Judge Evans not on board with Preckwinkle’s plan
Thursday, July 07, 2011
by Jake Griffin
Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans is the lone holdout of county
board President Toni Preckwinkle’s planned management overhaul of
Evans argued that his office isn’t under the purview of the county board and he has already launched his own reforms.
Preckwinkle said Evans’ reluctance will only slightly hinder
the efforts of her office to have performance measures in place for
every aspect of the county’s operations, but noted that she’d prefer to
have everyone “work together.” The plan, she said, is to track
everything from hospital wait times to inmate costs per day to employee
overtime so county departments eventually can set goals for those
While not a part of Preckwinkle’s “STAR: Set Targets,
Achieve Results” performance management program, Evans recently
announced his own performance measurement initiative that he said in a
June 30 news release would “set new goals to better serve the public’s
needs.” Evans stated in the release that the court system is
“independent” of the county government and that is why he chose to
create separate performance measurements with the help of the National
Center for State Courts. Evans said that program is specific to judicial
operations while Preckwinkle’s program is not.
On Wednesday, Evans promised that his office would continue to “collaborate with all the other county agencies.”
Preckwinkle and several members of her senior staff met with
the Daily Herald editorial board Wednesday to outline a program
requiring all county departments to have performance measures in place
for budgeting purposes. The county’s total annual budget is more than
$3.1 billion, county officials said.
Among the bevy of goals set in the performance measures
submitted by the various county department heads is to reduce jail
populations, reduce wait times in county hospitals and have property tax
bills sent out on time. The county will provide quarterly updates on
the progress of achieving performance goals, Preckwinkle said.
Preckwinkle said it costs $142 a day to house an inmate in
the county jail. At nearly $52,000 a year, Preckwinkle noted that’s the
equivalent of a year’s “tuition to a very fine university.”
Previously, county hospitals didn’t track wait times for
emergency room patients. Several other departmental goals don’t have
baseline metrics to compare anything to. That’s why Preckwinkle said the
first year will mainly be putting the performance measurements in place
and working to improve the results. By December, Preckwinkle’s plan is
to conduct initial performance reviews and address weaker areas.
In the following two years, Preckwinkle’s plan is to
identify and take corrective actions. All the while, the budgeting
office will use the data and results of the program to guide them when
allocating resources, officials said.