We have record amounts of snow, and horrific driving conditions. We have Roland Burris, and that Circus that has been going on, maybe that will die down when he gets sworn in as Illinois Senator Thursday.
We still have the Circus in Springfield going on with the impeachment of our Governor. Now anyone in this country can pronouce his name,Rod Blagojevich.
There will be the inauguration of the President from our State, Barak Obama.
We aren't forgetting about our favorite, Todd Stroger. He will soon be back in the spotlight again. For now Todd should enjoy his rest from the spotlight. Alderman Toni Preckwinkle has announced she will be running against Todd for Cook County President.
This State has certainly been a good place to be employed in the Political News business. This State has been recession proof in this area.
An hour before the meeting, I received a call from a reader who said, "The happiest man in this state right now has to be Todd Stroger because all this mess with Gov. Blagojevich has taken the news media's focus off him. Please don't forget about Stroger. Stay on his (case)."
Before the arrest of the governor, before impeachment proceedings had begun, I probably received more angry telephone calls about Stroger than any other politician in this state.
Stroger also blames the news media for the public's perception of him. The news media dwells on the negative because it makes for more interesting stories.
Cook County government is massive. It runs one of the largest public hospitals in the nation. The court system is the second largest in the country.
Although he's county board president, a number of independently elected officials such as the sheriff, state's attorney, treasurer, assessor and recorder of deeds have their own budget, and he has little control over them, Stroger said.
The newspapers don't explain any of that or the massive costs of running the government, he said.
But the fact is most people don't read newspapers. Those who do don't believe much of what they read. Too few people really care about how their government works.
When I mentioned that to Stroger, he acknowledged as much. He said when he was a state representative, people always would ask him how things were going in Washington, confusing him with a congressman.
I feel that part of my job is to try to let elected officials know what the public is thinking. And to find out what the elected officials have to say to them.
So I continued to press Stroger about the lack of confidence in Cook County and government in general. He didn't react defensively. He didn't raise his voice in anger when challenged
It will cost you more to sue in Cook County
Cook County Jail Problems
A gang fight inside the Cook County Jail Tuesday night left seven people injured after several inmates pulled out “shanks” and started attacking other inmates prompting a lockdown of the jail.
Of the seven people, four were treated at the hospital inside the jail, and three were taken to area hospitals to be treated for non life-threatening injuries, said Steve Patterson, a spokesman for the Cook County sheriff’s police.
Two rival gangs housed in the maximum-security section of the jail at 2600 S. California Ave. were involved in a brawl Monday in a common area of the jail, Patterson said. The bad blood spilled into Tuesday.
A verbal altercation about 5:15 p.m. Tuesday escalated after inmates began to physically attack each other and some inmates pulled out shanks, Patterson said. Patterson said two shanks were recovered from the scene.“They’ll make a shank with just about anything, recently its been pieces of vents, heating ducts,” said Patterson. Correctional officers confiscated about 1,200 shanks in 2007, and 667 shanks in 2008, Patterson said.
No correctional officers were injured in the incident
Cook County suffers from a different disease. Its cancer is lack of leadership - someone willing to use the bully pulpit to streamline without fearing retaliation from labor unions, campaign contributors and vendors; someone willing to reinvent a structurally antiquated model of government that simply cannot persist into perpetuity
Cook County raised by one penny on the dollar its share of the sales tax. Three months later, Stroger and team are pushing for a borrowing plan that would sell bonds to cover pension costs, insurance costs and a capital program.
These are not the solutions of a creative, forward-thinking leader. These are not solutions at all.
What we need is to combine the offices of county treasurer, recorder of deeds, assessor and circuit court clerk, which cost taxpayers millions of dollars every year. From overlapping duties to in-house attorneys and separate public relations staffs, the layered structure of constitutional officers is antiquated and expensive.
Stroger, like his father, believes independently elected countywide officials should mind their own business. Stroger's office shouldn't be micromanaging Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown's office. Brown should keep her nose out of Treasurer Maria Pappas' office. Pappas should zip her lip about Assessor Jim Houlihan's office, and so on.
The county board president is the CEO who, along with his board, approves the budgets of these sister offices. There ought to be more oversight and more resource-sharing, not less. It might take four or eight years to actually accomplish a merger of this kind. But it needs to be done, and it will take someone willing to light the apple cart on fire.
There are many more cost-saving solutions suggested; Commissioner Mike Quigley of the Northwest Side has advocated a number of drastic and drastically-needed measures for years.
The county needs to shore-up its billing practices for Medicaid patients. It needs to reform the "request for proposal" process and end the practice of mid-stream cost increases that have become routine, undermining the intent of a low-bid requirement.
The county needs to spend less on attorney fees and consultants and public relations. It should fold the Cook County Forest Preserve District into existing county government.
The county should watchdog more closely workers compensation claims and medical malpractice settlements.
It should not be advocating a bricks-and-mortar capital program with no identified, new revenue stream