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County commissioners discuss heart health, Olympics at Tuesday meeting

Feb. 6, 2009 – The Cook County Board of Commissioners gathered Tuesday morning to address a number a tough issues affecting the county and its residents, including heart health, the Olympics and the winter weather.

In congruence with the American Heart Association’s (AHA) push to encourage people to take heart disease more seriously, Board President Todd Stroger declared February to be National Heart Health Month. Heart disease is the number one cause of death for women in the United States and over 1 million Americans will be affected by heart disease in 2009.

“I want to make sure that everyone knows that we need to promote health in Cook County,” said Commissioner Mike Quigley, one of the resolution’s co-sponsors.

Quigley said that “we have to take care of our children” and teach them good eating habits early on to prevent high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes in their futures. In addition, Stroger stressed the importance of an aspirin a day to keep heart disease at bay for those already afflicted with symptoms.

“And please don’t forget the two glasses of red wine every night!” joked Commissioner Roberto Maldonado.

To support the AHA’s efforts to reduce heart disease in America, the committee encouraged everyone to wear red on Friday Feb. 6 as part of the “National Wear Red Day” campaign.

The Board of Commissioners briefly touched on the controversial topic of bringing the 2016 Summer Olympics to Chicago. The prospect of hosting the games has been a heated topic since it was first introduced and it hasn’t lost any steam in Cook County board meetings.

The group of commissioners was recently polled to decide if Cook County should enter an Intergovernmental Agreement with the City of Chicago to allow the use of county property as event venues. Only one person voted no, Commissioner Tony Pereica, and he reminded everyone why at the meeting.

“I think with the county government’s position currently, in terms of its finance, to join in this effort is absolutely the wrong thing to do,” said Pereica, who pointed to the debt facing London and Vancouver as his reasons for disagreeing.

In spite of Pereica’s strong opinions against hosting the games, the resolution to allow the agreement was passed. The agreement will be included with the materials presented to the International Olympics Committee for consideration to host the games. 

“I think the fact that we’re able to have some of our county land potentially used as sites for these Olympics will be a great boom to the city,” said Commissioner Larry Suffredin, who has attended seven Olympic games.

The recent bout of brutal winter weather, which prompted a resolution to declare Cook County as a federal disaster area, was also on the agenda and discussed by the commissioners.

During December 2008 and January 2009, the county received the amount of snow in a month’s time that it usually receives during an entire winter. The abundance of snow has drained the city’s supply of salt and left many streets unplowed for longer than usual.  

“Before everybody starts telling me that it snows in Chicago – I understand that, but it’s unusual that we received this amount of snow,” said the resolution sponsor Commissioner Peter Silvestri.

In situations like this, the Cook County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) requires local government to deplete their own resources before seeking assistance. The county will then provide whatever supplies and monetary help they can before reaching out to the state for help.

After the last big snowfall, only one township – Wheeling – had requested assistance from the EMA.  Since there were so few requests for help, the EMA did not encourage declaring the county a disaster area. 

“I would not recommend to the president of the county board that we had reached that standard,” said Daniel Coughlin, coordinator for the EMA.  The resolution was not passed and Board President Stroger did not declare Cook County a federal disaster area.

The commissioners also took a moment to salute and congratulate Roland W. Burris on his appointment to the United States Senate. Burris had fulfilled the unexpired term of President Barack Obama before being officially appointed to the position on Jan. 13.

The Board of Commissioners will have their next meeting on Feb. 18 at 10 a.m.

Local Politics Public
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