Suffredin- Changing County Government  
 

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.
   
     
     
     



Cook County ethics board approves reforms as member resigns in protest of President Toni Preckwinkle’s move to replace chair

Friday, January 24, 2020
Chicago Tribune
by Lolly Bowean

Cook County ethics board approves reforms as member resigns in protest of President Toni Preckwinkle’s move to replace chair

By LOLLY BOWEAN

 

JAN 24, 2020 |6:00 AM

Margaret Daley, chairwoman of the Cook County Board of Ethics, makes a statement about her dismissal by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, during an ethics board meeting at the Cook County Administration Building on Jan. 23, 2020, in Chicago. (John J. Kim / Chicago Tribune)

In an attempt to strengthen the county’s ethics law, the Cook County Board of Ethics is recommending banning county commissioners from taking certain outside jobs, outlawing nepotism in county hiring decisions and requiring registered lobbyists to disclose if they have relatives working for the county.

The ethics code proposal came Thursday as Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle replaced current board chair Margaret “Peggy” Daley on the board, a move that prompted fellow board member David Grossman to resign in protest.

The five-member board unanimously approved the proposed changes to the county ethics code on Thursday that would, among other things, remove the state’s attorney’s power to settle ethics lawsuits without ethics board approval and add sexual harassment as a possible ethics code violation. The proposed changes also would increase the possible fines for certain ethics violations.

The proposed changes would help weed out corruption and wrongdoing, board members said. Still, they would have to be reviewed by the public at hearings and eventually approved by the full county board to become law.

“This board agreed, based on its experience, that (there were) perceived shortcomings in the existing ethics ordinance and a concerted effort was needed to research, to review, to identify best practices in local government jurisdictions and codes of ethics across the country,” said Juliet Sorensen, who led the process of rewriting the ethics code. “The goal ultimately is to bring the ethics ordinance up to what our research shows is the best possible standard for codes of ethics for local governments across the country.”

In its reform efforts, the board tweaked some of the ethics rules, like more specifically defining what nepotism is and carefully outlining who is considered a lobbyist. It also presented new rules to address sexual harassment and protect employees from inappropriate advances.

Keith Chambers, director of the Cook County Board of Ethics, listens to board members address the dismissal of board chairwoman Margaret “Peggy” Daley, not pictured, during an ethics board meeting at the Cook County Administration Building on Jan. 23, 2020, in Chicago. (John J. Kim / Chicago Tribune)

The action on the ethics code came as Daley, whose term had expired over the summer, presided over her last meeting. Preckwinkle informed her on Tuesday she was being replaced.

Daley’s four-year term officially ended in July, but she has continued to serve and said she thought she was going to be renewed for a new term. Instead, her seat will be filled by Susan Gaffney, an associate professor at Governors State University.

At the meeting, Daley told the board that she was surprised that her term was not renewed, but pushed the remaining members to continue refining the ethics code.

Daley also said that in recent years the ethics board has not been auditing campaign finance disclosures and, in what she said was her final action, she urged the board to resume conducting such audits, which at one point identified possible violations by former county Assessor Joseph Berrios.

Advertisement: 1:29

“I believe that these audits are a critical function of the department of ethics and the failure to conduct them may result in backsliding and compliance failures at best and the tolerance of corruption at worst,” Daley read from a prepared statement. “I urge this board to confirm that these audits do indeed begin again as promised. And I urge President Preckwinkle to make this a priority.”

Commissioners Grossman, Sorensen and Thomas Szromba all have terms that expire in the next six weeks. Daley said she thought they should all be allowed to continue serving on the board.

“It would be counterproductive to replace these board members at this crucial juncture,” she said.

In response to Daley’s termination, Grossman resigned from the board Thursday, he said.

Grossman said although his term expires in March, he’s leaving in February because he doesn’t like how Daley was terminated.

 

“In light of your action, it is clear that you do not welcome a Board of Ethics that is serious about its duties," Grossman wrote in his resignation letter to Preckwinkle. "It would simply be a waste of my time to continue in my role with the board. … You are free to fill my vacancy with someone more likely to do your bidding.”

Read the full resignation letter sent to Preckwinkle here »

On Wednesday, it had not been determined if Preckwinkle would replace the other board members whose terms expire soon.

On Thursday, her spokesman Nick Shields said Preckwinkle thanks Daley and Grossman for their contributions and wants to give others an opportunity to serve.

Shields previously said that for months Preckwinkle’s office has been systematically reviewing all county boards and commissions, and considering how to fill vacancies and determine new appointments and reappointments. Ethics board members are hand-selected by Preckwinkle based on recommendations. Her selections have to be approved by the full county board of commissioners.

The board positions are unpaid, and they are tasked with enforcing the county’s ethics regulations and creating rules that govern more than 20,000 county employees and officials.

 

On Thursday, the board elected Sorensen to become its chair.

Preckwinkle’s office, through a letter, asked the board to delay voting on the ethics reforms, but it moved forward anyway.

 

But afterward, Shields said Preckwinkle has expanded the number of county employees required to receive ethics training, and has introduced and passed her own reforms to the county’s ethics ordinance.

“The irony today is that some ethics board members have opted to grandstand and insert politics rather than focus on good government work and ethics reforms,” Shields said in a written statement. “Case in point: we were provided roughly three weeks to respond to the recommended changes. Additional time was requested by the president’s office to simply review and collaborate with the ethics board on the recommended changes. That very reasonable request was curiously denied.”

He said Preckwinkle’s office simply wanted more time to review the proposed changes.

“The president’s office has simply not had sufficient time to adequately review the technical issues with a legal lens that would amount to considerable change to existing policy,” he said in his statement. “This was not a collaborative process but rather an unfortunate public political stunt."

 

 

 

Daley’s termination came just as the proposed ethics changes were in the final stages.

But Daley also happens to be one of three ethics board members who donated to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s campaign when she was competing with Preckwinkle for the city’s top seat.

Daley, Sorensen and Grossman donated a combined $8,500 to Lightfoot’s campaign, election records showed. At the time, both Daley and Sorensen said they were personal friends of Lightfoot and their financial support was not a subtle criticism of Preckwinkle.

 

Besides donating to Lightfoot, Daley was also a vocal critic of Berrios, who is a longtime Preckwinkle ally.

lbowean@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @lollybowean



Recent Headlines

As shifting deadlines create confusion over census count, Chicago officials warn communities of color: ‘Our future is in jeopardy.’
Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Early voting kicks off Thursday in Chicago, suburban Cook County later in October
Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Self-described ‘cautious’ county pol tests positive for COVID-19: ‘I’m not a person who would touch doorknobs’
Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Itching to vote? More than 57,000 Illinois voters have already weighed in as requests for mail ballots top 2 million
Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

State lawmakers urge residents to stay the course after census date changes again
Tuesday, September 29, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

‘Left For Dead’ No More: Officials Celebrate Renovation of Former Cook County Hospital Building
Tuesday, September 29, 2020
WTTW News

Forest Preserves mark National Public Lands Day with a family party near the Skokie Lagoons
Tuesday, September 29, 2020
Chicago Tribune

1,362 new Illinois coronavirus cases as Chicago adds four more states to travel quarantine list
Tuesday, September 29, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

State groups bemoan stop-and-go decisions affecting the census deadline
Monday, September 28, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Coronavirus live blog, Sept. 28, 2020: Will CPS kids go back to schools this fall? Lightfoot says ‘we’re not there yet’
Monday, September 28, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Thousands of suburban students going back to school after starting fully remote
Monday, September 28, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Illinois’ coronavirus-related death toll surpasses 8,600
Sunday, September 27, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Column: Cook County assessment report verifies what many already knew: Our property tax system is unfair
Sunday, September 27, 2020
Daily Southtown

Letter from the Cook County Health Interim CEO
Friday, September 25, 2020
Special to suffredin.org

They’re not otters, but endangered mussels in Illinois play a crucial role as environmental sentinels. ‘They all have a story to tell.’
Friday, September 25, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Cook County spends $292,000 to assess feasibility of repairing Port of Chicago
Friday, September 25, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Will your mailed-in ballot be counted? We did a test-mailing to see.
Friday, September 25, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

After ethics spat, Cook County code on its way to a revamp
Thursday, September 24, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business

County Board to renew Preckwinkle emergency powers, lay ground rules to pick new IG
Thursday, September 24, 2020
Daily Line

Officials Urge Residents to Get Flu Shot as State Reports 2,257 New Cases of COVID-19
Thursday, September 24, 2020
WTTW News

all news items

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