then were outsourced to research addresses.
76% of state bills were rejected, this comes to 58,000 patient bills. He went on to say that an error without a space between Cook and County caused a lot of rejection. He also found a lot of things were not even billed for. He went on to say that 40% of patients were eligible for medicaid/medicare and that a vendor will try to help in the eligibility. Bill 10-11 is supposed to help reimburse in undocumented care. Cookinham went on to say that he needs at the ACHN 93 FTE (Full time employees, 31 FTE in billing, 5 FTE reimbursemnt,11 FTE general accounting, 124 FTE in registration and admitting at a cost of 350 million dollars for all of this.
Commissioner Earlean Collins went on to ask Cookinham questions, which he could not answer. Why did they not bill for part D medicare? Because they did not negotiate with part D. What services were not being billed for? Radiation therapy, for example. Collins wanted to know why they keep finding out all these things that are not being billed and have been going on for years. Collins said 5 vendors help bill, and how do you spend money on electronic superbill, and why have things not been looked at from A to Z before? Some vendors have not communicated with each other, and they are under contract that is why they still have them. It costs each Cook County resident 43 dollars a year and they will need another 21 dollars a year to fund the Health Bureau properly.
Commissioner Roberto Maldonado said the superbill is a scary term, and many patients got a bill and need service so they don't go back for treatment because they owe money, instead of trying to see if they are eligible for medicaid, or other federal reimbursement.
Collins worked with the State to see if they can get an office at the Health Bureau to help people with Medicaid eligibility.
Commissioner Joseph Moreno, said that these billing problems are outrageous, and now this group has to fix years and years of problems but now are finally finding out all this information. Commissioner Joan Murphy asked if Springfield can expand the recoveries period but was told that the Federal Government has to approve it. Commissioner Murphy went on to say that some towns share post offices with neighboring towns, which are across the County border and they receive higher out of county bills because of their post office address and not their physical address. Commissioner Schneider went on to point out that the Bureau of Health is already 60 Million dollars short this year. Commissioner Schneider wanted to know why there is no contract for the workers compensation vendors are being paid so much, and why without a contract. The vendors he was referring to are Advocate, 76,000 dollars, Risk Management Association, 565,000 dollars and Spectrum 9,000 dollars. Schneider went on to say that these are no bid contracts then.
An approval for $475,000 came up to settle a claim when two Cook County Sheriff Officer's were coming home from a wedding, while off duty and intoxicated decided to pull out a gun on two innocent victim and shoot, and a judge approved this. Commissioner Peraica said they should fight it but Commissioner Peter Silvestri said it would cost a lot more in legal fees especially since a judge approved it.
The next thing that came up was that the IRIS system was extended another 90 days and that President Stroger approved this and now they have the bill. Commissioner Sims reminded people that at the budget meetings, it was her, Daley, Moreno, Maldonado and Butler who said they will have to raise revenue. And now that people are coming here saying they don't have enough money and are short, the commissioners will have to remember this for the next budget.

Illinois Joins Super Tuesday

Bears cut Tank Johnson

And all of have to say about the Cubs/Sox series that just ended is the Sox have cuter players.

Illinois will be part of Super Tuesday! Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Wednesday signed a law moving up the state's primary to Feb. 5, a move some speculate could help Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, the state's junior senator.

As many as 25 states could hold primaries that day, and Illinois joins several delegate-rich states in settling on the early date, including California, New York and New Jersey.

"Illinois is the fifth largest state in the country. The people who live here deserve to play a bigger role in deciding who the presidential candidates will be," Blagojevich said in a written statement.

The state's primary would have been March 18. Nominees often have been decided by the time Illinois' primary is held.

The June 5th Cook County Board Meeting

Ok, so it took me a while to sit down and write it.
On June 5th Todd Stroger started out recapping his 1st 6 months as Cook County President. He started with talking about debate, which is good and healthy. He was critized on Public relations. He said many make good TV and good media, but its not good for Cook County government, and everyone should be ready to work bipartisan.
He personally appreciates everyone, all the way down to the personal that give out permits for picnics.
This meeting started out on the 3 companies that are doing billing, more specifically looking at Medicaid eligibility and coding. The three Companies being referred to are ESI, HRM, and Great Lakes. Thomas Glaser Interim COO Bureau of Health was the first to field questions. Thomas Glaser went on to say that they want to go from 3 companies down to 2 and eventually one. Commissioner Earlean Collins started her questioning with asking Glaser how they will evaluate these companies? Commissioner Collins pointed out that since these companies are paid on commission it will be easy to find out who is doing more work. Commissioner Mike Quigley then asked how the work was assigned to each of the three companies. Thomas Glaser replied that some of the work was passed on due to relationships so it was inconsistent, and that they were in the process of trying to figure out how to pass out the pass out the work. He was also asked by Collins why this work is not done in house, and Glaser replied that there were not enough people with expertise for Medicaid eligibility.
Commissioner Bulter, asked what percentage of the items in boxes do you expect to get paid from. There are 172 bankers boxes full of bills, 490,00 forms and 204 Million dollars due, and they expect to get 2-3 million dollars back.
Commissioner Sneider asked what personal relationships that there were with these contracted companies. Thomas Glasier replied that the staff people in patient accounting involved are no longer working there.
Commissioner Beavers wanted to talk about all the boxes and were told not to collect so they had no choice to put them in boxes. Commissioner John Daley said that was a total lie that they were told not to collect. Commissioner Tony Peraica said "conflicting answers or multiple answers, half a million patients, two million or 1% of the money collected?" "Are there a statue of limitations?" Thomas Glaser replies "12 months." Tony Peraica said the money not collected equals the deficit to date. Commissioner Joseph Morino asked "What was the source of the problem? Why these were not billed especially since we had vendors in place to bill?"
Thomas Glaser said there were rejected claims, and he is to meet with the state to find out why claims were rejected. Dr. Simon came in on this and said that more workers are needed to keep this from happening again, and that more employees are needed to be hired or need a contract. Commissioner Goslin said that in his 9 years on the board that a lot of money for electronic records and billing have been spent. He asked where is the software and hardware for all of this and is it being used. Thomas Glaser said that this was not all being fully implemented and deployed, and that 6 to 13 million is needed and 7 and a half million is needed on people to get the billing system going. Commissioner Goslin went on to say that Evanstan Hospital and Northwestern and all their branches are all connected electronically.

Comcast the biggest cable provider came up for discussion. Comcast gets a quarter of a million in revenue and the County would have to come up with the other half of to equal a half a million to have a 24 hour Cook County channel. They would want to use it for meetings, forest preserve events etc.

Fratto the Controller came up to say that they are 12 million short, mostly from the Health Bureau, and real estate transactions, but the cigarette tax revenue is up. The recorder of deeds is showing a deficit.

Donna Dunnings, cousin of Todd came up to talk,and Todd had her identify herself? Why? She wants to extend the midyear transfers from June to September. Commissioner Mike Quigley said it will be too late and the horse is out of the stable, and people are making transfers on their own. The Sheriff's office needs a transfer sooner because they will be deficit spending. The Board does not meet in August. The Sheriffs department is over budget with overtime already.

Commissioner Larry Suffredin asked Thomas Glaser what the 100 million dollar grant from the State of Illinois will go to, if they get it? Glaser replied that it will be used for technology needs, and that there is a restriction that it not be used for personal. Commissioner Collins asked why in the 1st 5 months the patient fees are 12 million dollars short.

Zelda Whittler the undersherriff was questioned by Commissioner Tony Peracia what they will do with the five and a half million dollar grant from the drug control area. He went on to say that there was an explosion of problems in Cicero, 19 unsolved murders, and what is the Sheriff doing?

Stephen Martin Chief Operating Officers of the Department of Health was questioned next. He went on to say that every couple of months the AIDS/HIV clinics come up to the IDPH and are approved vendors for funds.

Silvia Edwards of Oak Forest Hospital was the next to be questioned on the 96 employees laid off for a savings of 1.5 million for a contract. Commissioner Murphy wanted to know how almost 10 million dollars was spent on a 3 year contract and that this should go to committee before a contract is approved by the board.
Commissioner Collins agreed that they need to go to committee and study this before they privatize and lay off people, and this has to end. Commissioner Maldonaldo said we must go to committee because we need public accountability ordinance because these workers will have to be protected and some of them have been there for 20 years. Commissioner Silvestri called on Jonathan Rothstein of Labor relations to get involved. Commissioner Peraica wanted to see the documentation to back up where the savings of 1.5 million dollars a year are? Sylvia Edwards said that they looked at benefits and pay, and this was the only vendor that submitted a bid, and one dropped out due to worry about negative press. Peraica was not happy that there was only one bid for a 10 million dollar contract. Commissioner Moreno wanted to know if an industrial engineer report was done to show the savings and why only one bidder? Moreno wanted more data.
Commissioner Jerry Butler said all of us hate privatization and taxes. He said we did not tax so now we have to send this committee for 2 weeks, and this Board is the one that had the guts to approve this budget, because we are not doing what is in the budget that we approved and now we have to stick to it, and this savings of 1.5 million dollars a year was in it. Commissioner Forrest Claypool said that it is not too late to correct things.
Todd Stroger then said that they voted on the budget in February and "God Bless you if you can figure out how we are going to come up with this money"
Burton Odelson, Parliamentarian got involved. A vote of 11 yes and 5 no one absent (Commissioner Gorman) and it goes to the Labor Committee.

Commissioner Deborah Sims asked Dr. Simon for better numbers on the women waiting for Mammograms. Sims said 9,000, Dr. Simon said 4,000 but Dr. Simon said it was really 2,300 because of women who were waiting for repeat exams.

Commissioner Collins asked, Lisa Walik, director of Risk Management about how they are coming along working of a pre-tax transit benefit for employees. This will be included as a deduction of pre-tax, just like the flexible spending. This should go into effect in the fall. Commissioner Mike Quigley said this will help the CTA problems because this will give employees incentive to take it, because they will save money as well.

Commissioner Moreno has been on a committee to get the courts to use Credit Cards. This will keep people from having to be transferred and then bonded out at a courthouse, they will be able to use their credit card. 12.4 million dollars are collected by Credit Card for being bonded out. This does not cost the County any money to use the credit cards, the person using the credit card pays the fees. Commissioner Silvestri wanted to know why Donna Dunnings wanted to look elsewhere for a vendor and why they can't honor the 3 year contract. Donna Dunnings said that she wants to see if there is another company who can do this better. Commissioner Silvestri said that there are so many more problems and they have so much else to do and this is working why can't they honor the three year contract? Commissioner Peter Silvestri said we question where there are problems, but this was a Board approved 3 year contract and they are successful. Then Todd Stroger said that the administration has the option of looking elsewhere. Commissioner Peraica said this contract had multiple bidders and we get 100% of of our money and this cost nothing for the County to use it, no additional charges. Commissioner Moreno said this is of no cost to the Cook County and he has not heard of any negatives and it has all been good. There were three or four companies who bid for this, and we save money because no one has to be transferred and kept overnight until they go to 26th and California. Commissioner Beavers agrees with Moreno, Silvestir and Yes, Peraica on this. And Silvestri made the comment especially if you end up in Cicero you want to use your Credit Card.

The IRIS system for referrals for the health system for specialists came up again. Dr. Simon is looking into it for appointments.

Toddler update
He said the cancer was detected during a routine blood test during Stroger's regular medical checkup.
"It was very wise of him to (get tested), and it probably saved his life," Catalona said.
Stroger is expected to recuperate at home for up to three weeks, Antongiorgi said. He will be running county operations over the phone with his chief of staff, but those daily calls have not yet begun, she said.
Chief of Staff, Lance Tyson sigh, and yes, remember Daddy ran Cook County from his Bed? Yes, after that minor, which turned out to be a major stroke?

At least enough people in the 20th Ward had enough since to finally vote Troutman outThe alderman who took over indicted former Ald. Arenda Troutman's landmarks committee on Wednesday accused her of draining the committee budget before she left office in May.
Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) said he was amazed when he became chairman of the committee on historical landmark preservation to learn only $30,000 was left in the committee's $110,000 budget for 2007.
"I don't know what the money was spent on," Beale said.
In January, Troutman, the former 20th Ward alderman, was charged with taking a bribe from a developer. On Wednesday, she pleaded not guilty in federal court, where prosecutors told the judge they expect to bring more charges against her and may add defendants to the case.
Sam Adam Jr., one of Troutman's attorneys, said prosecutors have not shared any information with him about new charges.
Also Wednesday, the FBI confirmed that a "white, powdery substance" found in Troutman's office in January was tested and came back negative for illegal drugs. In January, Troutman insisted the powder was a dietary supplement.
Troutman, who lost a re-election bid in February, is charged with taking a $5,000 bribe and a $5,000 campaign contribution from an FBI informant to help secure zoning for a development at 57th and Halsted streets.
OK, so what was the white powdery substance? More charges, I am sure there are so many to choose from. She kept good company with a Disciples leader(Chicago Gang, originated on the South Side of Chicago, and is predominate there as well) as a boyfriend, and all the other gangbangers she hung around with. Not to mention her Dad and Brother are no strangers to problems with the law.

Strogers' and medical issues

First John Stroger, has a minor stoke? Now it's being called a major stroke. Then Todd Stroger was diagnosed with prostrate cancer, during this time. Todd Stroger waits until he is elected, passed the budget, and now he has surgery. What is really going on? Who could believe anything about medical conditions on either Todd Stroger or Daddy John. Will we ever know? How serious is this cancer if he could wait 10 months? Is this what is really going on? Who knows?
Diagnosed 10 months ago with prostrate cancer, and now Todd is getting surgeryCook County Board President Todd Stroger underwent surgery on Monday to remove his prostate, as it was revealed that he's battling cancer.
Stroger, 44, was diagnosed with prostate cancer 10 months ago, according to those close to him who confirmed the illness after the Sun-Times learned of it. With his wife, Jeanine, at his side, he came through surgery well, and there is hope that the cancer, found on a small portion of his prostate, did not spread, Stroger chief of staff Lance Tyson said.
Removing the prostate is standard treatment for prostate cancer, medical experts said. Stroger is expected to spend the next two to three weeks recovering at home, Tyson said.
Because prostate cancer is common among black men -- and because it's the same disease that Stroger's father, former board President John Stroger, battled in his 60s -- the usually quiet Todd Stroger is expected to make this a very public fight.
Stroger plans to embark on a public campaign to raise awareness of prostate cancer risks and the chance of successful recovery if it's detected early, Tyson said.
"We want to make people aware of this," he said.
Stroger was diagnosed last year, not long after John Stroger suffered a major stroke in March and ultimately resigned as board president, leading to his son's election to office in November.
During the campaign, Stroger knew that he would need to have surgery. When it was performed Monday, his family released few details and requested that their privacy be respected.
Throughout Monday, Stroger officials repeatedly said he was undergoing a "routine edical procedure" that was "planned" and "not life-threatening" nor "an emergency."
County officials were surprised to learn that Stroger had been hospitalized and would not attend today's county board meeting. Even those in the highest ranks of Stroger's administration were kept in the dark about his condition, at the family's request.
It was only after the Sun-Times learned of it from other sources that Stroger's inner circle discussed the diagnosis and surgery.
When asked why more details weren't forthcoming about his illness, Tyson said Stroger is also "a husband, a father, a son."
Stroger does not plan to transfer his power during recovery. President Pro Tem Joseph Mario Moreno (D-Chicago) will run today's meeting, while Tyson will handle day-to-day county government operations.
The lack of details about Stroger's condition earlier Monday led some critics to recall last year's political soap opera that threw county government into an uproar.
After John Stroger's stroke, other county officials and the media began to repeatedly question who was running county government. John Stroger's chief of staff, Jim Whigham, insisted that Stroger remained in control despite continual reports that he was too ill to do so.

Several county commissioners earlier Monday accepted Stroger's staff's assurances that he was not in any danger, but some were puzzled by what kind of "routine procedure" would require a three-week recovery.
"You're not Todd Stroger, citizen. You're Todd Stroger, president," Commissioner Mike Quigley (D-Chicago) said. "The administration had an opportunity to show that it's a new day. But instead, in classic form, they repeat the situation with the father."
Stroger's relationship with the media has grown increasingly hostile in the past weeks. Taking questions last month about the state of county government, he said the media was the biggest challenge he has faced since taking office.
Commissioner John Daley (D-Chicago), a friend of the administration, said he believed public officials should be frank about their medical conditions.

Body missing from the Cook County Morgue
The body of a 64-year-old woman who died last week from heat-related causes is missing from the Cook County morgue, the Cook County medical examiner's office said.
Morgue employees couldn't find the body of Rosalie Schultz when a funeral director came to pick it up Monday, said Scott Denton, interim chief medical examiner.

It's anyone's guess as to why Todd Stroger needs three weeks off. Supposedly it's medical leave, for something routine and is not serious. Is it a mental health leave? But who would believe anything as far as Strogers' and medical issues are concerned. When Daddy John fell ill, they said he would recover, that he was talking, that he was running Cook County from his bed. When in fact after the deadline for any candidate to jump into the Presidential race for Cook County ended, he barely could scratch out a scribble. And no one has seen hide nor hair of John Stroger since the day he fell ill. Cook County Commissioner Joseph Moreno, from the 7th District will be taking over for Todd in the interim.

Will we ever really know the real reason he needed 3 weeks off?

Closing a Wing at Cook County's Stroger Hospital

Hospital closes wing as admissions fall, putting revenue at risk
A striking decline in the number of patients admitted to John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital prompted the closing of an entire wing at Cook County's flagship health care facility for the first time since it opened five years ago.
Last month's closure of a 26-bed ward would have been unthinkable as recently as last year at the city's busiest hospital, where patients lying on gurneys clog the bustling emergency room, awaiting an open room upstairs.
The decline means the loss of vital revenue and complicates efforts to turn around the financially ailing county health system. It also raises public health concerns: Patients who normally fill those beds could be forgoing medical treatment for ailments that could later morph into more severe health problems that cost more to treat.
"This is the first time we're not bursting at the seams," says Robert Simon, interim chief of the county's Bureau of Health Services. "It's a major concern because I don't think these patients are getting access to care elsewhere."
Dr. Simon admits that the county's efforts to cut costs may have played a part in reducing the number of patients at Stroger. He says a torrent of bad publicity from the recent closure of about a dozen walk-in clinics around the county and layoffs of more than 1,000 doctors, nurses and other staffers across the three-hospital system has made patients leery. Others may have been scared off after the health bureau, in a bid to bring in cash, recently began mailing tens of thousands of past-due medical bills, Dr. Simon says.
The health bureau already is running millions of dollars behind its revenue forecast for this fiscal year (Crain's, June 4), which ends Nov. 30. Coming up short could force more service cuts or firings to meet next year's budget, barring an infusion of cash from the state or federal government. The health system accounts for almost a quarter of Cook County's $3-billion budget this year.

The empty wing holds 11% of Stroger's 228 beds in its medical-surgical wards, its core service. (Counting intensive care, pediatric and birthing, Stroger has a total of 438 beds.) The wing could be quickly staffed again should demand snap back, Dr. Simon says, though he won't predict how long that would take.
The average number of patients on a given day at Stroger for the four months ended May 31 was 316 — off considerably from the 353 average from 2003 to 2006, according to state and county data.

Dr. Simon says he hopes to borrow $25 million or to get that amount from state or federal agencies to hire more staff and buy software to fix the billing problem. He also plans to freeze billing to uninsured patients until it's straightened out.
But Mount Sinai Hospital, less than two miles from the Stroger campus, has seen "some patients migrate away from county and come here to use our emergency department" in recent months, CEO Alan Channing says.
"They were scared and didn't think they'd be able to get services over there," Mr. Channing says. "They've started voting with their feet."

This is an old but good article written on John Daley, covering his marriage to a lady whose family may have possible mob connections or members. John Daley also makes sure everyone plays nice with the Toddler, aka Todd Stroger.

John Daley
Mayor's low-key brother forced into spotlight as city corruption scandals invade his personal and political domain, the 11th Ward

By Mickey Ciokajlo and Robert Becker
Tribune staff reporters
Published September 11, 2005

In this most visible of Chicago political families, he has always skirted the limelight.
While his brothers have held high posts garnering national attention--mayor of Chicago and U.S. secretary of commerce--John Daley has quietly pursued his lucrative insurance business while holding a series of lower-tier elected offices. In 25 years as a public official, he has rarely held a news conference or mounted much in the way of a campaign.
Now, with federal charges of corruption ravaging City Hall and the recent news that investigators interviewed his oldest brother--Chicago Mayor Richard Daley--John Daley is being dragged reluctantly into the spotlight.
In recent months, John Daley has refused to talk about the investigation, which has led to charges against members of his 11th Ward Democratic Organization. He maintained that stance during an interview last week.
"I'm not going to discuss it," Daley said.
Pressed on whether he's been questioned by investigators, he offered a polite but adamant refusal: "It's a personal decision . . . I've said it (before) and I'm going to say it again, that's my decision."
Daley's decision comes amid a sweeping federal investigation that has shaken the 11th Ward political operation he has run since he was appointed committeeman in 1980.
Bribe money from the Hired Truck scandal was directed to Daley's ward organization and the owner of a trucking outfit who bought his insurance from him has pleaded guilty in the bribes-for-work scheme.
Robert Sorich, City Hall's patronage chief, 11th Ward political operative and a man with whom Daley often shared rides to work, has been accused by prosecutors of participating in a "massive fraud" in city hiring. Patrick Slattery, another city hiring official, 11th Warder and longtime friend of the Daley family, was also charged. And investigators have interviewed numerous other members of Daley's ward organization, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
While John Daley's organization has come under scrutiny, he has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
"Whether or not it's fair, it's talked about a lot," County Commissioner Mike Quigley said of Daley and the ongoing investigations. "Whenever this sort of thing comes up, the question is who's next."
Supporters describe the 58-year-old Daley, the third of four sons of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley, as a dedicated family man, fiercely loyal friend and hands-on manager of the 11th Ward, where the family has lived for generations.
"If there's one thing I've learned [from John], it's detail and follow through," said 11th Ward Ald. James Balcer.
As the only Daley son who still lives in Bridgeport, he is known as a community-oriented man who is deeply involved with the seniors and the neighborhood parishes, including his own, Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church.
During County Board meetings, Daley cuts a low profile in the boardroom although his respectful colleagues always stop to listen when he speaks. Daley's lack of enemies on the 17-member board can be attributed to both his amiable style and his place in a Chicago political dynasty.
Daley rarely raises his voice in a County Board room increasingly known for shouting matches among his fellow commissioners. And his voice is often reduced to a soft mumble as he recites the list of contracts that he can't vote on because of potential conflicts.
Typically, the abstentions involve clients in his insurance brokerage business, a profession in which Daley works as a middleman to place firms' business with insurance companies.
Daley has acknowledged that his clients include local contractors with millions of dollars in government business, such as McDonough Associates Inc. and G.F. Structures Inc., as well as some of the companies that were in the city's Hired Truck Program.
Daley said he would not discuss income from his insurance business.
In 2003, he acknowledged receiving commissions of "around" $400,000 a year for the business he did with Near North Insurance. Near North's head, Michael Segal, was convicted in June 2004 of 21 federal counts of mail and wire fraud, racketeering, false statements, embezzlement and tax conspiracy.
Daley said that he has always kept his insurance practice separate from the operation of the ward organization. He said "you'd be shocked" by the small amount of insurance business that he does in the 11th Ward.
"I never forced insurance on anyone," he said.
Daley also said he is an officer in another insurance company--First Resource Marketing Inc.--headed by William Braasch, chairman of the Illinois International Port District and described by John as "as a good friend of Rich."
Daley said the company, which handles health and hospitalization insurance, does no business with municipal governments.
Wealth and controversy
The insurance business has been a source of wealth, and controversy, for Daley for nearly his entire adult life.
In early 1973, when Daley was 26 years old, the press broke the story about how Mayor Richard J. Daley had shifted some of the city's insurance business to the Evanston firm to which John had business ties.
Another, more personal, controversy involved his marriage 30 years ago to his wife, Mary Lou.
The headline in the Chicago Tribune on April 24, 1975 couldn't have stung more: "Daley's son to wed hood's daughter."
A month later, John Daley was married to Mary Lou Briatta, the daughter of Louis Briatta, a reputed crime syndicate gambling figure.
They have three children: John, 25, and 20-year-old twins, Michael and Christine.
John Daley was born Dec. 5, 1946. Before his first birthday, his father would be appointed ward committeeman; he was 8 years old when his dad was elected mayor.
John Daley's own political career didn't begin until his selection as 11th Ward Democratic committeeman in 1980, taking over for brother Richard after he was elected Cook County state's attorney. In 1985, he was appointed to the Illinois House and, four years later, to the Senate.
In 1992, John Daley again was appointed to a vacancy, this time on the Cook County Board.
Even after the mayor moved to the South Loop, John Daley stayed home in Bridgeport and raised his three children there. He has built a new house on South Lowe and continued some of the traditions of his famous father.
"He goes to wakes. He's his father's son more than Rich" in that regard, Quigley said. "John will send flowers. John will send a note. He's a very personal guy."
Bernie Brice, who grew up across the street from the Daleys and now lives a block from John, referred to his life-long friend as "down to earth" and someone equipped with a good sense of humor.
"He's the real deal as far as fatherhood and being a good father," Brice said.
'Honest, hard-working'
As for current controversy swirling around John, Brice said, "I feel bad for him because he's an honest, hard-working guy."
As committeeman, Daley oversees a large operation that includes captains, and often assistants, for the ward's 50 precincts. Daley prefers to refer to his captains as "community representatives," noting that they handle service requests and work year-round, not just at election time. He acknowledges that many of them have city or county jobs.
Daley said observers too often focus just on the 11th Ward's political prowess.
"I view it as a community of families, churches and great neighbors, and neighborhoods," Daley said. "The politics, I think, overshadows the strong ties and community ties and community groups within the ward."
Yet politics are intertwined with the current investigation that has resulted in criminal charges against top 11th Ward operatives Sorich and Slattery.
Another one-time 11th Warder, former Hired Truck company owner John Cannatello, has pleaded guilty to mail fraud and is awaiting sentencing. While Cannatello's lawyers stress that he is not cooperating with the federal investigation, his wife, Nicola, remains under indictment.
Earlier this year, Daley acknowledged that he sold Cannatello worker's compensation insurance for the company, GNA Trucking.
Those closest to John Daley say the current controversy has not dimmed their confidence in him.
"He runs his business and his whole life with unbelievable integrity," said younger brother Bill Daley, the former commerce secretary.

Other County News:
Texas man has been indicted by a federal grand with two counts of computer fraud for allegedly infecting computers at health care facilities operated by the Cook County Bureau of Health Services, the U.S. Attorney’s office said today.

James C. Brewer, 23, of Arlington, Texas, was charged in the two-count indictment with operating a botnet in 2006 that infected the county computers, the U.S. Attorney’s office said. He will be arraigned at a later date in U.S. District Court in Chicago.
According to the indictment, Brewer infected the computer network with a "bot" allowing him to scan the network for computers with vulnerabilities or security weaknesses and hack into those computers, and in the process interrupting or disabling normal network communications or functions. The indictment claims that Brewer created a "botnet" or network of infected computers linked to the Internet, affecting more than 10,000 computers worldwide.

Earlean Collins, featured Cook County Commissioner

Earlean Collins was the first African American Woman to be an Illinois Senator, now she is the First Cook County Districts Commissioner. She is also one of my favorite commissioners because she always questions what needs to be questioned and does not let up. She always asks the tough questions, the more questions the questionionee answers the more Earlean has. She is always thinking, thinking of things that the other Commissioners miss. She is always the one who has the most common sense on this Cook County Board.

Today's news featuring Earlean Collins, the voice of reason.

CHICAGO -- Activists and others today urged Cook County commissioners to find a way to bring to justice Chicago police officers who abused and tortured suspects decades ago.
They wondered why former Lt. Jon Burge and detectives under his command haven't been charged with crimes that a special prosecutors' report determined they'd committed. That report concluded charges couldn't be brought because the statute of limitations has run out on those crimes.

But attorney Locke Bowman and others contend the officers could be charged with perjury and obstruction of justice because they've lied about the torture recently under oath.
Commissioner Earlean Collins says about the only thing the board can do is recommend the U.S. attorney's office investigate and bring federal charges. She says she'll push

Earlean Collins

Senator Collins

Today's featured Cook County Commissioner, planning to run for Congress
A proposal that would have established a policy banning Cook County employees from inquiring into the immigration status of people they encounter failed Tuesday to win the support of the County Board.
The resolution died on a 7-7 vote with three board members voting "present."
County Board President Todd Stroger, who contends that he has the right to vote to break board ties but has yet to do so, did not vote on the matter.
Board members who voted against the resolution argued that it was simply a "feel good" measure that did not have the force of law. Others said it was confusing and they worried it would encourage illegal immigrants to use the county's overburdened health system.
"I'm more concerned about whether or not this will open up the doors for people to come into Cook County to get health care, which we cannot afford anymore," Commissioner Earlean Collins (D-Chicago) said.
Commissioner Roberto Maldonado (D-Chicago), the measure's sponsor, said he was disappointed that the proposal failed and called it a "fabrication of facts" that it would have led the county's health-care system to become overrun with patients.
"I'm not going to give up. I'm going to bring it back," said Maldonado, who had hoped to win passage on the same day a large immigrant-rights march and rally were held in Chicago.
"I'm fighting discrimination against the undocumented who reside in our county," he said. "So if it's going to take three years, five years, I'm going to continue to fight."
Stroger said he did not vote on the resolution because he expects a legal challenge to follow whenever he casts his first vote on the board and "right now we've got enough major problems with our budget that I can't jump into another battle right now."
Earlean Collins is always the voice of reason, again. Yes, as if Cook County is having a hard enough time taking care of tax paying Cook County residents already, why open up the County with a don't ask policy. This will be hard to determine if people are from Cook County, or even the State of Illinois.

Another hopeful for Gutierrez seat
Posted by Dan Mihalopoulos at 5:13 p.m.

Cook County Commissioner Roberto Maldonado (D-Chicago) has created a campaign committee and is raising funds for a 2008 bid to replace U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.).
Gutierrez has said he would not run for another term next year, and a large field of local Latino politicians likely will seek his seat in Congress.
The first to formally enter the race was Chicago Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd). Other potential candidates include Ald. Daniel Solis (25th), Ald. Manuel Flores (1st) and State Rep. Susana Mendoza (D-Chicago).
Maldonado had his first fundraiser last month, raising about $9,000.
"Things are moving well," he said. "It's very encouraging. I don't feel that I'm pulling teeth."
Maldonado said he met with Gutierrez six weeks ago in Washington, and he said Gutierrez told him that he still plans to retire after his current term expires.
"He definitely told me, flat out, 'I'm not coming back," Maldonado said. "I don't know how much more official he can make it."
If Gutierrez changes his mind and decides to run again, Maldonado said he would quit running and support the congressman.
Maldonado has been a county commissioner for 13 years. He was born in New York and raised in Puerto Rico, moving to Chicago when he was 27 years old.
He said immigration reform and expanding access to health care are his two top campaign issues.

As if Todd Stroger does not have Dick Devine upset already, adding fuel to the fire, the Todd way
But the committee delayed a vote on Stroger's inspector general ordinance. The proposal would create a new independent selection process for the post and give the inspector stronger investigative powers and the authority to probe independent county offices, such as the sheriff or state's attorney.

A legal opinion from State's Attorney Dick Devine's office called Stroger's proposal "constitutionally infirm," saying Stroger and the board have no authority to oversee any office, including Devine's.

Finance committee chairman John Daley (D-Chicago) noted Stroger's administration has "very serious concerns" about Devine's office issuing a legal opinion that applies to itself. Stroger attorney Richard Velazquez said he was seeking an outside legal opinion.

Daley said he would hold the bill in committee until Stroger's office works out a compromise with Devine's office, but Stroger aides said they would press for passage of the bill as is.

Professional services contracts -- that enlist the expertise of lawyers and architects, for example -- now must go through a request-for-proposals process. Previously, the county board president could hand out those contracts to whomever he wished.

The changes "allow us to modernize the county's purchasing procedures and ensure that we're protecting the taxpayers," Stroger spokeswoman Ibis Antongiorgi said. "We believe these changes were long overdue."

Beavers and Peraica on Fox News Chicago

This morning Cook County Commissioners Tony Peraica and William Beavers were on Fox News Chicago. There was a lot of arguing on both sides. Bill Beavers accused many Cook County Commissioners for trying to get publicity because they are running for other offices, including Tony Peraica for State's Attorney, Forrest Claypool and Mike Quigley for Cook County President and Roberto Maldonado for Congress.
Bill Beavers went on to say that Todd Stroger talks too much and he has told him about it. And with all his spokespeople, including Bill Beavers? Bill Beavers went on to say he had talk Dr. Simon to stay off camera because he does not have good public relation skills. And I wonder after multiple requests for Dr. Simon to have the appropriate people at the Cook County Board meetings, why does he not do it? And why does he insist on trying to answer all of these Health Bureau questions? Bill Beavers also said that Peraica, Claypool, Maldonado, Quigley and all the others that were on the Board when all of these budget shortfalls fell into Todd Strogers presidency were from them. Tony Peraica said it was his father John Stroger's fault.
Tony Peraica said that there is a Democratic majority on the board and Todd Stroger had to rely on 3 Republicans to vote on his budget to pass. Tony Peraica went on to say that his fellow Republicans on the Board were not doing their job.

Individual D identified

Official D is Joseph Aramanda. Official A is Bill Cellini. All of this in the Governor Blagojevich investigation, which has Stuart Levine, talking. All of these characters, Joseph Aramanda, Bill Cellini, Chris Kelley, Stuart Levine, and Rezko are all involved. Now Aramanda, Rezko, and Dr. Paul Ray, chairman of the Urology division of Cook County, Stroger Hospital are involved with giving Barak Obama money as well. Now Thomas Durkin, former assistant US Attorney in the Northern District, and formerly Patrick Collins' co-worker, formerly represented Robert Sorich as defense attorney, against Patrick Collins, prosecuter, is now representing Dr. Paul Ray.

Todd Stroger's Chaos

Lt. Governor Quinn on ComEd

Associated Press - June 3, 2007 5:24 PM ET
CHICAGO (AP) - Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn is criticizing the head of energy company Exelon Corporation, saying Chief Executive John Rowe is unfairly profiting from a controversial electricity rate hike.
Quinn's renewed campaign against the parent company of electricity provider Commonwealth Edison comes as lawmakers continue debating an electric rate relief package after a 10-year rate freeze ended in January.
This year Rowe has exercised stock options on about 345,000 shares of the Chicago-based company. Quinn says the transactions have a value of about $14 million.
But an Exelon spokeswoman rebuffed Quinn's criticism.
Jennifer Medley says Rowe's compensation is tied to the company's performance and the stock options transactions were scheduled last summer.
Exelon's shares have climbed 22% since January.

Illinois lawmakers give themselves a raise

Fact vs. fiction, ComEdComEd Claim
If we don’t get a rate hike, we could go bankrupt and Illinois could suffer widespread power outages, similar to the crisis California endured several years ago. CUB Analysis
Illinois has so many power plants that we export electricity to other states. Talk of ComEd bankruptcy ignores the fact that its parent company, Exelon, had a record profit of $1.9 billion in 2004, and analysts predict it will continue to fl ourish even if rates are frozen. While Exelon says it absolutely needs higher rates in Illinois, it sings a different tune in Pennsylvania, where it locked in a $120 million rate cut through the end of the decade.

Meanwhile down in Springfield, not time for a break

Meanwhile down in Springfield, out state legislatures will not be dismissed on time, they will have to work until at least the end of June
Legislators have struggled for months to help consumers deal with electric bills that for some have doubled or tripled after a 10-year rate freeze ended.

Heading into Thursday's scheduled final day of the legislative session, there was still no consensus -- and no clear sign that an agreement on rate relief or another rate freeze could be reached.

House Democrats have repeatedly supported rolling back rates to last year's levels and freezing them for another year or even three, while Senate Democrats have pushed for negotiated relief.

Lawmakers said today negotiations had intensified under the rate freeze threat but still couldn't guarantee that it would produce a solution.

Another complication is that a constitutional requirement likely prevented the Senate from sending a three-year rate freeze plan Thursday to Gov. Rod Blagojevich's desk.
Even a fast-approaching deadline might not matter. Lawmakers haven't been able to agree on a new state budget and the possibility of wrapping up their work Thursday was slim.
Some legislators predicted Thursday wasn't the end for an electric-rate solution.

This State and County have seen plenty of fights over budgets. Plenty of fur flying down in Springfield for so many reasons. Emil Jones, State Senate President and Mike Madigan, state speaker of the House, can be found where the fur is flying.

Summing up why fur is flying in Springfield, this time for a longer period of time

The last Cook County Board Meeting

At the last Cook County Board meeting, the board was introduced to Andrew Hilton, the new Chief Information Officer. His first question came from Commissioner Bill Beavers, being sarcastic. Beavers asked him if he was related to Todd Stroger. Andrew Hilton said no, Beavers said, "Well I just had to get that out of the way". Commissioner Peter Silvestri asked if he was related to any Hilton, as in Paris, he said no. Commissioner Tony Peraica asked him what his experience is, and where he lived, and his last position was in Aurora, which is I believe,is Will County. Peraica asked him if he would be moving to Cook County, and Hilton said yes. Todd Stroger cut in to say that Andrew Hilton was not here for prosecution, because Peraica was going to continue questioning him.

Todd Stroger read the Shakman decree. Peraica asked him how he (Todd) was able to hire the people he did. Todd Stroger said the Shakman decree for fair hiring practices was for non-exempt employees, and Todd's were all exempt.

Coughlin was asked about the Project Shield and the 321K per vehicle cost. This is due to 16 radios per vehicle and a total of 180 radios.

Robert Simon, the Interum Chief of the Bureau of Health said many mail order drugs, as much as one million are delivered to addresses outside of Cook County. Commissioner Deborah Sims asked if it was because some people had a summer home. Really Deborah, if you have two homes why would you being a patient at Cook County? Shouldn't this be looked into? He was also asked why a vendor is reading X-rays which cost 185K in 4 months, as opposed to 275K for their own radiologists. The contracted Radiologists are out of Idaho, and it was asked if they have filled out proper vendor papers that all who do business in the County have to fill out. Dr. Simon said they are also lost 3 radiologists and because Cook County pays 10% less wages they are having a hard time replacing them. Commissioner Maldonado asked if the radiologist quit because of all the problems at Cook County. Many questions came up on the backlog of Mammograms, there were not good numbers, but a lot of them, some Commissioners said it was 12K, others said it was 18K. But Dr. Simon said it was 4K, and they do 50K Mammograms a year. Other Commissioners said it was 9K, again, we will never know and Dr. Simon will have to look into the real numbers. Dr. Simon also said that if a lump is found that takes priority and they patient will not have to wait as long, because Commissioner Earlean Collins, is right on top of everything and asked how many are having advanced cases due to the wait. Dr. Simon went on to say that 1.5 million dollars is what is needed to have electronic radiology so they can keep up with higher technology.

Kevin Gibbons from The Department of Environment said that some commercial sites were exempt from the higher environmental Standards, that would be gas stations, restaurants, and dry cleaners.

On workman's compensation, Commissioner Peraica asked why 45K was being paid out to an employee falling out of a chair, and why are so many being paid who are falling out of chairs?

Commissioner Earlean Collins wanted to know why the County is paying so many private lawyers for the juveniles. She said some were being paid out for 11 years and that certainly some of these are not juveniles by now. Commissioner Tony Peraica wanted to know how many lawyers and how much they have been paid. Commissioner John Daley, also Chief of the Finance Committee, said they did not know. Peraica asked if they could do it by juvenile and Daley said no they could not. Peraica asked if they use the same lawyers and how do the judges decide which ones. Daley said that they were screened and they rotate a pool of them. But why couldn't they use accounts payable records by which lawyers got checks?

Vote Stroger incompetant?

Cook County Juvenile Detention Center problemsWith problems such as filthy rooms, dirty laundry and abusive staff at Cook County's juvenile detention center continuing to mount, youth advocates are tired of waiting for county leaders to fix the problems.
The ACLU of Illinois asked U.S. Judge John A. Nordberg on Wednesday to put the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in receivership. The move would give a court-appointed receiver -- a person or an organization -- independent authority to oversee reform.
The ACLU's push to take the center out of the county's hands came after an advocate learned in May that no apparent follow-up care was given to a child who had urinated in his cell and was found with a noose around his neck.
"That is a complete absence of leadership,'' attorney Thomas F. Geraghty said. "Some child is going to get hurt out there."
"That facility has continued to deteriorate into chaos,'' said Cook County Commissioner Forest Claypool. "Yet there has been absolutely no leadership from [County Board President] Todd Stroger or anyone else in this county. The only people who ever had any reform credentials were ushered out the door.''
In a statement, Stroger called the allegations "historical in nature" and not a reflection of the "current state of affairs."
"In fact, in the last five months, the administration has worked to foster a renewed commitment to providing appropriate care and oversight,'' Stroger said.
At the last Cook County Board meeting, Commissioners, Collins and Peraica wanted to know more information on what, why, and how much outside lawyers are getting paid to represent juveniles, some for 11 years. Commissioner John Daley, Finance Chair said there is no way to find this information out, he claims it will take a lot of computer programming. Daley also said that you could not find out by how much you paid each lawyer, or even by which juvenile is represented. Now I wonder why can't they go through accounts payable and see which outside lawyers have been paid? Surely each lawyer or law firm was issued an individual check? Also brought up was were the same lawyers being used? No good answers either. Why doesn't the County know all these answers? Shouldn't they?

Ex-Governor Ryan out on appeal and looses pension
Ryan filed a lawsuit in December in Cook County Circuit Court seeking to keep the portion of his state pension earned before the scandals that led to his federal racketeering conviction.
But Judge Martin Agran upheld the General Assembly Retirement System board's unanimous vote to strip Ryan of his $197,000 annual pension.
Ryan's attorneys had maintained he should get the pension he earned during 24 years as a county board member, state representative and lieutenant governor because he was not accused of crimes during those years. That totaled about $65,000.
Ryan was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison for mail fraud, money laundering, extortion, obstruction of justice and bribery during his time as secretary of state and governor, from 1991 to 2003. Ryan is appealing his conviction, and a federal appeals court ruled he may remain free while the court reviews the case.

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