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.

   
  The Cook County Forest Preserve District maintains over 70 miles of bicycle trails.
   
     
     
     



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 Jail’s book limit ruled as proper
Wednesday, September 18, 2019
Chicago Daily law Bulletin

Prisoner escapes from Chicago police custody en route to Cook County Jail
Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

County clerk’s office needs federal oversight
Monday, September 16, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

City Club of Chicago: Toni Preckwinkle – Advancing Racial Equity in Cook County
Monday, September 16, 2019
WGN Radio

Choosing Cook County judges, Justice Ginsburg reminds us, should not be a popularity contest
Monday, September 16, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Kim Foxx interested, wary of working with Trump White House on criminal justice reform
Sunday, September 15, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Is Clerk Karen Yarbrough ‘best official’ in county — or is patronage hiring flap only ‘tip of the iceberg’?
Sunday, September 15, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

A secret vote will choose Cook County’s next judicial chief. A $270 million budget, thousands of employees, and the future of a huge court system are at stake.
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Evans Faces Challenge Thursday For Position As Cook County Chief Judge
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
WBEZ News

Cook County Health's John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital Receives $5M Federal Grant to Support Cancer Research
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
Daily Herald

Cook County Forest Preserves Might Pitch Property Tax Hike To Voters
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
WBEZ News

Column: Ethically, Todd Ricketts owes Cook County six more years of property taxes on his Wilmette house. He should pay up.
Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Watchdog accuses County Clerk Karen Yarbrough of running ‘illegal patronage’ operation, wants court oversight
Tuesday, September 10, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Prosecutors Decline To File Charges In About 1 In Every 5 Murder Cases
Thursday, September 05, 2019
WBEZ Chicago Public Radio

Cook County Maps Story of Opioid Epidemic with New Website
Thursday, September 05, 2019
WBEZ News

Slow refund checks for Water Tower residents—including the county treasurer—lead to proposed fee
Wednesday, September 04, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Criminal history vs. compassion? County debate over role of rap sheets in rental decisions
Wednesday, September 04, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County’s new law barring landlords from turning away tenants with certain criminal backgrounds faces controversy
Wednesday, September 04, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Editorial: Upholding Cook County’s assault weapons ban
Tuesday, September 03, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Hospital rehab awarded $3 million in state tax credits
Tuesday, September 03, 2019
Curbed Chicago

all news items

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