Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  
 

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.

   
  Eighteen of the 20 largest banks in the world and more than 50 foreign banks have offices in Cook County.
   
     
     
     



Arts program urged at detention center

Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Chicago Sun-Times
by ABDON M. PALLASCH Staff Reporter

The plays and musicals that used to offer a creative outlet for boys at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center were cut last year.

"Some of these kids have never been on stage before and it's a great experience for them to see themselves on stage in a positive light and not a negative light," said choreographer Cheri Green. "It really did increase their positive behavior once they went back into the neighborhood. It really helped to build their self-esteem."

The musicals and plays for the 10- to 17-year-old boys awaiting hearings on charges of theft, drug-dealing and more serious crimes were banished during a clash between Public Safety Director J.W. Fairman and Assistant Supt. Willie Ross, who resigned in April.

Fairman said elimination of the program had nothing to do with politics or the clashes that led to Ross' resignation.

"There was no evaluation of the effectiveness of the program," Fairman said. If the groups are willing to re-submit proposals with documentation of the benefits, he would consider reinstating them.

Meade Palidofsky of Musical Theatre Workshop ran the project and still heads the "Fabulous Females" program that works with the small population of girls at the detention center.

Commissioners demand reforms

"It's crazy not to be doing things with these kids and engaging them," Palidofsky said. "Some of them have no self-image and teaching them how to do something, working hard, can be very life-changing. It's a shame to have kids like that sitting there with nothing to do."

Some County Board members are demanding Board President John Stroger clean house at the center following four Sun-Times stories about ACLU charges of choke-holds and other excessive discipline being used on detainees; disproportionate numbers of employees living in Stroger's 8th Ward; high-paid managers having political or family ties to Stroger; counselors with criminal charges; excessive overtime, and charges of employees stealing food intended for the kids. Other media have chimed in with editorials.

Stroger's board allies last week buried a proposal for an independent audit of the center but commissioners set a public hearing on the center for Thursday.

Fairman said he's concerned about spending taxpayers' money on the plays but Ross and Palidofsky said they cost taxpayers next to nothing in all but two years since they started in 1990 because of grants secured from the Illinois Arts Council and other sources. Ross brought in mentoring programs with the University of Illinois at Chicago, Moody Bible Institute, Wheaton College and other colleges, he said.

"There used to be a lot of programs there" Palidofsky said. "I think the only things there now are the religious programs."

'The politics of the place'

Green and Palidofsky said they'd love to come back and they hope the new director of the center, Jerry Robinson, invites them. Palidofsky now concentrates her efforts at the State Youth Center in Warrenville, which she said is more professionally run.

"It's not the kids that are hard to work with [at the JTDC] -- the kids are a joy to work with -- but the politics of the place, the adults are what makes it challenging there," Palidofsky said. "There are some excellent staff people who work very hard with the kids. But there is no leadership at the top. Out in Warrenville, we're very well supported there. We don't have to worry about the adults."

Lourdes Torres, 21, served time at the JTDC in 2001 and said the dance and theater programs helped her turn her life around.

"I never saw myself in a dress. Never," she said. "I transformed in there with their help. It helped me express my anger through dancing. I didn't know I could dance. I didn't know I had a talent to write or to perform."

Palidofsky and others concede Ross was controversial and could be a challenge to work with. But even Stroger, his former mentor with whom he has had a falling out, said, "He was good with the kids -- he brought in people who talked with the kids."

Like some other center executives, Ross got his job through his friendship with Stroger's family. He was from Stroger's hometown of Helena, Ark. He was an All-American football player at the University of Nebraska who played two years with the Buffalo Bills, then worked as youth coordinator for the mayor of Norfolk, Va., before coming to Chicago.

Generous overtime at center

Among his tasks was to bring down the overtime, which was about $5 million -- about a fifth of the center's budget. A $55,000-a-year counselor boosted his salary to $101,000 in 2003 with overtime. Dozens of employees nearly doubled their salaries with overtime in 2003 and 2004, according to documents obtained by the Sun-Times.

Ross told managers at the center they were not eligible for overtime and he cut them off.

That got some people angry, Ross said. Over the next year and a half, they launched five internal investigations against him. They asked Palidofsky and other program leaders if they gave Ross "kickbacks." None of those charges were sustained, Fairman said. The county settled a sex harassment suit against Ross over his objection. Ross called it a "he said-she said."

Stroger's chief of staff, James Whigham, said Ross was one of a team charged with bringing down overtime costs.

"Had it not been for the help of Assistant Supt. Ross, overtime at the JTDC would be at least 15-20 percent higher," Fairman wrote in a memo to Stroger obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Stroger said he did not know anything about the plays being cut.

Some programs remain at the center and Fairman is open to new ones, he said.

This past weekend, a minister brought in "Weekend of Champions," in which athletes talked to detainees. Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley said he's putting up $5,000 of his own money to bring in the Joel Hall Dance Center to work with the detainees.



Recent Headlines

Illinois Dept. of Revenue Releases Final 2018 Cook County Equalization Factor
Thursday, June 06, 2019
JD Supra

At Cook County Jail, Inmates Relax Their Minds, Bodies With Yoga
Thursday, June 06, 2019
Prison Mindfulness Institute

Skokie drops recent proposal to opt out of Cook County minimum wage ordinance
Wednesday, June 05, 2019
Chicago Tribune

JAMA examines rising drug costs • CVS' ambitious transformation • Cook County extends Medicaid contract
Wednesday, June 05, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

DCFS says nonprofit misused taxpayer dollars, demands repayment of $100K
Wednesday, June 05, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County judge, ripped for ‘insensitive’ racial comments, dumped from bench
Wednesday, June 05, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Offers Low Cost Rabies And Microchipping Clinic
Wednesday, June 05, 2019
Patch

Masturbating Cook County Jail inmates could cost taxpayers $2 million-plus in legal fees
Tuesday, June 04, 2019

New training and protocols needed at Cook County, task force says after sexual harassment scandal
Friday, May 31, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County assessor's tax reform bill skids in Springfield
Friday, May 31, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi's property tax reforms stall out in Springfield
Friday, May 31, 2019
Chicago Tribune

The North Shore Mosquito Abatement District has found the first mosquitoes to test positive for West Nile virus in the District this year.
Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Special to suffredin.org

Cook County to Address Perinatal Health Disparities with $4.8M Grant
Friday, May 24, 2019
WTTW News

Audit Recommends Ways To Overhaul Cook County Property Tax System
Thursday, May 23, 2019
WBEZ News

Cock-a-doodle-deferred? After ‘urban farmers’ cry foul, county tables rooster ban
Thursday, May 23, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

From green screen computers to staff shortages, a new audit says Cook County's property tax system needs more resources
Thursday, May 23, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Measles Exposure Reported in Chicago
Monday, May 20, 2019
WTTW News

News from the Cook County Health System
Friday, May 17, 2019
Special to suffredin.org

Cook County Health Recognizes Mental Health Awareness Month
Thursday, May 16, 2019
Daily Herald

Skokie plans for road improvements near Edens Expressway: 'It’s desperately needed'
Thursday, May 16, 2019
Skokie Review

all news items

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