Tag: Cook County Clerk

Recorder of Deeds Yarbrough to Challenge Cook County Clerk David Orr

Yarbrough, KarenFriday, June 16, 2017 || By Local News Curator || @maywoodnews

The Chicago Tribune has reported today that Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough will challenge incumbent Cook County Clerk David Orr in the Democratic primary next year.

Yarbrough, who lives in Maywood and is committeeman of the Proviso Township Democratic Party that’s headquartered in the village, announced her plans to run today, the Tribune reports.

“I plan to submit my credentials to the Cook County Democrats and hope to win the support to get the endorsement,” Yarbrough 66, told the Tribune. “I will be running.”

Orr, 72, has been in office since 1990 and will be seeking his eight term.

Yarbrough’s recorder’s office was folded into the clerk’s office after voters approved a referendum last year to consolidate the two bureaucratic bodies.

The Cook County Recorder of Deeds position, which has been held by a Maywood resident since 1999 — when the late Eugene “Gene” Moore was appointed to succeed Jesse White — will be eliminated in December 2018, the Tribune reports.

Some elected officials, including Orr, argued that the consolidation would save the county money, in part by eliminating the duplication of duties. Both offices are responsible for maintaining records.

The clerk’s office keeps birth and death certificates and government documents. It also facilitates elections in the suburbs. The recorder’s office keeps property-related information, such as liens and real estate transfer taxes.

Yarbrough argued that the consolidation would not be as cost-effective as some of its proponents claimed and she often touts “the industry-leading reforms we are pushing, like stronger property fraud laws, better data portals, and blockchain technology for land records,” according to a statement on the recorder’s website.

But Yarbrough hasn’t been able to shake allegations of wrongdoing within her office. Last month, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Yarbrough’s office “spent two nights at the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa for an ‘Executive Staff Leadership Retreat’ that cost the county $12,303.09, records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times show.”

Yarbrough told the Sun-Times that the getaway was a “small, strategic investment” that was made to improve the morale in her office in the wake of the consolidation. The recorder is responsible for a budget of around $12 million and employs roughly 134 people, the Sun-Times reported.

“I wanted to have some extended time to talk to staff and to get their inputs without telephone calls and, you know, all of those things,” Yarbrough told the paper. “I wanted them to be focused.”

And another Sun-Times report, published last month, focused on a report by prominent government watchdog and attorney Michael Shakman that found “several negative developments.”

Among those developments included the “an investigation by the county’s independent inspector general, Patrick Blanchard,” in which he “alleges ‘political reasons or factors affected’ the recorder’s October 2015 hiring” of Congressman Danny K. Davis’s nephew, the Sun-Times reported.

“Blanchard also says his office learned that an aide to Yarbrough — ‘with the support of the recorder herself’ — announced job openings at the recorder’s office to members of the Proviso Township political organization,” the paper reported.

In response to the Sun-Times query, a spokesman for Yarbrough stated that the recorder’s office “disagrees strongly” with Blanchard’s report.

The Sun-Times article also pointed out the considerable political influence of Yarbrough, whose husband is former Maywood mayor and sitting trustee Henderson Yarbrough.

“She’s the vice chair for the Democratic Party of Illinois,” the Sun-Times wrote. “On paper, she looks up only to Michael Madigan, the all-powerful party boss and speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives.

Yarbrough and Orr are scheduled to argue their candidacies before Democratic party committeemen, who will ultimately offer an endorsement, next week. VFP

To read the full Chicago Tribune report, click here

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In Brief: W. Suburban Mayors Endorse Clerk Brown; Senior Freeze Exemption Workshop; Online Voter Registration

Dorothy Brown.jpgWednesday, January 13, 2016 || By Michael Romain 

A group of West Suburban mayors, including Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins and Bellwood Mayor Frank Pasquale, have formally endorsed Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown’s re-election bid.

The announcement is a boost in the prospects of the embattled clerk, pictured above, who has been the target of a federal corruption probe related to alleged misconduct.

Last November, federal authorities indicted an employee in Brown’s office in what the Chicago Tribune reported was the first public confirmation that Brown’s office is “under investigation over the possible ‘purchasing’ of jobs and promotions.” That employee, Sivasubramani Rajaram, was later charged with lying to federal authorities while under oath. Rajaram, 48,  has since pleaded not guilty of the charges.

When reports of a possible corruption probe surfaced, Brown at first denied that she was ever the target of a probe, telling ABC 7 that she was the victim of “unsubstantiated media reports.”

In the wake of reports that she was under investigation, the Cook County Democratic Party endorsed Brown’s main challenger, Chicago Ald. Michelle Harris (8th).

At a Proviso Township Ministerial Alliance Network (PTMAN) meeting held in Maywood late last year, numerous African American clergymen endorsed Harris as well.

But the tide seems to have been turning for Brown of late, with U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (7th) and Alderman and former Maywood Village Manager Jason Ervin (28th) both endorsing her early this year.

At a Jan. 12 press conference, Pasquale noted that he’s endorsing Brown for reelection “because she is the most qualified candidate and the best person for the job” and that “the Court Clerk’s office has been the most progressive under her administration.”

Perkins reinforced Pasquale’s points, adding that “Brown’s knowledge and experience about running an effective Clerk of Court office is unmatched.”

Brown is set to face Diane Shapiro, Jacob Meister and Harris in the upcoming March 15 Democratic Primary election.

“I am very excited that all of these well-respected mayors, who collectively represent more than 100,000 Cook County citizens, are voicing their full support of and confidence in my leadership as the Clerk of the Circuit Court,” Brown said. “We all share the same goals: to serve people with integrity and empower communities as a whole.”

SENIOR FREEZE EXEMPTION WORKSHOP

The Village of Maywood and the Proviso Township Assessor will sponsor a senior freeze exemption workshop on Friday, Jan. 29 at the Maywood Multipurpose Building, 200 S. 5th Avenue.

Seniors are encouraged to bring all exemption forms they’ve been sent in the mail, documentation showing 2015 income and identification.

“In their un-wisdom a few years ago, the Illinois General Assembly changed the law from automatically exempting qualified seniors each year to making each senior annually reapply for their senior freeze property tax exemption,” noted Maywood Senior Citizens coordinator Larry Shapiro in a recent Facebook post.

For more information, contact Shapiro at (708) 238-3657.

ONLINE VOTER REGISTRATION

vote-button[BY VILLAGE OF MAYWOOD] With the implementation of online voter registration in Illinois it is easier than ever to register to vote.  Click here to register online.  Remember, as the March 15, 2016 Presidential Primary approaches any citizen who can register, should register. You can also download and print mail-in registration forms, if you would prefer to register in person.

Suburban voters can also find extensive information about key dates, early voting, mail voting, etc., at cookcountyclerk.com.  City of Chicago voters can find the same information at chicagoelections.com. VFP

Cook County Clerk Data Show 2013 TIF Revenue Down for Maywood, Other Suburbs; Orr Unveils New Online ‘TIF Viewer’

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 || By Michael Romain 

Last month, Cook County Clerk David Orr unveiled a new online, interactive mapping tool called the “TIF Viewer” that tracks the annual revenue changes for Tax Increment Finance (TIF) districts in the county. In addition, he released the county’s 2013 TIF report, “which details the $683 million in revenue collected by 435 active TIFs in Cook County. Both Chicago and suburban Cook County TIF districts experienced revenue declines, 7.65 percent and 2 percent respectively,” according to a statement released by the Clerk’s Office.

“TIF revenues declined in 2013, but there is still nearly $700 million collected by TIFs countywide, which taxpayers, for the most part, do not have a detailed, transparent accounting of,” Orr said.

“Revenue for the 284 suburban TIF districts decreased by 2 percent in 2013, from $266 million in 2012 to $261 million in 2013,” according to the statement.

Orr cited the expiration or cancellation of TIF districts as the primary reason for the total revenue decline. In Chicago three TIFs were terminated and nine were terminated in eight suburbs, including Schaumburg, Rolling Meadows and Northlake.

Maywood St. Charles TIF district expired in 2013 with a projected surplus of about $6.8 million, which was allocated to various projects throughout the Village, including the $1.7 million renovation of Fire Station 1, the $160,000 disbursement to the facade improvement program and $1 million towards a proposed 5th Avenue Metra Station, among other line items.

Residents interested in seeing year-to-year changes in the revenue flows of each TIF district in their municipality will now be able to utilize the TIF Viewer, which is a searchable database. The tool is one among a series of new developments taking place in the Clerk’s Office that are designed to promote greater TIF transparency and oversight. Earlier this year, Orr announced that, for the first time, taxpayers residing in TIF districts would receive financial information regarding those TIFs on their property tax bills.

A Screenshot of the TIF Viewer providing detailed information on Maywood’s 3 TIF districts

Screenshot 2014-08-27 at 1.11.41 PM

Between 2012 and 2013, all three of Maywood’s TIF districts experienced flat-lining or declining revenue levels. The graphs below chart the extent of each TIF district’s 2012-2013 change in revenue. Revenue from the Madison St./Fifth Avenue TIF in 2013 was about 52 percent less than in 2012; that from the Roosevelt Rd. TIF was about 2 percent less than the previous year; and that from the St. Charles TIF was less than 0.1 percent less than 2012.

Screenshot 2014-08-27 at 1.24.31 PM(Illustration by the Village Free Press; based on data from the Cook County Clerk’s Office).

 Maywood’s three TIF districts are among 103 TIFs in suburban Cook County that experienced revenue declines in 2013. An additional 78 didn’t collect any revenue at all. The following charts illustrate the 2012-2013 percent difference in revenue of TIFs in Bellwood, Broadview, Forest Park, Hillside, Melrose Park and Stone Park.

Bellwood

Screenshot 2014-08-27 at 2.04.11 PM

Broadview

Screenshot 2014-08-27 at 2.32.32 PM

Forest Park

Screenshot 2014-08-27 at 2.10.49 PM

Hillside

Screenshot 2014-08-27 at 2.17.35 PM

Melrose Park

Screenshot 2014-08-27 at 2.23.46 PM

 

Stone Park

Screenshot 2014-08-27 at 2.26.36 PM

The following chart illustrates the historic growth in the number of TIFs in Cook County, from 1979 to 2013. VFP

Number of TIF Districts in Suburban Cook County(Illustration and data by the Cook County Clerk’s Office).

 

 

Election Update, More Early Voting Info

Earlier in the week, I posted a notification regarding early voting locations and times. Here is more comprehensive information I found printed on pamphlets issued by the Cook County Clerk’s office and the State Board of Elections (but passed out by no doubt dozens of hard-working campaign volunteers). Here is some of the most noteworthy content, reprinted word-for-word:

If I vote early, but change my mind, may I vote on Election Day?

No. The law prohibits a person who voted during the early voting period from voting again on Election Day.

What are the safeguards against voter fraud?

Voters casting an early ballot must display valid identification such as a current driver’s license, a state-issued ID card or another government-issued ID with a photograph.

The votes cast during the early voting period will not be counted until after the polls close on Election Day.

Who authorized early voting?

The Illinois General Assembly approved House Bill 1968 in 2005, and it was signed into law as Public Act 94-0645.

What is the reason for early voting?

A major reason for early voting is to encourage greater participation in the election. People who travel for business, work long hours or are otherwise inconvenienced by the hours the polls are open may find it easier to vote early.

Is electioneering allowed at early voting sites?

No. Electioneering is prohibited at the early voting site and a campaign-free zone will be established like it is at the polling place on Election Day.

What is the deadline for registering to vote?

The traditional deadline for registering to vote is 28 days prior to an election.

However, Grace Period Registration is an extension of the deadline for registration. State law allows for the registration of voters and for a change of address at the office of an election authority, but it requires that a person participating in Grace Period Registration to vote at that same office or by mail at the discretion of the election authority.

People who register during the Grace Period are not eligible to vote at an Early Voting location or at a polling place on Election Day. Grace Period Registration runs 27 days to 3 days before an election.

How can I check to see if I am registered?

Illinois residents can check to see if they are registered by going online at www.elections.il.gov and clicking ‘Voters’ and then clicking ‘Am I registered to Vote in Illinois.’ This new service is made available through the Illinois Voter Registration Service database, a requirement of the Help America Vote Act.

Here’s an update on early voting locations throughout suburban Cook County that are in the Maywood vicinity:

Bellwood Village Hall, 3200 Washington Blvd., Bellwood

Elmwood Park Village Hall, 11 W. Conti Parkway, Elmwood Park

Melrose Park Village Hall, 1000 North 25th Ave., Melrose Park

Oak Park Village Hall, 123 Madison Street, Oak Park

Whitcomb Building (Near Maywood Courthouse), 1311 Maybrook Sq., Room 104, Maywood