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.

   
  Eighteen of the 20 largest banks in the world and more than 50 foreign banks have offices in Cook County.
   
     
     
     



Project Shield a big drain on Cook County taxpayers

Tuesday, March 02, 2010
Chicago Sun-Times
by Carol Marin and Don Moseley

Cook County's post-Sept. 11 security initiative, dubbed Project Shield, which has come under fire for being sharply over budget and years behind schedule, is proving to be an even bigger drain on taxpayers.

And in the end, it will provide a more porous security net than envisioned.

Those are the latest findings of an ongoing Chicago Sun-Times / NBC5 News investigation.

The key aim of the program funded by the federal Department of Homeland Security was to improve communications and decision-making in case of a terror attack, natural disaster or other major emergency here by installing new, state-of-the-art video cameras on police cars and at stationary locations throughout the county and linking them to a central command center.

All 129 municipalities in Cook County were supposed to be included in the system. But faced with problems that included cameras that didn't work properly, suburbs including Tinley Park, Berwyn, Park Ridge and Morton Grove opted out.

The entire countywide network now includes a total of 103 cameras, with just three more cameras still to be installed, newly obtained records and interviews show. The total of 106 would amount to fewer than a single camera per municipality. More than five years after Project Shield was launched under then-Cook County Board President John Stroger Jr., just 76 municipalities have fully operational cameras.

And the price tag to provide that slimmed-down network keeps going up.

Project Shield was started in 2004. Originally, it was to be completed in the fall of 2008, at an estimated cost of $31.5 million.

As of last fall, the county had obtained -- and spent -- $43 million on the federally funded initiative.

Now, records show, county officials have asked for an additional $5 million. And the work isn't expected to be finished until sometime next year, according to Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin.

Exactly why the cost is rising even as the final product becomes smaller isn't clear.

Cook County officials have rejected interview requests regarding Project Shield.

Just weeks before the Feb. 2 primary, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger fired Antonio Hylton, the county's chief information officer, who also headed Project Shield. Hylton didn't return a call to his home. Stroger has refused interview requests regarding the program. And a Stroger spokeswoman said Hylton's replacement -- Steve Edmonson -- would not discuss the matter either. Asked why, she said: "No specific reason. He's simply not available to you for [an] interview at this time."

For months, Stroger's administration rejected requests to review reports on the program that, under a county contract with a politically connected consulting firm, are required to be filed every week. Stroger aides maintained that, despite the contract requirement, no written reports had been filed -- for 21 months.

That wasn't true, officials now acknowledge.

John Sterling, president of the consulting firm Synch-Solutions, declined to speak in detail about Project Shield but said his company had filed the reports. Sterling -- whose company is now set to be paid a total of $1 million, double its initial $500,000 contract price-- said he has no idea why county officials had said otherwise.

Sterling is the stepson of former Illinois Senate President Emil Jones, who was a major financial contributor to the Stroger re-election bid that fell far short in last month's Democratic primary.

After denying the existence of the quality assurance reports, county officials then rejected a request for copies of all of them, citing an exemption in the state's Freedom of Information Act in maintaining it would be too burdensome to produce the reports, dating from August 2008 to December 2009 and totaling 4,436 pages. Instead, county officials released only a small portion of the documents.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said her office is now looking into allegations of money being misspent on Project Shield.

That revelation came during a testy exchange between her and U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) at a House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security meeting last week.

"We are looking into it right now," Napolitano said. "I am as opposed to misspent, overspent, inefficient use of tax dollars as anyone you will ever see."


Recent Headlines

Cook County Land Bank Authority Announces Opening of Registration to Give Away a Free Home
Tuesday, August 13, 2019
The Chicago Crusader

NEW ILLINOIS LAW ENDS $120 FEE TO CLEAR FALSE CRIMINAL RECORDS IN COOK COUNTY
Friday, August 09, 2019
Illinois Policy

Top Cook County Jail chess players take on the world
Wednesday, August 07, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Public defender takes shots at Chicago Police gun offender webpage
Wednesday, August 07, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Commentary: Data alone won’t stop Chicago gun violence; Cook County needs a public ‘Violence Reduction Dashboard’
Wednesday, August 07, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Jail detainees take on inmates around the world in online chess tournament
Tuesday, August 06, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Here’s What You Need To Know About The Ongoing Bail Debate In Chicago
Monday, August 05, 2019
WBEZ Chicago Public Radio

Cook County Jail hosts international chess tournament
Monday, August 05, 2019
WGN Chicago

Cook County property taxes are due today, Aug. 1.
Thursday, August 01, 2019
Special to suffredin.org

Forest Preserves of Cook County Celebrate Dan Ryan Woods Investments
Thursday, August 01, 2019
Chicago Defender

Cook County TIFs generate $1.2 billion
Thursday, August 01, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Changes coming to Cook County assessor’s office
Thursday, August 01, 2019
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

In Chicago, TIF Revenues Soaring
Wednesday, July 31, 2019
WTTW News

A controversial tax subsidy program will generate a record $1.2 billion in revenue. Here’s what the number means for Chicago.
Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Group to rally in support of Kim Foxx as challengers emerge
Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Report: Incarceration Rates Drop Nearly 20% Under Kim Foxx
Monday, July 29, 2019
WTTW Chicago

Lightfoot blames bond court reform for gun violence
Thursday, July 25, 2019
Chicago Reporter

Cook County Health Hires Audit Firm To Review Scathing Inspector General Report
Thursday, July 25, 2019
WBEZ News

Former County Commissioner Shocked Animal Abuser Registry He Worked To Create Was Never Used
Thursday, July 25, 2019
CBS Chicago

No one on County Board sharing Arroyo’s view of inspector general
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

all news items

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