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Open Letter

I am shocked and appalled by your callous disregard for the welfare of the citizens of Cook County. Let's review:

* Your Civic Federation has long supported transferring management of the Cook County Bureau of Health Services from the Cook County Board of Commissioners to a separate group of actual health care professionals. That goal was finally achieved as a compromise in the Board's recent 2008 budget agreement, in order to win Commissioner Larry Suffredin's vote for County President Todd Stroger's odious increase in the county sales tax.

* The Civic Federation and Friends of the Forest Preserves have just come out with a report advocating that governance of the "beleaguered" Cook County Forest Preserves also be wrenched from the Cook County Board, and handed to a separate elected Forest Preserve board.

* The Civic Federation's analysis of Stroger's originally proposed 2008 budget called for "privatizing the delivery of programs or functions for which a competitive private sector exists," up to and including County print shops.

Trees, sick people, anyone who needs a quick Xerox - these you deem important enough to protect from the villainous Cook County Board. But not the average Cook County citizen? Where is your compassion? Please, Mr. Msall. Don't leave us behind. The next step for the Civic Federation should be obvious: You must call for the Cook County Board to relinquish its authority to a newly-formed elected body. As your report on the forest preserves put it, "A separate board will allow voters to elect Commissioners on the basis of candidates' positions, credentials, experience and interest in the forest preserves." Just take out the "forest preserves" part and insert "welfare of Cook County".

Technically, yes, the current Cook County Commissioners are elected. But one does not have to read lengthy Civic Federation reports to know that they are not elected on the basis of such things as credentials. I really don't know how they're elected. It might be some kind of mass hypnosis. You should look into that, too, while you're at it.

All the evidence you need to support this bold new proposal is contained in your Cook County 2008 budget analysis and the forest preserves report. For instance, in the budget analysis, you opposed Stroger's original crazy tax increase because of the County Board's "history of inefficiency, cost overruns, and eye-popping mismanagement". I mean, come on. The only time "eye-popping" should be an accurate adjective is when discussing the effects of the vacuum of space on human anatomy.

Your forest preserves report points out that the County Board has an inherent conflict of interest in governing the forest preserves district. "Many of the current Commissioners have shown a keen interest in promoting economic development and other uses of District property that conflict with the District's core mission to preserve natural land," the report states.

Hello! Talk about conflict of interest - what do you call the critical need to reduce the County budget versus the need to hire as many friends, relations and neighbors of the Commissioners as possible? You're not the only one who can write reports. Check out the one from Cook County's federal hiring monitor, former judge Julia Nowicki, which says that she sees nothing "that would indicate that illegal political patronage has been eliminated" at the county, and that there's been "little change in the status quo" under Stroger.

"Status quo" is shorthand for hiring your cousins (county finance chief Donna Dunnings), childhood pals (new Stroger public relations chief Gene Mullins) and guys who aren't good enough to work for Stroger's political campaign because they've been arrested for stalking (hospital spokesman Sean Howard).

Your forest preserves report also notes that the County Board clearly doesn't have time for the forest preserves, since it met 33 times in 2007 to govern the county and only 11 times for the preserves. A separate forest preserve board would allow that body to concentrate fully on the forest preserves. Here, however, is the problem: It would also allow the County Board to concentrate completely on the county, and frankly, that is a frightening scenario.

Can you imagine how much more damage the County Board would be capable of inflicting on innocent Cook County citizens once it is unencumbered by its gigantic, failing health system and the pathetic, fading county forest preserve district? This would be like killing off Superman so Lex Luthor can focus on devising a fool-proof plan for world domination. Please Mr. Msall . . . anything but that.

I know, you shouldn't have to do this work all by yourself. Rather than chuckling at the attempts of suburban Palatine to sever itself from Cook County, we should be joining them. I mean every single Cook County municipality should secede and form a New Improved Cook County. Unfortunately, the political obstacles are rather high.

So I beg you, propose and fight for a new governmental body to take over Cook County government - heck, let the current commissioners stay on at their current salary, it'll still be cheaper. In exchange, we, the citizens of Cook County, will express our undying gratitude by learning how to pronounce your last name.

Sincerely,

Cate Plys


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Open Letter is open to letters.

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See who else Cate has written to - from Lin Brehmer and The Person Who Let Their Dog Defecate Near The Southeast Corner Of 58th And Kimbark to Fellow Parents Planning Birthday Parties and Macy's - in the Open Letter archive.



Permalink

Posted on March 19, 2008


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
POLITICS - An Odd Call From Bermuda.
SPORTS - All Is Not Forgiven, Bears.

BOOKS - Turning Points Of The Civil War.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Baxter's IV Bag Shortages.


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