Not that the budget meeting was going well to begin with but The Toddler and Commissioner Mik Quigley really got into a back and forth heated argument. Last budget when his happened they appologized to each other by sending each other flowers. Still no word on a floral delivery to either one yet. Will it be yellow roses again this year?


Stroger insists on bigger sales tax hike

February 29, 2008
By Steve Patterson, Sun-Times News Group
Cook County Board President Todd Stroger has the votes he needs to raise the county sales tax to 1.5 percent and help balance the county budget.

But he's rejecting it because he wants an even higher sales tax increase that will prevent him from having to ask taxpayers for more funds in 2009 and 2010 - when he's up for re-election.

That rejection surprised commissioners Thursday as they instead went into the night slicing and dicing the budget in hopes of filling a projected $226 million deficit. They have until midnight tonight to reach a compromise or risk a shutdown of county government.

Stroger on Thursday was unwilling to budge from his demand that the sales tax be raised from .75 percent to 2 percent, which would give the county roughly $800 million more each year - far more than is needed to balance the budget. Stroger has eight votes in support of the bigger tax hike but has been unable to secure a needed ninth vote.

But Commissioner Larry Suffredin (D-Evanston) agreed to provide Stroger with a swing vote to double the sales tax from .75 percent to 1.5 percent. That would bring the county about $300 million more a year.

But with commissioners waiting so long to approve a tax increase, it wouldn't take effect until November - meaning the county only could collect about $53 million this year.

So Suffredin and other commissioners proposed eliminating some of the jobs Stroger wants to add to the budget as well as cutting back on overtime and consultants to help make ends meet until the county can collect a full year of the greater sales tax revenue. But the board rejected those cuts.


Where are the checks and balances?



Ok, so the July 10th meeting is where in the CC Board Meeting it was brought up why they have so many outside collection agencies, and which one were they going to pick based on performance.....yet with all the outside help, only a little more than one third was collected, keeping in mind that these agencies kept a percentage of what they collected, and still they have not collected even half. When John Daley, Finance Committee Chair was asked how much was spent on each vendor who was to collect, because this way they might be able to figure out who is doing their job, he was unable to answer? No wonder so many have been able to steal money from CC, there are no checks and balances. Can't they check a general ledger to see where expenses for outside vendors such as these are? Couldn't they check the check runs, or the bank reconciliations to see where the money went? So many flaws in the finance department. So many ways things fall through the cracks. Who is responsible for the General Ledger? The Bank reconciliations? For auditing check runs? Is it a free for all in the Finance department?
Collection still leaves Cook short
Paid fees do little to help fix budget
By Hal Dardick | Tribune reporter
February 20, 2008

The Stroger administration acknowledged Tuesday it collected only slightly more than a third of nearly $150 million in previously unbilled Cook County public health services, and that's about all it expects to get.

County health officials said they've received about $55 million in unpaid bills. The details on an issue that has been a bone of contention on the County Board came 10 days before the deadline to approve a budget, as Board President Todd Stroger conceded he has "no idea" how to break an impasse with commissioners.

Stroger also said the delay in getting a new budget in place has resulted in a bigger hole to fill. The first-term president said the Health Services Bureau lost $45 million in revenue it would have been able to generate by hiring hundreds of additional health-care workers and serving more patients as envisioned in his proposed budget.

Instead of a $238 million shortfall, the county now faces a projected $283 million deficit under his proposed budget, which included a nearly 7 percent increase in spending. But county officials acknowledged that the salaries and expenses related to the new health hires was not subtracted from the additional $45 million shortfall Stroger claimed.

Commissioners critical of Stroger, however, questioned the president's deficit figures, noting that they were based on his administration's revenue projections and a proposed budget that included more than 1,100 new hires.

Stroger said he remains one vote short of getting his revised $3.2 billion budget proposal passed. Stroger wants the to raise the county sales tax to 2 percent from 0.75 percent and cut 4 percent from his initial proposal in all areas except health care. Only eight of 17 commissioners back the increase.

The only alternative, Stroger maintained, was to cut 18 percent from his proposed budget. Commissioners, meanwhile, are floating potential compromises behind the scenes that include various cuts and tax or fee increases in an effort to find common ground by the Feb. 29 deadline.

Flanked by supportive private health-care executives Tuesday, Stroger said further health services cuts could send those who currently seek treatment at Stroger Hospital or the county health system to private hospitals and health-care organizations that also face financial woes. Commissioner Mike Quigley (D-Chicago), a sales-tax increase opponent, said he sees no emerging budget compromise.

Quigley, other independent Democrats and the board's five Republicans say there is still plenty of fat in the budget, but Stroger on Tuesday labeled that as "just a red herring."

Stroger cited the report of a committee that studied the county's vast public health care system and concluded it could not handle further cuts. The same group also called for an independent board to oversee county health care.

Stroger has established a task force to consider independent governance.

Excerpt from the July 10th meeting, discussing the collection vendors Chamberlain, ESI, HSM and Great Lakes:
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.



July 10th meeting where this was brought up and supposed to have been evaluated

Rezko and Levine now claim to have used drugs that cause memory failure. Levine was doing so good remembering things to keep himself out of the pokey, but now this? Is his concience bothering him being a snitch?

Judge rules Rezko's lawyers can explore Levine's drug use
A federal judge ruled Tuesday that lawyers for Antoin "Tony" Rezko can explore at trial allegations of heavy use of cocaine and other powerful drugs by Stuart Levine, the government's key witness, which is a setback for prosecutors that could have significant impact on the extortion case.

In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve disclosed that prosecutors, in sealed court filings, had acknowledged that Levine "consistently used drugs," including cocaine, crystal meth and Ketamine -- a so-called club drug nicknamed "Special K" -- while he allegedly schemed with Rezko.

The defense contends Levine's extensive drug use impaired his memory of critical events, an allegation disputed by the government.


Rezko, a former adviser and fundraiser for Gov. Rod Blagojevich, is scheduled to go on trial March 3 on charges he schemed with Levine to extort investment firms seeking business from the state. Levine, who pleaded guilty to similar charges in 2006, sat on two influential state boards.

The indictment charges that the scheme extended from spring 2003 through July 2004.

Allegations ruled relevant

Prosecutors also sought to block the questioning as irrelevant, arguing Levine only used drugs during "personal social activities."

But St. Eve held that Rezko's lawyers, led by Joseph J. Duffy, accumulated enough evidence on their own to show that Levine's drug use was indeed relevant to the case.

In her ruling, the judge recounted how Levine's former secretary told prosecutors in 2005 that Levine used cocaine daily in his office.

Two years later, she told Rezko's lawyers that Levine had often been high when he came to work and locked himself in his office for up to three hours at a time to snort cocaine. The secretary said she often found cocaine residue and drug paraphernalia in his office.

Alleged abuse detailed

In addition, St. Eve wrote, several of Levine's social acquaintances described Levine as a heavy user of crystal meth, Ecstasy, Special K, cocaine and marijuana.

"One of them reported that Levine would take large amounts of drugs during their all-night partying sessions and would take drugs up until the moment he departed, when Levine -- at times -- would tell his social acquaintances that he had to leave for an 'important meeting,'" the judge's ruling said.

In her ruling, St. Eve said the defense presented evidence that Levine's drug use "became progressively worse between 2002 and 2004."

"In sum, defendant Rezko has presented sufficient information to raise a legitimate issue regarding whether Levine's memory of the events in question was affected by his drug usage," the judge wrote. "It is appropriate for the jury to hear the evidence and determine what weight to give to Levine's testimony."

St. Eve said the defense may cross-examine Levine about his allegedly excessive use of drugs before some of the evening meetings at issue in the case.

Health expert may speak

St. Eve said she will rule later on whether she will allow a medical expert hired by the defense to testify at trial on the impact of Levine's drug use "on his memory, attention span, and his ability to perceive and understand events accurately."

According to a fact sheet by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Ketamine is a tranquilizer most commonly used on animals that can cause "long-term memory and cognitive difficulties" among other side effects in humans.

Levine's attorney, Jeffrey Steinback, has denied that his client was a drug addict or that any drug use impaired his memory.

In her ruling, the judge also blocked Rezko's lawyers from questioning Levine about his "personal social life," saying "its extreme prejudicial impact" on a jury substantially outweighed any potential relevance.

St. Eve did not disclose the nature of Levine's relationships but ruled the conduct was not relevant to the case against Rezko.

-----------

jcoen@tribune.com

More articles

What's happening in the Counties



We have Judy Baar Topinka's ex-running mate, Joe Birkett who ran for Lt. Governor on the Judy Baar GOP ticket when she was running for Governor. Joe Birkett who is Dupage County State's Attorney, the equivalent of Dick Devine in CC, wants to bring the death penalty back. Joe Birkett who is a GOP in the most GOP County in Illinois where McCain has his last visit is pushing this in a Blue State.
Just think former Governor Ryan, GOP who worked with Judy Baar for years was so anti death penalty, even getting a noble peace prize for it.
In Strogerville: Todd insists he needs a tax increase and he will not rule out a $40 Cook County Vehicle Sticker, which will be in addition to a City Sticker. I wonder how many people will have time to remove all these stickers, will this impair a drivers view? But Todd said if the majority of the Board wants it he would sign it. He feels his sales increase is needed because when there are fewer jobs, crime goes up and the jail and court systems get the business, more public defenders, etc. Yes, Todd is right the Chicago Tribune announced at least 100 layoffs there, Sears the day before, Macy's before that, well let's face it this is the daily news, Yes, and more people losing jobs will needs health care.



DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett along with Republican state reps Dennis Reboletti of Elmhurst and Randy Ramey of West Chicago have called a news conference for tomorrow at the DuPage County Sheriff's office.
The lawmakers plan to announce the introduction of a resolution calling on Gov. Rod Blagojevich to lift the informal, eight-year moratorium on executions and the introduction of legislation to expand the death penalty by making those who murder children 16 and under automatically eligible for the death penalty (the current age under the law is 12 and under).

Anita Alvarez, the Democratic nominee for Cook County State's Attorney, has also put the moratorium in play, calling during a radio interview over the weekend for a statewide advisory referendum this fall and saying she'd like to shrink the number of defendants eligible for the death penalty.

"But the moratorium has sent the wrong message. And if the death penalty is a deterrent, it should be a penalty that's actually in place and working," said Birkett.
Birkett stressed that Illinois has implemented capital punishment reforms, such as videotaping confessions by murder suspects.


Stroger seeks smaller tax increase, but no budget deal near
Despite revised proposal, no budget deal seems near

Cook County Board President Todd Stroger said Wednesday he wants a smaller sales tax increase than the one commissioners already rejected, but that concession doesn't appear to have the county any closer to a budget deal.

The freshman county executive pitched the idea of raising the Cook portion of the sales tax to 2 percent. That's still more than double the county's current .75 percent sales tax, but a drop from the 2.75 percent tax rate Stroger unsuccessfully sought last fall.

The potential swing vote on the 17-member board was unmoved, however.

Maldonado -- who said the sales tax hits hardest those who can least afford it -- joined the board's five Republicans and three independent Democrats to form a bloc of nine that blocked Stroger's larger sales tax. As of now, Stroger would seem to need one more vote to get his smaller tax hike approved.

"It's clear to me that they don't have the votes," said Commissioner Larry Suffredin (D-Evanston), who met with Stroger on Wednesday and is among the Democrats who often oppose him.

Finance Committee Chairman John Daley (D-Chicago) said that if the sales tax hike were approved, it wouldn't go into effect until the last two months of the county's fiscal year, which began Dec. 1. As a result, to balance its budget, the county would have to borrow money that it would repay in 2009.

"At least he's offering some kind of compromise, and it's up to the commissioners to see what we can do now," Daley said. Under state law, the board must approve a budget by Feb. 29.

If commissioners reject the latest proposal, "It's back to square one and serious cuts in the budget," Daley said.

Laurence Msall, president of the non-partisan Civic Federation, said the county should cut waste rather than raise taxes. The group is "very concerned that President Stroger is going to try to impose an unreasonable and unnecessary tax increase," Msall said Wednesday.

Commissioners also said Stroger suggested cutting 4 percent from his initial budget proposal of nearly $3.3 billion, which included a spending hike of 6.8 percent over last year.

Meanwhile, support for a proposal to enact a $40 countywide vehicle sticker appeared to be on life-support amid concerns about how to enforce it, commissioners said.

Stroger maintained core services would be cut without more revenue.

"The board has to make some decisions about what we are going to do," Stroger told John Williams on WGN radio Wednesday. "We really only have our sales tax that is going to keep us whole."

Tony Peraica's site is worth visiting




Tony Peraica

The time has come to end the corruption that is costing the people of Cook County Millions That is how his site starts out, you can give him credit for at least having better pictures of himself than I have seen on other sites. He has a whole section just on Alvarez and well, for use of a new term introduced by her husband, Political Pollution.
Will Tony Peraica be able to find millions so that Todd Stroger will not have budget balancing battles? Any way you look at it this is going to be an interesting race once again. Tony Peraica is quite capable of running an interesting campaign.

Cook County Board President Todd Stroger says he's ready to compromise on how to close a $238 million budget shortfall. He's taking a new proposal to commissioners today.

The County has to pass a balanced budget by the 29 of February. Board President Todd Stroger's plan to raise the sales tax 2 percent didn't get enough support. And agency leaders say an alternative plan to cut spending by 13 percent would be crippling.

Sources tell Chicago Public Radio Stroger's new proposal includes a smaller sales tax hike, coupled with some spending cuts. He says he'll meet all 17 commissioners this week - in a bid to get a majority on board.

STROGER: Really, we need one. I think there are eight commissioners that see the vision for the county, and we need one to see it the way we do, and that's basically that the county needs to run at a certain level, and if we don't fund it, it will not.

Commissioners are also considering a $40 vehicle sticker to help bridge the budget gap.

I'm Ammad Omar, Chicago Public Radio.

CC State's Attorney surprise



It was no surprise that Obama won Illinois for the Democrat primary, almost double the votes that Hillary got.

As for the CC States Attorney, with Tom Allen, backed by the Chicago COPS, firemen and the like coming in a close second. It was a surprise that Suffredin came in third. The South Side favorite, Brookins came in fourth. I thought Allen would have won considering he was the favorite of the City Workers. I also thought Brookins would of at least come in secound considering how South Siders come out and vote for South Siders. I have heard many South Side Democrats talk about voting for Peraica because he would have the "testicular virility", borrowing that phrase from our own Governor Blagojevich, to take on the Toddler. The buzz around the South Side, even though Alvarez is from the South Side, is that many are afraid she won't be able to go toe to toe with Urkel. All in all there were so many candidates for the Democratic ticket in the CC States Attorney's race it was too hard to predict. Also since there were so many no one really stood out. Brookins got a lot of bad publicity about supposidly being a deadbeat Dad on child payments too close to the election, which probably hurt him the most. Suffredin is a North Sider, but so is Allen who has so many COPS, Firemen and the like living in his Ward and supporting him, as well as many COPS, etc. that do not live in his Ward behind him....well I thought he would be the winner.
Now we have a new term "pollitical pollution" as in what Alvarez's husband said she did not have.
Now Alvarez will have to deal with Peraica's campaign style, and he has not wasted a moments time throwing punches. This could get interesting. She will have to show she can handle Peraica first, before anyone can seriously think she can handle the Todd.

Ok, what if, and I mean if Peraica gets the CC States Attorney, then who would go or be annointed into his CC District's Commissioner's Seat? How about Judy Baar Topinka, she lives there in the district, right? She is GOP? And just imagine how entertaining the CC Board meetings would be. It would turn into must see TV. Lance Tyson and Urkel would not know what to do when, well, when Judy will be Judy.

As far as the 3rd District Congressman goes, many thought Lipinski the Second, would have a bigger fight since Pera who came in 20% behind him put up a nasty one. Mark Pera brought up the fact that Dan inherited his post from his Dad Bill. Alright, so that is a normal thing, John Stroger to Todd Stroger, Bill Beavers to Darcel Beavers, Bobbie Steele to Robert Steele......etc. ok, so that should be a non issue since it is so common. Then there was the Dan Lipinski lobbyist.....ok so for as long as I can remember there has been a Lipinski in the 3rd district.


Alvarez Hopes To Make History In Top Attorney Race
Reporting
Rafael Romo CHICAGO (CBS) ― In the race for Cook County State's Attorney, six candidates appeared on the Democratic ballot. The winner was the only woman in the running. CBS 2's Rafael Romo explains why Anita Alvarez could make history in November.
"I always believed that I was the best person for this job," Alvarez said.
If elected, Alvarez would become the first Hispanic Cook County state's attorney ever and also the first woman to hold that position.

"With the support of her husband, gynecologist Dr. James Gomez, the couple spent $640,000 of their own money in order to make a difference in a crowded race with six contenders.
"On our side, we always knew she had a chance; we always knew that she could do it," Gomez said. "She has absolutely no political pollution to her."

Her Republican opponent, Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica, launched the first attack Wednesday.
"Ms. Alvarez has been a member of the Cook County state attorney's office for 22 years," he said. "She's part of the elite club."
Peraica says Alvarez missed many opportunities to bring justice in cases of torture linked to former Chicago police commander Jon Burge.
"She has been there without raising any issues for 22 years about torture of African Americans in Cook County under Burge and others," Peraica said.
Alvarez countered, "When those allegations came to life in the early '80s I was still in undergraduate, I wasn't even in law school yet."
Alvarez is currently the number three prosecutor with the Cook County state's attorney's office and this is the first time she has run for public office.
Peraica was elected in 2002 as Cook County commissioner for the 16th district; he was previously in private practice as an attorney.

Alvarez leads state's attorney race

A Maria High School graduate and the only woman in the contest was leading the race late Tuesday for the Democratic nomination for Cook County state's attorney.

With 90 percent of precincts counted, Anita Alvarez, a mother of four and chief deputy in the state's attorney's office, led with 218,010 votes.

"Ald. Tom Allen (38th) was in a close second with 207,520 votes.
Six people were vying for the Democratic nomination, often trading jabs in a high-stakes election that attracted two Chicago aldermen, two leading assistant state's attorneys, a Cook County commissioner and an Evanston attorney.
State's Attorney Dick Devine created the opening last summer when he announced he would not seek a fourth four-year term.
If her lead holds, Alvarez will face the lone Republican candidate, Tony Peraica, in the November general election. Peraica is a Cook County Board commissioner for the 16th District who unsuccessfully ran against Board President Todd Stroger in 2006.

Also in the Democratic field with Alvarez and Allen was Chicago Ald. Howard Brookins Jr. (21st), who had 146,840 votes.
Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin (D-Evanston), had 186,795 votes.
Bob Milan, the first assistant state's attorney who was endorsed by Devine, had 48,047 votes.
Community activist and Evanston attorney Tommy Brewer had 28,220 votes.

Also Tuesday, incumbent Eugene Moore won the Democratic nomination for Cook County recorder of deeds, an office that creates public records of land transactions, among other things, and is often attacked as a haven for patronage.


Lipinski rolls over three challengers
DEM - Rep. In Congress, 3rd
4 candidates -- vote for 1
Precincts Counted: 377 of 377 (100.00%)
Candidates Votes %
Mark N. Pera 17,593 29.63%
Jim Capparelli 5,632 9.49%
Daniel William Lipinski 30,080 50.67%
Jerry Bennett 6,064 10.21%

U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski cruised to victory in the Democratic primary in the 3rd Congressional District on Tuesday.
Lipinski tallied 53,010 votes against three opponents, with 548 of 618 precincts reporting.
The race had looked to be the toughest for Lipinski since he effectively inherited the seat from his father, Bill Lipinski, between the primary and general elections in 2004.
Lipinski opposes abortion and Pera's challenge from the left attracted considerable financial support, especially from online donors, and he bolstered his impressive fundraising by loaning his campaign a large sum. Bennett, meanwhile, picked up endorsements from several newspapers.
At the same time, the elder Lipinski's work as a lobbyist led to questioning by the media and Pera, in particular, among the candidates.

Still, the conventional wisdom going into Election day was that it would be difficult for any challenger to emerge from the crowd and defeat a Lipinski in the 3rd District for what would have been the first time in a quarter-century.

As it happened, Lipinski posted strong results both in Chicago, his father's historic stronghold, and in the suburbs, where Pera and Bennett have long lived.

CC State's Attorney's office up for grabs



Pictured the Cook County Building where the CC State's Attorney is located, right next to one our our more famous sculptures.
This is going to be an interesting race, more interesting to see who the Democrat that will go up against Commissioner Tony Peraica who will be the GOP opponent. More interesting to see who will be capable of battling Todd Stroger tooth and nail as CC States Attorney Dick Devine has. I do know that if, by a long shot GOP Tony Peraica gets the position, Todd and company will get very nervous. Of course we all know that this will give Tony more power to really get nasty with Todd, something that I am sure he is very capable of doing.


Originally posted: February 1, 2008

Tribune poll: Cook prosecutor race wide open
Posted by Robert Becker and Dan Mihalopoulos at 9:15 p.m.

Just days before Tuesday’s Democratic primary, a new Tribune/WGN-TV poll shows a wide-open race for Cook County state’s attorney with none of the six contenders in the increasingly bitter battle able to claim support from more than a fraction of voters.

Almost half of the likely Democratic voters surveyed—44 percent—said they were undecided about who should be the nominee for the opening created when State’s Atty. Dick Devine decided not to seek re-election.

Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin held a narrow edge, with support from 17 percent of voters, the poll showed. Chicago City Council members Tom Allen (38th) and Howard Brookins (21st) each had 11 percent, as did Anita Alvarez, the No. 3 official in Devine’s office. Devine’s top assistant, Robert Milan, had 3 percent and Tommy Brewer, a defense lawyer and former FBI agent, had 2 percent.

The poll of 404 likely voters, conducted Tuesday through Thursday, had an error margin of 5 percentage points.

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