WBEZ | Cook County http://www.wbez.org/tags/cook-county Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Man Seeks Justice for Nearly Three Decades of Wrongful Imprisonment http://www.wbez.org/news/man-seeks-justice-nearly-three-decades-wrongful-imprisonment-114815 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP_322425402157.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A man who spent 29 years in prison for a crime he did not commit is suing the Village of Park Forest and Cook County.</p><p>In a federal lawsuit, Christopher Abernathy, 49, claims he was coerced into confessing to the 1984 rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl. He claims two Park Forest police officers interrogated him for 36 hours, during which they physically abused him and promised that he could go home, if he adopted their version of events.</p><p>According to the lawsuit, Abernathy had his 19th birthday during the interrogation. He was a high school dropout with developmental and learning disabilities.</p><p>In 2014, Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced she was reopening the investigation to test DNA evidence.</p><p>The DNA left behind at the crime scene belonged to two distinct men: Neither of them were Christopher Abernathy.</p><p>He was released from prison in February 2015.</p><p>Abernathy&rsquo;s attorneys say the near-three decades behind bars has caused such immense emotional damage, their client will never be the same.</p><p>The lawsuit names Cook County, The Village of Park Forest, former officers Carl Kuester and Donald Meyers and the prosecutor on the case, Paul Perry.</p><p>A press release from Abernathy&rsquo;s attorneys, Torreya Hamilton and Damon Cheronis, says they hope the lawsuit will bring some justice and some security as he learns to navigate the world.</p><p>&ldquo;A corrupt investigation into the horrific death of Kristina Hickey led to Chris Abernathy&rsquo;s<br />wrongful conviction,&rdquo; the release reads. &ldquo;The cell doors locked him into the brutal world of a maximum-security prison when he was just a teenager, and last year he walked out as a nearly 50-year-old man.&rdquo;</p><p>A spokesman for the village confirmed that officers Kuester and Meyers no longer work for Park Forest, but declined to comment further.</p><p>The Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney&rsquo;s press office did not respond to questions.</p><p>No one else has been arrested for the rape and murder 15-year-old Kristina Hickey is still free.</p><p><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/pksmid">@pksmid</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 11 Feb 2016 16:23:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/man-seeks-justice-nearly-three-decades-wrongful-imprisonment-114815 Voter Registration Deadline Looms http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-02-08/voter-registration-deadline-looms-114768 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Voter_Flickr_afagen.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>February 16 is the deadline to register to vote or file a name or address change for the March 15 Primary Election. And for teens born on or before Nov. 8, 1998, they&rsquo;re eligible to register. Cook County Clerk David Orr tells us what else we need to know.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 08 Feb 2016 22:45:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-02-08/voter-registration-deadline-looms-114768 Republican Running for State’s Attorney: Winning ‘Very Doable’ http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/republican-running-state%E2%80%99s-attorney-winning-%E2%80%98very-doable%E2%80%99-114743 <p><p dir="ltr">While the Democratic candidates are beating each other up in the primary, the lone Republican candidate for Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney is waiting rested and unbruised for the general election.</p><p>Attorney Christopher Pfannkuche spent 31 years as a Cook County prosecutor, his last four under Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney Anita Alvarez.</p><p>&ldquo;I was one of those prosecutors who wanted to be a career prosecutor,&rdquo; Pfannkuche said. &ldquo;But the last four years...I watched our office begin to change, the atmosphere changed, her priorities changed the priorities of the office. The office lost the direction that it should have been on.&rdquo;</p><p>Pfannkuche said he is looking to unseat his former boss because people have lost faith in Cook County&rsquo;s justice system.</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;ve lost trust in the criminal justice system, and that is disastrous for an office like ours, [which] is there to represent the people of Cook County,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>While he is very critical of the incumbent Alvarez, in many ways Pfannkuche sounds a lot like her Democratic challengers.</p><p>In an interview with WBEZ, he even echoed Democratic candidate Kim Foxx&rsquo;s line that Cook is &ldquo;a county in crisis.&rdquo;</p><p>And he was equally critical of Alvarez&rsquo;s handling of the police shooting of LaQuan McDonald. Alvarez has faced intense criticism, and calls for her to resign because it took her more than a year to charge Chicago officer Jason Van Dyke with murder.</p><p>Pfannkuche said he understands Alvarez had to wait for the city&rsquo;s Independent Police Review Authority, or IPRA, to conclude its investigation into the teenager&rsquo;s 2014 death. But he said that&rsquo;s no excuse.</p><p>&ldquo;I did not hear Anita Alvarez complaining that it was taking IPRA months to conduct that investigation. She should have been out there complaining, advocating for the citizens of Cook County &hellip; She didn&rsquo;t do that, she just sat there and waited. And that&rsquo;s the problem, she&rsquo;s reactive not proactive,&rdquo; Pfannkuche said.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Slide3.PNG" style="height: 228px; width: 540px;" title="" /></div><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-01-28/cook-county-state%E2%80%99s-attorney-democratic-candidates-debate-114634">In a debate on WBEZ, Alvarez said</a> she did nothing wrong in the McDonald case.</p><p>&ldquo;That was a thorough and complete and meticulous investigation,&rdquo; Alvarez said.</p><p>As for how he would handle police shootings going forward, Pfannkuche said he would have a special division within his office, that would not deal with any other cases to avoid any conflicts of interest.</p><p>&ldquo;So their sole focus and sole cases that they handle are police-involved shootings. And those assistants should be answerable directly to me. As such they would be independent in the confines of the state&rsquo;s attorney&rsquo;s office.&rdquo;</p><p>That is the same position staked out by Democratic challenger Donna More. And Loyola University professor of criminal justice Don Stemen said it&rsquo;s a model that works.</p><p>&ldquo;The bolstering of an internal unit to address things like, not just police shootings but police misconduct &hellip; that&rsquo;s worked well in other jurisdictions that have had problems with police shootings and police misconduct,&rdquo; Stemen said.</p><p>Pfannkuche said his campaign will ramp up once the primary is over and he knows his opponent.</p><p>Despite all the attention on the Democratic candidates, the Northwest Side Republican believes he has a good shot of winning the general election.</p><p>&ldquo;The one thing that most people forget is that this is probably the one single county office that regularly swings Republican,&rdquo; Pfannkuche said. &ldquo;This is something that&rsquo;s actually very doable. And I think the reason for that is, people look at the state&rsquo;s attorney office, not as a political office. They look upon the candidates for state&rsquo;s attorney as who can do the best job to keep the streets safe.&rdquo;</p><p>Pfannkuche said he has had several meetings with Illinois Republican leaders, and is getting party support. But so far he is the only one who has given money to his campaign, including $25,000 in loans.</p><p><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/pksmid">@pksmid</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 16:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/republican-running-state%E2%80%99s-attorney-winning-%E2%80%98very-doable%E2%80%99-114743 Cook County Special Unit Searches for DCFS Runaways http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-special-unit-searches-dcfs-runaways-114621 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="Sgt. Dion Trotter drives around looking for DCFS runaways. He leads a special unit within the Cook County Sheriff’s Department. (WBEZ/Natalie Moore)" class="image-original_image" longdesc="Sgt. Dion Trotter drives around looking for DCFS runaways. He leads a special unit within the Cook County Sheriff’s Department. (WBEZ/Natalie Moore)" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/dcfs runaways_160127_nm.jpg" style="width: 620px; height: 348px;" title="Sgt. Dion Trotter drives around looking for DCFS runaways. He leads a special unit within the Cook County Sheriff’s Department. (WBEZ/Natalie Moore)" /></div><p>When minors who are wards of the state go missing in Cook County, it&rsquo;s up to a special team of sheriffs to find them.</p><p>Since 2012 the Child Protective Response Unit has been combing the streets looking for runaways. It has found hundreds of children overseen by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.</p><p>But some say the bureaucracy they encounter after they get picked up is still a problem.</p><p>WBEZ&rsquo;s Natalie Moore took a ride with the runaway unit to see for herself and has this audio postcard.</p><p><em>Natalie Moore is WBEZ&#39; South Side Bureau reporter. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">@natalieymoore.</a></em></p></p> Tue, 26 Jan 2016 13:55:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-special-unit-searches-dcfs-runaways-114621 A Potential Fix for Cook County's Antiquated Justice System http://www.wbez.org/news/potential-fix-cook-countys-antiquated-justice-system-114187 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_110929172622.jpg" style="height: 334px; width: 620px;" title="In this Sept. 29, 2011 photo, inmates at the Cook County Jail in Chicago, one of the largest county jail in the nation, wait to be processed for release. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)" /></div><p>Chief Information Officer Simona Rollinson says right now, Cook County&rsquo;s public safety agencies have more than 20 different ways to track those in the criminal justice system, and most of them are paper-based.</p><p>That antiquated, disjointed system has created problems and stymied reform for years.</p><p>Rollinson has been with the county for about a year-and-a-half, but the push for something called &ldquo;Integrated Justice&rdquo; started way back in 2002. The goal is to create a uniform, digital platform to store and share information.</p><p>On Wednesday, the Cook County Board of Commissioners voted to approve a $2.3 million contract to <em>finally</em> get started. Rollinson called the vote &ldquo;monumental for Cook County.&rdquo;</p><p>Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle lauded the vote in a statement.</p><p>&ldquo;The benefits of having a way to seamlessly translate and transfer data between all of Cook County&rsquo;s justice agencies are enormous,&rdquo; Preckwinkle said.</p><p>&ldquo;This is for me a big accomplishment,&rdquo; Rollinson said. &ldquo;Going to the board to get a procurement to implement this software platform to exchange information is monumental for Cook County.&rdquo;</p><p>The two-year contract is with Applications Software Technology Corporation in Naperville, Ill. The company will be charged with implementing software and hardware, as well as managing data exchanges among Cook County criminal justice agencies.</p><p>If it succeeds, Integrated Justice would be a huge shift for a criminal justice system that has long been behind the times.</p><p>Clerk of the Court Dorothy Brown drew cheers in 2012 when she promised to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/dorothy-brown-wins-4th-term-cook-county-circuit-court-clerk-97487">come up with a policy to permit &ldquo;electronic documents to be seen online, on the internet</a>,&rdquo; something that in the waning days of 2015 is still not possible.</p><p>The Cook County sheriff has been <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/lawsuit-man-beaten-cook-county-jail-more-10-hours-after-judge-ordered-his-release-110788">repeatedly sued for not letting inmates out in a timely manner</a> after a judge orders their release. Jail officials have said the process is slow because they have to go through paper records to make sure the inmate in question isn&rsquo;t wanted on a separate case.</p><p>Preckwinkle said the new software platform will help &ldquo;prevent situations where detainees are released too soon or too late due to miscommunication.&rdquo;</p><p>Rollinson said with this and a few other major projects, she is working to &ldquo;modernize Cook County&rdquo; for the next 10 to 15 years.</p><p>The biggest obstacle up until now, has been getting all of the different agency heads on board. Preckwinkle said the program will rely on continued buy-in from agency leaders.</p><p>&ldquo;Improving communication between software systems is a key step in improving the justice system in Cook County, but once the system is implemented it will be up to the justice agencies to take advantage of the opportunity,&rdquo; Preckwinkle said.</p><p>Last year, Brown, Preckwinkle, Chief Judge Timothy Evans, State&rsquo;s Attorney Anita Alvarez, Sheriff Tom Dart and then-Public Defender Abishi Cunningham all signed a memorandum of agreement to share data between their offices.</p><p>Rollinson said she believes they will stick to it.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s in everybody&rsquo;s interest to have this timely data, there are a lot of optics [for] each of their offices,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>The first phase will begin on January 1, and focus on prisoner information shared between the clerk and the sheriff, and charging information shared between the clerk and the state&rsquo;s attorney.</p><p><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer/reporter. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/pksmid">@pksmid</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 16 Dec 2015 14:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/potential-fix-cook-countys-antiquated-justice-system-114187 Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle talks tax hikes http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-11-12/cook-county-board-president-toni-preckwinkle-talks-tax-hikes <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/preckwinkle wbez file.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On January 1, residents of Cook County will start paying more in sales tax. The increase was the brainchild of <a href="https://twitter.com/cookcountyboard">Cook County Board</a> President <a href="https://twitter.com/tonipreckwinkle">Toni Preckwinkle</a>, who says the move is necessary to raise about $500 million a year. Now, she says the county is faced with another choice: Either cut 200 jobs, or raise the hotel tax to raise another $20 million.</p><p>Preckwinkle joins us to talk through that proposal and the financial outlook for the county.&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 12 Nov 2015 12:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-11-12/cook-county-board-president-toni-preckwinkle-talks-tax-hikes Cook County Democrats choose not to endorse in two big races http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-democrats-choose-not-endorse-two-big-races-112687 <p><p>Anybody who thinks the old way of Chicago politics is fading, hasn&rsquo;t been by the Erie Cafe this week.</p><p>All day Tuesday, and most of the day Wednesday, 80 Cook County Democratic heavyweights &mdash; including familiar names like Burke, Madigan and Berrios &mdash; came together to eat donuts, drink coffee and battle it out over which candidates deserve the party&rsquo;s endorsement&nbsp;for the upcoming March 2016 primary.</p><p>This time around, the party decided not to endorse in two big races: Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney and the U.S. Senate, currently occupied by Republican Senator Mark Kirk.</p><p>The committeemen set up shop in an actual back room at the Erie Cafe, after many years at Hotel Allegro &mdash; word is, the old spot raised its rates. The leaders of the party sit at a table covered with a white tablecloth, with procedural books on Robert&rsquo;s Rules of Order and the Chicago election code in arm&rsquo;s reach.</p><p>The room was smoke free, though someone passed around wrapped cigars at one point.</p><p>Candidates sit outside the meeting room like students waiting outside the principal&rsquo;s office. They&rsquo;re called to the podium one by one, where they stump for jobs like Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner.</p><p>The names on this years ballot range from the not-very-well known, like Wallace Davis III, to the incredibly familiar, like former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, who is now running for a two-year term as a water district commissioner.</p><p>A few committeemen stood up to praise Stroger &mdash; Alderman Walter Burnett said Stroger had received a &ldquo;bum wrap and deserves another opportunity&rdquo; &mdash; but in the end, the party decided to endorse tech entrepreneur Tom Greenhaw instead.</p><p>It&rsquo;s no secret that a lot of committeemen already know who they&rsquo;ll back before they walk into the slating meeting, but that doesn&rsquo;t mean the candidates don&rsquo;t take the process seriously.</p><p>On Tuesday, one candidate arrived at the podium, red in the face with nerves. Another brought up a bright magenta note card with a huge smiley face on it, to correct what she called her &ldquo;Resting B-face. I have a not-friendly resting face.&rdquo;</p><p>But a lot of the real action happens after the speeches, behind a thick wooden door, where committeemen defend their picks to their colleagues. One aldermen left Tuesday&rsquo;s closed session muttering under his breath that he fought like hell.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="100" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/219999051&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>This year, much of the back and forth was about the candidates for Cook County&rsquo;s State&rsquo;s Attorney and U.S. Senate. While there are four candidates for State&rsquo;s Attorney, committeemen said the room was split between incumbent Anita Alvarez and Kim Foxx, former Chief of Staff to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.</p><p>In the Senate race, five candidates were vying for the party&rsquo;s endorsement. U.S. Representative Tammy Duckworth tried to convince members that she was their best hope at unseating Republican Senator Mark Kirk.</p><p>&ldquo;I take a lot of his positives off the table and focus it on the issues. He&rsquo;s not going to be able to rest on his military record with me,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s not gonna be able to play the sympathy vote and say &lsquo;you know, because I recovered from my illness, I understand better what it&rsquo;s like for people to recover.&rsquo; Well, I can talk about recovery and I can say then, &lsquo;why do you want to cut back on Medicaid and Medicare?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Another familiar candidate, Andrea Zopp, former head of the Chicago Urban League, told committeemen that she had the best chance of reaching voters all across the state.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m the only candidate with the resources that will be there to bring out minority voters, to get them excited into this race we need them for all of our ticket,&rdquo; Zopp said.</p><p>But in the end, the party decided not to endorse anyone in the Senate race. A party spokesman said that&rsquo;s become more common lately, as more and more candidates figure out the best ways to lobby committeemen before the meetings begin.</p><p>But one Chicago ward committeeman said he&rsquo;s concerned over the trouble this could cause for Democratic fundraising for the upcoming primary, as he said there is a very large &ldquo;elephant in the room&rdquo; through all of these election discussions: The seemingly infinite financial resources of Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Full Cook County Democratic Party Slating</span></p><p><strong>For President of the United States</strong>: the party endorsed Hillary Clinton</p><p><strong>For Illinois State Comptroller</strong>: the party endorsed Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza</p><p><strong>U.S. Senate</strong>: No endorsement, party votes in favor of open primary</p><p><strong>Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney</strong>: No endorsement, party votes in favor of open primary</p><p><strong>Clerk of the Circuit Court: </strong>the party endorsed incumbent Dorothy Brown</p><p><strong>Recorder of Deeds:</strong> the party endorsed incumbent Karen Yarborough</p><p><strong>Metropolitan Water Reclamation District</strong>: the party endorsed Barbara McGowan, Mariyana Spyropoulos and Josina Morita for six-year terms, and Tom Greenhaw for a two-year term.</p><p><strong>Appellate Court: </strong>the party endorsed Justice Bertina Lampkin and Judge Eileen O&rsquo;Neill Burke. Those selected as alternates were: Associate Judge William Boyd, Judge Raul Vega and Associate Judge Leonard Murray.</p><p><strong>Cook County Board of Review, 2nd District: </strong>the party endorsed Incumbent Commissioner Michael Cabonargi</p><p><strong>Circuit Court Judge</strong>: the party endorsed Judge Alison Conlon, Judge Daniel Patrick Duffy, Judge Rossana Fernandez, Judge Alexandra Gillespie, Maureen O&rsquo;Donoghue Hannon, Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr., Brendan O&rsquo;Brien and Judge Devlin Joseph Schoop. Selected as alternates were: Fredrick Bates, Sean Chaudhuri, Patrick Heneghan, Nichole Patton and Peter Michael Gonzalez.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian covers Chicago politics for WBEZ. Follow her</em> <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian"><em>@laurenchooljian.</em></a></p></p> Wed, 19 Aug 2015 17:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-democrats-choose-not-endorse-two-big-races-112687 Attention downtown diners: 11.25 percent sales tax coming in 2016 http://www.wbez.org/news/attention-downtown-diners-1125-percent-sales-tax-coming-2016-112429 <p><p>Ever noticed grabbing a burger in Logan Square is just a bit cheaper than in Lakeview?</p><p>It&rsquo;s because of a little-known sales tax called the &ldquo;McPier tax,&rdquo; that hits a certain segment of the Chicago restaurant scene. Food and beverage purchases in and around the downtown area are taxed an additional 1 percent, which goes to the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, the group that owns and manages Navy Pier and McCormick Place.</p><p>And in 2016, the overall sales tax in that zone will grow another percentage point.</p><p>Last week, the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-board-approves-tax-hike-sought-board-president-112397">Cook County board </a>narrowly approved a one-percentage-point tax hike, which will bring the sales tax in Chicago to 10.25 percent, one of the nation&rsquo;s highest. The proposal was introduced by Board President Toni Preckwinkle to help pay into the county&rsquo;s underfunded pensions. Nine board members approved the increase, which will kick in on January 1, 2016.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/mcpiermap.jpg" style="height: 682px; width: 340px; float: left;" title="The boundaries of the so-called 'McPier tax' area. (Courtesy Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority)" />For restaurant patrons that dine south of Diversey Parkway, north of the Stevenson Expressway, east of Ashland Avenue and west of Lake Michigan, the Cook County proposal means an 11.25 percent sales tax will be added to their tab in 2016. <a href="http://tax.illinois.gov/Businesses/TaxInformation/Sales/mpea.htm">The McPier tax</a> affects all food and beverage purchases prepared for &ldquo;immediate consumption,&rdquo; and that includes soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. A spokeswoman for MPEA said all money collected through that tax &ldquo;pay the debt service for MPEA Expansion projects.&rdquo;</p><p>John Corry, general manager of Lincoln Park restaurant <a href="http://www.maevechicago.com/">Maeve,</a> said he isn&rsquo;t against taxes in general, but he has a problem with how far north the McPier zone extends.</p><p>&ldquo;Who&rsquo;s coming to Maeve because somebody has a business meeting by Navy Pier or at McCormick Place?&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;No one is coming [from] these two places, but we&rsquo;re in that tax zone.&rdquo;</p><p>Corry said he&rsquo;d also like to see Wrigley Field or U.S. Cellular Field included in that zone, since tourists at Navy Pier or visitors to McCormick Place likely stop by the ballparks for games while they&rsquo;re in town. &nbsp;</p><p>Meanwhile, Preckwinkle has said that she may reevaluate the county tax hike if Springfield passes <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/preckwinkle-gets-her-pension-plan-past-senate-stops-short-calling-higher-taxes-110240">her pension reform bill</a>.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is WBEZ&rsquo;s Chicago politics reporter. Follow her </em><em><a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></em></p><p><em>Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the neighborhood Maeve is located in. The restaurant is in Lincoln Park.</em></p></p> Mon, 20 Jul 2015 12:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/attention-downtown-diners-1125-percent-sales-tax-coming-2016-112429 Cook County Board approves sales tax hike http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-16/cook-county-board-approves-sales-tax-hike-112404 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/sales tax Perspecsys Photos.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/215012189&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">The Cook County Board has approved a 1 percentage point sales tax hike in order to keep up with pension payments. Some are calling it the &quot;Toni tax&quot; after board president Toni Preckwinkle. Many businesses and civic leaders across the northwest suburbs in areas close to Lake, Kane, McHenry and DuPage counties are against the increase. They&#39;re concerned that shoppers will simply head over the county line to save money. Elk Grove Village did an analysis that showed it would lose a massive chunk of change if the sales tax increased. We speak with Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson.&nbsp;</span></p></p> Thu, 16 Jul 2015 12:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-16/cook-county-board-approves-sales-tax-hike-112404 Sheriff's office announces new mental health clinic http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriffs-office-announces-new-mental-health-clinic-111979 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Mental health jail.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-1d687b03-119d-3f9e-cb1c-805194ec9b5e">Cook County Sheriff&rsquo;s office is &nbsp;launching a new mental health clinic in the south suburbs. Sheriff Tom Dart says the clinic is a direct response to government mental health cuts.</p><p dir="ltr">The clinic is already operating at the Markham Courthouse. People detained there will be screened for mental health needs. Some will then be diverted from the jail to the new clinic under court order. The clinic will also be available to people leaving county jail and seeking services.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/large-provider-chicago-mental-health-services-c4-closing-111937" target="_blank">Staff mourn closure of mental health provider C4</a></strong></p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;If no one else is going to do it, we are going to,&rdquo; said Cara Smith, director of Cook County Jail.</p><p dir="ltr">She says the jail is doing what it can, but it&rsquo;s part of a larger system. She says the millions of dollars in proposed state cuts to mental health would be catastrophic. But if the cuts go through it will not be the first time she&rsquo;s seen services disappear. In 2012 the city cut half its mental health clinics, and just last week one of the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/large-provider-chicago-mental-health-services-c4-closing-111937">largest mental health providers in Chicago announced it was closing its doors. </a></p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Our custodial population in the jail is almost at a record low. But our population of &nbsp;medically and mentally ill people that need hospital level care is at an all time high,&rdquo; said Smith. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">It is not only the jail that says it has felt a change as services have closed. Emergency Rooms in Chicago saw a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/large-provider-chicago-mental-health-services-c4-closing-111937">37 percent rise in ER discharges for psychiatric care. </a></p><p>Dart says he chose to open the clinic in the south suburbs because the area is extremely lacking in mental health services. The clinic is run in collaboration with Adler Community Health Services.</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a reporter at WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Fri, 01 May 2015 17:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriffs-office-announces-new-mental-health-clinic-111979