WBEZ | President Toni Preckwinkle http://www.wbez.org/tags/president-toni-preckwinkle Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Cook County may expand law that tickets low level marijuana offenders http://www.wbez.org/story/cook-county-may-expand-law-tickets-low-level-marijuana-offenders-91593 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-March/2011-03-25/Marijuana_Getty_Uriel Sinai.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Cook County commissioners are scheduled to vote Wednesday to expand a law that targets low-level marijuana offenders. But the sheriff's office says even if the new measure is passed, it might not be enforced.</p><p>Getting caught with 10 grams or less of marijuana in unincorporated Cook County technically means a $200 dollar ticket. If an ordinance passes today, that rule would extend to municipalities that don't have their own police force. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said more ticketing for pot possession means fewer arrests of non-violent offenders.</p><p>"We're clogging up our criminal justice system with low-level possession arrests for marijuana and it doesn't make sense to treat low level possession in this way," she said. "If we're worried about addiction we oughta be focused on treatment and not incarceration."</p><p>But Steve Patterson, a spokesman for the Cook County Sheriff's office, said that's unlikely.</p><p>"We have very few people in here on possession with a small amount of marijuana," Patterson said. "Without an underlying or additional charge, they probably wouldn't have come into the jail into the first place."</p><p>Patterson said the new ordinance won't cover many areas and he said different rules for different parts of the county make work difficult for officers.</p></p> Wed, 07 Sep 2011 12:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/cook-county-may-expand-law-tickets-low-level-marijuana-offenders-91593 Cook County facing big budget deficit http://www.wbez.org/story/cook-county-facing-big-budget-deficit-89784 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-28/RS3389_AP101123183747.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle says the county is in deep financial trouble. She said the county is running a major deficit not just through this year, but also into the next fiscal year. Preckwinkle said the county is coming up short $116 million this fiscal year and $315 million for 2012.</p><p>She said there are plenty of reasons for the shortfall, including a campaign promise to cut the sales tax. But she said the vast majority of the deficit comes from costs related to health care and a delay in the collection of patient fees.</p><p>"We're going to do everything we can. In my view, layoffs are the last resort," Preckwinkle told reporters Thursday.</p><p>Preckwinkle ordered all county departments to immediately reduce spending by five percent. She defended the use of furlough days and said she's asking labor leaders and other countywide elected officials to come up with budget saving tips. She also wouldn't rule out privatizing county assets.</p></p> Thu, 28 Jul 2011 20:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/cook-county-facing-big-budget-deficit-89784 Cook County commissioners differ on how sales tax impacts budget http://www.wbez.org/story/budget/cook-county-commissioners-differ-how-sales-tax-impacts-budget <p><p>Cook County commissioners are scheduled to discuss a new budget this week and they're still at odds over the effects of a controversial sales tax.</p><p>Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle campaigned on rolling back a one percentage point increase in the sales tax. In her first budget since taking office, Preckwinkle's scaling back part of it - a move she says is contributing to the county's $487 million deficit.</p><p>Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin says there's more to the shortfall.</p><p>&quot;The repeal of the sales tax is part of the issue here, but the mismanagement of the prior administration is really the story of this budget,&quot;&nbsp;Suffredin said.</p><p>But Commissioner Joan Patricia Murphy says any layoffs or cuts in services that are approved in the budget are due to the sales tax reduction.</p><p>&quot;It was the newspapers. The newspapers brainwashed the people into thinking this was the worst thing that ever happened to Cook County. It wasn't,&quot;&nbsp;Murphy said.</p><p>Commissioners are scheduled to address the budget Friday.<br />&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 21 Feb 2011 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/budget/cook-county-commissioners-differ-how-sales-tax-impacts-budget