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.
   
     
     
     



Sheriff's deputies, auditors descend on Harvey's city hall

Friday, March 21, 2014
Chicago Tribune
by Matthew Walberg

Cook County sheriff’s deputies and officials with the state comptroller’s office descended on Harvey’s city hall this morning to comb through financial records in an effort to enforce a watchdog law long-ignored by the scandal-plagued south suburb.

The action comes on the same day the Tribune reported on questionable insider deals in Harvey happening as its appointed comptroller warned that the suburb was heading toward financial ruin.

The deals included $88,000 to a firm tied to the mayor’s son for social media work — the quality of which experts questioned.

That followed a series of Tribune articles in February that documented how Harvey has become arguably the most lawless community in the region, reeling from the effects of high violent crime rates, subpar policing and shaky finances amid ineffectual or non-existent oversight from state and federal authorities.

That included the suburb failing for years to follow a law -- enforced by the state comptroller -- that requires cities and villages to perform yearly audits.  Under state law, if a town doesn’t complete its audit, the state comptroller is allowed to hire auditors to do it and bill the town for the work.

About 10 a.m. today, four sheriff’s vehicles arrived at the south suburb’s aging city hall,  joined by an SUV and a minivan with state plates. About a dozen people from the vehicles entered the city hall and walked into the office of the city clerk, an elected official whose job includes keeping and tracking the city’s records.

Brad Hahn, spokesman for State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, told the Tribune that representatives from the comptroller’s office joined the deputies at Harvey’s city hall "to assist the city with its financial reporting."

He would not say whether its office would review any of the insider deals profiled in the newspaper. He said the agency was limited in what additional details it could give, repeating what it had told the Tribune earlier: that there was an ongoing investigation to which they’ve already forwarded some records.

The comptroller’s office has declined to elaborate on the investigation, or say if it is related to an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on a failed development deal previously exposed by the Tribune that enriched the town’s comptroller while costing taxpayers $10 million.

Mayor Eric Kellogg was seen going into the city hall about 15 minutes after deputies and auditors arrived. Kellogg said through a spokeswoman that officials had a "very productive meeting with the state's Comptrollers Office this morning." "We appreciate the assistance of the comptrollers office in assisting us as it relates to becoming current with our financial reporting requirements," the mayor said.

Deputies and auditors left at about 11:15 a.m. The move by Sheriff Tom Dart and Topinka comes seven years after another high-profile unannounced visit by outside authorities, that time armed with subpoenas. Then, deputies were joined by county prosecutors and state police seeking evidence that had long been ignored by Harvey police to arrest killers and rapists.

But while authorities have previously looked inside Harvey’s police department, none have publicly examined its finances. Dart, long critical of Harvey’s policing, has been looking for a way to get a peek at Harvey’s books.

After the Tribune series in February, he pushed county board members to enact an ordinance that would allow him to act as the inspector general for suburbs that failed to file audits.

But that legislation has run into opposition from suburban mayors and politicians, including Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who say that it is the state’s responsibility to force audits. It’s unclear what level of access his office will be given to the records reviewed today.

When the state comptroller’s spokesman was asked if the sheriff’s office would also be reviewing the records, the spokesman responded that the comptroller’s office would be using its own accountants.

"Our auditors will be reviewing City financial records and working to bring Harvey into compliance with state reporting laws. If the auditors find financial impropriety, that information will be turned over to the appropriate law enforcement agency," Hahn said in an email.

Harvey is four years behind on the audits, making it difficult -- if not impossible -- for outsiders and residents to get a clear grasp of the city’s financial health. Records obtained by the Tribune suggest the city is nearly insolvent — borrowing big in recent years yet still spending millions more than it took in, while starving its pension funds and stiffing the City of Chicago on water that the suburb purchased and resold.

Chicago has sued Harvey. Records show Chicago is owed $18 million for unpaid water bills, about the same amount Harvey takes in from taxes and fees in an entire year.

But Kellogg has bristled at the idea of outside intervention.

Last year Dart offered to act as the city’s inspector general -- an offer eventually made to other suburbs. The Harvey mayor declined the request, calling it "political posturing."



Recent Headlines

County watchdog: Police sergeant violated sexual harassment policy, employee misused time off for Jamaican vacation
Tuesday, October 15, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

What I learn when I have lunch at Cook County Jail
Monday, October 14, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

County officials say pension board’s proposed fix would cost an extra $267 million
Monday, October 14, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Trump policy targeting immigrants who use safety net services blocked by federal court in Illinois
Monday, October 14, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle Unveils FY2020 Executive Budget Recommendation
Monday, October 14, 2019
Chicago Defender

Criminal justice reformers are making the case to end cash bail in Illinois
Sunday, October 13, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Expungements, tax appeals will cause hiring spree as overall Cook County jobs decline
Thursday, October 10, 2019
Daily Herald

Cost to Cook County to clear pot records: $700,000
Thursday, October 10, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

No New Taxes in Cook County Budget
Thursday, October 10, 2019
WTTW News

Inside the 2020 county budget Preckwinkle unveils today
Thursday, October 10, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

League of Women Voters of Illinois Executive Director appointed as Chair of the Cook County Commission on Women’s Issues
Thursday, October 10, 2019
Chicago Defender

No layoffs or tax hikes in Preckwinkle’s $6.1B county budget — but also no pot revenue or gambling jackpot
Wednesday, October 09, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Graduate Hotel coming to Evanston
Tuesday, October 08, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Promising no tax hikes, Preckwinkle angles for no-drama 2020 county budget
Tuesday, October 08, 2019
The Daily Line

Metra revs up capital spending wishlist amid ‘unprecedented’ gush of state funding
Tuesday, October 08, 2019
The Daily Line

North-suburban assessments could mean for break homeowners, ‘straight-up terror’ for commercial owners
Monday, October 07, 2019

Federal monitor: Kaegi not on ‘effective path’ to end oversight of assessor’s office hiring
Monday, October 07, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Lightfoot, Preckwinkle Clash Over Metra Electric Proposal
Wednesday, October 02, 2019
WTTW News

With census worries looming, Chicago and Cook County beef up counting efforts
Tuesday, October 01, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Cook County Jail Inmates Have Been Escaping From Restraints, Using Them As Weapons On Transport Buses
Tuesday, October 01, 2019
CBS Chicago

all news items

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