Making Democracy Work

LWVCC News

Cook County IIG Asserts Need for Independence

Patrick Blanchard, the Cook County Independent Inspector General (IIG) was the featured speaker at the LWVCC August 6 "Lunch and Learn." He spoke to about 50 league members and their guests about the mission and function of the office of the IIG.
Highlights from his talk include:
  • The Mission of the office is to detect, deter and prevent corruption, fraud, waste, mismanagement, unlawful political discrimination, and misconduct in the operation of Cook County government.
  • The office has a budget of around $1.8 million and 20 positions (one administrative assistant and the rest investigators)
  • Mr. Blanchard is the first Independent Inspector General appointed under a County ordinance passed in 2007 and is now in his second 6-year term.
  • The importance of the office being "Independent" was stressed.
  • Under the County ordinance the jurisdiction of the office encompasses all of Cook County government, though not all County elected officials accept that. At the present time an Appellate Court ruling is pending concerning Cook County Assessor compliance with an investigation.
  • As there also are questions about the IIG jurisdiction over the Cook County officials who are part of the Illinois judicial system (including the offices of the State's Attorney, Clerk of the Court, and the Chief Judge) Mr. Blanchard has proposed an amendment to the Illinois Code which would clarify the jurisdiction of all county inspector generals over all county officials whose offices are funded in whole or in part by the applicable county's budget.
  • The office receives about 500 plus contacts/complaints each year from the public and from County employees and the office since 2009 also has the authority to initiate cases based on reasonable suspicion.
  • Following an investigation, the office refers what they consider to be criminal matters to the appropriate federal or state office. Reports on issues that are not criminal will be sent to the President and the appropriate County manager for follow-up.
  • The office also conducts "institutional reviews" of departments looking for inefficiencies and waste.
  • The office is also charged with making sure that the County is complying with the Shakman decree and in so doing works closely with the court appointed monitors.

You can access more information on the Office of the Independent Inspector General at: http://www.cookcountyil.gov/office-of-the-independent-inspector-general/

LWVCC Annual Meeting - May 11, 2015

Over 90 persons attended the LWVCC Annual Meeting on May 11, 2015. After hearing reports on the advocacy and educational activities of LWVCC over the past year, the budget and program for 2015-16 were approved. Reports from the Interest Groups on Budget and Structure, Criminal Justice, and Health and Hospitals System were presented. The following officers were elected: Diane Edmundson (Park Ridge) and Karin Hribar (Arlington Heights) reelected as Co-Presidents; Karen Hunt (Evanston) reelected as Vice-President; Amy Little (Chicago) elected Treasurer; new directors elected include Veldarose Erie (Park Forest), Kelly Kleiman (Chicago), Jennifer Artis (Homewood/Flossmoor), and Jan Goldberg (LaGrange Area).

The Study Group (authorized at the 2013 Annual Meeting) on the STAR Performance Management System presented their final report. Included in the report was a proposal for concurrence on a new position on Performance Management. The following position was approved by the voting delegates and will be added to Where We Stand - LWVCC 2015 and can be found at County Government.

Performance Management

The League supports the use of performance management system(s) by all elected and appointed officials in Cook County Government in order to improve the workings of the County for its citizens.

A. Such performance management system(s) should set goals reflecting core missions and duties, results-oriented measures, and targets of achievement for individual departments and across related departments that need to work together to achieve desired results.

B. Wherever appropriate, benchmarks and best practices from government entities and private industry should be utilized in setting goals and targets of achievement.

C. Results should be reported at regular intervals (at least yearly), should be made available to the public in an easily readable format, and should be archived.

The full report from the study group can be accessed at STAR Report. The STAR Performance Management information for Cook County can be accessed on the Cook County website at https://performance.cookcountyil.gov/

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle featured speaker at Annual Meeting

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle was the featured speaker at the 2015 Annual Meeting. Highlights from her talk:
  • Commended the League for being the active engaged citizens necessary for a well functioning democracy.
  • Thanked LWVCC observers for attention to Cook County Board meeting quorums and for our advocacy to increase transparency of their board action by having approval of ordinances appear on the meeting agenda instead of being included in a blanket approval of a committee report.
  • Presented her efforts over the past 4 years to rebuild faith in county government.
  • Noted the decrease in the tax payer subsidy to the Health and Hospitals System (40% of the county budget) from $400m in 2010 to $164m in 2015.
  • Discussed the efforts to reduce the jail population and the increased efforts on the part of all officials involved in the Criminal Justice System (33% of the Budget) to provide the necessary services to those persons who become involved with the system.
  • Discussed efforts of her administration to prioritize Economic Development, despite a history of previous minimal county involvement. Efforts include an area wide collaboration on development in areas such as exports and freight movement.
  • Highlighted the Forest Preserve District where there now is a master plan for management of the Forest Preserves which make up 11% of the land area in the county.
  • Stated that the pension issue will require State Legislature action that she hopes will be forthcoming and that the summer will probably be spent struggling with pension issues.
  • When asked about reducing the number of units of government she said that at this point she does not see herself using the "political capital" that would be necessary to take on the issues involved in such a reduction.
  • Stated that with the pension obligations and debt issues facing the county, taxes will have to be addressed.