Cook County

More than a thousand Illinoisans with low-level marijuana convictions had their records wiped clean Wednesday. It’s part of the new marijuana legalization coming in January.

Lawmaker Says Cook County Soda Tax Is A Statewide Concern

Oct 5, 2017

Downstate Illinoisans should be concerned about Cook County’s controversial sales tax on sweetened beverages, even though they don’t have to pay it, according to State Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet.

Rose has introduced a bill to overturn the penny-per-ounce sales tax that took effect in Cook County last March.

Some Businesses In Cook County Urge Repeal Of Soda Tax

Sep 1, 2017

Some Chicago-area businesses are urging the Cook County Board to repeal the penny-per-ounce sweetened beverage tax.

Amber Stevens says beverage sales are down by $3,000 from last year at Harvey’s Corner, a convenience store she owns in south-suburban Country Club Hills. And overall, she says, total sales are down by 20 percent. Stevens said it’s because of the county’s beverage tax that went into effect August 2.


Five Democratic candidates for governor gathered Thursday in a small conference room in downtown Chicago to explain their strategies and seek a key endorsement for the 2018 general election.

But recent Democratic losses in five special elections around the country have party committeemen wondering how best to take on Republican incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner. An endorsement from the Cook County Democratic Party would mean support of some of the most powerful elected officials in the area — plus resources, staff and volunteers.

Federal Monitoring Ends At Cook County Jail

Jun 13, 2017
Cook County Department of Corrections

The Cook County Jail is no longer under federal monitoring after a federal judge lifted a consent decree.


A 2008 Department of Justice report found the jail had failing grades for detainee safety, medical care and cleanliness. This led to a consent decree in 2010 with a federal judge overseeing conditions. Since that time, the jail has invested millions improving safety by adding cameras, hiring more correctional officers and enhancing its medical care.

Despite a judge's decision Friday to toss Chicago Public Schools' civil rights lawsuit against the state, Mayor Rahm Emanuel declared late Friday that classes will not end early as CPS officials had threatened.

"The children of the city of Chicago will be in school until the end of the school year," Emanuel said at news conference late Friday afternoon.

The mayor did not say where the city will get the money to keep schools open.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The man in charge of the Cook County Jail says correctional facilities can do a much better job dealing with inmates who have mental health issues. Sheriff Tom Dart spoke to the League of Women Voters of Greater Rockford last night about his decade of efforts to support people with mental illnesses who end up in his jail. 

Dart says budget cuts for mental health programs have made things more difficult.

flickr user / Michael Coghlan "Prison Bars" (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A federal judge is giving Cook County a week to fix what he calls a “glaring inconsistency” in how it treats juvenile arrestees.


A federal lawsuit claims the county is violating the constitution by keeping juveniles locked up for more than 48 hours without seeing a judge.

The wait happens because - unlike adult court - the county’s juvenile judges don’t hold probable cause hearings on weekends or holidays.  

This week, Judge Thomas Durkin called it “mind boggling” that the county keeps vulnerable kids locked up longer than adults.


A Cook County judge is dismissing a lawsuit from nearly 100 social service agencies that sued the State of Illinois.

Those groups lost their case against the state, which still owes them money due to the year-long budget impasse.

Those 100 social services contracted with the state to do things like counsel people who are homeless or advocate for early childhood education.

A new stopgap budget pays those social services some of what they’re owed - and they sued for the rest.

A judge has appointed a suburban Chicago state's attorney as the special prosecutor in the case against a Chicago police officer charged with first-degree murder in the killing of black teenager Laquan McDonald.

At a hearing on Thursday, Cook County Circuit Judge Vincent Gaughan swore in Kane County State's Attorney Joseph McMahon to handle the prosecution of Officer Jason Van Dyke.

Van Dyke was charged with murder last year in the 2014 killing of McDonald at the same time authorities released the dashcam video that shows McDonald being shot 16 times.

  New statistics released yesterday by the US Census Bureau say Cook County has lost more population than any other county in the nation last year (2014-2015)

Chicago and the surrounding metro area lost over 10,000 people, in a year when most municipalities grew. 

Experts suggest the population dip is due to decreased immigration, an aging Mexican immigrant population, and dwindling numbers of black residents.   

Voters have ousted the Chicago area's top prosecutor in a Democratic primary race focused on the office's handling of the shooting death of a black teenager at the hands of a white police officer.

Kim Foxx's victory Tuesday over Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez sends her to a November matchup in which she will be heavily favored.

Foxx, a former aide to the Cook County board president, criticized Alvarez over the Laquan McDonald shooting, as protesters scrutinized her investigation as a cover-up.

The Chicago area's top prosecutor is on the defensive ahead of the March 15th primaries. 


Anita Alvarez faced questions long before she came under scrutiny for delaying charges against a white police officer in a black teen's death.

Critics say Alvarez resisted to overturning wrongful convictions in a county with a troubled history.

Others say she was behind in finding alternative ways of prosecuting and sentencing low-level offenders as jails remained crowded.

Cook County

Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown is hinting she may sue the county Democratic Party for dropping its endorsement for her re-election bid.

Brown says her cell phone was subpoenaed -- but she hasn’t been charged with wrongdoing. Still, it was enough for Cook County Democrats to reverse course and endorse Ald. Michelle Harris to replace Brown on the Democratic ticket for court clerk.

Brown says she contributed money to the party after it agreed to endorse her earlier this year, and she calls that exchange a contract.

The LaSalle County Jail could get some extra money if some Chicago-area inmates are housed at the facility.

The LaSalle County Jail was built in anticipation the inmate population would increase over the years. But, that hasn't happened.

Now, some Cook County detainees might be transferred to the LaSalle County jail.

It was designed to hold 300 people...but LaSalle Sheriff Tom Templeton says there are times when the jail is only half full.

Flickr user Daniel Borman / "Money, Money, Money" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois state lawmakers are warning key figures in Chicago and Cook County governments to draft back-up plans for their underfunded pensions.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle are both trying to approve changes to the retirement benefits their government workers receive because the funds are running out of money.

But that comes after the state Supreme Court called reductions in benefits to State of Illinois employees’ pensions unconstitutional.

Cook County Board President Considers Sales Tax Increase

Jun 24, 2015

Board President Toni Preckwinkle is considering a one percent increase to the Cook County sales tax.

Preckwinkle said in a 2010 campaign ad that she would repeal the whole “Stroger” sales tax. Now, Commissioner Larry Suffredin says she’s asking the board about boosting the county-wide sales tax to help pay down pensions.

Suffredin says that would bump the current rate past 10 percent in the majority of the county. He's concerned it would hurt local retail.

Flickr user Claus Rebler / "Sick" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois and Cook County public health officials are investigating several measles cases in a KinderCare Learning Center in Palatine.

All students and staff at the facility were notified, and anyone who has not received the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine is instructed to stay home for the next 21 days.

The cluster includes five children younger than one year old. It is unknown if the cases can be traced back to another case in Cook County or the outbreak that began at Disneyland.