County board talks health care, immigration
Wednesday, June 02, 2010
by Charles Thomas
June 1, 2010 (CHICAGO) (WLS) --
Tuesday was a busy day at the Cook County Board meeting as commissioners
dealt with several important issues.
The topics of the day included healthcare and Arizona's
The county board voted Tuesday morning to make
permanent the temporary structural change it made two years ago in its
public healthcare system. That means the politicians will only concern
themselves with funding the system and will have nothing to do with
administration, including hiring and firing.
the independent health governing board permanent was the first order of
business for county commissioners.
"I think that we need to state
to the world that this independent board is doing the right thing to
administer the hospital," said Commissioner Peter Sylvestri (R-Elmwood
The vote was 13-3 with one member absent. It meant that
Cook County's three hospitals and 16 clinics would continue to be
controlled by a panel whose majority is made up of healthcare
professionals beyond 2011. The panel is separate from the
politically-charged county board.
"This is a massive turnaround
for this health care system," said Cook County Health & Hospitals
System Chairman Warren Batts. "It's going to take at least three to
five more years to get where it needs to be."
board is credited with saving the county tens of millions of dollars
since it took over the system in 2008. Its opponents complain that the
system's new administrators make too much money and that too many front
line workers are being laid off.
"Even though we think this
board has done a good job in trying to restore the faith, there are a
lot of questions that are unanswered that need to be answered before we
go forward," said William McNary of Citizen Action Illinois.
other action, the board passed a resolution forbidding the county from
doing business with companies based in Arizona because of the western
state's new law against illegal immigration.
"I cannot live in
good conscience, be a member of this board, and not bring this issue to
the table," said Commissioner Edwin Reyes (D-Chicago). "The law that
the Arizona legislature passed specifically prohibits profiling - it is
not about profiling, it is about politics and posturing," said
Commissioner Tony Peraica (R-Riverside).
The board approved the
anti-Arizona resolution. Minutes later, it considered an ordinance to
end its relationship with an Arizona-based company that installs red
"It doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to see that this
whole thing smells," said Commissioner Timothy Schneider (R-Bartlett).
"I mean, this is awful."
Despite its bluster a few minutes
earlier, the board decided to do business with the Arizona company and
will save its boycott for some other time.
"We have to send a
strong message," said Commissioner Joseph Mario Moreno (D-Cicero).
"We're the second largest county in the country, and for a state of ours
to do this to anybody of color is absolutely just wrong."
anti-Arizona resolution would become effective as soon as it is signed
by County Board President Todd Stroger. That is not expected to happen
for at least another few days.
However, it was interesting
watching the board break the spirit of the vote it took just a few
minutes earlier. A principal in the Arizona company is an
African-American, and the board seemed reluctant to affect one of its
rare minority vendors.
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