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."