Cook County Board of Commissioners Committee Meetings
November 16, 2022
Finance Committee – 9:30 am
Environment & Sustainability Committee – 10 am
(Agenda Item 22-6140) Com. Degnan moved, Miller seconded this ordinance amendment. The Environmental Commission has served as advisors to Board on environmental matters for the past 4 years. The ordinance was passed in 2019; this extends the sunset date of this Environmental Commission by 4 yr. Com Degnan explained the commission selected 3 goals for its first 4 years:
Technology & Innovation Committee – 11:30 am
(Agenda Item 22-5023) Motion made by Comm. Sean Morrison, seconded by Comm. Degnan to receive and file. The item was deferred last month because the Board of Review (BOR) was absent when they were expected to give updates on the process and expected date for being off the main frame and being fully integrated with the systems of the Assessor and related departments.
Charles O’Shields, Chief Deputy Commissioner from BOR, stated no timeline given applied to the BOR, no timeline was developed for BOR to exit off mainframe. He stated their tech improvements were demonstrated by their work in 2021.
Chief Information Officer (CIO) Tom Lynch and Derrick Thomas, Deputy CIO, responded to questions from commissioners. Their statements indicated the following:
Committee Chairperson Kevin Morrison asked Mr. O’Shields to attend the Jan. meeting of the Technology Committee and be prepared to provide an update of the Board of Review’s strategic plan; it should include a report on RFP progress and timeline. “OK” was Mr. Shield’s answer.
State’s Attorney’s Office representative Matt Steiner presented the update on their office. An apology, explanation of absence, and assurance that this would not recur were given. Process for getting off main frame began with Juvenile System which is on the mainframe; adult system is not. It began with a discovery process which involved integration of cases, data mapping, identifying risk points and developing 2-point solutions to address those. He stated they are on track to be off mainframe by August, 2023.
Motion to Receive and File reports was approved.
Carolyn Cosentino, LWVCC Observer
Focus on Delays in Hiring and the New Pretrial Fairness Act at Cook County Board Budget Hearings - Property Tax Bills Expected to Be Issued by Thanksgiving
Cook County Finance Committee Meetings on the Budget
October 24, 2022, 12:30 pm-3:30 pm
Public Defender (“PD”) -- Presented by Public Defender Sherone R. Mitchell Jr.
2022 Proposed 2023
Budget 86.2 M 96.9 M
FTE 747 803
Mr. Mitchell’s main issue was the need to hire more attorneys so that the caseload for each lawyer can be reduced. Now it is above the average of other large city public defender offices. This office uses the County HR department, and it is taking 4-6 months from posting to start date for new attorneys. The PD has started an Immigration Unit Pilot program to help non-residents in immigration removal proceedings. The PD will establish a pretrial division to handle the extra work required by the Pretrial Fairness Act.
Commissioners Degnan and Gainer expressed concern about the length of time in the hiring process. Commissioner Gainer asked if the ARPA or Equity Funds could be utilized to help the situation. She also suggested the PD get its own HR hiring department like the State’s Attorney has. Commissioner Daily pointed out that the State’s Attorney was a separate office.
State’s Attorney -- Presented by Kim Foxx, State’s Attorney
2022 Proposed 2023
Budget 195.7 M 194.1 M
FTE 1,432 1,475
Ms. Foxx said the Office was ready for the Pretrial Fairness Act. She said that there has been a lot of mis-information about the law. Ms. Foxx is working with legislators to clarify the statute, and they hope to get the changes in during the veto session. The attrition in the Office is high but on a par with other State’s Attorney Offices. There are 107 vacancies out of 746 attorney positions. There are 237 total vacancies. It takes 3-4 weeks from job posting to a candidate starting.
Commissioner Gainer asked if there would be enough State’s Attorneys to handle the additional work required by the Pretrial Fairness Act. Commissioner Morrison asked how the process will be different in January. Ms. Foxx explained the changes and that the judge still has the power to hold an offender if he is a threat or a flight risk. Commissioner Morrison also asked Ms. Foxx to review the prosecution discretion policies that she has established in regard to retail theft and low-level drug offences. He also asked that she set up a commission with suburban police chiefs to discuss the policies, and she agreed to do that.
Commissioners Aguilar and Daley expressed concern about the high crime rate and its affect on the public. Ms. Foxx reviewed the high conviction rate of her office and said the issue is that there are low arrest rates.
Board of Review (“BOR”) -- Presented by Larry Rogers Jr. and Michael Carbonargi, two of the BOR Commissioners. Commissioner Tammy Wendt did not participate
2022 Proposed 2023
Budget 16 M 17.8 M
FTE 151 156
Mr. Rogers stated that the 2nd installment property tax bills will be issued by Thanksgiving and due by December 30th. He also stated that the BOR asked for an increase of 26 FTE, but were only approved 5 FTE. He said the appeals process for the BOR takes 10 months. Since they got the final township assessments in December instead of July last year, the tax bills were delayed for this year. Rogers expects the bills will be delayed next year, too. Mr. Rogers says that the BOR needs the extra staff to help with the processing delays.
Commissioner Dailey asked Finance Officer Annette Guzman to review the request for more staff. Commissioner Gainer asked about the progress in the adoption of the Tyler system and both Mr. Rogers and Mr. Carbonargi said she should ask the Bureau of Technology. Commissioner Daily pointed out that the BOR did not participate at the Technology Committee meeting last week. Mr. Rogers said they submitted an updated report.
Land Bank Authority --Presented by Director of the Land Bank Eleanor Gorski
2022 Proposed 2023
Budget 10.7 M 5.2 M
FTE 15 15
Ms. Gorski reviewed the activities of the Land Bank. 1200 properties were put back on the tax roles. The agency has a goal to reduce its aged inventory. It also has a grant of 5M from the Equity Fund to establish affordable housing on current Land Bank property. Commissioner Morrison asked who will make the decisions about those funds and it will be the Board of Directors of the Land Bank with community input.
Secretary to the Board of Commissioners -- Presented by Secretary Lynne Turner
2022 Proposed 2023
Budget 1.8 M 2.0 M
FTE 11 12
The office provides legislative support and information to County Offices and the public as well as maintains the County Archives and Records Office. There were over 1000 public comments to the Board meetings this year. They will begin closed-captioning of meetings and are exploring electronic voting, which is contingent on in-person meetings.
Observer: Kathi Graffam
Cook County Board Finance Committee
Departmental Budget Meeting
State’s Attorney - Presented by Kimberly Foxx
Proposed 2022 Budget: $187,870,209 2021 Budget: $176,029.324
2022 includes $526,335 from the American Rescue Plan Special Purpose Fund
Proposed 2022 FTEs: 1,432 2021 FTEs: 1397.4
Highlights: 2021 Initiatives and Outcomes
Operational Opportunities: 2022 Initiatives and Goals
State’s Attorney Foxx’s Remarks
Foxx suggests that there are misunderstandings and even misinformation about how and when felony charges occur in Cook County. She explains the procedure:
Q Do you have any problem hiring staff?
A We do well in hiring. We target law students. There are challenges:
Q How is your budget striking the balance to help people feel safe but not criminalizing members of the community?
A We prioritize crimes of violence. In the past, resources were going to shoplifting and drug cases. For the last four years, we have focused on gun offenses. Narcotics cases have shrunk because these should be diverted to treatment. This allows more resources to go to violent crime.
Q There was a gunfight recently in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago. There was a video. Why was no one charged? The mayor used the term “mutual combatants,” indicating that both sides of the incident should be arrested. Should they have been?
A The video did not capture the beginning of the conflict. Under the law, people do have the right to defend themselves—and so the beginning is important. In this instance, all of the witnesses said, “I want a lawyer.” The police and we agreed that we had not enough evidence. The mayor’s remarks were disappointing. Frustration cannot lead us to make bad choices.
Q How can we help address mental health needs?
A Too many mentally ill people are in jail. The felony review team sees that these are mental health situations. But when people go to Mental Health Court, they get more entangled in the system than they need to be. People should be deflected out of the system entirely. But the SA doesn’t have a mechanism to do that--we need robust treatment so that they don’t come to us at all. We have not been thoughtful about the role of trauma and mental health in gun violence. Children who suffer trauma have no access to social workers, therapy. They feel they are better off with a weapon. But a child with a gun easily overreacts, leading to tragedy. Our strategies have not been proactive but reactive We need to figure out how to bring services on the front end.
Q What about the budget for dealing with carjackings?
A The PA office cannot do anything until the police bring cases to them. The case-clearing by the police for carjackings is only about 12%.
Observer - Janet Kittlaus
Cook County Board Finance Committee Mid Year Budget Hearings
July 20, 2021
Presentations - Cook County State’s Attorney, County Clerk, and Board of Review
Cook County State’s Attorney, Kimberly Fox
Cook County Clerk’s Office, presented by Chief Deputy Clerk Cedric Giles
Board of Review, presented by Commissioner Larry Rogers, with Commissioners Michael Cabonargi and Tammy Wendt
Cook County Board of Commissioners Meeting
May 13, 2021
Attendance: all 17 commissioners were present. Meeting led by President Preckwinkle
Observed by: Kathi Graffam Meeting Length: 10am until 12:40 PM
Cook County Board Finance Committee Departmental Budget Meeting
Friday, November 6, Morning Session
State’s Attorney Budget:
$176,585,418 (2021)-$161,837,454(2020) = increase of $14,747,964
1,401.4 FTE’s (2021)-1,362.2 FTE’s (2020) = an increase of 39.2
Cook County Clerk Budget:
$58.590M (2021)- $58.070 M (2020-includes Recorder’s Budget from 2020) =increase of $520,000
350 FTE’s (2021)- 386.8(2020- includes Recorder’s FTEs from 2020) =decrease of 36.8
Chicago Board of Elections Budget (note: the City of Chicago provides a large portion of the monies for this Board’s operation during even years, and all but the cost of the 4 FTEs during odd-numbered years):
$1,248,144 (2021)-$22,770,124 (2020) =decrease of $21,521,980
FTE’S 4.0 (2021)-4.0 FTE’s (2020) =no difference
Highlights of the State’s Attorney Budget Meeting:
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx highlighted work done in fiscal year 2020:
The State’s Attorney’s office is well aware of the budget restraints during these difficult times and they are working to prioritize prosecuting violent crimes especially unlawful use of guns.
The Commissioners did not ask many questions about the budget. Commissioner K. Morrison wanted to know why there was a nine-person reduction of personnel in the Felony Review Unit (this Unit works with law enforcement agencies to review felonies cases.) Kim Foxx stated that they went from a two shift 12-hour seven day a week to three shifts. They found that they did not need as many personnel in each shift as they did when it was a 12-hour shift, so they were able to cut positions but not the effectiveness of the Unit. Commissioner Degnen commended the State’s Attorney’s office for a well-organized budget. She questioned the increase in operating funds. Kim Foxx stated that this was due to Grants they received for programs.
Commissioners Aguilar, Suffredin and Degnen questioned the expungement of marijuana cases. Foxx stated that due to COVID there has been a slowdown of these cases. But they are making progress. To date they are working to process 300 cases, working twice a week.
Commissioner Sims wanted to know about the issue concerning retail theft and whether people are being prosecuted. Foxx is trying to work with local municipalities to handle some of these cases as it takes a lot of time for the Assistant State’s Attorneys to prosecute and sometimes the defendants do not show up in court. She emphasized they are being prosecuted despite what was heard in the news. Foxx stated they would rather focus on gun cases.
Commissioners Suffredin and Britton both praised the Civil Division of the States Attorney ‘s office. They both said it does not get noticed like the Criminal Division.
Of interest Foxx stated that Cook County Attorney’s office is the second largest office in the US, LA County being the largest. LA only handles felonies. Cook County handles Felonies, misdemeanors, Civil cases, child support cases and Juvenile Delinquent cases. A big case load to handle.
Highlights of the Cook County Clerk’s Budget Meeting
This was a challenging year for the Election. Despite COVID-19, Clerk Karen Yarbrough reported that her office worked tirelessly to make sure this election went well. Clerk Yarbrough thanked Toni Preckwinkle and the Procurement staff for all of their help to make sure there was PPE and equipment available at all polling places. This was a record-breaking election. Yarbrough divided her discussion into two parts: the Election and the Assumption of the Recorder of Deeds’ duties into the Cook County Clerk’s office.
Highlights of The Chicago Board of Elections Budget Meeting
It was announced that Lane Gough, Executive Director of the Board of Elections will be retiring. His assistant, Charles Holiday will be replacing him. All commissioners wished him well.
Marisol Hernandez, Chair of the Board of Elections reported the following:
Commissioner Degnen questioned a line item, Contingencies & special Purposes page B-4 of the budget. It shows $900,000-line item taken out of the budget. Executive Director Gough stated that he believed this was a Grant that is finished but he will get back to the Board.
Observer: Nancy Marcus
Individual authors are credited at the end of each post.