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:  

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.

How Transparent and Accountable Are Chicago, Cook County Governments?

Wednesday, July 18, 2018
WTTW Chicago Tonight
by Amanda Vinicky

How Transparent and Accountable Are Chicago, Cook County Governments?

Chicago and Cook County have sometimes-spotty reputations when it comes to how they run government operations. But they have taken steps to clean up their acts, in part through the creation of offices of inspectors general – a relative rarity for municipal governments.

“Cook County has come a long way, there’s no question. Since when I started in 2008, things were very dark when it came to information and supplying rationale for why decisions were being made,” County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard said Monday at the City Club of Chicago.

A bright spot came when the Illinois Supreme Court in 2016 issued an opinion requiring all 27 Cook County elected officials to cooperate with the inspector general’s office, after Assessor Joe Berrios resisted tendering records.

“That being said, inspiring transparency is clearly an ongoing effort,” Blanchard said.

On the wish lists of the inspectors general: minimum floors for their budgets, and additional subpoena powers.

While City of Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson has the power to investigate the City Council, he does not have oversight of several programs managed by the council’s Finance Committee, including the workers’ compensation system and the program that allows drivers to seek reimbursements for car damage.

“It’s those sorts of things that still are dark space. It’s actually a relatively small portion of the overall city budget but I think it’s a symbolically important one,” he said.

When asked by a reporter whether the inspector general wasn’t given jurisdiction over those programs because powerful Ald. Ed Burke chairs the Finance Committee, Ferguson said, “I did not watch closely and was not part of any backroom discussion for parliamentary maneuvers that resulted in it, but yeah, that’s obviously what the elephant in the room was.”

Burke’s office did not return an afternoon call seeking comment.

While inspectors general don’t need to rely on the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, to get public records, it’s a common tool for the media and public citizens seeking information.

Too often, governments do the bare minimum to comply, Ferguson said.

“Look, lawyers got to do what lawyers got to do. But it’s largely been co-opted by those with the information and the power to utilize through clever legal arguments all sorts of variations on a core set of exemptions. (Some of those exemptions actually being really important.) But the fact of the matter is, is that FOIA and litigation in FOIA is used to avoid disclosure of a lot of public information. The litigation process used as basically a blocking mechanism,” he said.

The Chicago Board of Education inspector general’s office will soon take on a massive workload: Come October, it will handle allegations of sexual abuse at Chicago Public Schools – cases currently handled by CPS’s law department.

The transfer is part of the fallout of a Chicago Tribune investigation into hundreds of cases of sexual abuse at CPS.

Inspector General Nicholas Schuler says an advantage is that going forward, sustained findings of abuse will be made public.

“People will know the nature of what happened, they’ll know what we recommended, they’ll know what the board did. So in some way they’ll know what happened,” Schuler said.

The CPS inspector general’s office is also tasked with looking back at more than a decade of previous sexual abuse cases.

To do it, Schuler’s looking to hire a dozen new employees – roughly double his current staff; resumes are being accepted online now.

Follow Amanda Vinicky on Twitter: @AmandaVinicky

Related stories:

CPS Watchdog Adding Staff for New Sex Abuse Investigations Team

CPS Watchdog: ‘Pervasive Problem’ with Enrollment at Some District Schools

Report: Chicago Police Officers Gaming Overtime System

Recent Headlines

Pappas: There's help for senior citizens struggling to pay Cook County property taxes
Friday, December 14, 2018
Special to

Cook County Public Guardian sues DCFS: “Abject moral and human rights failure”
Thursday, December 13, 2018
Capitol Fax

Borrow $10B to help stabilize city pensions along with legal pot, casino and benefit cuts: Rahm
Thursday, December 13, 2018
The Daily Line

CTA Moves Forward with Major Red Line Projects:
Thursday, December 13, 2018
Special to

Cook County repeals lower parking-app tax rate
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

How local suburbs voted in Cook County minimum wage/paid sick leave advisory referenda
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
The Bugel

Cook County restores tax on parking apps before January cut took effect
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

County Board to take on taxes,toilets at Wednesday meeting
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

PRECKWINKLE’s tax tweak — Details on BURKE raids — State REPUBLICANS look for hope — SUMMERS’ tirade
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Illinois Politico

Woman, 19, arrested after escaping police custody at Cook County courthouse
Sunday, December 09, 2018
WLS ABC Chicago 7

Here's an exciting prospect: A boring assessor's office
Saturday, December 08, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

Sheriff starts unique inmate program to combat Chicago's gun epidemic
Thursday, December 06, 2018
RTV 6 Indianapolis

Staff feud at tax appeals board turns nasty
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

Cook County Tax Bills Posted Online Three Months Early
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
CBS Chicago

County Board makes it easier to choose Preckwinkle successor
Tuesday, December 04, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

New Cook County assessor vows end to favoritism as he takes office
Monday, December 03, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

New Cook County Board members sworn in Monday
Monday, December 03, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County referendums: 'Yes' to everything
Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Chicago City Wire

Glenview to discuss Cook County minimum wage, paid sick leave ordinances in December
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Wilmette reverses course, fully adopts both county minimum wage and sick time rules
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Chicago Tribune

all news items

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