Don't you have to wonder about what should be public in a public office?
Some of Cook County's top employees are being required to keep their mouths shut about the inner-workings of the government. Board President Todd Stroger's office is having them sign a confidentiality agreement.
The confidentiality agreement was sent to bureau chiefs, department heads, and employees directly under Stroger. It says employees shall not discuss personnel files, internal practices, or correspondence to and from Stroger, even after they've left their jobs. Critics say the confidentiality form most likely won't fulfill its purpose. Jay Stewart, with the Better Government Association, says employees will still share information if they really want to.
STEWART: If you want to know what the atmosphere is at the highest level of Cook County, this document says to me 'distrust' would be a way to describe it.
Stewart says such a document is unusual; neither the City of Chicago or the State of Illinois have similar policies. In a written statement, a spokesperson for President Stroger's office says the confidentiality agreement is an extension of its ethics rules.
Who in Stroger's office is going to make the determination on what is to be said? Is it Lance Tyson? Or will it be one of the many PR people Todd has? What ever the decision will be it will be good for Todd. Is this to help him win the next term, by giving his opponent less ammunition? This will make everyone afraid to talk, but I guess that's the idea.
Can a Cougar be tazered? One of the comments on our cougar killing, in Roscoe village was couldn't they have just tazered it?
Sad fate of lost Cougar
A cougar ran loose in Chicago on Monday for the first time since the city's founding in the 19th Century. But by day's end, the animal lay dead in a back alley on the North Side, shot by police who said they feared it was turning to attack.
No one knew where the 150-pound cat came from, though on Saturday Wilmette police had received four reports of a cougar roaming that suburb, roughly 15 miles from the site of Monday's shooting.
Whatever its origin, the 5-foot-long cougar's unlikely journey ended.
Why open the door? If you open the door to one group building in Grant Park, a City Park this could open up the floodgates for more museums, or what have you. With so many other sites to consider, this makes no sense that they are hell bent on this Children's Museum in Grant Park. Would anyone consider a South Side location?
Now as a Chicagoan I avoid Navy Pier, it is the most crowded place in Chicago, especially on a nice day. It is so crowded most days that the signs on Grand Avenue say the parking garage is full? It looks like a big multilevel parking garage to me, but I can believe it when I try walking around Navy Pier and it is worse than any rush hour close to Union Station.
Now why wouldn't a South Side location be considered? Hmmm.....Yep a lot of North Siders believe we have some gang banger posted on one corner per intersection just waiting to do a drive by shooting. No you could not get a North Sider to go South of China Town or Hyde Park, they think it is too dangerous. To think, Daley was once a South Sider, well he kind of still is, but Hyde Park isn't, well, the real South Side, even though it is on the South Side, technically.
5.2-magnitude earthquake centered in southern Illinois rocked people awake across the Midwest early Friday, surprising residents unaccustomed to such a powerful tremblor.
The quake -- one of the strongest ever recorded in Illinois -- occurred just before 4:37 a.m. and was centered six miles from West Salem, Ill., and 66 miles west of Evansville, Ind.
I was talking to one of my friends this summer, she was telling me when she was at her parents house she could not open the window over the sink because her parents hang up a wind chime there in case of an Earthquake. I asked her when her parents moved to California? She said "They never moved, they are still in the same house", and I said "They still live over by Currie High School", she said "yes". I said "What is with the Earthquake warning system they have going on there?" She went on to tell me that they have been hearing that Illinois is on a big "Fault" and it will occur and they want to be warned so they can take cover. OK, so I am going to have to ask her how their warning system went.
Labels: South Side
Wildman Harold donates Sherrie Travis, an employment specialist lawyer (pro bona )to to help Judge Julia Nowicki, as Court appointed Compliance Administrator (CA) for Employment Matters in Cook County. Nowicki specifically is working on the Shakman decree.
Judge Nowicki’s appointment is part of a Supplemental Relief Order (SRO) entered by Judge Wayne Andersen in November of last year. The SRO resolves claims that the County continued to engage in illegal patronage hiring and promotions in violation of earlier orders, known as the Shakman decrees, entered in 1972 and 1994. Judge Nowicki was appointed to oversee and audit the County’s hiring practices and to take action to remedy any problems she finds. Travis will assist Judge Nowicki in these efforts.
The Cook County Board had the opportunity to get report from the CA and her group at the last CC Board meeting. Nowicki and Travis both pointed out the the Rules of 7 was the biggest problem. The rules of 7 is that the first 7 minimally qualified people for a position would go on to interview. The way the first 7 applicants is determined is by time and date stamping applications as they come in. This puts a great advantage to people with inside information as to when a job will be posted.
Travis also went on to say the the Human Resources (HR) has a lack of long term leadership which leads to lack of focus. She also pointed out that the HR department is short staffed and it should be one HR person per 100 employees as in the private sector. Travis also pointed out that because they are short staffed they can't administer simple tests such as typing for a word processor applicant. She also pointed out that they do not have enough staff to check credentials or references. Currently the HR department has 52 filled positions with 7 vacancies.
Jonathan Rothstein the interim Director or HR came up to speak, coughed a little and said I have a sore throat as well as other health issues. OK, so thanks for sharing? Commissioner Sims asked if they recommend that more HR be hired then were do they come from within the budget? It was pointed out that this is the recommendation. Moreno really attacked Nowicki when he questioned her as to how many complaints she received for violations. She said she could not answer, and that all the complaints need to be investigated by the Inspector General which she has not done. He kept attacking her for a number of complaints getting her wiggling in her seat, where she was actually moving around and changing her position. She kept saying that they were not investigated yet so she can't say how many are legitimate.
Nowicki insisted they get an outside politically independent person to be the monitor for HR.
Commissioner Silvestri defended the press when Nowicki attacked them about comments they had written on her report. Silvestri said the press is only doing their job. Silvestri also went on to ask if the new HR person would come from the Yukon.
Commissioner Beavers then attacked Nowicki saying she wanted to sit in Todd Stroger's seat and run everything, and that her job was only to worry about patronage in the County. Commissioner Collins said she did not want to also attack Nowicki but the court order was for her to work on illegal patronage in employment. Collins also wanted to know where she would find a politically independent monitor because no such person exists.
I need to point out how sharp as a tack Daley is. He asked Travis right after she was done talking about how word processors don't get a typing test..........If word processors got a typing test.
Also another observation was Toddler Chief of Staff Lance Tyson did not have his glasses on. But he was too busy text messaging while the meeting was going on>
The Toddler did say he took the whole day off to be at the meeting but, more than half way through the meeting Commissioner Moreno took over as pro tem President.
Todd needs more than a lot of overpaid PR people
Stroger to hire public relations consultant
April 7, 2008
By Steve Patterson, sun-times news group
Cook County Board President Todd Stroger already spends more than $1 million a year on public relations, but that apparently isn't enough.
Stroger is set to bring on a public relations consultant, records show, to help improve his image and that of the hospital system he runs.
But critics wonder why Stroger needs outside consultants, as he's got 15 employees on his public relations staff now, and an independent board will take over hospital operations in just a few weeks.
"Of the multitude of problems facing the health bureau, (public relations) is the least of them," said Jay Stewart, of the Better Government Association. "President Stroger should save the money, no matter how difficult that may be for the administration, and let the independent board decide how to use the money on things like actual health care services."
Stroger spokeswoman Ibis Antongiorgi wouldn't say what Stroger plans to spend on the consultant or where the money will come from. Nine people responded to Stroger's request for proposals soliciting bids for the public relations contract. Antongiorgi said the consultant will report to Stroger and his communications chief, Gene Mullins.
Mullins is taking a one-year leave from his city police job to work for Stroger, a childhood friend.
Antongiorgi said the contract is important, because "it is critical that we communicate with our poor and uninsured, letting them know what services are available to them."
Though five public relations staffers are dedicated to health and hospital issues, she said the new consultant will begin "a comprehensive and strategic media outreach plan. We want to regain and maintain the confidence of our patients and residents."
Stroger's public relations staff is larger than that of many other county governments across the country, records show, but it's hardly the most expensive.
Cook County Assessor Jim Houlihan's communications chief, Lucio Guerrero, makes more than $120,000 a year, though he said he's also in charge of about a dozen people, heading up outreach and research.
Stroger's top public relations staffer, Mullins, is budgeted to be paid $105,059 - and Stroger still employs all of his former spokesmen in other, comparably salaried positions.
"The need for yet another (public relations) consultant or staffer for President Stroger is ridiculous," Stewart said.
Next week, some Cook County commissioners are expected to vote on a resolution to fire the county's public defender.
A majority of county commissioners agree that public defender Ed Burnette's been slow to promote some employees and hasn't disciplined others allegedly deserved it. Commissioner Tony Peraica is one of those pushing to fire Burnette.
PERAICA: I think a picture emerges of someone who is not willing to stand up and advocate for his office.
But others say Burnette's being punished for defending that office. Burnette sued President Stroger last year after the board approved major cuts to the public defender's budget. County Commisioner Forrest Claypool says that's the real reason for the call to fire Burnette.
CLAYPOOL: You know, unless they can come up with more specifics than they're offering in this resolution, I think it's clearly a case of political retribution.
The public defender's office provides legal representation to those who can't afford it.
Cook County Board President Todd Stroger is set to oust Public Defender Ed Burnette from his job, possibly as early as Wednesday.
Speculation is mounting about a replacement with ties to Stroger's 8th Ward.
Controversial public defender may lose job
Burnette, appointed in 2003 by Stroger's father, John Stroger, says he'll fight to keep his job.
"I may be pushed away, but I won't be walking away," he said. "The people I work with demand better than that."
A county resolution signed by a bipartisan majority of the board, accuses Burnette of repeated "dereliction in the performance of duties" and cites those failures as a reason for his removal.
Stroger's office distanced itself from the ouster, but Burnette can only be removed by Stroger. Many say this is fallout from a lawsuit Burnette filed last year, blocking him or his staff from taking furlough days to help balance the county budget.
Public Defender union rep Bob Galhotra said the ouster "smacks of retaliation."
And while the resolution points to other problems, Commissioner Gregg Goslin said the suit "left a bad taste in my mouth. The guy's whole attitude is almost dismissive of this board and what we're doing."
Insiders immediately speculated former deputy public defender Furmin Sessoms, a longtime Stroger loyalist who recently lost a judicial race, could be in line for a job paying $161,506 a year.
Stroger Has New Interim Health Bureau Chief in Mind
Produced by City Room on Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Cook County Board President Todd Stroger says the board will accept Dr. Robert Simon's resignation as the interim chief of the health bureau. Stroger says Simon will be leaving in mid-April. And he says he already has a replacement in mind for the interim position.
STROGER: The person who I think has done an excellent job in the very short time he's been here is Mr. Small, who is the chief operating officer. He's brought an enormous amount of talent to the position and I think that's who I will suggest.
A deal reached in budget negotiations earlier this year calls for an independent governing board to take over management of the financially strapped health bureau. Stroger says the new governing board should be up and running by the end of June. That Board will decide who will fill the position of health bureau chief on a permanent basis.