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This week, we witnessed Governor Pritzker sign into law HB 2653, a massive criminal justice reform bill. This 700 page bill was quickly passed during the state legislature’s Lame Duck session in January. A piece of legislation of this size and magnitude deserved a much more transparent and open public review process which the Illinois General Assembly and Governor Pritzker did not provide. Instead, they rammed the bill through at 4:00am in the morning while the public was asleep in bed to avoid any kind of scrutiny. I stand with the Illinois Law Enforcement Coalition in opposition to this new law.
While shootings, murders and car jackings skyrocket in Chicago this one-sided criminal justice reform law, championed by State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and other notable elected officials, clearly favors criminals over law-abiding residents and police officers. This new law is very likely to have a negative impact on public safety in Cook County and across our state.
Will this new law make our communities safer? I do not believe it will. It makes the job of police officers significantly more difficult. It weakens proactive policing measures and will put police officers in a defensive posture. It makes the ability of criminals to exploit or sidestep law enforcement that much easier. It also weakens protections for crime victims. Ultimately, it will not make our communities safer.
By signing this bill, Governor Pritzker clearly showed his anti-police bias, and he put the interests of criminals and criminal behavior ahead of preserving the safety of Illinois residents and communities.
Commissioner Sean M. Morrison
17th District – Cook County
Letter to the Editor,
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) remain closed and classrooms empty. Mayor Lori Lightfoot, CPS leadership and the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) continue their carnival show at the expense of Chicago’s children.
Isolation is devastating children. Not the coronavirus. Students have been relegated to their homes and sequestered away from a proper educational setting which allows for a more productive and socially nourishing learning environment. The social and emotional well-being of in-person learning continues to go missing at CPS at a time when it is so urgently needed. Especially for many children at the lower end of the economic spectrum who lack the educational resources and additional guidance at home.
When you are truly honest about your commitment to the health and welfare of children then CPS classrooms would have already been re-opened by now. Like the Archdiocese of Chicago and most suburban school systems throughout the area, they have reopened their classrooms and brought the children back into a safe environment. The Archdiocese of Chicago made the decision last year to put children first and return to the classroom calling their mission, “Operating with Trust” and it has proved safe and successful for both children and adults.
Why CPS remains lost in the abyss is almost criminal. The Chicago schools mess has only deepened in recent weeks with CTU’s refusal to return to the classroom and their aggressive attempt to exploit this situation with the threat of a strike. It’s been reported that CTU is lobbying Governor Pritzker to quickly sign HB 2275 which would allow CTU the ability to strike. Will Governor Pritzker, who has remained largely silent on the CPS reopening fight, acquiesce to CTU’s strike demands or will he step up and help resolve this situation amicably? Either way, it’s time for CPS children to return to the classrooms.
A simple question for all the parties involved: Why must the children continue to suffer?
Sean M. Morrison
Cook County Commissioner, 17th District
Tinley Park – Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Cook County Health CEO Israel Rocha were joined by Governor J.B. Prtizker to announce today that the Tinley Park Convention Center will serve as Cook County’s first large-scale vaccination site opening on Tuesday, January 26 to continue Phase 1a and begin Phase 1b vaccinations.
Phase 1b includes individuals age 65 and older and essential workers such as first responders, manufacturing employees and grocery store personnel. While an estimated 600,000 suburban individuals are eligible for vaccine under Phase 1b, officials warn there is currently not adequate vaccine supply to vaccinate everyone.
“While current vaccine supply does not meet the demand – we are standing up large scale sites now to ensure that we are ready as vaccine continues to be distributed to Cook County,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “We are anxious to contribute to the Biden Administration’s goal of providing 100 million vaccines in the first 100 days.”
Vaccinations at Tinley Park and other Cook County Health sites will be provided by appointment. Beginning at 12p.m. Monday, January 25, appointments for individuals in 1b can be scheduled at vaccine.cookcountyil.gov. Individuals without internet access or who need assistance scheduling can call (833) 308-1988 (from 7a.m. to 7p.m., Monday – Friday) also starting Monday. Cook County Health will only offer appointment slots based on the amount of vaccine on hand and will add appointments as new vaccine shipments arrive.
“This first large site in the Southland is indicative of our commitment to distribute vaccine equitably, but we fully expect that demand will quickly outpace supply. It is critical for people to understand that while we are anxious to vaccinate everyone who wants to be vaccinated, vaccine supply remains the biggest limiting factor. We are asking Cook County residents for their continued patience as we work to ramp up one of the largest County-operated vaccine programs in the country,” said Israel Rocha, CEO, Cook County Health.
County officials expect to be able to provide as many as 3,000 vaccines per day when the Tinley Park site is fully optimized and when adequate vaccine is available.
“I want to thank all the various county agencies who have been working tirelessly to bring vaccine to the community. I also want to the thank Governor Pritzker for deploying the Illinois National Guard to assist us in standing up this site. We look forward to the federal government increasing vaccine distribution in the coming weeks and months,” said President Preckwinkle.
“Widespread vaccination sites will allow us to quickly and efficiently get these life-saving vaccine doses to Illinoisans as more federal shipments of vaccine come online,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “The Illinois National Guard and the Illinois Department of Public Health are proud to partner with Cook County to launch the Tinley Park Convention Center Vaccination Site – our seventh collaboration in Cook County overall, with many more to come across the state. And Illinois residents from every region can find their nearby vaccination site options, from local health department operations to hundreds of pharmacy partners statewide, on coronavirus.illinois.gov. As federal supply is currently limited and every state in the nation is facing a shortage, I urge all eligible Illinoisans to check back regularly for available appointments – and in the meantime, mask up, keep our distance, wash our hands, and remember we’ll stay healthy and safe if we look out for each other.”
In addition to Cook County Health sites, the Cook County Department of Public Health has distributed vaccines to more than 90 partner locations including Jewel-Osco, Mariano’s, Walgreens, Federally Qualified Health Centers and hospitals who are also offering vaccines by appointment. A complete listing of these sites can be found at www.cookcountypublichealth.org.
In the weeks ahead and pending vaccine availability, Cook County plans to open at least five additional large sites across the suburbs. County officials expect Phase 1b to take some time and caution residents to remember that moving through the various phases is contingent on the availability of vaccine.
Residents not yet eligible for vaccine can also sign up at vaccine.cookcountyil.gov to receive updates on their phase and for information on dozens of additional vaccination sites across Cook County.
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