Cook County Board kicks medical examiner issue to Finance Committee

February 1, 2012

(WBEZ/Jennifer Brandel)
The Cook County Board recites the Pledge of Allegiance before Wednesday's meeting.

There are still questions over whether the Cook County chief medical examiner could get fired. After recent photos of bodies piling up in the Cook County Morgue, Dr. Nancy Jones came under attack. She runs the morgue and has given a variety of explanations for the problems.

But in the process of all the attention, county Commissioner John Fritchey discovered an old county ordinance. It essentially gives the chief medical examiner a lifetime term in office.

On Wednesday, new language making it easier to fire this position was set to be voted on by the county board. But the moment it was introduced, Commissioner John Daley moved to delay the vote by sending it to his Finance Committee.

Fritchey said it's a mystery to him why that happened.

"It really doesn't make sense that this matter would go to the Finance Committee in any event. Intergovernmental, legislative? That would make sense - if it had to go to committee," Fritchey said.

He added that his proposal is not directed at firing Jones and that he only moved to change the language around the office because it's the first time it came to his attention. He said approving this new language would not solve the problems of the morgue.

Various aspects of the morgue's operations, including Fritchey's proposal, are likely to be reviewed in Finance Committee meetings.