Cappleman Releases Master Plan


Alderman James Cappleman, of the 46th Ward, just released his master plan.

It’s introduced on his web site with this, “This plan incorporates many voices from the ward and combines them with surveys of retail needs, housing stock, population and infrastructure to create a framework under which future ward decisions will be made.  This plan will be a guide to help James assess opportunities related to business development, land use and the social infrastructure of our community.”

Citizens concerned about being shut out of budget process

A report in Medill News Service says Ald. Scott Waguespack and other aldermen were blindsided by news the Mayor plans to shut police districts in their wards. “For them to put it in the newspaper before they told the aldermen was really upsetting,” Waguespack said.

Waguespack said the office has been swamped with calls and emails. Ald. Ameya Pawar, in an email today, told residents he has received numerous comments on the budget issue.

Read more at Medill Reports.

New CCHHS Budget: Millions for Consultants, Not So Much for Nurses


While the office of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle along with officials from the Cook County Health and Hospital System negotiate the final terms of the 2012 budget for CCHHS, the current budget passed by the CCHHS board is likely to have many employees of the system along with many Cook County tax payers scratching their heads and wondering about the fiscal priorities of the system. Welles Park Bulldog has confirmed with CCHHS spokesperson Marisa Kollias that the budget passed by the board last month includes $47.073 million for professional services, most of which are for consulting services. At the same time, the budget only allocates enough money to hire on 20% of current vacancies among nurses.


The reaction to this news has come swiftly. Henry Bayer, Executive Director for the local American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Union, reacted harshly. Bayer said the proliferation of consulting contracts by the system has been a concern since the previous administration of Todd Stroger. Bayer said he was concerned with corruption, waste, and a lack of effectiveness in these contracts. Bayer also said that he hoped that both the CCHHS board along with the Cook County Board would be meticulous in examing each and every consulting contract to make sure any contract the system agrees to is one that benefits the employees and the patients of the system.

The Service Employees International Union which represents about 2500 employees in the system declined numerous calls and emails for comment for this story.

Jessey Neves, spokesperson for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, said the president’s office was aware of both the consulting contracts and current plans to only hire 20% of nursing vacancies and this dynamic would play a role in their negotiations. Neves said in an email, “The President’s Office is going line-by-line with CCHHS through their budget.”

The CCHHS board, which is independent of the Cook County Board, passed a budget with a deficit for 2012 with a projected deficit of $291 million. While the CCHHS board is independent any deficit requires a subsidy from Cook County. President Preckwinkle has publicly stated that the subsidy she favors is $35 million less than the current $291 million subsidy that CCHHS is asking for.

Prior to passage of the CCHHS budget, several system nurses expressed dismay that the system relied so heavily on consultants. One nurse, Dorothy Ahmad, said, “We need more nurses so that we can deliver quality care at the bedside,” continuing, “We  have consultants on consultants; we have consultants monitoring consultants.”

A nursing official said privately at a recent town hall meeting on the budget that in their estimation the proliferation of consultants in the system has caused the system to be entirely dependent on these consultants making it nearly impossible to wind down milllions of dollars in contracts.


Weigel: US House Dems losing debate on debt ceiling

In a post on Slate, David Weigel theorizes on why the Democratic Party is unable to control the debate of raising the debt ceiling.

His theory: they have no leverage. They gave that up agreeing to keep the Bush-era tax cuts.

“There’s $1.2 trillion if you total the tax breaks,” Mike Quigley is quoted as saying. “They were never given performance criteria. You have no idea if an oil tax break works!”

The agreement to approve an extension of the Bush tax cuts were part of a White House strategy to obtain GOP approval of an increase in the debt ceiling late last year.

Read ‘Adults Gone Wild’ in Slate.

Senate approves $3900 pay cut through furloughs

The Illinois Senate last week approved a plan for 12 unpaid furlough days and a paycut, essentially a temporary $3,900 pay cut.

“I will never vote to cut my salary,” Sen. Annazette Collins told the Associated Press.

Despite the grumbling, the cut was approved. Sen. President John Cullerton told the AP he will push for more spending when the legislature returns to session in the fall. He criticized the House for cutting spending for Medicare and social services.

Read more at the Deseret News.

Mistake could end mental health care for thousands

An error in the amount of an appropriation in HB 3717 understated the mental health care grant for the 2012 budget, according to David Ormsby of the Illinois Observer.

The legislation committed $114.2 million, but should have committed $143.6 million, Ormsby said in a post about the issue.

Ill. Rep. Sara Feigenholtz moved correcting legislation, Ormsby said, SB 2407, but that legislation is held up in the Illinois Senate due to maneuvering over the capital construction funding.

Efforts to support the correction are being headed in the Senate by Ill. Sen. Heather Steans.

Read more at Illinois Observer.

Sen. Martinez criticizes cuts to pre-school programs

Illinois Senator Iris Martinez has announced her opposition to budget plans that will significantly cut funding for pre-school services.

“This makes me very angry,” Martinez is quoted in Illinois Observer. “Zeroing out the Children’s Place funding is unacceptable.”

The $656,000 program in the Humboldt Park neighborhood treats 70 children infected with HIV/AIDS, according to Illinois Observer.

Read more at Illinois Observer. (Video is also here)


Feigenholtz critisizes budget for HIV/AIDS

In a press release Illinois Representative Sara Feigenholtz criticized a house budget for cutting support of an HIV/AIDS program that supports patients purchase of prescriptions. Feigenholtz said a restoration of $1.5 million of a proposed $3.5 million cut to HIV/AIDS funding might force some patients to join a waiting list.

“Budget cuts elsewhere in the budget will push 250 additional people into the AIDS program,” Feigenholtz said. Feingenholtz says the level of support is problematic.

The current HIV/AIDS budget is $30.88 million, Feigenholtz said in a press release.

Read more from Feigenholtz’s press release. (Includes video)


Harris predicts ‘severe’ budget cuts

Rep. Greg Harris, in anticipation of further budget talks this week, predicted an Illinois government budget of $33.17 billion.

“The cuts are across the board and effect every department, agency and interest group,” Harris said in an alert to his community. “The appropriations committee tried to fund core health, safety and education services.”

“No interest group or constituency will like it,” Harris says.

The Illinois budget, which was passed by the House, is now in the Illinois Senate. The Senate Democrats forecast $1.1 billion in additional revenue, but haven’t yet reported a bill to the House.

With a deadline for adoption of May 31st at Midnight, it looks as if the more conservative House budget will need to be adopted, Harris told The Bulldog Sunday.

After May 31, passage of bills require a higher super majority in both chambers. Since both chambers are currently controlled by the Democrats with a majority, missing that deadline will mean Republicans will begin to be a factor in laws passed after that date.

Read more from the press release by Greg Harris.