Tag: David Orr

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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Fifty Years After Freedom Summer: Civil Rights Progress and Voting Rights Reversals — Community Teach-in, October 19th

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Friday, October 10, 2014 || By COMMUNITY EDITOR

On October 19, 2014, a Community Teach-in entitled Fifty Years after Freedom Summer: Civil Rights Progress and Voting Rights Reversals will be held in two locations in Oak Park. The Teach-in will commemorate the history and legacy of the 1964 Freedom Summer, in which hundreds of volunteers from across the country traveled to Mississippi to participate in voter registration drives for African- Americans in that state. The program will also include current experts on voting rights as well as address efforts underway to ensure that the gains achieved over the last fifty years are sustained. The Teach-in, sponsored by 28 Chicago area communities of faith and advocacy organizations, is free of charge and open to the public.

Part I of the Community Teach-in will be a showing of the PBS documentary film “Freedom Summer” from 1:30 to 3:30 pm at Oak Park Temple B’nai Abraham Zion, 1235 N. Harlem Ave, Oak Park, IL. For space planning needs for the film portion of the Teach-in only, please RSVP to Oak Park Temple Office at Ph: 708-386-3937.

Part II of the Teach-in, from 4:30 to 7:00 pm, includes an expert panel presentation and interactive discussion at Unity Temple, 875 Lake Street, Oak Park, Illinois. The Teach-in will chronicle the progress of civil rights in the last fifty years as well as the most recent attacks on the right to vote, and will conclude with a discussion of steps needed to resume progress. Speakers include veteran Chicago civil rights activist and historian Timuel Black; an original Mississippi Freedom Rider and civic education consultant Thomas Armstrong III; long-time Oak Park civil rights activist Rev. Donald Register; Cook County Clerk David Orr; and Co-Director, Advancement Project, Judith Browne Dianis. The Advancement Project is a national multi-racial civil rights organization focused on tackling inequity with innovative strategies and strong community alliances. Advancement Project’s Voter Protection Program works to identify and eliminate systemic barriers to voting in the hopes of achieving a more just democracy – one in which all voices have an opportunity to be heard.

The Teach-in will display photographs from the personal collection of former Oak Park Village Trustee Galen Gockel which represent the faces of civil rights icons as well as those of student volunteers. Mr. Gockel photographed these images in June 1964 at the Freedom Summer training program held for volunteers at Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio.

A light reception at Unity Temple will follow the panel presentation and discussion. VFP

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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

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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

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Broadview

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Forest Park

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Hillside

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Melrose Park

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Stone Park

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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).