Posts Tagged: Cook County

Pragmatism over principle on pot

The Chicago Tribune’s John Byrne reports that the city’s new top cop, Garry McCarthy, says that he might want to give citations, instead of court summons, to people arrested for marijuana possession. This comes shortly after Toni Preckwinkle, the head of the Cook County Board, declared marijuana arrests an unduly expensive burden on the judicial system.

Missing here, of course, is the argument that pot arrests don’t just drain resources but are a needless use of police powers that, in Chicago at least, unfairly target African Americans. A purely budgetary argument implies that once Cook County’s finances turn around, the city will again make casual marijuana users appear in court.

Finally time to clean the Chicago River

St. Patrick's Day in Chicago

Three weeks ago the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency demanded Illinois and Cook County clean up the Chicago River in order to make it suitable for recreation. Cook County’s Metropolitan Water Reclamation District has — for eight years running — opposed spending money to clean up waste from the water. But the Chicago Tribune’s Michael Hawthorne has an in-depth report explaining how and why Cook County’s water bureaucrats have acceded to EPA wishes. So the County will now take action like forking over the money for equipment used to scour for disease-causing bacteria.

Throwing taxpayer money into the Chicago River

Last Thursday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency demanded that Illinois and Cook County clean up the Chicago River. Federal officials now say that the clean-up plan is not as expensive as initially feared — it will cost about $7/month in property taxes to Cook County homeowners. And even that estimation is high, as it assumes zero federal support.  The Chicago Tribune’s Michael Hawthorne reports that taxpayer money would go toward “new germ-killing equipment at two treatment plants and completion of the Deep Tunnel project, a labyrinth of sewer pipes and reservoirs designed to capture sewage and storm runoff.”

When weatherization goes wrong

The verdict is in: Chicago’s use of federal stimulus money for weatherization was a glaring failure. The Chicago Tribune’s Kristen Schorsch and Julie Wernau had a long piece this weekend of the main Chicago non-profit in charge using federal stimulus money to weatherize homes. The federal Energy Dept. and state of Illinois gave the Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County $90 million toward weatherization — part of $5 billion contained in the stimulus for weatherization. But, “As CEDA’s part in the federal stimulus program heads into its final months, contractors continue to fail in 1 in 7 inspections, and a federal plan to fix mistakes revealed in a blistering audit last year still hasn’t been completed.” (more…)

I can’t get this camera to work

Reporters and Dept. of Homeland Security auditors documented gross mismanagement by Cook County (which includes Chicago) in their implementation of “Project Shield” — a post 9/11 national security initiative that basically installs a bunch of surveillance cameras. Now, though, the FBI is involved. The Chicago Sun-Times‘ Carol Marin and NBC-5 Chicago’s Don Mosely report that something in the latest DHS audit (one requested by Illinois Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley and new Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk, a Republican) sparked the intelligence agency’s interest. (more…)

No urgency on foreclosures

It has been four years since the housing bubble burst and government’s response to the foreclosure crisis has still not gotten off the ground. (more…)

Meanwhile, foreclosures

In 2010, foreclosures increased in Chicago and they have recently increased across the country — yet the issue is on the back burner in Washington, D.C. The Chicago Sun-Times’ Lisa Donovan reports that there were at least 51,900 foreclosures filed in Cook County (there won’t be a final tally until mid-January) in 2010. This preliminary figure is not only greater than last year, it is 300 percent the number of filings that took place in 2006, the year before the subprime mortgage crisis hit. (more…)

Shooting darts at the foreclosure crisis

Tom Dart

With the Obama administration largely sitting out the latest chapter of the foreclosure mess, the action has been with state attorneys general, bank executives, and now . . . county sheriffs. Bank of America and Ally/GMAC will resume foreclosures in 23 states where the companies had stopped the process due to questionable paperwork. However, there might not be any foreclosures in Cook County, home to Chicago and its immediate suburbs. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart will halt foreclosure evictions, report the Chicago Tribune’s Becky Schlikerman and Mary Ellen Podmolik. Dart wants to put the burden of proof on banks to document that their evictions are legal.

Dart had issued a similar moratorium more than a year ago, and I suspect that he might be more interested in drawing publicity in his run for mayor of Chicago. (more…)

FEMA pours money into flooded parts of Illinois

FEMA announced yesterday that $75 million in aid has been distributed to Northern Illinois flood victims, just two weeks after the Obama administration declared seven Illinois counties a federal disaster area. The AP reports that more than 45,000 flood victims have applied for aid and that the average aid reward is about $3,000. Most of these applicants are from Cook County, which includes Chicago and western suburbs like Oak Park and River Forest that were hit hardest by the floods.

Until the announcement yesterday, the biggest local media story about federal flood assistance concerned a Tribune article that FEMA inspectors wrongfully denied a household in Hinsdale flood compensation. (more…)

Scarce federal jobs money unspent in Cook County

Yikes. At a time of double-digit unemployment and record budget deficits in Illinois,  an audit reveals that Cook County (which includes Chicago) simply failed to spend $2.7 million in federal stimulus money for jobs. (more…)