- Public Meetings Report – March 18, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – April 1, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – April 15, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – April 29, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – May 13, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – May 27, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – June 10, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – June 24, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – July 08, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – July 22, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – August 05, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – August 19, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – September 30, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – October 14, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – October 28, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – November 11, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – November 25, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – December 9, 2021
- Public Meetings Report – January 13, 2022
- Public Meetings Report – January 27, 2022
- Public Meetings Report – February 10, 2022
- Public Meetings Report – February 24, 2022
- Public Meetings Report – March 10, 2022
- Public Meetings Report – March 24, 2022
- Public Meetings Report – April 7, 2022
- Public Meetings Report – April 21, 2022
- Public Meetings Report – May 5, 2022
- Public Meetings Report – May 19, 2022
At a 2022 budget hearing, the Cook County Board of Commissioners heard reports on the County’s health budget, the County Public Defender’s Office (PDO), and the County Assessor’s Office. The County’s health budget is increasing by $500 million to $3.89 billion. The PDO is hiring full-time support staff and digitizing its records in an attempt to catch up with an “unmanageable” case load, according to its report. A report from the Cook County Board of Review noted that the Assessor’s Office has not processed any property tax results this year.
While most Council members praised the 2022 budget at the City Council meeting, not everyone was satisfied. Alderpersons Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th Ward) and Jeanette Taylor (20th Ward) opposed the $76.5 million property tax hike. Sigcho-Lopez also called the $10 million allocated for mental health a “pittance,” saying more funds should have been diverted from ShotSpotter, CPD’s controversial gunshot detection program, and invested in vulnerable communities. His remarks echoed the spooky-themed protest outside City Hall by community organizers. Council member Raymond Lopez (15th Ward) called the 2022 budget proposal a “$16 billion spending spree” that he said could pass debt to future generations. Budget elements lauded by City Council members include dollars for homeless prevention and intervention, domestic violence prevention, and mental health services for police and the public.
The moratorium on school closures in Chicago will be effective immediately after SB 1784 was passed out of the Illinois General Assembly and onto Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk. The trailer bill made a series of technical changes to the historic elected school board bill that passed in the summer and was celebrated by community groups.
Jurors will get a pay bump to $35 per day from $17.20, Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County Timothy Evans reported during a 2022 budget hearing with the Cook County Board of Commissioners Finance Committee. Commissioner Frank Aguilar (16th District) recalled that he was paid $17.20 per day for jury duty circa 1988; it helped cover parking and lunch, but would barely do that today. Chief Judge Evans also said he hasn’t seen a flood of evictions as anticipated by some now that the eviction moratorium has ended. He also reported that his team has reached out to use mediators and to point tenants and landlords to available rental assistance.
The CPS COVID-19 mitigation plan has seen a number of successes, reported Alexandra Sontag, senior program manager of the Office of Student Health and Wellness, at a Board of Education meeting. Board president Miguel del Valle pointed out that a 0.24 percent positivity rate is a significant achievement. Public commenter Diana Smith said CPS needed to continue to do more to protect staff and students. CPS staff reported that personnel and supply shortages have affected operations negatively and recommended that they be addressed quickly. CPS’s new CEO, Pedro Martinez, attended and participated.
In a twenty-six-minute meeting, the Cook County Health and Hospitals System Board of Directors approved a new contract with United Way Illinois on a 2-1-1 call system for non-emergency crises. The board heard that the County’s time to make payments for claims has been reduced to an optimal thirty days. In addition, the board learned that an attrition problem in its call center staff has been corrected.
Alderpersons voted 30-13 not to repeal the City worker vaccine mandate during a City Council special meeting. The mandate, issued by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, requires that City employees show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 by December 31 or submit to twice-weekly COVID-19 testing on their own time and at their own expense. An ordinance to repeal the mandate, sponsored by Council members Silvana Tabares (23rd Ward), Anthony Napolitano (41st Ward), and Jim Gardiner (45th Ward), would have required City Council approval of any future policies leading to discipline or no-pay status for City employees.
Nearly forty-six percent of Cook County Jail detainees currently receive mental health services; the average incarceration time for such individuals is greater than that of those who do not receive mental health services. That’s according to a report submitted to the Cook County Board of Commissioners Health and Hospitals Committee during committee meetings. The report noted that in the past two years the mental health caseload has grown both in number and in percentage of the total jail population. COVID-19 precautions limited in-person mental health services provided by the jail’s health center. Returning to normal operations has resulted in more detainees asking for mental health services.
The Cook County Department of Public Health is aiming for seventy percent of the eligible population to be vaccinated in all communities, department senior medical officer and co-lead Rachel Rubin reported. The percentage of the county’s eligible population receiving at least one dose fell short, at 68.9 percent as of the meeting, and, not including boosters, 55.6 percent have been fully vaccinated. On a community level, the vaccination rate varies widely: The average rate for at least one dose is seventy-five percent in northern Cook County, but sixty percent in southern Cook County.
It’s not clear whether next year’s taxes will go out on time. Cook County’s integrated property tax system was scheduled to go live in the spring of 2020, but Tyler Technologies, the company managing the transition to its iasWorld software, has moved that date to September 2023, a setback that affects many county operations. During committee meetings of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, members of the Technology and Innovation Committee received an update. Chief Deputy Assessor Sarah Garza Resnick reported that while elements of the transition to iasWorld have been completed, the Assessor’s Office also uses the County’s outdated mainframe, a challenge that contributed to causing property taxes to be late. While Garza spoke highly of the collaboration with Tyler Technologies, representatives from the County Clerk, Treasurer, and Board of Review, which would also rely on this software, emphasized that they would not tolerate additional delays.
In 2022, Metra plans to pilot a six-dollar day pass, good for transfer between any three zones. The current day pass, which allows transfers across all ten zones, is ten dollars. During the monthly meeting of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, representatives from Metra, the Chicago Transit Authority, Pace, and the Regional Transportation Authority presented their 2022 agency budgets. While these agencies rely mostly on state and federal funding to supplement their revenue, County government provides some sales tax revenue and also plays a role in appointing some board members.
The “Bienvenidos a Little Village” arch at 26th and Albany was approved for historical landmark status at the meeting of the Department of Planning and Development’s Commission on Chicago Landmarks. Built in 1990, the arch resembles the structures found at the entrances of many Mexican ranchos and is a salute to the largest non-Anglo demographic group in Chicago. The arch is located in the neighborhood’s main commercial street and is considered to be in the public way. Its maintenance falls to the Chicago Department of Transportation and is also undertaken by the Little Village Chamber of Commerce. With this approval, architect Adrian Lozano is the first Mexican to be recognized by a Chicago landmark designation. He also designed Pilsen’s Benito Juárez Academy and the National Museum of Mexican Art.
While total enrollment at the seven City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) declined 8.6 percent this fall, new recruitment and engagement efforts show promise, reported Vice Chancellor-Enrollment Darryl A. Williams during meetings of the CCC Committee on Academic Affairs and Student Services and Board of Trustees. Williams shared that new student enrollment rose by ten percent from last year, but that returning student enrollment dropped by twelve percent. New student enrollment is bolstered by the Chicago Roadmap initiative, which provides dual-credit opportunities for 831 students in thirteen high schools, and Future Ready, another new program that supports seven hundred students returning to complete studies they started at CCC. Kennedy-King College, one of two CCC locations with increased enrollment, cited outreach in neighborhoods like West Englewood as a reason for increased registrations. In the future, Williams said, improving student retention from term to term by five to seven percent will be the goal.
The Cook County Health and Hospitals System reviewed reports on health plan services in committee meetings on auditing, compliance, and managed care. Enrollment in CountyCare, the County’s Medicaid healthcare plan, has increased ten percent over twelve months. This growth is in line with the ten-percent increase in enrollment for the County as a whole. Committee members reviewed operational and contract reports, including requests for proposals from current vendors and others in the marketplace. One goal is to move care management from an external vendor to an internal one. Quality and capacity in connection with geriatric care is an ongoing concern. For example, is specialized pharmaceutical care available to monitor drug interactions? One potential care option called the Medicare-Medicaid Capitated Financial Alignment Initiative would apply to individuals eligible for both.
This information was collected in large part using reporting from City Bureau’s Documenters at documenters.org.