Suffredin- Changing County Government  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
  The Cook County Law Library is the second largest County law library in the nation.
   
     
     
     



Order to hire 700 guards shocks county board

Friday, December 30, 2005
Daily Southtown
by Phil Kadner

It has been 24 hours since a federal judge gave Cook County board members a tongue lashing, and Deborah Sims is trying to figure out what this means for the south suburbs and her political future.

Sims is a Cook County commissioner for the 5th District, which includes some of the poorest suburbs in the state.

Robbins. Ford Heights. Phoenix. Harvey. Chicago Heights. All are in her district, along with three city wards and several middle-class suburbs facing difficult economic decisions.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge George Marovich told county board members they must hire more jail guards as part of a court decree.

Between 668 and 798 guards must be hired over the next three years.

That will cost the county an additional $15 million in next year's budget, Sims said.

"We're going to have to find the money to hire about 250 guards each year for the next three years or the judge told us that he was going to hold us personally responsible," said Sims, who was one of six county commissioners present in the courtroom.

I asked Sims if the judge said he was going to fine the commissioners themselves.

"That's my understanding," she said. "I may have misunderstood, but my feeling is he was going to take the salaries of the 700 guards who are needed, divide those salaries by the number of days in a year and fine the commissioners that much for each day we fail to fund the additional guards."

Sims said the judge told the county board members they have until Feb. 21 to include the salaries of the additional guards in Cook County's budget or he will contemplate citing the commissioners for contempt of court.

"I think he means to throw people in jail," Sims said. "He told us if you don't take me serious, don't hire the guards and see what happens."

The county board was facing budget problems even before the judge's order.

To come up with the money to hire 700 new prison guards over the next three years, a tax increase seems inevitable.

Sims is facing a primary election challenge from Dian Powell, of Chicago.

After 12 years in office, Sims knows that taxpayers are fed up with waste and corruption in government.

But she also knows that her district relies on government funds more than any other.

"The county commissioners from the North Shore can scream for reform because cuts will not impact their residents," Sims said.

"My residents need the health clinics the county funds. In fact, we need more clinics because the ones that exist are already overcrowded on many days.

"I had a woman come to me in need of blood pressure medication. She was told her prescription would take the county two weeks to fill. That woman can't wait two weeks. She could be dead. I pleaded with them to find her some samples she could take until her prescription comes through."

South suburbs also rely heavily on community development block grants (funds that flow through the county to local municipalities) for infrastructure improvements.

"The reform commissioners are always talking about cutting those funds," she said. "Homeowners in my communities pay higher property tax rates than most people do in the wealthy North Shore, but because there's a lack of business development, there's still less money available for my communities to spend on their needs."

I told Sims that the public would laugh if I wrote that the county needs more tax money.

They would say, "Cut the waste. Eliminate the patronage. Stop the corruption."

"One thing you don't understand is that the county board approves a budget that funds the offices of 11 independently elected officials, such as the county sheriff and the county clerk," Sims said.

"We have no real control over those people. And every time we try to cut those budgets those elected officials call people in the news media and scream that we're eliminating some program that's vital to the public.

"Then you people in the news media criticize us for cutting those programs."

But the public is in no mood for tax hikes, for schools or anything else.

They elect politicians who talk about cutting government, not expanding it.

The irony is that citizens also elect politicians who are tough on crime.

That means more police, more courtrooms, more judges, bigger jails and, yes, more guards.

In Cook County, the bill is coming due.

The perception, right or wrong, I tell Sims, is that the county wastes tax money.

"I don't know how to change that perception," Sims said.

"I know the reality is that the people in my communities need help. And that's my priority, to represent them."

So is the county going to raise taxes?

"I just know we have to hire 700 guards over the next three years," Sims said. "I don't know where the money is going to come from."



Recent Headlines

Free Radioactive Radon Test Kits From Cook County
Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Special to suffredin.org

Toni Preckwinkle and county watchdog at odds over political travel reimbursements
Friday, January 11, 2019
Chicago Tribune

2 Cook County judges — one cleared of gun charge, one reassigned for anger management — to return to bench at criminal court
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Chicago Tribune

It's been a bad decade for property taxes
Wednesday, January 09, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Bond court reform has not put more violent offenders back on the street
Wednesday, January 09, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Glenview pushes minimum wage, paid sick leave discussion to next week
Tuesday, January 08, 2019
Chicago Tribune

How Fritz Kaegi Plans to Transform the Cook County Assessor’s Office
Friday, January 04, 2019
WTTW Chicago Tonight

Cook County Health recognizes Cervical Health Awareness Month
Friday, January 04, 2019
Special to suffredin.org

2 neighborhood courthouses close: 'You’re discouraging citizens from going to court'
Friday, January 04, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Campaign money tied to Ald. Edward Burke’s alleged extortion scheme was intended for County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, sources say
Thursday, January 03, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County, parking operators in dispute over possibly millions in back taxes that could leave consumers pinched
Thursday, January 03, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Preckwinkle pursues back taxes from parking lot operators
Wednesday, January 02, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

30K Cook County homeowners to get $8.3M in automatic property tax refunds
Monday, December 31, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

2019 preview: Glenview to consider minimum wage
Monday, December 31, 2018
Chicago Tribune

'If I can do this, you can do this': Cook County judges inspire students of similar backgrounds
Thursday, December 27, 2018
Chicago Tribune

The Price Tag Of Freedom For Hundreds Of Non-Violent Cook County Inmates Is Less Than $2,000
Thursday, December 27, 2018
CBS Chicago

Give the Gift of Nature
Thursday, December 27, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

Why those 19 inmates were in Cook County Jail
Wednesday, December 26, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Medical examiner slow to review cases of fired pathologist who missed a murder
Wednesday, December 26, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County may unplug regional gang database that began in Northwest Indiana
Wednesday, December 26, 2018
Northwest Indiana Times

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP