WBEZ | Robert Steele http://www.wbez.org/tags/robert-steele Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Dems call on voters to support Derrick Smith, despite bribery arrest http://www.wbez.org/story/dems-call-voters-support-derrick-smith-despite-bribery-arrest-97415 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-March/2012-03-19/P1040620.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Some Chicago Democratic leaders are urging voters to support state Rep. Derrick Smith. That's despite Smith's arrest last week on a federal bribery charge.</p><p>U.S. Rep. Danny Davis and other members of the group West Side Black Elected Officials said on Sunday that voters shouldn't rush to judgment on Smith's guilt.</p><p>"We know that our colleague is charged with criminal activity, Davis said at a press conference outside the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago. "But we also know that a charge is not a conviction."</p><p>Still, Smith is not doing much to explain his innocence. He was not at the press conference and his campaign has not returned repeated messages seeking comment.</p><p>But Davis and others acknowledged their push is as much about Smith's opponent as it is about Smith himself. Tom Swiss is the only other candidate running in the Democratic primary, and - as Davis pointed out - Swiss has held leadership positions in the local Republican Party.</p><div class="inset"><div class="insetContent"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/content-categories/99831"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-19/election2012promo.jpg" style="width: 270px; height: 50px; " title=""></a></div><div class="insetContent">&nbsp;</div></div><p>"We want to make sure that we don't elect a wolf in sheep's clothing," Davis said.</p><p>Swiss has said he hasn't worked with the Republicans for several years.</p><p>If Smith wins the Democratic nomination and ends up resigning or is forced to resign, Democratic leaders would pick his replacement on the ballot for the general election.</p><p>But if Swiss wins, the ballot spot is his. Democrats could try to run an independent or third-party candidate against him, though.</p><p>"If think at some point in time that we would be looking at that [if Swiss wins]," said Ald. Emma Mitts, chair of the West Side Black Elected Officials. "I don't want a sheep in wool clothing to represent no parts of my ward."</p><p>The 10th state House District includes parts of Chicago's North and West Sides.</p></p> Mon, 19 Mar 2012 06:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/dems-call-voters-support-derrick-smith-despite-bribery-arrest-97415 Some commissioners change their minds about furlough days http://www.wbez.org/story/some-commissioners-change-their-minds-about-furlough-days-92392 <p><p>Two Cook County board commissioners have changed their minds about taking furlough days.&nbsp;Board members have <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/furlough-debate-threatens-stymie-budget-negotiations-cook-county-board-92336">spent the week debating</a> whether they should have to take unpaid days off, even though it was in the budget.</p><div>Commissioner Joan Murphy had refused to take the days off and asked to be reimbursed; now, she said she's going to return the money.</div><div>"What I am going to do is I am going to write a check to the county for the full amount of those furlough days. And that amount is 3,269.23," said Murphy. "However, I am not going to take those days off, I am going to be available for my constituency, I'm going to work those days."</div><p>Commissioner Robert Steele also asked to be paid back, but has not cashed his $800 check, which he said he's giving back.</p><p>Both Murphy and Steele said they're not unified with their three remaining colleagues who have resisted having to take the days. Murphy, responding to colleague Larry Suffredin's claims she's aligned with those who wish former county board President Todd Stroger was still in power, said she supports current president Toni Preckwinkle.</p><p>"We disagree vehemently on this particular issue, but it doesn't mean I won't for what she needs or what she wants on something else," said Murphy. "And I have, in the past."</p><p>Murphy said she's not worried about her budget being cut during negotiations for 2012, but believes she should get more money than some of her colleagues because of her larger, suburban location. She argued that her location makes it difficult to travel inexpensively to meet with constituents and that there's less other governmental support for them to deal with their issues.</p><p>Three other commissioners have stuck by their decision to boycott the furlough days; they are William Beavers, Earlean Collins, and Deborah Sims.</p></p> Fri, 23 Sep 2011 17:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/some-commissioners-change-their-minds-about-furlough-days-92392 Furlough debate threatens to stymie budget negotiations for Cook County board http://www.wbez.org/story/furlough-debate-threatens-stymie-budget-negotiations-cook-county-board-92336 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-22/beaversstroger_ap_mspencergreen.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Debate over furlough days threatens to stymie the upcoming budget negotiations for the Cook County Board. Between July 27 and September 7 of this year, five of the 17 Cook County Board commissioners - Earlean Collins, Robert Steele, William Beavers, Deborah Sims, and Joan Murphy - wrote letters to the Cook County comptroller, requesting to be reimbursed for the unpaid days off.</p><p>In his letter, Commissioner Beavers wrote, "As an elected official I am not required to take furlough days therefore I am requesting that the money deducted thus far be returned to me to correct this error." His colleague, Commissioner Murphy wrote, "I have been informed by the office of the State's Attorney that a commissioner's salary cannot be increased or decreased during a term in office."</p><p>On Wednesday, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/battle-lines-are-drawn-between-cook-county-board-commissioners-over-furlough-days-92284">Commissioner Beavers said</a> he was using his furlough days to protest President Toni Preckwinkle's lack of financial support for southern Cook County hospitals, a sentiment his colleague Earlean Collins echoed.&nbsp;</p><p>But on Thursday, Larry Suffredin called out Beavers, saying his claim about the hospitals is a "total falsehood," and that any reference to a constitutional right on behalf of commissioners to keep their salary steady was inaccurate.</p><p>"When we voted for this budget, the hospital was in there, and it was the closure of the hospital that was part of their budget, and he knew that," Suffredin said. "He makes things up, as he does all the time.&nbsp;This man you cannot believe on any matter."</p><p>Suffredin called the five commissioners acting against the furloughs an "organized Stroger team making one last stand, led by Commissioner Beavers," a reference to former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, who lost a re-election bid in 2010.</p><p>"(Beavers) hasn't been able to lead anybody to victory in years," added Suffredin. "This is the Stroger people versus those who want to reform county government....These are the same five that are opposed to anything good we've tried to do for years."</p><p>Some of Suffredin's colleagues who have agreed to take the furlough days say they doubt the five protesting commissioners are part of an organized effort. Many do agree, however, on cutting the budgets of the commissioners who are asking for reimbursements.&nbsp;</p><p>"They'll get that much less than everyone else gets," said Comissioner Gregg Goslin.</p><p>"My intention is to cut these five commissioners' budget by the amount they didn't save in this year's," Suffredin added, explaining that in the budget for 2011, all commissioners received equal budgets, a change from previous years. "We also passed a resolution that said that if you did not meet the revenue projections required for your office, we would take that out of your next budget. So whatever they don't take in pay cuts this year, I intend to fight to cut their budgets for next year."</p><p>Many commissioners remain optimistic about the budget negotiations, during which the board will grapple with a anticipated shortfall of $315 million. According to the President's office, a commissioner's salary is $85,000 a year, and the ten total furlough and shutdown days cuts 4.8 percent of their budget.</p><p>The commissioners expect to receive Preckwinkle's proposed budget by mid-October.</p><p>Earlier this week, Preckwinkle suggested that&nbsp;she might call for the entire Cook County government to shutdown for ten days next fiscal year, instead of doing five furlough and five shutdown. The president called it a matter of greater equity.</p><p>But Commissioner Timothy Schneider argued that the name doesn't make a difference, while his colleague Daley pointed out that shutdown days are easier to handle because "It's very clear no one's here."</p><p>"My concern is, if they're saying no to these, to five furlough days, are they going to say no to (shutdown days)?" added Daley.</p><p>As for this debate slowing down budget negotiations, Suffredin said he wasn't worried about it working out.</p><p>"It's probably good to get it out of the way now before we get into the budget process," said Suffredin.</p><p>But Goslin said, "I'm sure there will be a lot more furlough days next year."</p></p> Thu, 22 Sep 2011 16:44:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/furlough-debate-threatens-stymie-budget-negotiations-cook-county-board-92336 Organ donor awareness day in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/story/awareness/organ-donor-awareness-day-chicago <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Health Care Generic_Getty_Christopher Furlong.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>It's Organ Donor Awareness Day in and around Chicago.</p><p>Cook County board officials have adopted a resolution giving Tuesday that designation as a way to educate area residents about organ donations.</p><p>County officials say that there are more than 5,000 people waiting for organ transplants in Illinois.</p><p>Cook County Commissioner Robert Steele was the recipient of an organ donation himself last year. He says his experience drove home the importance of educating area residents about the organ-donation process.</p><p>The non-profit organization, the Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network, has taken a leading role in the issue, It's the federally designated organ-procurement group that coordinates organ donations in the northern Illinois and northwest Indiana.</p></p> Tue, 04 Jan 2011 19:47:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/awareness/organ-donor-awareness-day-chicago