Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  
 

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.

   
  Cook County is the second most populous county in the nation. It is the 19th largest government in the U.S.
   
     
     
     



Dr. Stephen Cina meets with commissioners about medical examiner’s job

Thursday, July 12, 2012
Chicago Sun-Times
by LISA DONOVAN

The Florida forensic pathologist nominated to be chief of Cook County’s troubled morgue was in Chicago Wednesday, meeting privately with some commissioners concerned about everything from his consulting business to the $300,000 salary he negotiated to whether his work experience in smaller counties has prepared him for the big city.


On Tuesday, Board president Toni Preckwinkle announced that Dr. Stephen Cina, who has handled death investigations in Colorado, Wyoming and Florida, is her choice to take over operations at the county medical examiner’s office.

The West Side facility has been under fire since January, when the Sun-Times revealed bodies were piling up there and staff were complaining about the stench and bodily fluids pooling on the floor, triggering a state labor department investigation.

The mess has turned into a political football, with state budget cuts initially blamed but lousy management also faulted. Current chief medical examiner, Dr. Nancy Jones, also is stepping down at the end of the month, and her top deputy was forced to resign.

If he gets the job, Cina will have to navigate all that is left in his wake delicately, commissioners say, while turning around operations. On Wednesday, he walked through the back halls of the downtown county government building’s fifth floor — providing easy access to Preckwinkle’s executive office and most commissioners’ central offices — to avoid what some sources say was news media alerted to the visit.

Cina offered a few brief comments to the Sun-Times by phone about his nomination on Tuesday — saying he has some “big ideas” and “I am aware of the challenges, but it’s nothing insurmountable” — but deferred questions and interview requests to Preckwinkle’s office. Her media office denied those requests on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Like other commissioners, Peter N. Silverstri described his talk with Cina as a quick “meet and greet” but the suburban Republican also got a chance to ask the nominee whether he’s ready for the big city after smaller-town experiences. Currently, Cina serves as the associate medical director of the University of Miami Tissue Bank, and before that he served as a deputy chief medical examiner in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“I said, ‘You’ve been in Florida, you’ve been in Colorado — are you comfortable coming to work for a government of this size, and in light of the problems of the last year?’,” Silvestri said.

“He expressed confidence, of course, that he could. But I’m not convinced — not because of him, but because I have a lack of information. He has an impressive resume,” Silvestri said.

He said that in just a few minutes, it is tough to have an in-depth conversation about his experience and aspirations for the job. Silvestri said he will be asking for more details on his work background and any other information he needs before commissioners hold a confirmation hearing and vote on July 24.

As part of the vetting process, the county conducted criminal background check on Cina, which turned up no convictions, said county spokeswoman Mary Paleologos. He also passed a drug screening and physical exam, she said.

Commissioner Larry Suffredin said in the few minutes he spoke with Cina, he was able to ask him about his plans to continue working eight hours a week as a forensic pathology consultant for high-profile lawsuits — earning a whopping $5,000 a day, plus expenses, as Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg reported.

“I was concerned that he was going to be using our facilities to conduct autopsies, but he’s not going to do that,” Suffredin said. “He’s reviewing the work of other forensic pathologists, so he’s reading over their work, and he says it can be done on planes, trains and automobiles” and outside the confines of his Cook County job.

Robert Steele, a West Side Democrat, said a scheduling snafu meant he could not get together with Cina, but he plans to have a heart-to-heart about that.

“It’s a full-time job — plus. We know that already from what we know about medical examiners being called in day and night,” Steele said, stressing that he’s not bashing the candidate. “So how do you have time to take on these official roles in your consulting business?”

While Preckwinkle is confident she has, at minimum, the nine votes needed to confirm the appointment, several commissioners want more information before they’re willing to make a firm commitment.

Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey, a Northwest Side Democrat, is among them: “I had an opportunity to meet with Dr. Cina for 15 minutes today, I wouldn’t hire someone to work in my office in such a small amount of time, much less one of the highest paid officials in the county.”

While Cina’s resume shows he is qualified, Fritchey said, without a thorough understanding of his work history and any other background information, he can’t throw his support behind Cina.

Fritchey has also raised concerns about Cina negotiating a $300,000 salary — 30 percent more than the current ME annual pay — and a guarantee that he can add three more doctors to the staff.

From the conversation, “I have the impression Dr. Cina believes that the problems in the ME’s office can be solved simply through increasing the budget and personnel. I’m not so sure I agree with him,” Fritchey said.



Recent Headlines

Grades can’t count against kids during Illinois’ coronavirus school shutdown. Does that mean less incentive to do the work?
Thursday, April 09, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Neighbors rally to local handyman locked up in Cook County Jail as threat of coronavirus spreads
Thursday, April 09, 2020
Chicago Tribune

CTA to announce bus boarding changes to promote social distancing during coronavirus pandemic
Thursday, April 09, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Project Based Voucher Wait List Opening Meadowview Apartments in Blue Island
Thursday, April 09, 2020
Special to suffredin.org

Greater Chicago Food Depository launches coronavirus crisis grant program, suspends charges to pantries for food, seeking volunteers
Wednesday, April 08, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Preckwinkle self-isolating after security detail member tests positive for COVID-19
Wednesday, April 08, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business

What needs to remain when COVID-19 is gone
Wednesday, April 08, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business

Chicago liquor sales curfew takes effect Thursday, Mayor Lightfoot says
Wednesday, April 08, 2020
Chicago Crusader

129 BLACKS IN ILLINOIS DEAD, 1,824 SICK AND COUNTING
Wednesday, April 08, 2020
Chicago Crusader

Chicago’s ‘super-spreader’ — How COVID-19 raced through meals, funeral hugs, a birthday party and a church collection plate
Wednesday, April 08, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

‘Unpredictable Election Day’ sparks new records for mail ballot, early voting in suburban Cook County
Wednesday, April 08, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Another chief judge’s office employee at juvenile detention center contracts COVID-19
Wednesday, April 08, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

City imposes curfew on liquor sales
Wednesday, April 08, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Sheriff defends attempts to curb coronavirus at Cook County Jail as judge mulls lawsuit seeking releases
Wednesday, April 08, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Inmates with ongoing innocence claims sit in prisons threatened by coronavirus as courts shut down
Wednesday, April 08, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle self-isolating after security detail member tests positive for coronavirus
Wednesday, April 08, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle not ready to consider layoffs as ‘economy falls off a cliff’ because of coronavirus crisis
Wednesday, April 08, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Medical examiner confirms 32 more COVID-19 deaths in Cook County; total surpasses 300
Wednesday, April 08, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

City's pandemic facilities swipe staff from safety-net hospitals
Tuesday, April 07, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business

Cook County Jail detainee dies of COVID-19
Tuesday, April 07, 2020
Chicago Tribune

all news items

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