Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  

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

MIHALOPOULOS: Dart, Preckwinkle divide played out over jail contract

Monday, September 11, 2017
Chicago Sun-Times
by Dan Mihalopoulos

Preckwinkle divide played out over jail contract

DAN MIHALOPOULOS 09/10/2017, 08:51pm

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, seen together in 2015, have been sharply at odds behind the scenes over a new contract for Cook County Jail officers. | Sun-Times files

Sheriff Tom Dart, the elected official who runs the Cook County Jail, is highly critical of the deal that Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has reached with the union for officers at the jail.

The sheriff has been quiet in the weeks since the Preckwinkle administration and the jail guards’ union, Teamsters Union Local 700, reached an agreement.

Behind the scenes, though, Dart and Preckwinkle aides were engaged in a heated war of words over the new contract.

Dart says the deal will tie his hands as he tries to reduce the swelling bills for absenteeism and overtime at the county lockup.

In correspondences I obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, a Dart aide blasted the new Teamsters deal as a “lost opportunity” to better manage jail officers — who are notorious for going AWOL, at high cost to county taxpayers already facing greater and greater burdens.

But Preckwinkle is never one to back down from critics, as evidenced by her unblinking defense of the unpopular new pop tax. An aide to the embattled county board president fired back at Dart in even sharper terms, lecturing the sheriff’s office on how management should deal with unionized public employees.

“We are disappointed with the end result,” Nicholas Scouffas, general counsel for Dart, wrote to two Preckwinkle aides on July 10. “The sheriff’s office has from day one made it clear that this round of negotiations should not be business as usual.”

Scouffas wrote that family medical leave time taken by jail officers doubled between 2012 and 2016 and that “the amount of time lost to [injured-on-duty] claims doubled in one year.” As a result, overtime costs at the jail rose to $24 million last year, from $18.7 million in 2015, according to Scouffas.

The sheriff’s office accused Preckwinkle’s administration of backing down on proposals Dart had urged be “key items” in the union contract.

“Since these pieces did not make it into the agreement, the sheriff’s office will continue to struggle to cut overtime in a meaningful way,” Scouffas wrote.

Seventeen days later, a Preckwinkle aide replied that Scouffas’ letter and other comments to administration officials “were full of mischaracterization and blame.”

“Your disappointment in the deal is misplaced,” wrote Velisha Haddox, chief of the county’s Bureau of Human Resources. “It should lie with your office’s negative bargaining history with the Teamsters and your team’s inability to accomplish work rule changes in the last round of bargaining.”

Haddox wrote that Dart couldn’t assume that problems which had been building up for years could be resolved in a single round of bargaining.

“You have to build relationships, build trust with your employees and be willing to give something in exchange for what you hope to receive from the unions,” she wrote.

Leaders of the union, which represents about 3,500 workers at the jail, have praised the negotiations with the Preckwinkle administration as “very fair” in a letter to members, Crain’s Chicago Business reported.

Local 700 is headed by Becky Strzechowski, a close ally of former Chicago Teamsters boss John Coli Sr. Coli was indicted in July on charges of shaking down Cinespace Studios Chicago.

Strzechowski was unseated after just two days as Coli’s replacement as the leader of the joint council for all of the union’s locals in the Chicago area.

Asked what the contract would cost compared to the current Teamsters deal, Preckwinkle spokesman Frank Shuftan says the agreement has not yet received approval from the county board, and administration officials “do not comment on specifics . . . until after the actual contracts are finalized.

“What I can tell you is that with any negotiation, there was give and take,” Shuftan says. “In this case, the sheriff had a seat at the negotiating table.”

The jail guards seem happy with what they are getting from the deal. What’s unclear, though, is how much Cook County’s taxpayers will be giving them.

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 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

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.