Newsletter - August 2023

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Newsletter Highlights

Guided Forest Preserve Walk Sept 26

LWVCC Interest Groups keep you informed about Cook County Government

Cook County Clerk of the Court Martinez spoke at the July 28th Food for Thought Event

LWVCC Interest Groups? What do they do?

  • Study the functions and actions of Cook County government
  • Share information with you in Observer Reports
  • Advocate for efficiency and transparency in government
  • Provide you with opportunities to learn more about County government

LWVCC Forest Preserve Interest Group Presents

An Opportunity to Visit Cook County Forest Preserves’

Sand Ridge Nature Center


  • September 26, 2023
  • 10:30 am to 12:30 pm
  • 15891 Paxton Ave

South Holland, IL  

 Registration by email at   include your name, phone number, and local league 

Limited to 20 people.

There are two options for a guided nature walk on the Lost Beach Trail: a short one mile walk or the option to complete the trail which is close to a two miles.

  •  Ancient Lake Chicago
  • Dunes and Swales
  • Toleston Beach Ridge

Directions and specific information for visit will be provided when you register.

The Somme Prairie Grove Guided Walk on August 31 is already fully booked. Registrants will have a guided walk in Somme Prairie Grove, a unique 85-acre savanna within Somme Forest Preserve. Pioneering habitat restoration efforts started here in the 1970's and continue today.

LWVCC Interest Groups report on important news in Cook County Government

Cook County and MWRD Government Interest Group

Find the Property Tax System Confusing?

Earlier this month, Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas issued a primer called "How the Illinois Property Tax System Works". 

After giving overall information about property taxes in Illinois, the report digs into the specifics regarding property taxes within Cook County, including all the government entities involved, each step in the process from initial assessments based on market value through appeals, collection, disbursement, and enforcement

Written in plain language this is a useful resource to check out.·   

Cook County Mid-Year Budget Meetings

More than Just about $$


Members of the League’s Cook County and MWRD Governments Interest Group (“CC & MWRD Govts. Group”) observed the meetings held by the Cook County Finance Committee with the different County elected and appointed officials to review the status of this year’s fiscal year and to begin discussions for the next budget year that begins December 1. While the meetings certainly included information about the actual and projected revenues and expenditures for this year and next, these meetings also provided a review of what each area has accomplished this year, what the challenges have been, and what the departments are looking to do in the coming year.

We learned:

  • There are projected surpluses of $214.7 M in the General Fund and $402.1 M in the Health Enterprise Fund for the 2023 fiscal year. 
  •  The court system has implemented a permanent hybrid process.
  •  The Sheriff’s office provides responders training on de-escalation procedures and provides online support via tablets in dealing with a mental health crisis in the field.
  •  Second instalment tax bills expected to be sent out by Nov. 1 with a Dec. 1 due date this year.
  •  The Treasurer created a new Artificial Intelligence unit within her office.
  • A Land Bank program acquires 4-5 houses per block in a blighted area with the intent of changing the entire block and market.
  • Cook County Health reported that costs for providing health care for asylum seekers in 2023 are projected to be $26 M.

And looking ahead to the 2024 budget …

There is a projected gap between revenues and expenses of $170 M. The Budget Department will work with each area to see if revenues can increase and expenses can be reduced. In October, the Cook County President will present a balanced budget for review and approval by the Cook County Board.

Cook County ARPA Website is Updated

Cook County has revamped its website, reporting on how one billion dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act is being spent. It includes the strategies, projects, goals and outcomes.

Cook County Health Interest Group

A visit to Cook County Health's Provident Hospital


In late June, the LWVCC's Health Interest Group took a tour of Provident Hospital led by Dr. Arnold Turner, of the Provident Executive Management Team.


Provident Hospital is now a Cook County public community hospital primarily serving residents in the Grand Boulevard neighborhood and on the South Side of Chicago. It was founded as the first African American owned and operated hospital in American by Dr. Daniel Hale Williams in 1891 to provide health care and medical training to all regardless of race. After closing for several decades, it was purchased by Cook County in 1993 and provides health care access and services to all residents of Cook County regardless of ability to pay.


The hospital offers same day surgery, comprehensive diagnostic imaging service, cardiac diagnostics, kidney dialysis, and laboratory and rehabilitative services, as well as 16 other medical specialties. In the fall of 2022, it restarted ambulance runs and is now averaging around 300 a month with emergency room visits averaging about 500 a month. The 8th floor is dedicated to the John Sengstacks ambulatory health care center, and the value to the community seemed evident by the number of people being serviced.

Criminal Justice Interest Group

On July 18, the Illinois Supreme Court announced their long-anticipated ruling that the SAFE-T Act is constitutional and it will now take effect Sept. 18.

The historic decision means that Illinois is the first state to eliminate cash bail as part of a landmark criminal justice reform law. The League of Women Voters of Cook County’s Criminal Justice Interest Group has supported this initiative since. December 2015. The inequities in the system had made it the number one item on our agenda to improve pretrial services in Cook County. 

The group completed a 6-week project in partnership with the Civic Federation to compare pretrial hearings before and after the Pretrial Fairness Act was to take effect. As part of the project, 14 League members listened in on 25 sessions of Central Bond Court along with three members of the Civic Federation. We heard over 1,000 cases! Read the report with analysis and recommendations.

The LWVCC Criminal Justice Interest Group will be doing more court watching soon. We want to compare the new proceedings with those we witnessed one year ago. If you are interested in participating in this project, please contact Jan Goldberg

LWVCC observes and reports on board and committee meetings of Cook County government entities to provide our members with an understanding of current issues. To read more: LWVCC Observer Reports

 Featured Speaker for Food for Thought On July 28 was

Clerk of the Court Iris Martinez

LWVCC President Cynthia Schilsky, Clerk Martinez, and Vice President Pris Mims

Clerk Martinez was the featured speaker at the League of Women Voters of Cook County’s annual “Food for Thought Luncheon” held July 28 at the DePaul Center, Chicago. Interviewed by Chicago League member Pris Mims, Clerk Martinez’s remarks focused on the changes which have been made during her tenure.


As the official “keeper of the  Cook County court records,” the Clerk had a full plate from day one to modernize an office that still used carbon paper. 

·        The office has hired over 350 new employees to fill vacancies. Within 18 months, it was released from the Shakman decree for successfully complying with the prescribed hiring practices. The office also began cross-training staff so every clerk had the knowledge to move seamlessly from one court division to another.

·        The Clerk’s website was completely redesigned and transitioned to a new case management system. In brief, the office collects and disperses filing fees, provides services to more than 400 judges and deploys electronic filing tools such as document imaging and e-filing. Both a digital copy and an original hard copy must be stored. “We never get rid of paper but have gotten rid of carbon paper,” she said with a smile.

·        A new Customer Service Center (CSC) has been averaging 1,200 calls daily. The call center makes it easier for County residents to obtain answers to court-related questions without going to a County facility physically.

·        To accommodate an increase of pro se litigants, an arrangement was made with Cabrini Green Legal Services (CGLS) to provide in-person information and assistance on clearing a criminal record in Illinois through expungement, sealing and clemency


·        The Clerk of the Court’s office has provided services for a pilot program of extended hours for victims of domestic violence who need Orders of Protection.


Asked whether the courts will be ready for the recent Illinois Supreme Court ruling that upheld the Illinois statute to eliminate cash bail starting in September 18, Clerk Martinez predicted the need for a significant increase in court and ancillary services which will require more personnel and funding.


Thanks to Chris Ruys for the meeting summary and photo.

League Upcoming Events

Tuesday, August 29, 5PM-7PM

LWVIL and the Constitutional Democracy Project

A two-hour Zoom session delving into the blockbuster Supreme Court cases from the last term.

For more information and to register

Wed. Sep. 13, 5:30 PM-7 PM 

LWV of Winnetka-Northfield-Kenilworth

Lloyd Room at the Winnetka Public Library, 768 Oak St., Winnetka

 IL State Representative Robyn Gabel & IL State Senator Laura Fine will review legislation in the previous ILGA session & will give us a preview of the upcoming session.

See their website for registration information.

2023-2024 Cook County League Board Members 

OFFICERS: President: Cynthia Schilsky, LaGrange Area; Vice-Presidents: Pris Mims, Chicago, Kathi Graffam, LaGrange Area; Secretary: Carolyn Cosentino, Homewood/Flossmoor; Treasurer: Trudy Turner, Evanston.

Board membersLaura Davis, Palatine; Diane Edmundson, Chicago; Jan Goldberg, LaGrange Area ; Betty Hayford, Evanston; Karin Hribar, Arlington Heights; Sandra Slayton, Homewood-Flossmoor


The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan, political organization whose mission is to encourage informed and active participation in government; to increase understanding of major policy issues, and to influence public policy through education and advocacy. Membership in the League is open to anyone regardless of gender, race, or ethnic group.


League of Women Voters of Cook County

332 S. Michigan Ave. Suite 634, Chicago, IL 60604

312-939-5935 x127