What a week, rather month, the County has had. The County Board voted to rollback the County tax increase, but Todd Stroger may still veto it. If Todd does will he have the usual support? Or will they be worried about the upcoming election?
Tom Dart, the Cook County Sheriff got another big surprise this week. The County board voted to decriminalize smaller amounts of marijuana. Tom Dart thought he would get more say so, or at least things would not move along so fast. Sheriff Dart has been one busy guy, and even more so lately. But Tom Dart has a big mess in the cemetery area, which may get worse as more people come forward with information on Burr Oak, or even other cemeteries. You would have to wonder if the County Board took advantage of how super busy the Sheriff has been to slip this new decriminalization of a larger amount of pot in. Commissioner Earlean Collins led the way on this, and I don't see this hurting her in the election. Earlean Collins has a South Side district which many constituents either know, or have known someone who would benefit from this. This could also save the County money, by keeping people out of the court system. I also have to give Tom Dart credit for always being available to the local news people, taking interviews daily.
The sales tax increase vote comes two weeks before petition filing to run again for County offices, and about 200 days before election. You have to wonder how much this had to do with the roll back vote? Will Todd veto it? Todd must know that he will have some tough candidates to run against for Cook County President, Toni Preckwinkle a favorite of the Daley's, both Commissioner and mayor, and Danny Davis, a long time congressman. You have to wonder if John Daley, Commissioner, who was a very loyal Todd supporter, is not changing his support so as to help Preckwinkle get in Todd's position? The Cemetery investigation at Burr Oak has exceeded the $200K that Todd Stroger said it would cost in overtime. The County Board has decided to sue the cemetery, but does the cemetery have any funds to sue for? Will Todd Stroger use the cemetery expenses as a justification for why the tax should stay where it is?
Joan Murphy and Deborah Sims are loyal Todd supporters. Deborah Sims seems to be having some issues with cemeteries in her district, one of which she did nothing about until the family got the Southtown Star involved. Joan Murphy and Deborah Sims who wanted their staff to be exempt from the Shakkman decree. Murphy and Sims have districts that border each other on the South side, where all the cemetery issues are now.
~~~Something I heard on news radio this morning. In Barrington, one of the Richest, if not the wealthiest Cook County Suburb. The City is now paying for yard work on foreclosed properties. Properties that have been vacant, and it is hard to find out who is the owner, which bank etc. These properties have grass that is growing tall, weeds that are growing tall and trees that need to be cut down due to the Ash Borer, and limbs coming off in storms. Foreclosures cost everyone, and even one of our wealthiest suburbs are affected.
If you’re busted carrying a small amount of marijuana in portions of Cook County patrolled by the sheriff’s police, you may get off with just a ticket.
In a move that caught the sheriff’s office off guard, the county board on Tuesday voted to decriminalize possession of less than 10 grams of pot in unincorporated areas of Cook County. Those are the parts of the county not claimed by Chicago or its suburbs."
Todd Stroger would have to sign off on the plan to decriminalize possession of small quantities of pot.
Cmsr. Earlean Collins lead the charge for the county board to create an ordinance that gives sheriff's police the choice to ticket instead of arrest a suspect in possession of less than 10 grams of pot.
So far, 13 states have passed some form of decriminalization of marijuana. The laws vary, but generally people caught with small amounts face fines or drug rehab programs rather than jail time. In Illinois, possession of 2.5 grams or less is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine. Here are the 13 states:
Source: The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
The measure, which needs to be approved by Board President Todd Stroger to take effect, gives sheriff’s police and sheriff’s deputies patrolling the unincorporated areas the latitude to arrest a suspect on a misdemeanor charge or, under the new ordinance, hit them with a $200 ticket if they’re carrying 10 grams or less.
Leading the charge was Cmsr. Earlean Collins, a Democrat who admitted her grandson was busted for carrying a small amount of marijuana. She said arrests like that clog the jails.
“They got my grandson...he had a half of joint in the car,” Collins said. “They stopped him. They took him to the police station. They impounded his car and let him out the next morning. Why do that?
“A lot of kids make a mistake, have a little marijuana, and they can avoid going to jail or court.”
A spokesman for Sheriff Tom Dart, whose deputies and officers would administer the law, said the sheriff’s office was caught off guard by the timing of the vote.
Spokesman Steve Patterson said the sheriff was expecting a series of public hearings before a vote.
Instead, the vote was taken on the same day the county board voted to scale back last year’s controversial sales tax hike.
The other business of the County Board this week
For months, the Cook County Board has wrangled over what to do with the unpopular penny-on-the dollar sales tax increase that it pushed through a year ago.
But with an election year looming, the board on Tuesday passed a measure that halves the 1-percentage-point increase and that appears to be veto-proof.
The rollback means Chicago's overall sales tax of 10.25 percent - spotlighted as the highest of any big city in the country - would retreat to 9.75 percent.
Commissioner Larry Suffredin (D-Evanston), who was among the 12 commissioners who voted Tuesday to reduce the sales tax, said it would have a "boomerang effect of people coming back and shopping."
But lowering the county's portion of the sales tax, from 1.75 percent to 1.25 percent, effective Jan. 1, also means the county won't see a projected $130 to $140 million in anticipated revenue next year, according to the county budget office.
"Don't think that tomorrow and the next day and the next day that life will all the sudden get great, that we'll be looking through rose-tinted glasses and we'll all be happy," county board President Todd Stroger (D-Chicago) said, noting that employee contract negotiations are looming and the county will have to cover $104 million in pension payments.
And yet another Cook County Cemetery may have issuesWilkowski pulled out his checkbook and started to write a check for $100 when he was stopped by an employee of the cemetery near Calumet Park.
Barbara Young, of Blue Island, checks the gravesite of her husband, Francis, at Cedar Park Cemetery near Calumet Park on Tuesday.
"As I took out my checkbook, I was asked to pay in cash," said Wilkowski, bishop of the Evangelical Catholic Diocese of the Northwest.
Three years later, Wilkowski's grandparents' headstones still are sinking into the ground.
Authorities have said they've found no criminal wrongdoing at Cedar Park, which was managed by the same woman charged earlier this month in the massive grave-reselling scheme at Burr Oak Cemetery. But Wilkowski's story may raise questions about whether the sister property had similar problems.
The Cook County Board voted Tuesday to sue the owners of a historic black cemetery in suburban Chicago to recover the cost of an investigation of an alleged scheme to dig up graves and resell the plots.
The county board acted after Sheriff Tom Dart said the cost of overtime, materials and equipment poured into the investigation at Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip was mounting quickly.
"About $350,000 has been expended on the investigation," Dart said at a news conference. "I can't turn over county assets without receiving compensation."
Dart and Robert D. Grant, special agent in charge of the FBI's Chicago office, said 200 human bones have been found scattered in the cemetery. Those bones may never be identified, they said.
The sheriff described a chaotic situation in which headstones had been removed, some bodies may have been buried on top of each other and pieces of wood that might have been part of coffins were found scattered around the cemetery.