D O J DOJ DOJ What has Tim Evans done in Crook County Court systems to be under Administrative review from the Illinois Supreme Court System….

March 23, 2014 § Leave a comment

Sneed: Judge Evans finds job for court official dubbed ‘worst’ by ex-underling

By Michael Sneed March 21, 2014 7:52PM

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Updated: March 23, 2014 2:28AM

Out of Order!

Overruled, undermanned, and bench-pressed!

The big question still remains!

Why does Cook County Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy Evans continue to employ Jesus Reyes, the man he appointed in 2005 to run the probation nightmare on 26th Street?

In an unprecedented move Friday, the Illinois Supreme Court appointed an administrator for the Circuit Court of Cook County to overhaul the bollixed pre-trial services and adult probation department run by Reyes, who was abruptly dismissed Monday.

Despite Reyes’ dismissal from that job, Evans is now keeping Reyes on as a court policy advisor.

Reyes’ removal came days before the release of an incendiary report by the Illinois Supreme Court detailing egregious probation and pre-trial practices — including how judges were inadequately informed about which defendants to incarcerate or release while their cases are adjudicated.

“[Evans] hired [Reyes], he kept him, he ignored the complaints being lodged against him,” said a top source familiar with the court audit, which blasted the court system’s lack of institutional leadership.

It gets worse.

Jack Hecimovich, a former deputy probation chief who worked under Reyes before his retirement, tells Sneed: “We were told not to deal with the FBI!

“We handle a lot of difficult cases, but he didn’t want us to share information or work with the FBI or police in helping them with getting guns off the street. Although we did anyway.

“We’d get information from suspects; probationers going through the probation and pre-trial system; but it was like Reyes wanted us to close our eyes,” added Hecimovich.

“I worked there for 33 ½ years, but Reyes was the worst.”

Hecimovich also stated: “There was also a specific illegal immigration ordinance passed by the county which said we couldn’t deport anybody until they were convicted. Reyes said not to deport anyone even if they were convicted. He said the ordinance was invalid for our department.”

Retired Circuit Court Judge Dan Locallo tells Sneed: “Reyes should have been booted out a long time ago.

“We could have done more to take the guns off the streets, but I was told by a friend of mine in the probation department Reyes was handcuffing his probation officers.

“We could have done more to take guns off the street and solve crimes. The gang probation unit was working with the FBI to do just that. Guys on probation don’t want to go to the joint. So they try to work a deal by finding ways to locate illegal arms or solve homicides.

“When my friend said he was told not to cooperate with the FBI and police, I almost fell over.”

A second Sneed probation source, who is not retired and asked to remain anonymous, stated:

“Reyes did not want us or allow us to work with any federal, state or local agencies. He forbade us. We even had to ask permission to go talk to a judge. But we did anyway. We were chastised and beaten down so many times. No one can understand. It defies explanation.

“He never wanted to sign his name to anything. Now they are putting him in charge of court policy? It staggers the imagination.”

Reyes did not respond to telephone messages left for him at work and with Evans. Evans declined to discuss Reyes.

The Rauner report . . .

GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner may have backed away from his anti-minimum wage raise stance once the flap hit him in the face, but Sneed is told he is still accepting donations from John Tillman, CEO of the Illinois Policy Institute, which makes the case that cutting the minimum wage would be good for the economy.

Sneedlings . . .

 

Put super-sized state government on diet

By ANDY SHAW March 21, 2014 5:06PM

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Updated: March 23, 2014 2:31AM

The Illinois primary is history, and sadly, also historic — a record low voter turnout in the Chicago area of less than 20 percent — in part because nearly 80 percent of the non-judicial races were uncontested, and a lack of competition apparently produced a lack of interest.

So an obvious challenge for those of us who consider civic engagement a key component of a healthy democracy is to encourage more people to run for office, and more people to vote.

That means, among other things, reforming the electoral process, and we’re on it.

The push for a healthier democracy also includes our “smart streamlining” campaign, which calls for consolidating or eliminating some of the state’s 7,000 units of government — Illinois has 2,000, or 40 percent more than any other state — to save tax dollars and increase efficiency.

Thankfully, we have a lot of allies in our fight against this “obesity epidemic” — lawmakers, civic groups and a few government entities themselves that are downsizing their delivery of public services.

Here’s an update:

♦ In DuPage County, officials are touting nearly $80 million in savings from shared service agreements, joint contracts and other cooperative approaches.

♦ Chicago and Cook County claim more than $70 million in savings and new revenue by sharing equipment, making joint purchases, partnering on grant applications and coordinating enforcement of cigarette tax violations.

♦ Two downstate school consolidations reduced the number of districts to 861. There were 1,008 in 1985.

♦ And on primary day, Evanston residents voted overwhelmingly to dissolve their township and transfer its duties to their city, while voters in Springfield reauthorized their Efficiency Commission to keep fighting local government waste and duplication.

Those are encouraging steps, but other streamlining initiatives aren’t faring as well.

Two years ago, for instance, the Classrooms First Commission made 23 thoughtful recommendations for promoting efficiency among Illinois school districts, and that produced a state law aimed at facilitating mergers of small districts with fewer than 750 students.

Downstate districts are taking advantage of it, but not suburban Cook County, where 20-plus districts qualify, but not a single one has requested a state-funded reorganization study.

Do your homework, people.

Another commission, on Local Government Consolidation, was expected to release its recommendations nearly two years ago, but we’re still waiting.

They’re supposedly tweaking their final report, so tweak away, but quickly.

And finally, several consolidation bills have stalled in the State Legislature.

One would make it easier for counties to eliminate specialized taxing bodies — a power only DuPage has now.

Another would give voters in River Forest Township the power to consolidate with the village of River Forest.

Both face pushback from public employees whose jobs and benefits are at risk, and they have powerful allies in Springfield.

We get it, but it’s time for common sense to start trumping clout. Stalling and stonewalling simply delay long overdue reforms.

Illinois teeters on the edge of a fiscal cliff — our “super-sized” government is one of the culprits — and a carefully crafted downsizing diet can help put it back on safe ground.

But admonitions won’t accomplish much without citizen engagement.

And that’s why people have to be registered, informed and ready to vote for supporters of our “smart streamlining” campaign.

It’s a daunting challenge, but as I said earlier, we’re on it.

 

Andy Shaw is President & CEO of the Better Government Association.

Email: ashaw@bettergov.org

Twitter: @andyshawbga

 

Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios has refused to pay a $10,000 fine because he says the county’s ethics rules don’t apply to him. | Sun-Times Media File Photo

Lawsuit filed to force Berrios to pay ethics fine from 2012

FRI, 03/21/2014 – 8:10PM

The Cook County Board of Ethics filed a lawsuit against Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios Friday demanding that a judge order him to pay a $10,000 fine for hiring his sister and son to work in his office.

Berrios originally had been ordered to pay the fine in 2012 after a Board of Ethics investigation into the hirings, according to the suit filed in Cook County Circuit Court.

Berrios hired his sister, Carmen Berrios, and son, Joseph E. “Joey” Berrios, to work at the assessor’s office just two days after he was sworn in on Dec. 6, 2010, according to the suit. They were paid $108,000 and $68,000, respectively. The board of ethics conducted an investigation shortly after and found that Berrios violated the anti-nepotism laws by hiring his sister and son, the suit said. However, Berrios has refused to pay the fine, arguing that any ethics ordinance does not apply to him, nor does the Board of Ethics have any jurisdiction over him, the suit said.

The three-count suit is seeking action to enforce the ethics ordinance against Berrios, have him pay the original $10,000 fine within 30 days of the court’s judgment and comply with the ethics board, the suit said. The lawsuit was filed by attorney David Hoffman, Chicago’s former inspector general, who had been appointed a special state’s attorney explore possible legal action against Berrios.

Representatives for the assessor’s office could not immediately be reached for comment on the suit Friday night.

Berrios’ daughter Vanessa  already was working in the assessor’s office when Berrios was elected, and he promoted her when took over as assessor, giving her a $10,000-a-year raise. The ethics board ruled that even though Berrios didn’t hire her, it violates the nepotism ban for her to work for him. It recommended her firing but didn’t issue a fine in that case.

Joseph Berrios’ children in his office have gotten additional pay raises in the past year, county records show.

Vanessa Berrios now makes $75,391.68 a year, and his son’s annual salary has jumped to $73,904.48, according to the county payroll.

His other daughter, Maria Antonia “Toni” Berrios, has been a state representative since 2002 but suffered a landslide loss to challenger Will Guzzardi in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, despite the financial backing of her father and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Besides being assessor, Jospeh Berrios is chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party.

 

Controversial Cook County judge “happy to be re-elected”

BY LISA DONOVAN Cook County Reporter ldonovan@suntimes.com November 7, 2012 10:14AM

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Cook County Circuit Court Judge CynthiBrim who faces misdemeanor battery charge wnew six-year term Tuesday’s judicial retentielection.  | Cook County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Brim, who faces a misdemeanor battery charge, won a new six-year term in Tuesday’s judicial retention election. | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

Updated: December 9, 2012 7:27PM

Fresh from a narrow Election Night victory, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Brim was back in the courtroom Wednesday morning — on the other side of the bench as her misdemeanor battery case winds its way through the judicial system.

Brim said nothing as she appeared briefly with her attorney before a judge in a Cook County criminal courtroom, but as she prepared to leave the courthouse at 26th and California, Brim made her first public comments — about the election.

“I can’t get into much, but I’m happy to be re-elected,” Brim told reporters after the hearing. She said she was at home Tuesday night and watched election returns on television.

On March 9, Brim was arrested at the Daley Center court complex where she allegedly tossed a set of keys near a security checkpoint and shoved a sheriff’s deputy. She has pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charge.

Days later, a panel of supervising judges suspended her and she remains off the job indefinitely, though she continues to collect a regular paycheck for the $182,000-a-year job.

She declined to answer questions about whether she’s ready to return to the bench and hear cases, but her attorney indicated it’s out of her hands. Brim’s suspension will likely continue until the state’s Judicial Inquiry Board investigation winds up, her attorney James D. Montgomery Sr. said after the hearing. The judicial board is charged with investigating and prosecuting allegations of “judicial misconduct or incapacity,” according to the state’s website.

Court records obtained by the Sun-Times reveal Brim was examined by a court-appointed psychiatrist who believes she’s “presently mentally fit with medication” but opined she was “legally insane” at the time of the reported skirmish with the sheriff’s officer.

Montgomery said those very findings indicate the case should be tossed.

Brim has a “bipolar disorder” and “at the time that this alleged offense occurred … my client was simply not in a mental state that is sufficient for her to ever be found guilty, so we’re wasting valuable judicial time.” Montgomery told reporters.

But the case will proceed, Montgomery suggests, because Brim has not bowed to pressure to step down.

“If they’re trying to get her to resign as they apparently have been trying to do, and holding this case over her as a hostage, it will never happen because if we must try the case, we will try the case,” Montgomery said.

Asked to explain further, Montgomery said “the assistant state’s attorney has said to me on at least two court appearances, ‘Is she going to resign?’ And when I said she absolutely is not going to resign under these circumstances, she [the assistant state’s attorney] said ‘OK let’s go to trial.’ ”

Andy Conklin, a spokesman for State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, said later: “We’ve never suggested that she resign.”

Brim, 54, has been on the bench since 1994 and Tuesday’s victory means another six-year term in office.

While bar groups were giving her a thumbs-down, with one noting that attorneys questioned her “legal abilities,” the Cook County Democratic Party gave the entire slate of retention judges — that is, sitting judges up for re-election — a thumbs-up.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle put out a robocall asking voters to support the Democratic ticket and the judges up for re-election, her campaign spokesman Scott Kastrup said on Wednesday.

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