The Observer
News from the League of Women Voters
of Cook County

October 2020

An election like no other

Countdown to Election Day

News sources call it “a presidential election like no other.” Holding an election during a global pandemic has led to major changes on the campaign trail and also in voting, as election officials strive to ensure voter safety and ballot security.
Standing true to its mission, the League of Women Voters of Cook County has taken extra steps to ensure Cook County voters have the information they need about the candidates, voting options, election judge opportunities, and polling place locations. Here are links to information that may be helpful.

  • Find detailed information ranging from key dates to voter tips on our website, in our newsletter, and on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

  • Check out WTTW’s Video Voter Guide for candidate profiles; recorded video messages from the candidates stating their positions; polling locations on election day; and links to ongoing political coverage from WTTW News. The Voter Guide was produced with help from the Cook County League which is credited on its website.

You can also check out the appropriate key election authority resources:
In Chicago, click here. In Suburban Cook County, click here. And the VoteforJudges website as well.

It’s Budget Season for Cook County Government
By Pris Mims

The all-important budget season is well underway, as Cook County governments race to meet their deadlines for the new fiscal year. The Cook County Board, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and the Cook County Forest Preserve will finalize their budgets within the next few weeks.

President Preckwinkle presented the proposed budget to the Cook County Executive Board at an Oct. 15 meeting. Highlights:


  • The $6.9 billion budget is $700 million over the 2020 budget. Much of the increase is due to an increase in County Care healthcare membership, which increases revenues as well as expenses.

  • Cook County Health, at $3.4 billion, and Public Safety (the Sheriff, State’s Attorney, Chief Judge, Public Defender, and Clerk of the Court), at almost $1.4 billion, make up 69 percent of the total budget.

  • To balance the budget, the County plans to dip into its reserves for an additional $76.8 million, still leaving a healthy reserve amount, according to President Preckwinkle.

Ongoing budget hearings are a great place to learn about these governments
and their respective budgets. Check dates and times of the budget hearings for the Cook County Board, Cook County Health, and the Cook County Forest Preserve District here, and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District here.

Members of the Cook County League Observer Corps will have attended most budget meetings (due to the pandemic, meetings are broadcast on-line). Their reports are posted at
Priscilla Mims is a Cook County League board member and chair of its Budget & Structure Interest Group

Inspector General Ordinance

LWVCC Advocacy Actions
The Cook County League succeeded in encouraging the Cook County Board to add a provision to the Cook County Inspector General (IG) ordinance, mandating that the IG's quarterly reports will be submitted to the Board as an agenda item. 

Though the Commissioners previously received the IG quarterly reports, there was no mechanism in place for the Commissioners to discuss the reports or take further action. The new procedure will provide that mechanism. It will also provide notice of the reports as an Agenda item, so the public can comment on them at applicable Board meetings.

“Our success comes from many years of observing Board meetings and getting to know the Board members and, more importantly, them getting to know us as,” said Pris Mims, an LWVCC board member who is chair of the Budget & Structure Interest Group. “We have met with them, provided testimony over the years and submitted numerous written statements that they saw as thoughtful and delivered in the spirit of improving government.” 
The reports are posted on the 15th of January, April, July and October.
To see other actions by the League, visit

Step Up

Join LWVCC’s Observer Corps 

The Cook County League Observer Corps promotes transparency and accountability in government, and plays a vital role in helping improve countywide governments as well as educating voters. Participants observe the Cook County Board and committees, the Cook County Forest Preserve Board, the Cook County Health Board (CCH), and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Board (MWRD). 
LWVCC observers

  • Attend governmental meetings and monitor issues being discussed as well as the process of the discussion; 
  • Write reports after each meeting which are posted at and shared on Facebook and Twitter.
For more information or to volunteer as an Observer, contact Diane Edmundson at or Carolyn Cosentino at
Observer Profile: Diane Edmundson

Diane Edmundson is in her 9th year as a member of LWVCC Board and also represents the Park Ridge LWV. A native of Michigan, she moved to Pennsylvania in 1983 where she began her League life while obtaining a B.A. in Economics with a minor in Political Science. 

Prior to leaving the paid work force, Diane was a Human Resources professional with the Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis Pharmaceutical Company. After serving as Co-President of the LWVCC Board for four years, she has now assumed the role of Chair of the Cook County Health Interest Group and Coordinator of LWVCC Observer Corps for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.  

Diane’s Tips on Observing

  • Familiarize yourself with the board and its activities by reading observer reports from previous meetings; 

  • Try to review the board or committee agenda prior to the meeting;

  • Determine what seems to be important on the agenda but also report on what interests you, as it will likely interest others;

  • Review the Observer guidelines and use the report templates provided to help you structure your report;

  • Accept that there will be a learning curve. Be comfortable asking questions.

Criminal Justice Update

Jan Goldberg and Karin Hribar (at right), co-chairs of the Cook County league’s Criminal Justice Interest Group, received a thoughtful letter from Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne Burke in response to their letter, thanking the League for its comments and questions concerning the report members of interest group recently studied titled, "Final Report: Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Pretrial Practices.”

Justice Burke wrote that a task force is being organized to implement the report’s recommendations and to work on funding. She also made these points:

1) The Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC) is setting up a state-wide data collection system;

2) AOIC will be working with legislators to implement recommendations over the next two years;

3) Recommendations will take time to implement and there is no set timetable;

4) Funding is an important issue.
After the report was published on April 1, 2020, the Supreme Court approved its recommendations. To read the report, click here.

Local League Events

Thursday, October 22, 7-8 p.m. The LaGrange Area League is co-sponsor of a discussion via Zoom about climate change issues led by Kent Taylor from The Climate Reality Project.

Thursday, October 22, 1 p.m. Evanston League will present Patrick Keenan-Devlin, executive director of the James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy, to speak about their work. Founded in 1976, the center provides low-income Evanston youth and their families with integrated legal and social work services to improve the quality of their lives. Register here.

Monday, October 26, 7 p.m. - Information Session on LWVIL Criminal Justice Study. Register at LWV Palatine Area website.

Words of wisdom from
The Notorious RGB

“If you're going to change things, you have to be with the people who hold the levers.”

--U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
2020-2021 Cook County League Board Members 

OFFICERS: President: Cynthia Schilsky, LaGrange; Vice-presidents: Jan Goldberg, LaGrange Area and Karin Hribar Arlington Heights; Secretary: Betty Hayford, Evanston; Treasurer: Nancy Clark, Oak Park/River Forest.

BOARD MEMBERS: Carolyn Cosentino, Homewood/Flossmoor; Laura Davis, Palatine; Diane Edmundson, Park Ridge; Kathi Graffam, LaGrange Area; Peggy Kell, Oak Park/River Forest; Nancy Marcus, Winnetka/Northfield/Kenilworth; Priscilla Mims, Chicago; Chris Ruys, Chicago; Mary Anne Benden, Arlington Heights; Michelle Niccolai, LaGrange Area; Ann Bolan, Oak Park-River Forest; Kim Inman, Palatine; Georgia Gebhardt, Wilmette; Dianne Schmidt, Glenview/Glencoe; Chris Slowik, Palos/Orland League, Lois B. Taft, Evanston.

Editor: Chris Ruys
Webmaster: Peggy Kell
332 S. Michigan Ave., Suite 634
Chicago, IL 60604

312/939-5935 x 4