Suffredin- Changing County Government  

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.

  Last year more people used the County's forest preserves than visited Yellowstone National Park.

Editorial: Preckwinkle right to demand cuts

Thursday, January 20, 2011
Chicago Sun-Times
by Sun Times editorial staff

No one said this would be easy.

But new Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is absolutely right when she insists that county officials get serious about cutting their budgets a full 16 percent.

The county is facing a $487 million deficit in its roughly $3 billion-a-year operations, and there’s no way that kind of hole can be filled without pain. And remember, even if Preckwinkle and the County Board erase that $487 million deficit, they’ll be doing nothing more than getting the 2011 budget into line. There still would be no room to discontinue the county’s penny-on-the-dollar sales take increase, which Preckwinkle has pledged to repeal.

Preckwinkle has said she will make the 16 percent cuts in her own office, as have Assessor Joseph Berrios, the Board of Review, Recorder of Deeds Eugene Moore and health and hospitals CEO William Foley. (Because the fiscal year started Dec. 1, the offices actually must cut by 21 percent to achieve 16 percent savings by year’s end.)

But State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, Sheriff Thomas Dart and Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown — whose operations together typically account for a third of the budget — have said the 16 percent cut is too onerous for them.

We’re frankly surprised that Dorothy Brown can’t find a way to make significant trims in an office that traditionally has been larded with workers who don’t have much to do while others carry the load.

On the other hand, Alvarez and Dart — who say they are cooperating with Preckwinkle — have legitimate concerns.

Ninety-eight percent of Alvarez’s budget is personnel, and she is required to staff courtrooms throughout the county. If she doesn’t, the chief judge can appoint a special state’s attorney at a rate that Alvarez calculates at $185 an hour vs. the $65 an hour it costs for a staff lawyer.

Alvarez’s office also performs other tasks, but financial savings won’t be easy to find there, either, according to her numbers. For example, if the county outsourced the handling of Stroger Hospital’s medical malpractice suits, the expense would disappear from Alvarez’s budget, but the overall cost to the county would soar because outside lawyers would have to be hired.

Dart, meanwhile, must comply with court orders on staffing that make trimming his payroll an exceptional challenge. And even laying off every police officer, court deputy and appointed employee wouldn’t be sufficient to meet Preckwinkle’s goal. He has proposed a 9 percent cut.

Still, Preckwinkle is absolutely correct that costs must be brought into line. Alvarez and Dart should submit budgets that meet the 16 percent guideline. If the results are too onerous, the County Board would be free to ease up on the state’s attorney and sheriff and look for savings elsewhere.

To her credit, Preckwinkle sees the downside to across-the-board cuts, where bloated offices and lean ones get whacked the same, and she seems to be working to avoid that in the future. She has proposed ways to make county government more efficient and responsive, ranging from sharing office functions across county agencies to improving the efficiency of the criminal justice system. But she needs time to get it done.

In the meantime, the numbers have to add up.

Recent Headlines

What Pritzker's minimum wage increase plan could mean for the suburbs
Monday, November 26, 2018
Daily Herald

Cook County sheriff’s vehicle struck during ISP pursuit on I-294
Sunday, November 25, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County 'Tails' program offers redemption for inmates, dogs
Thursday, November 22, 2018
Daily Herald

Cook County correctional officer owns bar where security guard Jemel Roberson shot by cop, officials say
Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Chicago Tribune

More than 2 months after sisters were killed in crash with Cook County sheriff's officer, family still waits for answers
Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Jail guard’s retaliation suit can proceed
Monday, November 19, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Northbrook will revisit Cook County minimum wage ordinance in May
Sunday, November 18, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Suffredin: County to seek 'safeguards' for golf course road
Friday, November 16, 2018
Evanston NOW

She's been waiting 15 months for her rape kit to be processed. A new proposal to track evidence aims to change that.
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Preckwinkle to unveil policy roadmap for Cook County for next five years
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

U.S. appeals judges: Go fight over lawsuits with Dorothy Brown in state court
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

COMMENTARY: Here's how the Shakman case curbed Cook County patronage
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Appeals court backs Dorothy Brown in lawsuit over public access to electronic records, says judge overstepped authority
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

What’s Next As Voters Overwhelmingly Support Higher Minimum Wage, Paid Sick Time
Monday, November 12, 2018
Journal and Topics Online

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's security chief fired after review spurred by watchdog report
Thursday, November 08, 2018
Chicago Tribune

An earlier opening day: 2019 Cook County forest preserves permits go on sale Nov. 15
Thursday, November 08, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County opening 2019 picnic permit sales Nov. 15
Monday, November 05, 2018
Special to

The Cook County Land Bank looks to go commercial
Monday, November 05, 2018
RE Journal

Nov. 15 is new opening date for Cook County forest preserves permits
Monday, November 05, 2018
Daily Herald

Cook County Gun Dealer, Minimum Wage Referendums On Ballot
Monday, November 05, 2018

all news items

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