What’s wrong in Illinois? Look no further than Cook County!
COOK CO.—We’re in a serious financial state in Illinois, there’s no doubt about that. The state’s once again not making payments due toward counties and municipalities, thus putting all of us in a bind one way or the other as many of these entities are attempting to bring their FY 2011-12 budgets into line…because the counties are left with not much more option than to begin making serious cuts to services we’ve all gotten used to; cuts like considering closing down jails.
Such is not the case, however, in Cook County, where any cutbacks and layoffs are just token moves to appease critics and pretend there’s really some kind of immediate action going on. And remember, Cook is a county just like Saline or Lawrence or Gallatin. They provide services to their populace just like Jasper and Clay do to theirs; they operate jails just like Jefferson and Wabash. They have county hospitals just like…well, a lot of us have LOST our county-supported hospitals downstate, haven’t we?
But up in Cook, home to Chicago (the bane of every other speck of Illinois dirt), well, those things are just too important to begin shutting down.
At least administrative offices (taxpayer-supported, of course), are.
In an article found this morning in the Chicago Tribune, Cook County board chairperson Toni Preckwinkle is bemoaning and bewailing the loss of several jobs around the county as they are attempting to bring their budget under control, but she doesn’t seem to want to address that they’re way behind in making the planned 500+ they agreed to have accomplished by this time…so far, only 357 employees have been laid off.
Here’s the status of the healthcare/hospital system:
The administration did not provide specifics on how many more layoffs will take place and what departments they will hit, but one area where Preckwinkle wants to see more cuts is the county’s health and hospital system. Its independent governing board had anticipated 593 layoffs, but has only laid off 188 workers so far, according to the data.
“We anticipated that some employees would be transferred to vacant positions so the number may have been lower than originally projected,” Neves said in an email. “But we did not anticipate such a glaring discrepancy.”
“Some employees would be transferred to vacant positions”? That’s not a cut. That’s a SHELL GAME. Geez. Shades of Lawrence County Memorial. Somebody might wanna check with hospital admin and see if Sylvia Pulleyblank hasn’t gotten a job there.
The hospital system has been a frequent target of Preckwinkle’s in recent months as she looks to gain firmer control of county spending in her first year on the job. Health officials and Preckwinkle’s staff are haggling over the amount of taxpayer subsidy that will go to the health system next year. The health system’s chief financial officer has asked for $327.6 million, but Preckwinkle has said the county should give no more than $243 million.
Note in the article that there is no indication of how many ADMINISTRATIVE jobs they are reducing versus how many ESSENTIAL HEALTHCARE (you know…nurses, doctors, things of that nature….the people who REALLY take care of folks in hospitals) jobs are being cut.
Ms. Preckwinkle did indicate that her own staff has gone through a significant cut—92 jobs—at least we can hope that’s “significant”…how the hell many administrative positions does a county board chairperson’s office need, anyway? That’s one of those questions for the ages, but hey, this is Cook County we’re talking about here.
Whoops…WAIT. Here’s the problem:
Preckwinkle and her budget team are now putting the final touches on a proposed spending plan for next year as they aim to close a budget hole estimated at $315 million. Preckwinkle and her budget director have been meeting with unions, but both sides are remaining tight-lipped about whether county employees should brace themselves for further cuts. Preckwinkle earlier called layoffs “inevitable.”
Unions. Great. Whoever thought up the idea of having unions for PUBLIC SERVICE (READ: TAXPAYER-SUPPORTED) personnel should be drawn and quartered. Just my opinion, of course. You know, in White County, there are deputies that are making more than the county sheriff, no lie. The drain on the taxpayers is phenomenal, but hey, don’t get those union boys riled up!!
The situation isn’t getting any better in Illinois. It’s not going to help by putting folks into retirement, like one graph in the article shows is an intention of the county board….why? Because RETIREMENT of public officials is PAID FOR by TAXPAYERS, TOO. To see how much our state retirees receive off the sweat of our brows, one has no further to look than the Open the Books Portal, where Adam Andrzejewski has done all the hard work for us. You will be disgusted and amazed, we guarantee.
There’s no easy fix for this quandary we’re in financially, but taking under advisement, and attempting to carry out, a suggestion we heard Andrzejewski make this past Saturday makes incredible sense: a 30 percent across the board cut in salaries and retirements statewide. That would be an immediate fix. And if some of these retired state workers can’t make it on that kind of reduction, they can go out and get a job at WalMart as a door greeter, just like they expect us to do in order to keep their taxpayer-supported checks flowing.
Your thoughts on this are welcome; we’re too busy with the next print version to do much moderating, so have at it, as without our input we know sometimes the convo gets lively with those in support of big government….
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