The Cook County Board Meeting of March 6th started off with discussion of Dr. Simon, interim Chief Bureau of Health's resignation effective March 30th.
Commissioners Beavers, Sims and Moreno were absent during this. Commissioner Moreno later showed up. There were a few doctors that showed up to speak praise about Dr. Simon. The Board argued back and forth if these doctors should speak. Commissioner Peraica said it was not on the board agenda for that meeting. Commissioner Collins was afraid the meeting would go on for a long time if everyone had a chance to speak about Dr. Simon, including the Commissioners. Commissioner Silvestri said that Dr. Simon resigned to the President and not the Board so they should not have to spend time listening to everyone about it. Silvestri said that this is inappropriate to hear testimony about Dr. Simon and that this is not the appropriate format.
Then Todd spoke. He said the press has crucified Dr. Simon and that he was painted with a bad brush by the press as well. Todd went on to say that Dr. Simon is not a doctor in his pocket and not his physician, and his physician is Dr. Gomez Charleston on the South Side, and his Daddy's Doctor was Dr. Wong.
The Commissioners all had a vote wether to allow the Physicians at the meeting to speak about Dr. Simon. It was ruled that they could, but only to be allowed 2 minutes.
Dr. Brad Longer, interim medical director for almost a decade spoke first. He said that Dr. Simon came into an underfunded Bureau of Health and had to cut a million dollars off the budget in a month and that was a huge challenge that he accomplished. He said the press followed him around trying to get anything on him and even wrote that he is driving around a 10 year old Crown Victoria.
The next doctor came on and said that he had to maintain staff as far a physicians and nurses on the budget he had. Also that with all the budget cuts going on,he also lost many good physicians to many good hospitals. He had to give all his doctors and nurses the idea that they were working in a stable environment, and that if he left this would create a more unstable environment that would be hard to keep staff.
Dr. Pierce Wakeen the ER director said that they can not afford any more instability with Dr. Simon leaving and that Todd Stroger should not accept his resignation. He said he has worked side by side with Dr. Simon who works tireless hours and he is a good role model and leader. Dr. Jeff Shover another ER director spoke next and said that they had many JACO violations and Dr. Simon worked very hard to correct them and they passed all of them with Dr. Simon's hard work.
Dr. Simon was next to speak, he was quite choked up. He said he had no idea all these physicians were coming to speak, and that he had never asked any of them to come on his behalf. He said he was very choked up.
Since Dr. Simon was so choked up the Toddler decided to speak, and he always likes to get the last word in. He said when you stand next to Dr. Simon and cough he is looking down your throat because that is the kind of caring Doctor he is.
Dr. Simon said he wanted to speak again since he was more composed. He said these Physicians that came here represent 80% of the staff and that he is really touched by them coming there to speak.
Next on the agenda was the bill from Judge Nowicki, who was appointed by the Federal Courts to audit all the hiring practices. Commissioner Tony Peraica wanted to speak of all the infractions of the Shakman Decree that were in her report. But then was told this is about approving $600,000 for her fees and $900,000 for her expenses.
Commissioner Moreno who was now here said he wanted to know what the expenses were. He was told by Patrick Driscoll from the States Attorney's office that it was lawyers fees for doing a desk investigation. Moreno wanted to know how much an hour they were being charged and why lawyers. A representative from Nowicki's office said it was $45-$80 and hour for these lawyers, and that Nowicki was out of town on a family matter. They were also told that 220 claims that needed to be investigated, and that none of them had been filed. The Commissioners argued back and forth that this bill had to be paid because a Federal Judge had appointed Judge Nowicki to investigate and that they could be in violation if it was not paid, or they will stop the process because of non payment. Commissioner Butler said that it's not that we aren't going to pay it, but we should be able to pay it later after we have explanations. Commissioner Collins agreed because it is such a high bill they need further investigation and explainations on the $900,000 expenses. Commissioner Moreno said that there are other bills that need to be paid first. Commissioner Silvestri said this is a matter of litigation and it should be paid because Cook County is not ready to fight Federal Court, which Commissioner Claypool agreed as well. The vote was taken and the bill will be paid. Peracia was upset that they could not discuss all the Shenanigans, on overtime abuse and Ghost pay rolling that was in the report, they had just recieved from Nowicki.
Commissioner Quigley then said we scrutinize bills that we don't like and others….
The Sequoia voting machines came up next on the agenda. The purchase was for 150 more touch screen voting machines at $2400 each. The county currently has 5000 of them and would need 5000-6000 more to be all touch screen voting, so they are half way there.
Peraica then brought up the fact that the County has spent $35,000 for a forensic audit to find missing funds, and discrepancies in trust funds but are unable to see the report because it is in litigation.
Zelda Whitney the Under sheriff was then asked by Commissioner Silvestri why only the Sheriff's department and correctional officers getting pre-employment psychological testing when the Cook County Forest Preserve Sheriffs are running around with guns and bullets and aren't getting the same screening. She did not have an answer.