Guv asks state workers to show up to avoid shutdown


Gov. Rod Blagojevich is telling state employees to report to work Wednesday even if a temporary budget is not passed.
In a letter being distributed to employees today, Blagojevich said he is "asking for your cooperation to avoid a shutdown of government services by reporting to work (Wednesday)...''
Blagojevich assured employees that they will be paid in full for their service when a permanent state budget is finally approved. However, he also noted that if the budget impasse continues indefinitely -- and another temporary budget is not approved -- some employees may not be paid on schedule.
The letter states that all benefits, including health insurance, will remain in effect despite the lack of a budget. Blagojevich also said Credit Union 1 is prepared to provide short-term, no interest loans to credit union members who are state employees.
Blagojevich issued the letter just hours before a temporary budget expires that kept the state operating in July. The governor has asked lawmakers to approve another temporary budget for August, but the four legislative leaders said they are concentrating on crafting a permanent budget plan.letter from Guv to IL State Employees

City of Chicago having budget problemsMayor Daley on Monday dropped the other shoe on Chicagoans bracing for a post-election tax increase: There's a whopping $217.7 million hole in his 2008 budget that can only be filled with revenue hikes, layoffs, spending cuts, or a painful mix of the three.

Down in Springfield

Highlights of Blagojevich health care plan

Facts about the "Illinois Covered" health care proposal from Gov. Rod Blagojevich:

The Plan
People below the federal poverty level who have no children could get care through community health centers.
People making up to three times the poverty level but who cannot get insurance through their job could sign up for low-cost coverage mandated by the state.
People who can't afford the insurance offered through their jobs would get state assistance paying their premiums.
The state would expand eligibility for existing programs that serve some parents and disabled people who are returning to work.

The Cost
When fully implemented, Illinois Covered would cost the state about $1.2 billion a year.
A study by an Emory University professor found that Illinois residents and businesses would save roughly $2 for every $1 spent on the plan.
Blagojevich proposes paying for the program with a new tax on companies that spend little on health insurance.

The Need
Blagojevich says approximately 1.4 million Illinoisans lack health care.
A recent Northern Illinois University found that 17% of Illinoisans consider health care their top issue, compared to 30% for education.
The survey found that 64% support more state funding for medical care.

Madigan withdraws as attorney for governor

SPRINGFIELD - Attorney General Lisa Madigan withdrew on Friday as lawyer for Gov. Rod Blagojevich in a fight over whether the governor must release federal subpoenas to the public.

Madigan doesn't want to delay the case by continuing a dispute over whether she will represent Blagojevich or whether he can choose his own lawyer, a spokeswoman said.
"We want the actions to be resolved expeditiously and the second issue of who's going to represent the governor, if it's set aside, the courts can decide the more important matter," spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler said.

Governor signs final FutureGen package

NEW: FARMERSVILLE -- Gov. Rod Blagojevich Monday finalized a package of incentives and legal protections aimed at helping Illinois land FutureGen, a prototypical coal power plant billed as a top new technology for getting energy without polluting.

If the state is successful, FutureGen could be located in either Mattoon or Tuscola. Despite that, Blagojevich signed the measure at a Freeman Energy coal mine near Farmersville, about a half-hour south of Springfield.

The FutureGen incentive package had stalled for months, but found the necessary momentum to gain approval just recently. The incentives and legal protections join with what the local communities have offered to lure the plant.

Have the people who want to save this Hospital had a really good tour of the whole facility? Are they painting over the Tony Peraica for President on Halsted and Archer?

Cook County to decide fate of old hospital By Ravi Baichwal
July 27, 2007 - A plan to breathe new life into the old Stroger Hospital in Chicago is being considered. Cook County Board President Todd Stroger wants to convert the space into new medical offices.

Because the building has earned a space on the National Register of Historic Places, the debate has raged since 2002 about what do with a place that has been called Chicago's 'Statue of Liberty.' Now, it's bit closer to welcoming caregivers in new office space.
In its heyday, Stroger Hospital was the biggest medical institution in the world. A place, beginning in 1913, where America's immigrants came for free health care. It was the first prominent facility to offer training to African-American doctors during the Jim Crow period.
"This was the first hospital to have a blood bank and the first hospital to have a trauma center," said Jonathan Fine of Preservation Chicago, a grass-roots organization that has fought to save building from the wrecker's ball since Cook County built its new hospital next door.
Now, the county would save that history by relocating medical offices housed in the 1930's-era nurses dormitory off the hospital. The dorm, and some old wards at the back of the building would be demolished. Space could also be rented to nearby Rush University Medical Center and the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago.
ABC7 Chicago asked Cook County officials what people would see when they look at the building in the future:
"They are going to see a building that is contributing to the community, a building that is fully functional, a building with all its architectural components displayed, and it is going to be a great savings to the citizens of Cook County," said the county's administrator, Bruce Washington.
Analysts say renovated space would end some of the grumbling of county hospital medical staff, many of whom recently threatened to quit due to difficult working conditions. The plan would cost $140 million, and there's no agreement about who would pay. The hospital has lead paint and asbestos hazards that would have to be dealt with no matter what eventually happens to the architecture. But for preservationists, the choice is clear.
"It is a great building, it is a solid building. In some places, the walls are two feet thick. You are not going to be able to build a building of this quality, and it can be adaptively reused to serve the next 50 to 100 years," Fine said.
No developers that have expressed an interest in the old hospital would speak on camera ABC7 Chicago. But, the debate will rage on, beginning at next week's county board meeting. There, Cook County commissioners have "what to do with the old hospital" on their agenda. Fate of Cook County Hospital continues

Taxes, taxes which ones in this State?

What tax?
Suburban lawmakers are on the verge of cutting a deal to raise the sales tax by a half-cent to bail out the CTA, Metra, Pace and build more roads.
A quarter-cent would go to keep trains and buses running, while the other quarter cent would go to suburban counties to build new roads and widen existing ones.
The increase means taxpayers buying $100 worth of merchandise in the collar counties will pay 50 cents more. That hike amounts to 25 cents in suburban Cook County. In a town like Streamwood, the total sales tax would be 9.25 percent.
Initial suburban opposition was quelled Wednesday as the RTA cut the amount of cash going to the CTA, raised the amount going to Metra and Pace and required Chicago taxpayers to pony up much more in the form of a real estate transfer tax.

Lawmakers in Springfield are close to a deal to keep Chicago's mass transit system running. It includes $500 million to bail out the CTA, Metra and Pace, and avoid service cuts and fare hikes.

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The transit deal may still need a tweak or two, and a green light from Mayor Daley, who is out of the country. But most of the concerns have been addressed and the architects of the plan are cautiously optimistic they can round up enough votes in Springfield to pass it in the next week or so, even though Governor Blagojevich is threatening a veto because it raises the sales tax.
"At the end of the day, this is a piece of legislation that everyone can be proud to support. We really have covered all the bases," said State Rep. Julie Hamos, (D) transportation chairman.

More taxes
Months of meetings at the state capitol in Springfield have finally produced a tentative agreement on a massive transit plan that would bail out the CTA financially in exchange for key pension and labor reforms, but most importantly, the massive fare hikes and service cuts threatened for September would be cancelled.
"To truly solve our fiscal crisis, especially when it's married with pension and health care reform," said Ron Huberman, CTA president.
The plan would pump $550 million into CTA, Metra, Pace, para-transit and downstate carriers, the money coming from a sales tax increase of a quarter percent in the city and the suburbs, which means 25 cents on a $100 purchase.
In addition, the Chicago City Council would raise the transfer tax on home sales in the city, and Chicago would share power on the transit boards more equally with the suburbs and collar counties, all of which attracts enough republican votes to pass the bill, according to the chairman of the RTA.
"This is a great vote for the Republicans and I think there will be enough votes to pass and sustain an override," said Jim Reilly, RTA chairman.
The governor is threatening to veto the bill because it includes a higher sales tax.
"It makes no sense to raise taxes on people so you can avoid raising fares. I'm against both," said Governor Rod Blagojevich.
Supporters of the bill point out that it takes the same number of votes to override a veto, as it does to pass it, in an overtime session.
"The governor's threat of a veto about what we consider to be a minor regional sales tax is hurting our efforts and it's unfortunate," said State Senator John Cullerton, (D) Chicago.
Representative Hamos is tentatively planning a vote in the House next Tuesday, if the transit deal doesn't get derailed by the same ugly politics that created the ongoing budget stalemate. It takes a three-fifths majority to pass anything in the overtime session, and the same three-fifths to override a veto, so if the bill passes the House and Senate it can probably survive the governor's veto pen.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Illinois Senate committees approved higher cigarette taxes and a cheaper version of the governor's health plan Wednesday, hoping to break the bitter impasse over a new state budget.
The state tax on a pack of cigarettes would jump by 75 cents, to a total of $1.73. It would generate about $328 million a year, which supporters hope to spend on roads, schools and other construction needs.
The slimmer health care plan represented a significant concession by Gov. Rod Blagojevich. It would cost about $1.2 billion a year instead of the roughly $3 billion price tag for his original version.
The lower cost would be achieved partly by restricting eligibility for some programs and cutting back the care offered to some poor people.
Blagojevich greeted the committee votes as "a promising development" in the budget deadlock that has dragged on for a record-breaking 56 days. But he acknowledged even his slimmed down health plan doesn't yet have enough support to pass in the Senate.
The Democratic governor hopes to round up the necessary votes for a Senate victory that would increase pressure for the House to consider his plan. Blagojevich stressed he would keep insisting on the health care plan even if it fails in the Senate.
"The only thing it changes is the timeline. It means we'll have to be here longer," Blagojevich said in an interview with The Associated Press.
"The bottom line here is, there's not going to be a budget resolution without a health care plan ... whether we have to stay here through August to get it done or through September."Day 57? Day 58? Day 59? Day 60+?

Oak Forest Land, to be sold by Cook County as per the Stroger BudgetCook County plans to divide excess land at Oak Forest Hospital among the state, county forest preserve and private developers, county officials said Tuesday.
A parcel along Cicero Avenue, south of the hospital's campus at 159th Street, likely will be sold to a commercial developer, possibly for a big-box store, said Anna Ashcraft, special assistant to Board President Todd Stroger.
"The city of Oak Forest doesn't want to buy it, but they are eager to have input, and they'd like to see that turned into commercial property," Ashcraft said.
This parcel, of about 23 acres, is the most valuable land surrounding the hospital. A county board committee Tuesday declared nearly all the land excess property -- starting a process of appraising, surveying and selling the property, which Ashcraft said likely will stretch into next year.
The county has more than 300 acres stretching between Cicero and Crawford avenues, south of 159th Street to about 164th Street.
Oak Forest Hospital takes up less than a third of the property on the western side.
The rest of the property, originally bought in 1908, served as a farm that fed and funded the county's poorhouse, which also was on the site, Ashcraft said. When poorhouses went out of style in the 1950s, the farm was closed.
Much of 100 acres in the center of the property was used as a pauper's gravesite. Former Cook County morgue official Mike Boehmer said 67,000 people were buried there between 1908 and sometime in the 1960s.
"This was not just for Cook County, but for anyone who couldn't afford a burial," Ashcraft said.
The county has surveyed the property using ground-penetrating radar, Ashcraft said, and will turn over any land that includes graves to the forest preserve district.
The county board approved a $13 million transfer from the forest preserve to the county during the February budget process in exchange for the promise of an undetermined amount of land at Oak Forest Hospital.
The 60 or 70 acres left over on the eastern third of the property also will be put up for sale. Ashcraft said the state might buy that land as a way of offering the cash-strapped county some help.
The state's department of mental health is interested in at least 8 acres to build a new mental health center to replace the one the state sold in Tinley Park, Ashcraft said.

Todd STroger wants money from the state for Cook County Health Care
Cook County Board President Todd Stroger today ruled out a property tax increase for 2008 while asking legislators to provide $100 million for the county health system in the state budget.
Stroger said the state needs to kick in cash to keep the troubled county system afloat because the whole state benefits from the county’s willingness to provide health care for the poor.
“The governor’s talking about universal health care, this is universal health care right here,” Stroger said. “We’ll see you no matter what.”
Stroger and seven Chicago aldermen from all parts of the city held a news conference at Stroger Hospital asking for the state money. Stroger has been making requests since the spring.
“It’s doable, and people in Springfield need to just suck it up … and give us the money,” said Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th).
Stroger warned of a second round of deep cuts to the health system, but said what the Legislature does or doesn’t include in the upcoming state budget makes no difference on whether he’ll seek a property tax increase.
“I can tell you now, there won’t be a property tax increase (for 2008),” Stroger said.
He declined to answer a question about whether he would consider other tax increases.

A State budget by August 15th?

August 15th is not so far away
THE SHUTDOWN SCENARIO: The comptroller's office, which pays the state's bills, says the deadline for getting a budget in place without posing a risk to state services is now August 15.
That's when school aid payments are supposed to be sent to hundreds of school districts across the state.
If no budget is agreed upon by then, there will not be enough money in the state's checking account to make those and other payments.
Other state services would be affected too.
But, various state agencies say they can probably get by for a couple of weeks before employees start to miss their paychecks.

Meanwhile back at the County
Cook County will have a more powerful, more independent inspector general able to investigate all corners of county government under an ordinance given preliminary approval today.
A stronger independent inspector general’s office was a campaign pledge of Board President Todd Stroger, whose office claimed a “major win” with the 10-to-4 vote in the board’s finance committee. The lopsided vote makes it likely the measure will get final passage from the full board next week.
“It’s a milestone in county government, and we’ll be able to root out illegal activity wherever it is in county government,” Stroger spokeswoman Ibis Antongiorgi said.
The inspector general’s authority will extend to employees in all county offices, including those of separately elected officials such as the commissioners, the state’s attorney and the county clerk.
Opponents called the measure a “camouflage” that was unneeded and would accomplish little.
Several attempts to weaken or delay the ordinance failed. Commissioners were concerned about giving the inspector general power to investigate other officials — especially themselves.
“You can be accused of something and by the time you get around to responding, you’ve already lost the election,” Commissioner Joan Murphy (D-Crestwood) said. “Who protects the elected officials in this type of environment?”
Murphy’s proposal to exempt all elected officials from investigation failed, but commissioners did pass an amendment that requires anyone making a complaint against an elected official to certify their complaint under oath. Penalties for lying would include fines of up to $5,000 and six months in jail.

Why would Commissioner Murphy want to exempt all elected officials? Isn't this where most of the problems with questionable activities are? Shouldn't anyone getting a Cook County paycheck be treated the same? Why are there exceptions? Exceptions and special rules for the ones who make the rules?

Illinois is now one of 19 smoke free States

The State wide smoking ban came as no surprise. After the City of Chicago passed a ban, followed by Cook County, the State was next. If everyone remembers in Cook County Commissioner Gorman's district which borders Counties without a smoking ban, she wanted a temporary non-smoking ban during the Superbowl, which the Bears were in, because she had so many bar owners saying they would loose so much money across the street in the next county. The point was argued that the State intends on passing a no smoking ordinance that will be stricter than that of the City, or County and it will not matter for either of these any more, because the State Wide ban will supersede all others. So there we have it Governor Rod Blagojevich wins, and wins confidence of many by doing what he said he would do. Now let's get this budget worked out!

Illinois will be smoke free January 1st
The new law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, means smokers like Main's wife will have to take their butts outside because the new Smoke-Free Illinois Act bans smoking in public places _ including bars, restaurants and work places. Illinois is one of 19 states with a comprehensive smoking ban, according to the state.

The new law trumps local ordinances that are weaker, including those that allowed smoking bans to be phased in later or exempted businesses with air filtration systems. More than 40 communities, including Chicago, have approved restrictions on smoking in public places and a local ordinance must be as strong, or stronger, than the state ban to remain in place, said Illinois Department of Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold.

"This law will save lives," said Blagojevich, who was joined by lawmakers and anti-smoking advocates at the bill signing at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

Under the law, people still will be allowed to smoke in their homes, cars, at retail tobacco shops, in certain hotel or motel rooms and outdoors.

The Cook County meeting of July 10th

This was kind of a long Cook County board meeting, many issues were brought up, since Dick Devine and his quite a bit of his prosecutors were there they brought up the cost of living raises first, not only with this group but with all non union groups. Another big issue was what was the responsibility of the board and the community health because of mandatory STD screening being eliminated at the detention centers? Another hot issue was why there are so many vendors collecting payment for the Bureau of Health, and why don't they have some sort of performance evaluations? Why wasn't the Oak Forest property approved to be sold in this approved budget still not sold? And why are the unions costing so much, mostly due to negotiations? Tony Peraica was quite quiet this meeting. Earlean Collins again, showed the most common sense, pointing out the costs to the Bureau of Health when the STD screening changed to voluntary, the cost and distruption to the budget when union negotiations take a long time and so much back pay must be paid, and the fact that this County Board has to show that they can spend the money they have responsibly before they can go to the public and ask for more taxes. More than 100K detainees come into the Cook County Detention center each year, a breeding ground for STDs, STDs that they bring back out into the public, causing more to use the Bureau of health. Dr. Simon brought up the high cost of cancer treatment at Cook County, would this be smaller if people were screened sooner?

The July 10Th Cook County Board Meeting

Noticeably absent was Andre Garner, has he bailed already? Lance Tyson was there the last half of the meeting after Todd Stroger left, apparently he is still recovering and can't finish a full day of work since coming back after surgery.

This meeting started out with applause as President Todd Stroger was back the first time at a Board meeting after surgery.
Todd Stroger started out by thanking everyone for all the cards and flowers and said it makes him feel good to know people are concerned about him. even if people throw rocks and put you in the hospital, and he giggled and said he was joking and that
he knows everyone loves him.

The meeting had an audience of a lot of Cook County Prosecutors, including Dick Devine.
Then the meeting started with Commissioner Larry Suffredin recognizing Dick Devine, the Cook County State's Attorney. There were a lot of Cook County Prosecutors there as well. Commissioner William Beavers interrupts and says that this is not on the agenda for today's meeting, and Daley said he is chairing this part of the meeting and he recognizes Commissioner Suffredin and lets Larry Suffredin continue. Commissioner Suffredin went on to point out that two meetings ago he suggested to use newly identified funds from the settlement of Rosemont and CNA insurance
to give COLA (cost of living) raises to the prosecutors at Cook County, and that because they are non union they did not get raises and this is affecting moral. Commissioners John Daley, Forrest Claypool, Larry Suffredin, and Mike Quigley are on the committee to help find funds to give COLA raises. Commissioner Beavers interrupts again and wonders why he only sees two black prosecutors when
this does not represent the population of Cook County. He asked why isn't there more? Commissioner Jerry Butler said the Public Guardians are being overlooked in the raises as well.

Commissioner Joseph Moreno said he works in a law office with his partners, 4 of which were Cook County Prosecutors who left because of pay and like Commissioner Peraica they both work in the Cook County Courts, and that 46 million dollars is what is needed to fund the raises.

Commissioner Deborah Sims said all of these Commissioners were in the room when the budget was passed and did not think of all these faces when they passed the budget. She said Moreno, Daley, Butler, herself, Steele, Murphy and Suffredin were the only ones looking at the three letter word, taxes to solve this issue at budget time. Sims went on to say that money does not fall out of the sky and we can't print it, so we have to figure out which ugly taxes need to be increases, and that not just Cook County prosecutors, guardians but all Cook County employees are affected by lack of COLA.

Commissioner Forrest Claypool said that he must speak up because there was an alternative budget at the time that this huge patronage creature needed to be dealt with. That this alternative budget was to get rid of bureaucracy and and give 59 departments COLA'a, 28 departments health care increases and 26 departments step increases.
Commissioner Joan Murphy said she wanted to recognize Commissioner Suffredin for all his work and what they did to cut 17% across the board, and that they were all chopping from the top and that has hurt the Health system, and moral is
bad. She went on to say that they need to look at a tax but she will not support a property tax.

Commissioner Gorman said that under difficult circumstances we crafted a budget but we need COLA for nonunion employees and that many good people are leaving as patronage payroll occurs.

Commissioner Peter Silvestri who is also head of the Litigation Committee, said that the last budget was approved to sell Oak Forest Property to fund COLA's, and we need to fund this or we will loose good people, we should sell this
property before raising taxes, and we should spend money we have better and collect revenue from the Bureau of Health.
We have to show we can collect and spend money wisely before raising taxes to give the public confidence before we ask them for more taxes

Commissioner Earlean Collins said we have to restore integrity of how we prioritize the dollars we get and spend wisely.
She said she is in agreement with Silvestri. Collins went on to say that we try to find all kinds of hardware, software, sweet contracts,or get money from the Bureau of Health or get rid of the Bureau of Health but we need to get rid of nepotism, since we are not a municipal government we have to rely on peoples taxes, but only if we spend it wisely, and she will not support a tax until they can spend money wisely.

Commissioner Jerry Butler said that they are making all of this a case of safety and health, and that 90% of people are in the court system because of the war on drugs. Butler went on to say that what little revenue the county generates, 750 million dollars, comes from the Bureau of Health. He said that 26th and California (Cook County Court, and Jail) is where the problem is. The Health Bureau provides for the poor and indigent and stop beating up the Bureau of Health.

Commissioner Sneider said that Claypool had an alternative budget and that he stood behind him. Sneider went on to say that we need to look at waste before taxes and we need to see how many park bench inspectors are needed.

President Stroger then joined in and said make me a list of who needs to go, if someone is not doing their job he needs to know.

Commissioner Snieder had a question on the Bill for Systems Solutions, Mary Jo Morris from the Clerk's office said it was a hardware contract and that throughout the contract departments order hardware as it is received they are encouraged to turn in paperwork.
He also questioned Standard Parking which billed for $139,531.66 and had a bill dated April 15Th through May 14Th. John Joyner said it was a an account for
parking at the Juvenile detention center garage and it was a two month bill misdated and it needs to be corrected. He said that they got $150,000 in revenue for two months, and that Cook County made $11,000 on this.

Commissioner Gorman asked where the funds were coming from to pay for two decontamination vehicles from Modak Inc.
Commissioner Daley said it was from the homeland security funds.

Commissioner Deborah Sims asked about the bill from Lexus Nexus for $38,450. She was told that it is a partial payment, and monthly payment for all departments and the Chief Judges department representative confirmed that.

Commissioner Sneider wanted further clarification on the 3.2 million dollar settlement for inmates that were tested for STD's.
Patrick Driscoll, Chief Civil Actions States Attorney said it was because of the way the testing was done, with the method and lack of privacy. Now only voluntary testing is done.
Commissioner Claypool said that for years this testing has prevented a pandemic and epidemic spread of STD's in the community and that the Cook County Jail is an incubator for STD's and that not testing will cause a great health effect in the community.
Dr. Simon said there is now a new system in place and Eileen Katura from the said that they are now screened for symptoms and then the detainees are treated for symptoms and it is all voluntary, tests for HIV, STDs, and treatment as well as screening.
She went on to say that since February they have screened 3000 detainees on a voluntary basis. Claypool said "Voluntary" that is the key word.
Commissioner Collins said because of a law or lawsuit they don't screen? Driscoll said that they used to screen the group up to age 35 because this was the highest incident category. Commissioner Collins said it costs more money when they come out
in the community and spread disease and then they have more of a Bureau of Health problem with more being treated in the community. And that this is an example of why cutting the mandatory screening at the Jail is going to cause more
financial problems.
Commissioner Daley said they are doing it on a voluntary basis and hopefully the courts could come up with a good system. Commissioner Sims asked if the Jail had the same method of testing as the Bureau of Health and she was told yes. Katura said 20,000 detainees go to the ER each year to get treated for STDs, and that a privacy issue is what is stopping all screening. Driscoll said that the law suit was
due to Civil rights laws.
Commissioner Murphy said are they now screened with privacy? She was told that they try to screen for TB, STDs and mental health.
That there are around 300 new detainees coming in each and every day so they have to go through a rapid process. Commissioner Peraica asked if detainees with symptoms are let into the general inmate population. Dr. Katura said they treat symptomatic STDs right away and they are sent to the ER. Peraica said they need to redesign the intake facility at the jail because only a see through chain
link fence separates detainees, and there is not a proper screening area for the 100,000+ detainees a year.
Commissioner Peter Sivestri said it in is the public health interest to test, and that the "Reception area", he also said what a name, has to
be redesigned so it is not so degrading but it costs money. He also said don't other detainees have a public health interest in not getting STDs? And that even if they are symptomatic they will only get treated on a voluntary basis as confirmed by Driscoll.

On to the overages in the budget. Commissioner Peraica pointed out that $580,000 was paid for overtime at Provident Hospital alone so far and the health care budget is already 50% over. Thomas Glaser, CFO Bureau of Health said that the AZT drugs were all paid for early and that it was a whole years supply, this is part of it. Dr. Simon said they are only going to be 60 million dollars over budget. He went on to say that they must pay overtime for hip replacements because there is a waiting list they must get down. Donna Dunnings, CFO said that she will transfer funds in September. Glaser said that 32 million dollars for year will be shortfall because of off loading of old receivables.

Commissioner Quigley wanted to know why they are going to wait for September and that the Commissioners will have to decide on priorities. Daley said first it will be submitted to the president to go over the budget for '08 and his staff.
Commissioner Quigley said that September is too late, because they go into the August hibernation and they need to know is they are 30 million dollars short how will they make up for it.

Donna Dunnings CFO said it is illegal to transfer from negative funds and that the surplus covers that. But Quigley said why are you letting them do it then? Dunnings said they they let them know they are in overage. Quigley said they are still doing it?
and you are letting them? Then Dunnings said maybe she was not communicating properly? and that she meant at the end of the year? And Quigley said maybe I am not communicating properly but I was talking about now? Quigley said before they leave in August they need this figured out.

Peraica asked about the 30-35 million dollar shortfalls in July. He said they are at 300% over budget, or three times what they were projected to be, and he comes up with 80 million dollar shortfall. He said that Federal and State money can not be counted on to take care of this. Dr. Simon said he will stand by the 30 million dollar overage and that radiation oncology has been very costly, and that there
are more cancer patients at Stroger Hospital than in any other in the State. Simon said he has been candid since day one with giving good news and bad news and he will stand by the 30 million dollar shortfall. Peraica said OK.

The next issue that came up was for 4 million dollars to Chamberlain Associates, who already had a contract for 1.4 million dollars, approved last year for processing claims and wanted 4 million dollars more.

The first Commissioner to ask questions was Tony Peraica. Thomas Glaser, CFO Bureau of Health answered questions. He went on to say that claims are turned over to vendors after 90 days and the people who work at Cook County can't handle the volume.

Peraica said that there should be a competitive RFP process to bid for services especially since it is $4 million more. And that this looks like an emergency basis contract. Glaser said that they have an immediate need, and that they can generate this from the 40 million dollars in claims they will get. He said that Chamberlain and Edmonds specialize in SSI and SSD. Peracia wanted the clarification that they will get 9 1/2% fee.
Commissioner Moreno wanted to know what the other vendors got.
ESI gets 12%, HSM gets 7 3/4% and Great Lakes get 7-8%.
Moreno also wanted to know if they did a comparison of these companies? As far as productivity? Glaser said in mid April they sent out a bid and HSM said they were to small to handle the volume, ESI wanted to use their patient account system and train employees at the county. Great Lakes sent and email, but not a formal bid.

Moreno wanted to know if there were caps on the collections? Glaser did not know.
Moreno asked if it was 4 million for 12 months? Glaser did not know.

Daley said if they are short on intake people how many would they need? Glaser said 171 workers were needed by Dr. Simon's proposal and he is not sure how many would go to this. Daley asked what about performance evaluations on these four companies? Glaser said they were working on an evaluation process.

Commissioner Murphy wanted to know how many patients a day were on intake? He said that right now there are 16 workers in this area, with an average of 9-10 a day and they have attendance problems there. They get 50-60 applications a day, and if they had more workers on the inpatient outpatient said they could eliminate a contractor. Murphy wanted to know how many outside contractors is the goal. Glaser said one or 2 and not the 4 they have. Commissioner Maldonado asked what does Chamberlain do then? Glaser said they do medicare and medicaid.
Maldonado asked what is their track record? Glaser did not know. Maldonado said how can we give 4 million more to someone we don't know their track record? So this needs to go to committee for further investigation or this is a leap of faith contract. Commissioner Collins said she also wants all the other groups to be looked at better. Dr. Simon does not want this deferred to committee because they need to generate income and that they worked for Rush Hospital (as Dr. Simon does too, I might add here) and that they have increased payments at Rush by 55%. He said they have a contingency contract so they need to go ahead and generate funds.
Commissioner Butler then brought up the Great Lakes email again, then John Cookingham CFO came in to say that the email said they could accomplish the job but did not send a formal proposal. Butler wants a copy of the email.
Commissioner Daley does not want it deferred to committee because he said there should be a 30 day cancellation clause, and they can start collecting now. Commissioner Claypool said the Chamberlain contract goes to '09 and it should go to committee. Commissioner Sims said it looks like a contract to her too.
Commissioner Gorman said shouldn't they still collect while it is in a committee? Peraica said they need to look at last years performance first so this does not end up in litigation where it will cost more.

Beavers asked if anyone proof reads? There are too many corrections? The clerks office said that the corrections are do to department amendments.

Moreno back on subject asked how do we look at who gets the back logs on billing and find out who is the best? Now we have companies doing the same work and what will be shifted to Chamberlain? Glaser said ESI was going to use Chamberlain as part of their proposal. Sneider says why can't we do our own or get down to one or two companies?

Commissioner Bulter said we always beat up the Bureau of Health to get money now they are trying to do this the best we can so we should approve it.
A vote was taken and 6 yes, 11 no so this will not go to committee.

Commissioner Gorman wanted to know why $135,00 was due to a call center, Risk Management Solutions, because they have made a few payments in the sum of $167,000 and the contract was $135,000 which they are now asking for?
Lisa Walik the Director of Risk management said that they had start up calls for the call center that injured workers used to find clinics that were contracted at a lower rate.
Commissioner Moreno takes over as President pro tem while Stroger left because he is not up to working full days yet.
Moreno said that the call center has saved 1.8 million dollars by referring workers compensation and injuries to contracted centers. Commissioner Snieder said there was payments already, but Maldonado said they delivered services so we have to pay them.
A vote was taken 6 yes 9 no to committee, Silvestri and Quigley out of the room on vote, no further investigation on payments to Risk Management Solutions.

On the Oak Forest property sale, Murphy said don't delay this so they can sell it, Quigley said the Real Estate department wants to delay it so they can, rather Anna Ashcraft said do a presentation of the land to be sold. They want to keep 100 acres for the Cook County Forest Preserve district which includes a lake and a cemetery.

The Board approved a resolution to let the US Attorney investigate police torture.

Commissioner Collins said many tortures happened and many gave confessions based on that were falsely accused and prisoned and are not able to find work so this is important.

Commissioner Sneider asked Dr. Simon if he had taken into account all the union raise when they are budgeting for all the other raises? Dr. Simon said it's a good question and they have to look into that for the budget. Sneider pointed out that the $119 million would be wrong and that it would be $160 million needed with this factor.

Jonathan Rothstein, Special Assistant of Labor Relations was next to be questioned.
Dunnings said the union negotiated raises were already budgeted for in this budget.
Murphy brought up that the law enforcement union always goes to litigation which is more costly so their unions raise should be approved, because it will be less costly, and Commissioner Goslin said to approve their contract until 2010 because it will be more cost effective.

Jonathan Rothstein said that they negotiate employee insurance, and contributions which will go up with co payments.
Commissioner Collins said who does the Union negotiations? What is the average time for negotiations? Rothstein could not answer this because there are 50 different contract and 35 different unions, he says he does pattern barginning because this is more cost effective and some they do themselves and others they use an outside source.
Collins said this is very important because these union contracts drag out so far that then the County owes back pay and this causes budget problems, so then you also have legal fees with contracts and this needs to be looked at so they can negotiate on a timely basis and save money.

The next resolution went to Committee because all the terminology had to be clarified on since the county is a subdivision of the state, and municipalities such as libraries etc are subdivisions of the county or state?

Blagojevich's budget and he is sticking with it

Blagojevich Supports Investing In Families Budget Health Plan

Secretary Of Health And Human Services Supports Children's Health Insurance Reauthorization
Senate Finance Committee To Protect Kids's Health Coverqage By Increasing In Federal Cigarette Tax
Medicaid Health Plans Are Critical To Covering Uninsured

Governor continues traveling through Illinois to promote his plan to provide every Illinoisan with access to affordable health insurance coverage, boost funding for education, provide property tax relief and fix an unfair tax system.

Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today joined community leaders, business owners, healthcare advocates, families, and community members to rally support for his Investing in Families budget plan in Danville. The crowd of supporters gathered together at the Laura Lee Fellowship House in Danville on the last evening of the Governor's Investing in Families bus tour, a four-day tour across Illinois to promote his budget plan. The proposed budget includes the Illinois Covered plan to provide affordable and comprehensive health insurance to all Illinoisans, the Helping Kids Learn plan to invest an additional $10 billion in Illinois schools over the next four years, the Tax Fairness Plan that requires big businesses to pay their fair share and gives the middle class the relief it deserves, and a plan to address the state's long-time pension deficit and ensure secure retirements for thousands of workers.

"We have a unique opportunity to fundamentally reform the way state government meets its responsibilities so that middle class and working families are at the center of what we do," said Gov. Blagojevich. "This kind of community support is exactly what we need to make the Investing in Families plan a reality. I urge all of you to contact your legislators so we can make Illinois a better place to live by making sure every family can get affordable health insurance coverage, by reducing pension debt, and increasing funding for our schools. These are attainable goals. We just need to stick together and make sure our voices are heard."

During the rally, several local elected officials and members from various business, education, religious, and community organizations spoke in support of the Governor's Investing in Families plan, including Champaign-Urbana Public Health District Administrator Vito Palazzolo, and Pastor Fredrick Cowen of New Hope, President of the Ministerial Association of Illinois.

Also rallying in support of the Governor's plan, were members from the East Central Illinois Community Action Agency – an organization that has recently made great effort in drawing support from the community for the Governor's Investing in Families Initiatives. Speaking at the rally on behalf of the organization, Dwight Lucas, CEO of the East Central Illinois Community Action Agency, voiced his support of the Governor's plan.

"The Governor's plan will have enormous benefits for the community - and certainly for business owners like me. Providing access to healthcare for all citizens and making sure our kids have the resources they need to do well in school is extremely important and will benefit all Illinoisans," said Dwight Lucas, CEO of the East Central Illinois Community Action Agency. "Having been a former school board member, I know the importance of having a new stream of funds to help with old and dilapidated school facilities. It's important for our kids to have the opportunity to be on the cutting-edge of technology. These funds will go a long way for educating our kids and keeping them healthy."

Gov. Blagojevich has received support from nearly 200 healthcare, education, business, religious, government and labor organizations from around the state since kicking off the first day of his Investing in Families Bus Tour Monday in Chicago. This past week, the Governor has traveled Illinois to promote his Fiscal Year 2008 budget plan, stopping at restaurants, businesses, schools, and rallies in communities throughout Illinois.

"We can do better and we must do better – for our future, for our children and for our grandchildren. I think everyone should get behind Governor Blagojevich's Investing in Families plan to get taxes on an equal playing field and make sure everyone in Illinois can get affordable healthcare. I don't want to see big businesses continue to pay little to no taxes, while small businesses like mine are picking up the balance – we just can't afford it," said Chuck White, Owner of Chuck White Signs & Designs. "I believe in the Governor's plan - it can do nothing but benefit us all – the people who are complaining about it, are the one's who are finding loopholes to avoid paying their fair share."

Gov. Blagojevich's FY08 budget proposal includes fundamental changes that will benefit the people of Illinois for generations to come. The Governor's Illinois Covered plan will ensure all 1.4 million uninsured adults have access to quality, affordable healthcare, and will help many middle-income families and small businesses that are currently enrolled in health insurance plans save thousands a year on healthcare costs. The plan will also reform the existing healthcare system to improve quality and require more accountability.

Recently, Gov. Blagojevich's plan received support from the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Education Association. Both groups, representing thousands of teachers and school staff throughout the state, are advocating for the Helping Kids Learn plan to invest an unprecedented $10 billion in schools over the next four years – nearly three times bigger than any increase in state history. For Illinois's deteriorating schools, the plan will invest more than $1.5 billion in a capital construction plan for projects to improve and upgrade classrooms and schools. Under the plan, general state aid to schools will increase by more than $800 million next year, raising the Foundation Level by $724 to $6,058.

Highlights of the Governor's plan for FY2008 include:

o An historic Tax Fairness Plan that closes corporate loopholes and gives the middle class the relief it deserves;

o A record new investment of $10 billion in schools over the next four years – nearly three times bigger than any increase in state history – and property tax relief for homeowners across the state;

o "Illinois Covered," an affordable, reliable healthcare plan to cover the 1.4 million uninsured adults in Illinois and provide assistance to millions of middle-income families and small businesses struggling to keep up with health insurance costs;

o Addressing the state's long-time pension deficit and ensuring secure retirements for thousands of workers by leasing the Illinois Lottery and investing the proceeds toward the pension debt;

o And a Capital Budget to make important investments in schools, roads, bridges and other critical infrastructure.

Blagojevich: Madigan is sole obstacle to spending increase
Comment on this story

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- Gov. Rod Blagojevich stepped up his criticism of House Speaker Michael Madigan on Tuesday, asserting that the speaker is the sole remaining obstacle to a major spending increase for schools and health care.

The governor urged Madigan to go along with a scheme to cut Republicans out of key budget decisions and approve a budget solely with Democratic votes. That would require rewriting legislation so some programs don't take effect until next year.

"If the speaker does that, we can be out of here tomorrow," Blagojevich said.

The proposal ignores the fact that even many Democrats have reservations about the governor's budget.

Blagojevich was unable to pass his health plan, which would guarantee health insurance for everyone, in the Senate earlier this year. His Senate allies have not even tried to pass his budget. And the House overwhelmingly rejected his idea of privatizing the state lottery.
Madigan, D-Chicago, defended his proposal for smaller increases in health care and education, adding that Blagojevich must acknowledge the opposition to his own plan.
"Many, many members are getting very frustrated simply because there's a lack of understanding of the severity of the problem," Madigan said.
The governor, legislative leaders and rank-and-file lawmakers met in budget negotiations for about two hours Tuesday.
Afterward, several participants described the session as tense and unproductive. Madigan said the governor nearly lost his temper at one point and "raised his voice and flailed away with his arms."
Blagojevich called the meeting "a lot of fun."
The state budget was supposed to be approved by May 31, but the Democrats who dominate state government are deeply divided. Missing that deadline gave Republicans a bigger role in the process because any legislation that takes effect right away would need a three-fifths vote to pass, rather than a simple majority.
The governor said the increases for education and health care could be designed to take effect next summer instead of immediately. That would mean Democrats could pass the plans without any Republican support.
Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, said the governor may talk about bipartisanship, but this proposal "sends a different message."

More problems at the Cook County Health Bureau

"President Stroger and Dr. Simon have decided to wipe out these clinics where people like Sally Lemke do a wonderful job every single day," said Sheilah Garland-Olaniran of the National Nurses Organizing Committee. "Hundreds like her make this system work, and hundreds like her are gone. It's a disaster."

Last week, the Visiting Nurses Association Foundation named Sally Lemke its nurse of the year.

This week, Cook County government canned her.

In just a few days, she went from being honored as the 2007 Super Star in Community Nursing Award winner to the unemployment line after she declined a lower-paying county nursing job.
She still hopes to do all that but is re-prioritizing as the latest victim of sweeping county budget cuts that have closed health clinics and trimmed hundreds of jobs.

"This should be a happy moment for her," said Rob DiLeonardi, executive director of the nursing foundation. "Instead, it's overshadowed by her losing her job. It's a shame, and we're saddened by it."

Lemke helped start and runs a county program for at-risk pregnant mothers on Chicago's West Side. She's trying to keep her chin up but worries about the women in her care.

Lemke came to the county 18 months ago after an impressive career that has seen her working in grassroots, community-based programs across the country. She's a nurse practitioner, a position that requires advanced education and allows her to provide care similar to a physician.

County officials, she said, offered her little choice -- a lower-paying job as a basic floor nurse or a layoff.

Meanwhile down in Springfield

State House and Senate agree on electric high rate problem

As state lawmakers near a deal, Senate President Emil Jones credits himself for ensuring customers will see discounts on their soaring electric rates.
Jones said Wednesday at the Capitol that consumers wouldn't see the benefits of a $1 billion rate relief package _ the details of which are being finalized _ if he hadn't stopped the rate freeze that House Speaker Michael Madigan and others pushed to provide consumers relief.
Jones called a rate freeze bad public policy that would be locked up in court, and said Madigan and others have finally agreed.
"So I'm glad I held my ground," Jones said. "As a matter of fact, all those who were advocating, the public officials, now recognize that it was the wrong direction to go. But it would be nice if they said so publicly."
Legislators continued working Wednesday to finalize the deal, which would provide about $1 billion in rebates and discounts to consumers over four years on rates that soared when a 10-year rate freeze ended in January.

Jones, Madigan and Blagojevich continue to struggle on a state spending plan for the budget year that began July 1. The three met with Republican leaders for nearly two hours Wednesday.
Madigan, whose Democratic-controlled House approved a budget plan in May, said the leaders were working on a new proposal that "would work very nicely with available resources" and not include a tax increase or an expansion in state-sanctioned gambling.
But Jones, who supports expanded gambling, said Madigan should then find some other source of new dollars to pay for necessary hikes in public school funding.

CALL THE NEW ILLINOIS CORRUPTION tip line number is 1-877-U-TIP-OFF or 1-877-884-7633.

Is this Pars Cove Persian Cuisines first and last year at the Taste of Chicago?

2 ill after Taste sue restaurant
More than 500 say they had salmonella

By Karoun Demirjian and Michael Higgins, Tribune staff reporters. Tribune staff reporter Gary Washburn contributed to this report
Published July 17, 2007
Two of the several hundred people who say they became ill after eating hummus at the Pars Cove Persian Cuisine booth at Taste of Chicago have decided to take the matter to court.
Monique Roach, 49, and Willie Smith, 43, both from Chicago's Morgan Park neighborhood, filed what appears to be the first lawsuit against Pars Cove on Monday, alleging that the restaurant failed to properly inspect, store or package the food, or made some other mistake that caused the pair to become sick. They are seeking more than $30,000 in damages for Roach, and an unspecified lesser amount for Smith, said their attorney, Adrian Mazar of Chicago.
Roach, a mail carrier, said Monday that she and Smith visited the festival June 29 and that she began to feel sick the following day.
At first, she thought it was just the flu, Roach said. But she said the vomiting, diarrhea and fever grew worse over the next three days and, on July 3, Roach's family doctor sent her to the hospital.
"Having my kids wasn't as bad as the pain and distress that my body was going through those five days," Roach said. "Truly, I thought I was dying."
Roach said doctors at St. Francis Hospital & Health Center in Blue Island confirmed she had salmonella poisoning. She is taking antibiotics but has not yet returned to work, Roach said.
Smith also got sick but didn't seek medical attention, Mazar said.
Pars Cove co-owner Mike Bambouyani said Monday that he sympathized with anyone who was ill, but he thinks it's too soon for lawsuits to be filed.
"The finger is pointed our way. ... But there's been nothing confirmed," Bambouyani said. "We're working with the health department, and we want to get to the bottom of it."
As of noon Monday, 529 people told the city they had been infected with salmonella at Taste of Chicago, with about 50 of those cases confirmed in laboratory tests and 36 identified as Salmonella heidelberg, a common strain, city health department officials said. Seventeen people have been hospitalized with varying symptoms, including diarrhea, dehydration and fever.
City Health Department investigators have determined that at least one -- and perhaps the only -- source of the bacterial poisoning was a dish of herbs, tomato, and cucumber known as hummus shirazi, and they ordered Pars Cove to stop serving hummus while the investigation proceeds.
Health Department officials said the restaurant's owners have been extremely cooperative throughout their investigation, and they cautioned Chicagoans from becoming overly alarmed by the growing number of people who say they were sickened.
"What we saw with the increasing numbers was not an expansion of the outbreak, it was an expansion of awareness of the outbreak...and responses to the outreach that we conducted," said Health Department spokesman Tim Hadac, who said the volume of calls was tapering off.
On Monday, Mayor Richard Daley joined Health Department officials in expressing his confidence in the city's oversight of vendors at Taste of Chicago.
He called the outbreak "an unfortunate incident dealing with the health and safety of people" and asserted the festival's reputation has not been damaged and that future attendance will not be affected.
"People will attend next year," he said. "The people like it. They have great music. This is a great event. It would be like closing down the city because of one incident."
Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune

4 million to Cook County $4 million increase in funding to clear a backlog of patient Social Security income applications at Stroger Hospital was approved last Tuesday over the anger of several Cook County's Board commissioners.

The additional money will be paid over two years to a private contractor helping with the overflow of Stroger Hospital's backlog of more than 2,000 applications - 570 of which were filed more than 90 days ago - for indigent patients.

The hospital will be paid for providing the patient services only after processing the applications. The applications have a combined worth of $30 million and will greatly help to offset the Bureau of Health Services' 2007 budget shortage, says Thomas Glaser, chief operating officer for the bureau.

Board members voted 11-6 in favor of the funding increase.

However, many balked at approving the new funding without seeing specific numbers on how successful the private contractor, Chamberlin Edmonds, has been in processing applications up until now.

"You're asking us to expand and to amend this contract by $4 million, and you're not able to give us any information on this company generating revenues for the county," said Commissioner Roberto Maldonado (D-Chicago). "This is like a leap of faith for this company."

Maldonado and others called for the funding increase to be referred to the next finance committee meeting before board action.

But health services officials countered that although they would provide an analysis of the numbers at the next committee meeting, bringing in extra help to handle the flood of applications could not wait.

"Every week, every month that goes by, we're further behind on collecting," said Robert Simon, director of the health services bureau.

He added that the contract is a contingency contract, meaning that the bureau will only pay the full $4 million when the contractor produces $42 million in revenue from the applications over the next two years.

The bureau is facing a $60 million budget shortfall for 2007, Glaser said earlier in the day during the finance committee meeting.

The deficit sparked heated discussion. Commissioner Anthony Peraica (R-Westchester) pointed to several portions of the budget that had already gone 50 percent over their intended spending for all of 2007 by July 1.

While Glaser said that under-spending in some areas would help offset unanticipated costs, the bureau was still facing $30-$35 million in over-expenditures for the year.

Simon said the only way to reduce the budget further would be to cut essential services.

Commissioner Jerry Butler (D-Chicago) brought up the budget shortage again shortly before voting for the funding increase.

"This is one of those situations where we are always beating up on the bureau about getting the money collected, and then we make it difficult for them to do what they think is the best plan to collect the money," he said.

Doug Kucia, chief of staff for Commissioner Forrest Claypool (D-Chicago) - who voted to refer the matter to committee - said after the meeting that he worried the approval might be based on spurious logic.

"Now it's up to the board to see if the vendor is going to deliver," Kucia said.

"All the commissioners want the Bureau of Health to see if they can get things functioning right," he added. "I think we're all working towards the same goal, we just have different opinions on how to get there."

Featuring Tony Peraica's district

Soon to be former landmark in Peraica's districtThe former chief of staff for Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica is suing his former boss and a local hospital, alleging he was wrongfully fired after his hospital records were unlawfully accessed.
Terrence G. Austin, 42, of Bridgeview, was Peraica's chief of staff when found comatose in his home and taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center on July 7, 2005.
Police found a hypodermic needle in Austin's home and charged him with possession of drug paraphernalia July 9, 2005. Two days later, Peraica placed Austin on an unpaid leave of absence from his $78,345-a-year job.
A month later, Peraica fired Austin. Austin had worked for the county since 1991.
At the time, Peraica was running for county board president.
"I think that as far as I was concerned, the damage was pretty well done" to the reputation of his office, Peraica said.
Austin claims his firing was based on the illegal release of his confidential hospital records. He produced a letter from the hospital showing an employee named Katie Higgins accessed his records on July 8, 2005, for unknown reasons other than "treatment, payment, and operations," which are permitted.
Attempts to contact Higgins were unsuccessful.
Austin's lawsuit accuses Advocate Health and Hospitals Corporation of violating his privacy under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
A spokesman for Advocate declined to comment.
Austin, who has been unemployed since his termination, is seeking damages from both parties and a comparable replacement job

Amy Jacobson, former NBC 5 reporter looses her job by taking her two young sons swimming at "this person of interest's" home
The estranged husband of an Oswego woman missing for more than two months was named a "person of interest" today by police investigating her disappearance.
Police had previously been reluctant to name Craig Stebic as the subject of their investigation. He was the last person to report seeing Lisa Stebic on the evening of April 30; her credit cards and cell phone have not been used since.
Plainfield Police Chief Donald Bennett said at a news conference that authorities fear Lisa Stebic has been a victim of foul play. Police have narrowed the focus of their investigation and "now consider Craig Stebic to be a person of interest in the case," Bennett said.
The couple were going through a divorce, but they still lived together with their two children in the family's home in Plainfield, about 35 miles southwest of Chicago.

Amy Jacobson, former Chicago reporter makes national headlines, for "What was she thinking?"

This is a landmark. It was in the Wayne's World movie. There is the Cadillac Ranch in Texas, Carhenge in Nebraska, and Car Spindle in Berwyn, Illinois. Now there won't be the Illinois Car landmark. Can anyone identify what cars are on the Spindle? And what year? Ok, so I got some email to my question of what type of cars, A VW on top, next down an older Volvo or BMW, next down a Ford Escort mid 80's, Next down a 1974 Datson,next down white one is probably a 1978 Ford Mustang, next A Pontiac Grand Prix early to mid 80's, Next down a Ford Fairmont late 70's, last another Ford Fairmont late 70's.
Remember the date this was created was 1989.

Make way for another Walgreens, they are popping up all over like cockroaches

Car Spindle coming down

Taking down the Spindle will outdate several travel guides

Welcome Back Todd Stroger

Todd Stroger came back to work on Monday. He said the day after his surgery his was in contact with his office and had been ever since. He also said that he will only last until 1-2 o'clock back to work before he gets too tired. Dick Devine, Cook County State's Attorney met with Todd Stroger and had 150 of his prosecutors there as well. Recovering or not Dick Devine is ready for Todd Stroger to deal with the raise needed for his prosecutors.

Not the answer to the health care problem at Cook County
Cook County Board President Todd Stroger said Tuesday it was not likely that the county's Provident Hospital would merge with Michael Reese Hospital, backing off from comments made earlier by his administration.
"You know what I say about a merger -- you don't really have a merger, someone takes someone else over," Stroger said during his first press conference following surgery for prostate cancer. "We'd have to take over them (Reese)."
Michael Reese is being squeezed out of its 37-acre lakefront campus south of the McCormick Place convention complex, and the county is in talks with Reese officials about joining forces.
County health bureau chief Robert Simon said Monday that merging the South Side hospitals at Provident was the mostly likely way of handling that.
But Stroger said a merger was full of complications involving unions and management. He said he would prefer to lease empty space at Provident, 500 E. 51st St., to Michael Reese and keep Provident running as a separate hospital.
"We don't use 45 percent of the space we have," Stroger said of Provident.

When Dick Devine, Cook County State's attorney appeared at the Cook County building he had 150 Cook County prosecutors giving him a rock star status greeting
The roughly 150 Cook County prosecutors who packed the county board room and a sweltering lobby on Tuesday got a mixed response to their demand for a 12.75 percent pay raise.
Commissioner Larry Suffredin (D-Evanston) told them that he was trying to arrange a deal with board President Todd Stroger's administration that would tap unused funds from court settlements and other sources to provide the $8.7 million needed for the retroactive cost-of-living raise. Assistant state's attorneys have not received a cost-of-living raise for three years.
"I expect by the July 31 meeting we'll have an agreement ... that will lead to checks being issued in August," Suffredin said.
But Stroger (D-Chicago) said he knew nothing about that plan and intended to raise prosecutors' wages only after the county sells land around Oak Forest Hospital -- a process he warned would not happen soon.
"I made no promises with dates," Stroger said. "I didn't give (commissioners) a time frame because I didn't know a time frame."
The prosecutors said going three years without a pay hike has put them behind the salaries of their unionized counterparts in the county public defender's office. The average salary of an assistant state's attorney is about $69,000 while it's about $83,000 for an assistant public defender, according to the state's attorney's office.
Commissioner Mike Quigley (D-Chicago) said he voted for Stroger's compromise budget in February only because Stroger promised to act quickly to sell the Oak Forest property and provide prosecutors with a raise.
"A promise was made to me, a promise was made to the state's attorney in front of me, and the president has broken that promise," Quigley said. "If the president's office had not dragged its feet ... that (raise) would be paid."
Stroger said he intends to honor that promise but nothing can happen overnight.

The Budget Battle goes on in Springfield

Will this be the longest State Budget session in History?

In the gridlock world of the Illinois State Capitol Building, overtime just seems to go on forever. There's little excitement, though it does cost a lot of money keeping the governor, legislative leaders, lawmakers, staffers and Capitol workers on the job as one summer month blurs into the next.

Electric rate war
Legislators and utility executives have met for countless hours in the last few months, trying to strike a deal that provides short-term benefit to consumers and long-term assurances of reliable and affordable electricity.
But they've encountered sticking points in both categories.
Recent talks have centered on about $1 billion in relief for customers over several years, with Ameren, ComEd and the companies that generate power for them providing that cash back.
Consumers could receive refund checks for the higher amounts they've paid this year, or get the money as credits on future bills. Consumers who have paid the largest increases could see the most aid, or it could be spread out more to cover all customers paying higher bills.
Negotiators also are trying to decide how high of a rate increase is acceptable for customers for the rest of this year and beyond.
The real complexity, however, comes in making long-term decisions.
Some lawmakers have suggested passing another rate freeze, ensuring customers pay lower rates over the next few months or years while decision-makers plot out where to go next.
But many say that would only add to Illinois' electric rate problems and result in a long legal battle.
"If we pass a rate freeze and then don't fix the structural problems, then the situation continues on for who knows how long," said Rep. Bob Flider, D-Mt. Zion. "I think it would be better if we could come to some resolution rather than have the decisions rest with the courts."

Not happy with the Blagojevich lottery plan
By a 79-6 vote, the Democratic-controlled House defeated Blagojevich's plan to lease the state lottery to private investors to pay down the state's pension debt.
Blagojevich called the vote "a three-ring circus'' and accused House Speaker Michael Madigan, a fellow Democrat from Chicago, of conspiring with Republicans to undermine his social-service spending goals.
"Mr. Madigan, unfortunately, has chosen not to be a Democrat anymore,'' Blagojevich told reporters in the Statehouse. "(He) has chosen to be a part of a right-wing Republican effort to take health care away from children and take meals away from senior citizens and actually cut education, and that's what this fight is all about.
Illinois still has no permanent budget for the fiscal year that started Sunday because the state's top leaders can't agree on a spending plan. Blagojevich wants major new spending for health care, education and other areas, while Madigan says the state can't afford it.

With so many hospitals in Chicago, three bordering Cook County John Stroger Hospital, University of Illinois, Rush, and Westside VA, there are plenty of opening for physcians. Physcians at Cook County have to do more work, they have to be responsible for House Staff (Student Doctors), teaching, checking up on them, checking behind them, with the influx of new House Staff in July, many needing to learn English better, oh my......, and now do the work of nurses that have been laid off, other physicians that were laid off, its no wonder they are leaving. The pay for physicians at Cook County Hospital is also lower at least by 7%, than neighboring hospitals, and Chicagoland area Hospitals. I can't blame the Attending physicians for leaving, not one bit.

Cook County Jail in the news as well
One by one, Cook County Jail inmates would line up to have a cotton swab inserted into their penises.
It wasn't always done gently, or willingly, according to inmates, and sometimes it happened without the medical official changing gloves.
Now county taxpayers could be on the hook to pay as much as $3.2 million to the thousands of inmates who experienced this method of jail testing for sexually transmitted diseases.
The Cook County Board is set to vote Tuesday to settle the class-action case brought by inmates, who said they were coerced and threatened into taking a test for chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Inmates say the tests were done through Cermak Hospital without privacy and with great pain during swabbing.
But county officials maintained proper procedures were followed and they were doing little more than testing for diseases for the safety of all inmates -- no differently than taking a blood sample.
County health officials suspended the program earlier this year and cut off funding for an automatic STD test upon entry to the jail.
County attorney Patrick Driscoll said more than 32,000 inmates are eligible to collect in the settlement.

A longer stay in Springfield for the Legislature The tiff between the governor and the speaker of the House has expanded to what time the Legislature meets to work on the budget impasse.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich called a fourth special session for 2:30 p.m. Saturday to keep the House from leaving town for a brief weekend break before returning Sunday.
="">Ok, so make the best of spending more time in Springfield, take in a museumBlagojevich's third special session call was for 2 p.m. Saturday. But House Speaker Michael Madigan convened the House at 10 a.m., saying the governor has the authority to call the General Assembly to a meeting, but not to dictate the time.

Blagojevich had called for a third special session to discuss the state budget for 2 p.m. Saturday. But House Speaker Michael Madigan convened the House at 10 a.m. and later adjourned it, saying the governor has the authority to call the General Assembly to a meeting, but not to dictate the time.
House Speaker Michael Madigan defied Gov. Rod Blagojevich, convening and adjourning the chamber at 10 a.m. Blagojevich then issued another special session decree, this one for 2:30 p.m.
Disgruntled legislators, with little to do while their leaders wrangle with Blagojevich over a spending plan, were not happy.
"I'm not sticking around here all afternoon," said Rep. Bill Black, R-Danville. "I have a yard to mow. I have things to do at home. I got a call last night from my dog."

Down in Springfield
SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Rod Blagojevich accused Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan of acting like a right-wing Republican, and Madigan led the House in rejecting a major part of the governor's budget proposal Friday.
The House voted 78-6 against Blagojevich's idea of shoring up shaky state pension systems by privatizing the state lottery and borrowing billions of dollars to reinvest.
Blagojevich dismissed the House vote as predictable. He attributed the outcome to Madigan, chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party, joining ``a right-wing Republican effort'' to block a budget that would expand social services.
His comments came after a two-hour meeting with Senate Democrats, who urged the Democratic governor to adopt a more conciliatory tone in hopes of settling an impasse that has pushed the legislative session into overtime.
But Blagojevich emerged to offer harsh criticism of Madigan.
``The way to be able to finally get budgets that achieve the objective of health care and education for families is to get Mr. Madigan to be a Democrat again and stop being a George Bush Republican,'' Blagojevich said.
Madigan spokesman Steve Brown rejected Blagojevich's criticism and accused the governor of deepening the budget deadlock. ``I just don't understand what a constant stream of insults will do to resolve the budget crisis,'' he said.
Making some progress in Springfield

Meanwhile on the Toddster Watch(Crain’s) — Cook County Board President Todd Stroger conceded Thursday that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer months earlier than his staff had previously announced, but said he hid the matter until very recently because of concern for his mother.

Answering media questions for the first time since surgery to remove his prostate last month, Mr. Stroger said he did not intend to deceive voters or Democratic Party officials about his ability to hold office, but rather meant to keep a burden from his mother, Yonnie, who was dealing with the illness of her husband, John Stroger Jr.

John Stroger suffered a major stroke just a week before the March Democratic primary. Voters nominated him to be re-elected to a new term, but he stepped down three months later and his son Todd replaced him on the Democratic party’s general election ballot.

Last month, when news surfaced that Todd Stroger had cancer and would undergo an operation, his staff said he first was diagnosed in August — before the 2006 general election, but after he already had been named to replace his father on the ballot.


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But Thursday, Todd Stroger said he actually was diagnosed “somewhere around April or May” — at least several weeks before he became the Democratic nominee.

Why the delay? “To be honest, I didn’t want to discuss it with my mother while she was going through all the other things” with his father, Mr. Stroger said. Ms. Stroger wasn’t informed until “about two weeks ago,” just before the news became public, said Mr. Stroger, who spoke with reporters by telephone from his home.

Mr. Stroger, 44, said he saw no conflict between his familial and public duties because his condition was diagnosed early as “nothing life threatening.”

Other officials, such as former Gov. Jim Edgar, went public with their medical problems earlier because they were more serious — in Mr. Edgar’s case, heart bypass surgery — Mr. Stroger said. “(This) will not affect my performance as president of the County Board. . . .It’s not like a brain tumor that’s growing quickly.”

Mr. Stroger said he feels “not too bad, a little soreness.” He said his physicians tell him that “everything looks clear.”

Mr. Stroger’s staff initially said only that he was undergoing a “routine” medical procedure. Mr. Stroger blamed that and the discrepancy over the diagnosis date on bad communication within his office.

“I’ve never told you anything that isn’t true,” he said. “People can say what they want, but I’ve found no reason not to be truthful.”

Mr. Stroger is scheduled to return to the office on a limited basis next week. He said his father, John, is in “stable” but “not improving” condition.

And this is also the first update on Daddy Stroger

Money problems in the County and State

=""One more month extension for budget SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Monday signed legislation to keep state government running through the end of the month. It's still unclear whether that will be enough time to resolve the budget stalemate now in its sixth week of overtime.

"While it was imperative to avert a potential shutdown, passing a one-month budget does not solve our state's problems," Blagojevich stated in a written release, adding that "we now have an opportunity for a fresh start."

The new state budget year began on Sunday, and the governor and the four legislative leaders are still far apart on major issues such as education, health care, gambling and taxes. They are even fighting about each others' work schedules.

The House and Senate had originally been scheduled to take this week off, returning to Springfield on July 10. But on Friday, Blagojevich called a special session for July 5, and promised to do so every day after that until a budget deal had been reached. The first one is to be focused on funding for the state pension systems.

County Doctors are Polishing up Their Resumes

More than half of the doctors on the medical staff at Cook County's Stroger Hospital say they're thinking about leaving the institution within the next year. That's according to a preliminary survey of 178 doctors.

The survey simply puts concrete numbers on what everybody already knew at Stroger, that severe cuts and layoffs over the last year have seriously harmed staff morale. Seventy percent of the doctors who are thinking of leaving say it's because recent cuts have hurt the hospital's core mission of caring for poor people. County Commissioner Jerry Butler chairs the health committee. He says the layoffs have been tough but hopefully positive in the long run.

Butler: "And now we've got to try and put it back together and make it work. It's going to be uncomfortable and certainly there are going to be lots of people who are going to think about leaving. Doesn't mean they're going to leave. It's part of the conversation."

Butler says he hopes the survey spurs his colleagues on the county board to come up with more money to support the county hospitals. So Commissioner Bulter is on the get more money for the Health Bureau band wagon with Dr. Robert Simon, but where is this money going to come from?

We continue today with our series about how Cook County budget problems are affecting some of the county's most vulnerable people. Traditionally Cook County's Stroger hospital has been known as a place where poor people could get care without worrying about bills. The hospital didn't charge them. But people with health insurance went to county and they weren't charged either. That was good news for insurance companies, bad news for Cook County tax payers. In the last couple years hospital administrators began billing patients in an effort to raise revenue. How that's played out for some of the poorest patients is a peek into the ongoing chaos of hospital billing at the county.With all the vendors and software/hardware for a billing system, how does this happen?

Is the new superbill going to solve these problems? These billing problems have been going on for years. And it is said that they need a new Chief Bureau of Health, Dr. Robert Simon is a physician, not an administrator, the County also needs someone without close ties to Todd Stroger, is that possible?

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