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:  
   
 
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
  Cook County was created on January 15, 1831 and named after Daniel P. Cook, Member of Congress and the first Attorney from the State of Illinois.
   
     
     
     



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

Cook County circuit clerk says city owes $13M in fees
Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Chciago Daily Law Bulletin

Cook County faces $177 million in deficits over next two budget years
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Preckwinkle: Cook County facing 'difficult and challenging' $82 million budget shortfall
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Preckwinkle: $82M Budget Hole Means ‘Difficult Choices’ For Cook County
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
WBEZ Chicago Public Radio

Editorial: A Chicago revival: The Lazarus of Harrison Street
Friday, June 15, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Growing food, community
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Help Squad: Consumers can file lawsuits and other legal documents online —some free via an online fee waiver
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Residents speak out as Wilmette Board introduces minimum wage and sick time ordinances
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

County's bid to avoid attorney fees for paraplegic detainee backfires
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Cook County Forest Preserves Show Off To Visitors At Daley Plaza
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
WBBW News Radio

Peek Inside the Old Cook County Hospital, Vacant for 16 Years
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
NBC Chicago

After 16 years, renovation underway at old Cook County Hospital
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
WGN Television

Officials break ground on $1 billion overhaul of long-vacant Cook County Hospital
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

George Leighton, legendary Chicago judge and courthouse namesake, dies at 105
Thursday, June 07, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

George Leighton, Chicago judge for whom criminal courthouse is named, dies at 105
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County allows video gambling in unincorporated areas
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Backpage.com lawsuit against Cook County sheriff dismissed
Saturday, June 02, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Dorothy Brown’s office to get federal monitor for hiring practices
Friday, June 01, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Coyote puppies tagged, health work-ups conducted in the Forest Preserves of Cook County
Thursday, May 31, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

EDITORIAL: Justice delayed 16 months — until a reporter starts nosing around
Wednesday, May 30, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

all news items

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