Emanuel, Preckwinkle unveil city-county committee

March 29, 2011 2:48:50 PM PDT
In an effort to cut budgets, Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle appointed a committee to look at consolidating some government services.

The six member committee will study ways one government can use the other's services to relieve stresses on their respective budgets to end duplicate services by the county and city.

Committee Members

"The committee will search for opportunities for coordination that will result in better services at less cost," Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Board president, said.

"There are things that are being done where one entity is better at delivering services at a cheaper cost," Rahm Emanuel.

One issue the committee will look at is healthcare. Should the much larger Cook County health and hospital system absorb Chicago's network of neighborhood clinics, which include significant mental health services? A public employee union spokeswoman says Preckwinkle and Emanuel are overly focused on costs.

"We need to begin the discussion with--first and foremost--how can we meet the needs, the critical needs of the residents of our city and county," said Anne Irving, AFSME Council 31.

Also, the union questions why no one from organized labor was included on the six member joint committee.

"I don't think anybody would believe you could have a discussion around 'how do we deliver services' without including the people who deliver those services," Irving said.

During the four years of the Todd Stroger administration, the county board president feuded with Mayor Daley because of a lack of political support. Emanuel and Preckwinkle want the city and county on the same page administratively as well as politically.

"We represent the same people. The taxpayers who expect us to make sure we're getting the best bang for dollars and the services we're delivering," Emanuel said.

The committee to enhance city-county cooperation will issue its report in 45 days.