Tax Accountability 2007
407 S. Dearborn, Suite 1170 * CHICAGO, ILLINOIS 60605
(312) 427-5128 * Fax (312) 427-5139 * Web Site
First Commissioner Joan Murphy, 6th district along with Commissioner Deborah Sims, 5th district, wanted exemption status for Commissioners, as far as the Shakman decree goes, now Joan came up with an tax increase plan, that the Toddler was more than happy to jump all over and adopt it as his. You think the people in Cook County District 6 are awake? Chicago Tribune article on Joan Murphy's tax increase idea
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Jim Tobin (312) 427-5128
September 28, 2007 (773) 354-2076 (Cell)
COOK COUNTY COMMISSIONER JOAN MURPHY
BREAKS ILL. TAXPAYER PROTECTION PLEDGE
CHICAGO—The chairman of Tax Accountability 2007 today charged that Cook County Commissioner Joan Murphy (D-Crestwood) has broken the Illinois Taxpayer Protection Pledge she signed, with two witnesses, on January 11, 2006.
“Commissioner Joan Murphy has decided that being a stooge for Board President Todd Stroger (D) is more important than the promise she made to taxpayers and voters,” said Jim Tobin, President of Tax Accountability 2007. “On January 11, 2006, she signed the pledge, saying, ‘I Joan Patricia Murphy, pledge to the taxpayers of Cook County, that I will oppose any and all efforts to increase any taxes,’ and she added in writing, ‘with the exception of the cigarette tax.’ Well, she might as well have added, ‘with the exception of any taxes Todd Stroger wants.’”
“The proposed 267% hike in the county’s portion of the sales tax, which Murphy introduced, and which will be considered and voted on next Monday, Oct. 1., would raise the county’s portion of the sales tax from 0.75% to 2.75%, a 267% increase that would funnel close to $1 billion new taxpayer dollars into an already corrupt system,” said Tobin.
“Joan Murphy’s tax increase, at the behest of Todd Stroger, would raise the total sales tax to 11% in Chicago, hurting low-income and minority families, and will encourage consumers to do their shopping elsewhere. Local businesses will suffer.”
“I urge the Cook County Board to vote NO on this gigantic sales tax increase, and I urge Joan Murphy to reconsider her vote, and to take the side of the taxpayers she pledged to protect.”
For a copy of Commissioner Murphy’s signed tax pledge please call (312) 427-5128.
The last Cook County Board Meeting started out with everyone remembering Orlando Jones, who was found dead of a gunshot wound a couple of weeks ago. Orlando Jones was John Stroger's (Daddy) Chief of Staff. Most of the Commissioners had some sort of story about him. Todd Stroger said it feels like he lost a brother, which he did a few years ago from an asthma related condition.
The agenda item that they were voting on today was to limit how much Unions were able to contribute. Commissioner Tony Peraica said no matter how much make up you put on it and lipstick, a Pig is still a pig and this is wrong, and it prostetutes the elections. He gave an example of the last election, where a Union came in and gave Todd Stroger a half a million to put ads on TV in the last 5 days before the election, calling him Bush like. Peraica also brought up the fact that many Aldermadic races in Chicago were also determined by union. Many union supported Aldermen won, especially against incumbants. Commissioner Mike Quigley did not like the analogy of pigs with make up and said he will compare Apples to Apples and he was not going to vote it down because Unions represent a lot of people in the County. He went on to say that they had to approve a COLA(Cost of Living Adjustment) for non union employees and that unions already negotiated raises. Commissioner Peter Silvestri said the other White Meat does not want to be referred to as wearing lipstick. Surprisingly Commissioner Bill Beavers favored a $1500.00 cap on contributions by unions. By the way, the vote favored taking contributions from Unions in any amount.
And on today's news a special Cook County Meeting is being called to raise sales taxes, yes to bail the County out of the budget deficit. Yes, Chicagoans will have the highest taxes of anyone in the country, predicted to be 11%.
It is fall and the leaves are starting to turn. Wow summer went by fast!
What else can I say here, but fur is still flying in Springfield, and a lot of back biting is taking place.
Governor guilty of "incipient tyrannical behavior," Madigan suggests
Last Updated 9/25/2007 11:01:04 AM
Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is asking the courts to dismiss a lawsuit over Gov. Rod Blagojevich's authority to set the date and time of special sessions.
In a 60-page rebuttal to the governor's lawsuit, Madigan said the case involves a political, not legal, dispute that is not up to the courts to remedy, that the General Assembly has the sole authority to decide when it meets and that the speaker cannot be sued for actions taken by the House.Madigan also said that there is no constitutional requirement that he order a majority of House members to show up for special sessions. In his lawsuit, Blagojevich said the speaker must compel attendance by enough members that the House can vote on bills.
In a cover letter to House members, Madigan took a shot at Blagojevich.
"It is in the best interest of any democratic republic that incipient tyrannical behavior and tendencies be recognized and rebuked whenever they rear their ugly heads, …" Madigan wrote.
Blagojevich sued Madigan because the House would not meet at the specific time of day set by Blagojevich for special sessions. The case is pending in Sangamon County circuit court
Where the State money goes
Cook County is slicing millions off the top of state grants meant to help catch deadbeat dads or argue death penalty cases and using that money to run the government.
Cook County's system of taking money for "indirect costs" is legal, but no one in the county or the state can say how the formula was reached. The money is generous when compared with the county's grant-administration costs.
Grant money must be strictly spent on specific purposes, but included in some grants is a percentage for "indirect costs" that goes straight to the county treasury, bypassing special purposes.
The county's intergovernmental agreements with the state for going after deadbeat dads are one example.
The state's attorney's office is one of four county agencies that gets state money for the enforcement of child support orders against deadbeat dads or moms.
The state's attorney's office gets money to hire extra prosecutors assigned to prosecute the deadbeat parents in court.
In addition, the grant has specific line items to cover the other costs involved in employing those extra prosecutors. There is money in the grant budget for secretaries, office products, part of the electric bill, even rent in the state's attorney's office.
But about 7.5 percent of the grant is siphoned off for "indirect costs." Indirect costs are supposed to be the few things not specifically named in the grant, costs that must be borne by the county administration.
Pat Compton Lowry, who heads the state's child support enforcement division that distributes the grant, said indirect costs are "anything that a very large organization does to support those provision of services."
Asked for examples, Compton Lowry cited "health benefits, plan administration costs, budget and budget planning, financial reporting."
Here's where the math gets interesting.
The county has four grants for child support enforcement totaling $26.7 million in state aid to the county. The Cook County administration takes more than $2 million for indirect costs.
The county comptroller's office, which handles payroll for 24,000 county employees, operates on a budget of $2.9 million.
No one at the state nor the county could provide a clear explanation of why the county is allowed to take that much money from the state grants.
State officials said the costs are calculated based on federal regulations. But those regulations do not provide a number. Instead, they say the county must prepare specific forms arguing for those indirect costs.
Asked for copies of those forms, state officials said they did not exist.
"In 1998, (the state) negotiated a consistent rate for all four Cook County intergovernmental agreements," said Teresa Kurtenbach, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. "No document detailing the basis for the new rate is available due to the passage of time and staff turnover."
The offices that received the grants said the numbers were negotiated by the county board president's administration.
"That's a standard fee that the county administration takes out of most grants," Sheriff Tom Dart spokesman Bill Cunningham said. "I'm told they sometimes don't take it out of other, smaller grants because it would be too much and would render the grants kind of useless. ... We don't know what the county uses it for."
Cook County administration officials gave an explanation similar to the state's.
"It was agreed upon before this administration came into office, so I don't know what the rationale was," said Ibis Antongiorgi, a spokeswoman for Cook County Board President Todd Stroger.
Other grants have similar cuts off the top. About 6 percent of the state's attorney's office's $2.7 million grant for capital litigation also goes to the county's general fund.
Vrdolyak asks to have indictment dismissed
September 18, 2007
The Associated Press
Attorneys for former Chicago Ald. Edward Vrdolyak have asked a federal judge to dismiss an indictment against the once-powerful political leader.
In an appeal filed Monday, the attorneys told U.S. District Court Judge Milton Shadur that the indictment does not specifically name any criminal offense Vrdolyak may have committed.
The indictment accuses Vrdolyak of plotting with millionaire political contributor Stuart Levine to get money from a developer that wanted to buy a building on Chicago's Gold Coast.
Levine - who at the time was chairman of the board of Chicago Medical School, which owned the building - sought to freeze out rival buyers in favor of Smithfield Properties, which wanted to redevelop the building for condos, the indictment said.
Vrdolyak allegedly told Levine that Smithfield was interested in the property. The two discussed a $2 million cash payment by Smithfield to a charitable trust from which Levine benefited personally, according to the indictment.
They settled on a scheme under which the payment would be $1.5 million, or 10 percent of the $15 million sale price, and Vrdolyak would receive a cut for his services as a middleman, according to the indictment.
But a federal investigation called Operation Board Games intervened and the money never changed hands. Neither the medical school nor Smithfield are charged with wrongdoing.
Vrdolyak's attorneys argued Monday that Levine may have violated ethical rules, but there is no proof that Vrdolyak did so.
Vrdolyak was once chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party and led the Chicago Machine forces that battled the late Mayor Harold Washington during Chicago's "Council Wars" era. He later switched parties and ran for mayor unsuccessfully as a Republican.
Durbin takes on Stroger
Take hospital oversight from Stroger: panel
A committee backed by U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin is preparing to recommend that direct oversight of Cook County's embattled health system be taken out of the hands of President Todd Stroger and the board of commissioners, according to people with knowledge of the panel's work.
Appointed by Mr. Stroger in the spring at the prodding of Mr. Durbin, the panel is expected to stress independent oversight as a key to stemming an unfolding crisis at the three-hospital system, which each year serves some 1 million residents, many of them indigent. The call for outside control is expected to be among dozens of recommendations from the nine-member group made up of local business and health care leaders, the sources say.
It would be the latest in a drumbeat of calls from outside groups urging greater expertise for the Cook County Bureau of Health Services, which is among the few public hospital systems in the nation controlled directly by politicians. But this proposal carries added weight because of Mr. Durbin, a fellow Democrat who's made clear that Mr. Stroger must take steps to fix the system before Illinois' congressional delegation works to secure more federal money (Crain's, May 14). Federal funding accounts for more than half of the system's patient revenue.
Health management experts say wresting budgetary and personnel decisions from the board president would eliminate politically connected hiring that critics contend has long bred ineptitude in the system. But the loss of patronage jobs would be a blow to Mr. Stroger.
It's unclear just how far the panel's recommendations will go, or what form of oversight it might call for. Larry Goodman, CEO of Rush University Medical Center and chairman of Mr. Stroger's blue-ribbon committee, says its report hasn't been finalized, adding, "It is not the right time to comment on what might or might not be in it."
But some county commissioners recently have warmed to the idea of ceding control of the health bureau to an outside group, at least temporarily, to oversee reforms. The 17-member county board must okay any change in oversight.
"I think more commissioners will support a change in governance as a way to pull out of the free fall we're in now and get this hospital system stabilized," says Larry Suffredin, D-Evanston. Commissioners Forrest Claypool, D-Chicago, and Gregg Goslin, R-Glenview, have expressed similar views.
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Mr. Stroger is "eagerly awaiting the analysis and recommendations" of the committee, his spokeswoman says. She declines to comment on the idea of independent governance for the health bureau.
The system is reeling from a $105-million cut in its current budget, to $724 million, which forced service cuts and nearly 1,000 layoffs, sapping morale among doctors and nurses.
Still, the health bureau is roughly $65 million off budget for the fiscal year, which ends Nov. 30, despite efforts by interim health chief Robert Simon to boost revenue by fixing a dysfunctional billing system and other problems.
A newly formed coalition of 50 non-profit groups, including a few powerful unions, also is calling for outside oversight.
"We think that's a necessary step to assure public trust," says John Cameron, political director for a local chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
And Remember when reading this that Cook County Commissioners Gorman and Peraica are both in the same Republican party
The record of Liz Gorman speaks for itself. She has proven herself to be a committed ally of the Democrats - a close associate of indicted political insider Ed Vrdolyak and the disgraced Shaw brothers.
Gorman also has been a staunch ally of Todd Stroger - recruiting Stroger's former spokesperson, Sean Howard (who was arrested last year for harassing a woman) to join her public relations team at the Cook County GOP. She supported Todd Stroger's disastrous budget. She has supported the Stroger position against numerous and even bi-partisan reform efforts. She has gone out of her way to oust good Republicans from Cook County GOP committeeman positions - in favor of Democrat shills that will toe her "party line."
Liz Gorman's motives are clear: she is smearing me now to provide herself a reason to slate a primary opponent against me for State's Attorney. Rest assured that any Liz Gorman-backed candidate will be an enemy of reform, and a friend of the corrupt, Democratic machine.
Dear Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus Users:
I am writing to inform you that the fare and service changes scheduled for September 16th have
been postponed. This means that the cost of your passes and fares will not increase on Sunday, and
any routes scheduled for elimination will continue to operate.
However, the temporary loan of $24 million provided by the State postpones these changes for less
than two months. On November 4th, if the Illinois General Assembly has not acted, we will be
forced to increase fares and reduce service.
The bottom-line is we need a comprehensive plan to fund mass transit.
I know that you are frustrated about the potential service cuts and fare changes. So are we. That
is why we are again asking you to join with us and tell our State leaders: "No More Doomsdays. Fix
Please visit transitchicago.com, or call 1-888-YOUR-CTA, for information on how to contact your
state legislators. Please make your voices heard as we fight to preserve and improve the mass
transit system Chicago needs and deserves.
Thank you again for your support. We are committed to improving your experience on the CTA.
Rezko's former business partner, godson of John Stroger found shot to death
Besides the Las Vegas matter, Jones had been interviewed by federal authorities about a separate, government-related deal highlighted in a Chicago Sun-Times story in Wednesday's editions.
That deal - which involved an annual fee paid to Jones by an investment firm that does business with a state-government pension fund - allowed Jones to be paid hundreds of thousands of dollars annually for a job he did in 2004.
Stephenson said authorities wanted to know if indicted Highland Park businessman Stuart Levine played any role in helping Jones land the deal.
Levine has been indicted along with Wilmette businessman Tony Rezko in a kickback scheme to defraud Illinois taxpayers using fees such as those Jones received.
Jones told the feds Levine played no role in Jones landing the fee, Stephenson said. He added that Jones was not asked about Rezko.
Like Jones, Rezko is close to the Stroger family, and Rezko and Jones have been business partners, records show.
pushing the CTA doomsday al little further back
CHICAGO (AP) - The Regional Transportation Authority says it's considering an offer from Governor Rod Blagojevich (bluh-GOY'-uh-vitch) that could forestall a "doomsday" of service cuts this weekend.
Blagojevich sweetened his bailout plan for Chicago-area mass transit today, offering to advance the RTA its full $54 million 2008 grant for suburban paratransit service.
That would be on top of the $24 million bailout advance he offered yesterday for the Chicago Transit Authority.
The new paratransit offer is designed to quell concerns that the Pace bus and Metra commuter train services would be shortchanged in favor of the CTA.
Blagojevich's offer is designed to buy state lawmakers more time to come up with a long-term transit funding solution.
The RTA says it'll consider the offer ahead of a decision tomorrow.
Alderman Tom Allen, jumping into the Cook County State's Attorney race
="http://thecapitolfaxblog.com/2007/09/13/more-thuggery-from-peraica/">Peracia and Gorman two Republican Cook County Commissioners having issues with each other, againGorman said she regularly received harassing calls from the same man but only notified police after he grew more angry and vulgar in late February, when the county board was in a budget battle and she ran for GOP chairman.
The caller said Gorman was “acting like a bitch” and “that c— better learn to work with Peraica or she’ll find herself out of a job.”
Gorman said “whenever (Peraica) and I were on opposite ends of an issue, the calls would come. (Peraica’s) name always came up.”
“Peraica thinks everything is a fight, but it takes two to fight, and I won’t be part of this,” Gorman said. “He’s tossed too many grenades. One was bound to backfire on him.”
This is Toddler's Daddy, John Stroger's godson
Stroger's godson found dead from gunshot wound
September 13, 2007
By Chris Fusco, Steve Patterson and Fran Spielman
Orlando Jones, a former high-ranking Cook County government official and longtime political insider, was found dead Wednesday from a gunshot wound in southwestern Michigan, sources said.
Jones, 52, was a godson of ex-County Board President John Stroger. Jones’ body was found about 6:30 p.m. near a private beach between Union Pier and New Buffalo, Berrien County Undersheriff Chuck Heit said.
• Stroger's godson's sweet deal
Jones, 52, was a godson of ex-County Board President John Stroger. Jones’ body was found about 6:30 p.m. near a private beach between Union Pier and New Buffalo, Berrien County Undersheriff Chuck Heit said.
“At this time, it appears to be the gunshot wound was self-inflicted,” Heit said. However, “the official cause of death is undetermined” pending an autopsy this afternoon.
Jones’ family reported him missing Wednesday afternoon to Chicago police, said interim Supt. Dana Starks. Officials later got a call that he had been found dead in Michigan. Jones was married with two sons — one in college, one in high school.
He was in County Board President Todd H. Stroger’s office as recently as last week discussing political strategy. Todd Stroger took over his father John’s post in December after the elder Stroger suffered a debilitating stroke.
“The Stroger family is saddened by the passing of Orlando Jones, godson to former Cook County Board President John Stroger and a longtime family friend,” Todd Stroger said in a statement. “His passing is an untimely and unfortunate loss for those who knew and loved him, and he will be missed. Our prayers go out to his wife, Cerrelda, and his two sons.”
Jones recently had been the subject of news reports in Las Vegas saying he was under criminal investigation for wrongdoing regarding hospital contracts. Jones denied any wrongdoing in an interview Friday with the Daily Southtown.
The Sun-Times reported today about a government-related deal in which Jones was continuing to be paid hundreds of thousands of dollars annually for a job he did in 2004.
Jones’ body was found at the bottom of a set of concrete steps that lead to a private beach in an area known as Gowdy Shores, Heit said. Jones is believed to have owned property within the Gowdy Shores Homeowners Association, and his Lexus was found in the Gowdy Shores area.
Two one-lane dirt roads and a heavily wooded dirt footpath lead to the spot where Jones’ body was found. He was discovered in tall grass next to the stairs, neighbors said.
Chicago Ald. Carrie Austin (34th), chairwoman of the city council’s budget committee, was reduced to tears when told of Jones’ death. Austin said that, before taking control of the committee once chaired by her late husband, she consulted Jones about what to do politically and financially because he was the person she trusted most about the workings of government.
Austin said she knows of no reason why anyone would want to hurt Jones or why he would take his own life, even if he was under investigation.
A little bit of temporary help for the CTAThe CTA’s top officials this afternoon accepted a short-term funding bailout proposed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich to avert fare increases and service cuts set to take effect Sunday and Monday, but the agency’s doomsday scenario will still take place in November unless new funds are obtained.
CTA Board Chairman Carole Brown announced the decision after meeting in Blagojevich’s Chicago office to discuss funding proposals. Before taking effect, the move needs to be green-lighted by the RTA in a meeting scheduled for Friday.
Brown said the plan will “give the legislature more time to craft a long-term funding solution for the region.”
Governor busy filing lawsuits
SPRINGFIELD - Gov. Rod Blagojevich is suing the state Legislature again, this time targeting the House clerk on a paperwork issue about his recent budget vetoes.
Blagojevich sued Clerk Mark Mahoney in Sangamon County Circuit Court Tuesday to force the House to more quickly consider the $460 million in cuts he made to the budget last month, the (Springfield) State Journal-Register first reported Tuesday on its Web site.
Blagojevich used his amendatory veto pen to cut what he considered unnecessary spending out of the budget the Legislature passed after a record-setting overtime session.
The state Constitution requires that the governor's veto message must be recorded "immediately" in the journal of the House, where the budget measure originated. Lawmakers then have 15 calendar days to accept or try to override Blagojevich's cuts.
This guy was apparantly a danger on foot, now we have lost a Cook County Sheriff
A 27-year-old motorist accused of running a red light and smashing into a Cook County sheriff's officer's car, killing her as she drove to church, had drunk more than 25 beers before the crash, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Reputed gang member Lionel Ortiz, of the 5800 block of South Albany, who is charged with the reckless homicide of 58-year-old Minerva Santiago and aggravated driving under the influence, spent Saturday night and the early hours of Sunday drinking at two parties with friends, Cook County state's attorney spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said.
He then went to a gas station and bought six more beers, visited a girlfriend and drank two more beers while driving around "looking for something to do," Simonton said.
He gave a videotaped confession, admitting to drinking a case of beer, she said, adding that police found a tequila bottle in his car that a passenger had tried to hide.
He never has had a valid driver's license, Simonton said.
Ortiz was sentenced to a three-month supervision order last year after being convicted of drinking in the public way, state's attorney spokesman Andy Conklin said.
Ortiz was ordered held on bail of $400,000 by Judge Donald Panarese during a brief hearing at Cook County Court Tuesday afternoon.
Ortiz did not attend the hearing. He still is hospitalized at Stroger Hospital for a severe leg injury suffered during the crash.
Santiago was the first Hispanic woman to be promoted to sergeant by the Illinois Department of Corrections and had 25 years experience as a corrections officer.
She was superintendent of the Department of Women's Justice, a post overseeing the treatment of convicted addicts, which she had held since 1999.
A mother of two adult children, Santiago planned to retire in a couple of years, family members said Monday
Labels: Rod Blagojevich
And why didn't someone offer the Toddler a booster chair? Or was he slumping?
It's September 11th a sad day in this country, I know that day it was hard to believe what was happening. A new Osama Bin Laden video, or is it? Why would he take on so many American political views in it? Are we in a better place in this country for fighting the war on terror? Or is this Adminstration concerned more with "The Axis of Evil", Iraq, Iran and North Korea? We are in deep in Iraq, one of the "Axis of Evil" and we constantly hear about Iran, and North Korea. What are we doing to get to Al Qaeda? Aren't they in Afghanistan, close to Pakistan, or at least where Osama Bin Laden, mastermind of 9/11 is?
Toddler tax problemsThe Internal Revenue Service has slapped a federal tax lien on Cook County Board President Todd Stroger's campaign committee.
Stroger, who took control of the $3 billion government nine months ago, was hit last month for failing to withhold income taxes from those working for his campaign, according to his campaign treasurer, Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th).
She said the $9,309 lien was paid off as soon as the campaign became aware of it in August.
The tax lien comes on the heels of the State Board of Elections recommending one of its biggest fines ever - $255,816 - against Stroger's campaign, as it failed to report as many as 78 donations even six months after last year's election. Campaign attorney Burt Odelson said that was due to "clerical errors," but one watchdog group called it a "willful disregard for the law."
A lien is filed only after the IRS has tried and failed to collect a debt, and election attorneys say it's rare to see a lien slapped on a political campaign committee.
But Odelson called this mistake "a very common error with a campaign committee, because they operate differently than a business does. It was an error and it was corrected."
Lyle said "we were trying too hard to do everything right," and the campaign's final 2006 withholding tax payment to the IRS got overlooked.
"I was upset because then we had to pay penalties and interest, so I had it paid within 48 hours," she said. "I definitely didn't want this to accrue."
Through a spokesman, Todd Stroger declined to comment.
Commissioner Tony Peraica, who lost last year's election to Stroger, said the latest "error" is another in a lengthy list of "very sloppy, slipshod" mistakes tied to Stroger.
"How many oversights can you have?" he asked.
In 2003, Gov. Rod Blagojevich's campaign committee was hit with an $8,032 tax lien for failing to pay corporate income taxes. The campaign promptly paid it.
Labels: Todd Stroger
It was actually one of the shorter Cook County Board Meetings. Absent were Commissioners Bill Beavers and Earlean Collins.
Commissioner Murphy with co-sponsor Commissioner Deborah Sims were the only two to vote on their proposal to exempt the Commissioners from the investigation of hiring practices, all the other Cook County employees and departments must go through. The reasons Sims and Murphy said they should be exempt is that in the middle of an election they will not be able to defend themselves. I was happy to see all the other Commissioners vote against it, Silvestri and Peraica saying that everyone including the ones making the rules have to live by the same rules. This makes me wonder why Murphy and Sims think it's OK to exempt themselves from the rules and regulations brought out by the County Board?
Commissioner Peraica questioned some tax relief for businesses that are moving from one area of the County to another and getting another tax relief. Since this involved mostly Commissioner Moreno's area, he spoke out and said he will scrutinize when things come up in Peraica's district.
Commissioner Peraica wanted the Sheriffs Department to justify why they are spending $1.4 million in wiring when the County was supposed to go wireless. The under sheriff was there stating that this money going to Devine Company was to help update the whole DOC Campus which is still in a DOS system, and the tunnels needed to be wired and concrete had to be drilled into. This was still approved even though Peraica thought this was a lot of money just for wiring only.
Dr. Simon, from the Bureau of Health was there. The main subject was $4.5 million dollars of Prescriptions going to addresses outside of Cook County. It finally came down to Commissioner Suffredin saying that lawsuits for cutting people off medications would be far greater than the $4.5 million and that a study needs to be done. Commissioner Peter Silvestri wanted to know if the patients would be given enough notice so they could find other ways to get their medications. It was also noted that most of these medications were being covered by Medicaid, and that they could lose this source of income. Dr. Simon will have to look into this further and get back to the Board. It was also brought up that patients are not refused in the Emergency Department no matter where they come from, and are given 2 weeks to a months worth of medications when leaving. Dr. Simon did bring up the fact that over 75% of the patients enter the Cook County Hospital through the Emergency Department.
Another issue was brought up, was that illegal immigrants, 12 million according to Commissioner Goslin on a committee to study all County Hospitals, said that they all go to County Hospitals throughout the country for care. He also noted, Lance Tyson, Toddler's chief of Staff, will be touring the Dallas County Hospital later this month to see how they operate. Commissioner Maldonado spoke up and said the illegal immigrants pay taxes, own homes and also pay property taxes which support these County Hospitals. Commissioner Maldonado has always been out in front on immigrant issues, he was out in front when the Little Village Mall was overtaken by about 200 FBI agents in a raid, he is always at the immigration march, I would not expect him to sit still when this was brought up.
High-paying county jobs increased despite cuts
September 9, 2007
BY Steve Patterson Special to the Daily Southtown
As Cook County Board President Todd Stroger looked for jobs to cut during this year's budget battle, union leaders and critics chanted for him to "chop from the top."
But when the budget was finally passed, many complained that Stroger had cut thousands of lower-paid, frontline workers to protect higher-paid, politically connected patronage workers.
A Chicago Sun-Times review of county payroll records reveals that while recent budget cuts did whittle the payroll, the number of high-paid jobs actually increased, meaning layoffs hit low-paid employees hardest. And, records show, Stroger's layoffs and cuts have made him the highest-paid non-hospital employee in county government.
"This budget was designed to enrich the political class at the expense of hard-working, frontline workers who deliver real services to the public," said Commissioner Forrest Claypool (D-Chicago), who was the loudest critic of Stroger's budget cuts. "These numbers clearly show that bureaucrats and paper-pushers at the top of the food chain were protected. People on the lower end of the scale just got hammered."
Records provided by the county show that while there were 26,731 county employees when Stroger took office in December, that number was down to 24,815 by late July. But the number of people making more than $60,000 grew from 6,497 in December to 7,672 in July. And there was virtually no change in the number of county employees making more than $100,000.
Stroger spokeswoman Ibis Antongiorgi said much of the increase in salaries is because of union contracts signed years ago by the county board.
"One of the county's biggest problems is a structural deficit created by entering into obligations without the revenue to support them," she said, adding that it's also important to offer "competitive salaries in order to attract and retain top health care professionals. There was never any intention to cut more lower-level positions than higher-level ones."
The county's highest-paid employee is Dr. Peter Egofske, who makes $400,000 annually, according to county records.
But last year, the highest-paid employee not working at a hospital was IT director Cathy Maras-O'Leary, with a $190,437 salary. Now, it's Stroger, who makes $170,000, records show.
Those findings won't help Stroger as he prepares to introduce tax increases.
He's expecting the same criticisms that there is too much waste, unnecessary middle management and not enough frontline workers in county government. Yet he's adamant that there is no more fat to cut from the county payroll.
"President Stroger keeps asking us to show him where the waste is. Well, here it is," Commissioner Tim Schneider (R-Bartlett) said of the Sun-Times' findings. "These numbers prove he isn't cutting where he should."
Will Cook County launch utility taxes?
Gas, electricity fees would cost average home $5 a month
September 7, 2007
By Jonathan Lipman Staff writer
Cook County could add $600 million in new utility taxes under proposals floated Thursday by Commissioner Bill Beavers (D-Chicago).
Beavers proposed electricity and natural gas taxes during a board meeting and said he’ll propose a telecommunications tax soon. The county has no taxes on these items now, he said.
"Either we’re going to get some monies where we can hire people or we’re going to close the county down totally," Beavers said.
The county is expecting another major budget gap for 2008, though officials haven’t released a figure yet.
Board President Todd Stroger has ruled out a property tax increase but said Thursday he wants commissioners to seriously consider the proposals from Beavers, his close ally.
"I think (commissioners) need to look at the proposals and talk about what they can support to make sure we can keep the doors open," Stroger said. "It has gone through our administration and they said that they’re sound ideas."
Beavers said the taxes would be similar in structure and amount to those levied by the city. Taxes on electricity and natural gas would bring in about $400 million a year for the county, he said. Beavers said taxes on telecommunication are not yet calculated, but he believes they’ll bring in $200 million.
"It’s a small amount," Beavers said. "In some cases less than $1, in some cases $1 or a little more (per monthly bill)," Beavers said. "When you talk about health care, $1 a month for health care, I don’t think it’s a hell of a lot to pay. There’s nowhere else to go but the county hospital."
Beaver’s proposal for electricity would charge residents 0.61 cents per kilowatt-hour for the first 2,000 kWh per month, which is the same as Chicago’s electricity tax. The average American home uses 938 kWh per month, which would mean $5.72 a month in taxes.
For natural gas, Beavers suggests 5.2 cents per therm.
Beavers also proposed Thursday a tax on cigars and loose tobacco. The board shot down a similar proposal in past years.
Commissioner Forrest Claypool, an ardent foe of tax increases, said Beavers’ proposals were part of Stroger’s strategy to raise taxes in 2008 instead of making further cuts.
"I think the public would be willing to accept higher taxes for public health and safety if they saw evidence that the county had reformed itself, and there was no waste and fat," said Claypool (D-Chicago). "But I don’t see how you can go to the taxpayers now."
But Beavers said he had talked to a number of commissioners and many thought it was time to boost revenue.
Beavers said commissioners who object to raising taxes need to come up with a better solution. "The county has cut to the bone. We don’t have enough people to do the work as it is."
What I found shocking is more than 50% of the patients here are on Medicaid, that is sad.
This hospital is located in Lincoln Park as well, a pretty pricey neighborhood.
Lurie Gives $100M To Children's Memorial Hospital
Officials: Gift Is Larest Given By 1 Person To Children's Hospital In U.S.
(CBS) CHICAGO Streeterville is the future home of Children's Memorial Hospital and on Wednesday that project got a big boost: a single donation of $100 million.
CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports that the giant gift came from a woman who used to work as a nurse at Children's Memorial.
Longtime Chicago philanthropist Ann Lurie received a sustained ovation Wednesday; a thank you for her $100 million gift to Children's Memorial Hospital.
“This truly is a remarkable day in the 125 year history of the Children's Memorial Hospital,” said hospital CEO Pat Magoon.
Hospital officials say the $100 million is the largest gift the hospital has ever received and the biggest donation from an individual to any children's hospital in the U.S.
“I don't give money away frivolously. I see this donation as making an investment in the future of Chicago's children,” Lurie said.
The money will be used to build a new home for Children’s Memorial Hospital in the Streeterville neighborhood, near the Northwestern Memorial Hospital complex. It's set to open in five years.
The new bldg will be bigger than the old location; 50 percent more space for patient care. And it'll have a new name - the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.
For Lurie, it is just the latest in a long list of enormous donations to schools, charities and hospitals, including the Robert H. Lurie Cancer Center at Northwestern, named for her husband, a real estate developer who died in 1990.
The donation to Children's Memorial has special significance for Ann Lurie. Some of her six children were treated here and she was an intensive care nurse at the hospital 30 years ago.
“I remember a lot of the children that were in that unit. The smallest baby I took care of weighed one pound, eight ounces."
Lurie hopes her donation will inspire others to give to Children's Memorial, but it's hard imagine her generosity will be topped.
Hospital officials were especially grateful for the gift because more than 50 percent of their patients are on Medicaid.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich's lawsuit to force a House speaker from his own party to hold legislative special sessions may be unprecedented, controversial and somewhat embarrassing for the state's Democrats. But it's not legally frivolous, experts say.
The Illinois Constitution grants the governor the power to call special sessions, and state law appears to allow him to set the time and date.
Blagojevich filed the lawsuit Aug. 24, asking a Sangamon County judge to affirm his right to set the time and date of special sessions and to block Madigan from excusing members from the sessions and preventing a quorum.
The suit followed months of finger-pointing between Blagojevich and lawmakers, who were angry about being called to Springfield by the governor almost every weekend in July and August.
Some lawmakers accused Blagojevich of calling the sessions to punish them for a summerlong budget impasse.
Madigan's spokesman, Steve Brown, said the speaker has no obligation to make members go to what he calls a "farce."
Blagojevich spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff argued the special sessions themselves -- and the lawsuit to affirm the governor's power -- are necessary.
Blagojevich "can call special sessions when there are issues that the legislature needs to address," Ottenhoff said. "The lack of a state budget is definitely one of those issues. ... We're confident that for the speaker to disregard a special session proclamation is a constitutional violation."
There is a question whether the courts will choose to decide the case at all, or refuse on the ground that the lawsuit presents a political question.
For example, the Illinois Constitution states that the state will provide an "efficient" system of "high quality" public education. But when an advocacy group filed a lawsuit alleging that the state's school-financing scheme fell short of that standard, the state Supreme Court refused to decide the issue.
The question is "outside the sphere of the judicial function" and "solely for the legislative branch to answer," the court said in 1996.
Both Blagojevich and Madigan avoided one potentially sticky issue in the lawsuit: What role would Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan play?
Both sides asked Lisa Madigan, daughter of the House speaker, to allow them to use their own in-house attorneys to pursue the litigation, said Ann Spillane, Lisa Madigan's chief of staff.
The attorney general's office granted that request, and therefore never faced the issue of whether the attorney general faced a conflict of interest, Spillane said.
All kinds of crazy State History being made
After reading this, I feel for those who have to cover the events down in Springfield
A whole new level of stupid in Springfield
Statehouse InsiderSunday, September 2, 2007
Just when you thought things in Springfield had maxed out at 10 on the Stupid Scale, along comes Gov. Rod Blagojevich to crank it up to 11.
Blagojevich sued House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, because Madigan won't convene the House on the exact date and time for special sessions ordered by the governor. Madigan is doing nothing less than trying to eradicate the constitutional power of the governor, the lawsuit says.
You could probably think of a situation where that might be the case. Say, a natural catastrophe hits the state that needs attention by the Legislature and either the speaker or Senate president refuses a call for a special session for whatever reason. That indeed would be a problem.
That isn't the case here. This is a case where the governor has used special sessions to bully lawmakers into giving him what he wants. Rank-and-file lawmakers have nothing to do during these sessions. It's just the governor thinking he can eventually wear them down by forcing them to stay in Springfield. It's a trivial and petulant use of special sessions that are supposed to be employed for serious purposes.
So now the governor is going to court to precipitate a constitutional crisis basically over the fact he can't get lawmakers to approve his health-care plan. You didn't really expect anything less of the guy, did you?
A closer look
The lawsuit also says it isn't enough that Madigan convene the House at the time and date set by the governor, he's got to ensure that more than half the representatives show up. The lawsuit lists several days when fewer than half showed up, meaning the House was unable to conduct business.
Of course, the lawsuit blamed Madigan.
Let's look at one of those days. On July 28, a Saturday, only 56 of 118 House members were present. Bad Mikey gave excused absences to the rest of them, thereby eradicating the governor's powers.
Want to know how many senators showed up that day? Only 15 out of 59. As a percentage of the chamber, the Senate had worse attendance than the House. Is Senate President Emil Jones, D-Chicago, named as a defendant in the lawsuit because he didn't force a majority of his members to attend that day? Nope, because Jones is Blagojevich's pal.
Comptroller Dan Hynes said it best. Blagojevich's hypocrisy knows no bounds.
Point of view
One part of the lawsuit describes the parties to it, i.e., Blagojevich and Madigan.
Blagojevich is accurately described as the governor, and the suit adds that he was "recently re-elected by the votes of over 1.7 million Illinoisans." Madigan is described as a state resident, House speaker and a state representative. "He represents one of 118 districts in Illinois. He was elected by approximately 20,216 votes in the 2006 election."
Take that, Mr. Speaker. You represent no one in comparison to the Great Exalted Oz. Apparently the courts are supposed to read this and summarily crush Madigan like a bug.
There's another way of looking at the numbers. According to official election results, 4,122 people voted against Madigan, while 1,750,000 Illinoisans voted against Blagojevich. Maybe the courts will notice the relative popularity of Blagojevich and Madigan.
Blagojevich finally got around to dealing with the budget more than a week ago, hacking $463 million in spending. At the time, he and his office were very careful to say he was not going to use the money to pay for his expanded health-care program, which coincidentally will cost about $463 million.
Then in DuQuoin last week, Blagojevich was asked if his cuts were politically motivated. Absolutely not, said the governor, who then launched into a lengthy dissertation about the need for expanded health-care programs. That is, the need for his expanded health-care programs, because he contracted many others through his budget cuts.
"The choice left to me was whether to allow ... these pro- jects to be in place or whether to bring those down and use that money to provide health care to more than 500,000 people," Blagojevich said.
OK, so apparently he's planning to use the money he cut from other programs to pay for his health-care plan after all. You know, it would be nice if these guys came up with just one set of fabrications and stuck to it for a while.
State Treasurer found a way to bring in money to the StateIn just the first week on eBay, thousands of items from abandoned safe deposit boxes have generated $34,150 for the state.
“In the past, we would auction off all the items once a year under a tent at the state fair. I thought it would be a tremendous advantage to introduce items to a worldwide audience on a year-round basis, which will increase revenue to the state,” Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias said. “Additionally, we have efficiency gains and streamlined services.”
Beavers' bid to stop unions gets boost
September 1, 2007
By Jonathan Lipman Staff writer
A bid to sharply restrict local unions' ability to donate to Cook County political campaigns got a boost Friday with the release of a favorable legal opinion.
Commissioner Bill Beavers, who bears a grudge against the unions, has been pushing the proposal to limit any county employee union or its national affiliate from donating more than $3,000 a year to a county politician.
When he proposed the restriction in June, Beavers (D-Chicago) accused unions of trying to "buy elections." Beavers' daughter, Darcel Beavers, lost her recent bid to replace her father on the Chicago City Council after unions helped fund the campaign of her opponent, Sandi Jackson.
The proposal was roundly criticized on the county board floor by Beavers' fellow Democrats, many of whom rely on union donations at election time. But Beavers has kept the bill alive in the finance committee, where it gets a hearing Thursday.
Critics said Beavers' proposal was an unconstitutional restriction of free speech. But the Cook County state's attorney issued a formal opinion Friday dismissing that claim.
Most of Beavers' proposal "would likely survive legal challenge as similar statutory provisions in the United States Code and in state law have been upheld," the opinion said.
Portions of Beavers ordinance would likely not hold up in court, the opinion said, including a provision that calls for any politician found violating the limit on donations to be thrown out of office.
Commissioner Larry Suffredin, who blasted the ordinance in June, said Friday he doesn't think Beavers has the votes to pass it, regardless of its legality.
"I just don't understand this, other than he's upset with what happened to his daughter," said Suffredin (D-Evanston). "I think he's out there on his own."
Beavers did not return a message left Friday.
Meanwhile Sheriff Dart is busy
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said Thursday he hopes to end the process of strip searches at the Cook County Jail through the use of high-tech body scanning machines.
"They're much like the ones they're using at some of the airports now," Dart said during a taping of WBBM-AM (780) radio's "At Issue" program. "You step into a booth, and something spins around you."
Dart said he hoped the machines will prove useful in preventing contraband from entering the jail and hoped it would reduce the onslaught of lawsuits against the county from inmates who object to being stripped naked when admitted.
"We get just annihilated with lawsuits," Dart said. "There's a cottage industry."
Dart estimated the office has spent $10 million in legal fees and settlements during the past decade on strip-search lawsuits.
During the interview, Dart mostly ruled out a run for state's attorney. Incumbent Dick Devine is not running for re-election in the spring, and Dart said many people have tried to get Dart in the race as a successor.
"I love what I'm doing right now," Dart said. "I don't see a scenario where I would run -- but I want to leave myself that little bit of wiggle room."
One in every 930 houses in Illinois was under foreclosure last month, putting the state at 15th in the nation.Renters who live in buildings under foreclosure will be protected from eviction if their landlords default on mortgage payments thanks to a new law sponsored by Sen. Maggie Crotty (D-Oak Forest).
The legislation allows tenants who are up-to-date on rent payments to stay in their homes for 120 days after notice of a foreclosure hearing. Tenants could be evicted with little or no warning under previous law.
"If somebody is making their rent payments and unbeknownst to them the landlords themselves aren't making their mortgage payments, I didn't think that's fair to give no notice to the renters," Crotty said.