Bridget Gainer, Cook County Commissioner – Tenth District
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Legislative Updates

Nominations for Cook County JTDC Advisory Board
February 28, 2014

The Criminal Justice Committee of the Cook County Board is currently seeking nominations for individuals interested in serving on an Advisory Board to the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. 

The JTDC provides temporary secure housing for youth from the age of 10 through 16 years, who are awaiting adjudication of their cases by the Juvenile Division of the Cook County Courts. The Center also provides care for youth who have been transferred from Juvenile Court jurisdiction to Criminal Court. These youth would otherwise be incarcerated in the county jail. Currently under the auspices of the Federal Court, the JTDC will soon be transitioning to the oversight of the Chief Judge of the Cook County Court.

The purpose of the advisory board is to provide public recommendations to the Executive Director of the JTDC, the Chief Judge, the President and Commissioners of the Cook County Board regarding the educational, physical, social, and psychological needs of the population; establish advisory performance measures to track and measure the achievement of the JTDC's mission and to provide public recommendations as needed to meet the educational, physical, social and psychological needs of the population at the JTDC.  
Juvenile Temporary Detention Center Advisory Board
  • Term: Staggered initial terms ranging from 1 to 3 years
  • Confirmation: Cook County Board of Commissioners
  • Compensation: None
  • Qualifications: Must be a resident of Cook County

To nominate yourself or another individual, please email resumes to

President Preckwinkle Names Cook County Land Bank Authority Board of Directors
February 8, 2013

Office of the Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle 

February 5, 2013 

President's Press Office 
(312) 603-2821 

President Preckwinkle Names Cook County Land Bank Authority Board Of Directors 
Some funding already secured; County also seeking funds from 
Illinois Attorney General's Foreclosure Settlement 

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced today the members of the Cook County Land Bank Authority's Board of Directors, which will oversee the work of the land bank's efforts to return vacant properties to productive use. 

The board is comprised of a diverse group of professionals with expertise in a variety of fields, including housing, open space, real estate and commercial development to ensure the land bank authority can be nimble in responding to market demands. 

"The land bank will be an important planning tool in the economic revitalization of the County's most blighted neighborhoods," President Preckwinkle said. "We have identified a diverse and dedicated group who will work to redevelop vacant and abandoned properties to put them back on the tax rolls." 

The Chicago Community Trust approved a $149,000 grant to underwrite start-up activities of the Cook County Land Bank Authority including recruiting staff, developing a business plan, creating program and operating policies and procedures, building a website, and other operational activities. The grant also secured the costs of technical assistance provided by the Center for Community Progress (CCP), the premier land bank experts in the country. The Cook County Bureau of Economic Development is preparing to submit a $20 million grant proposal to the Illinois Attorney General's office for capital from the National Foreclosure Settlement to assist in funding the initial phases of the Land Bank Authority's work. 

The members of the Land Bank Authority Board of Directors are: 
  • Bridget Gainer, Cook County Commissioner (D-10th) 
  • Jeffrey Sherwin, Mayor - City of Northlake 
  • Lawrence Grisham, Managing Deputy Commissioner - Chicago Department of Housing & Economic Development 
  • Herman Brewer, Bureau Chief - Cook County Bureau of Economic Development
  • Calvin Holmes - Chicago Community Loan Fund 
  • Carl A. Jenkins - Harris North America 
  • Sarah L. Ware - The Carter Ware Group, Inc. 
  • Stephen Porras - Axia Development 
  • Emy Brawley - Openlands 
  • Julie Dworkin, Policy Director - Chicago Coalition for the Homeless 
To learn more about the Cook County Land Bank Authority, click here.

Cook County, IL Votes to Create Largest Land Bank in Nation
January 16, 2013

It is with great excitement that I announce the passage of the Cook County Land Bank Ordinance. Today, by a unanimous vote, the Cook County Board of Commissioners approved the creation of what will be the largest land bank in the Country. With your help and support we have changed the way our local governments can respond to foreclosures and vacant buildings. 

A Cook County Land Bank is not a silver bullet, but will give the County the ability to execute a comprehensive plan to address not just the vacant homes, but the communities that surround them. The land bank will incentivize development, promote sustainable homeownership and create rental opportunities, all while keeping for communities at the table for the planning and redevelopment of their communities. The Cook County Land Bank is designed to address vacant and abandoned buildings regionally, and will be the thread that connects foreclosure programs throughout the County, State and Federal levels. Instead of layering demolition, rehab, rental or disposition programs on top of each other the Land Bank will leverage the scale of the problem to the size of the market. 

The issues around vacancy and foreclosure have changed dramatically in the last decade, but are still fighting the last war with old tools. As our housing market evolves the solutions need to as well. I have been honored to work with such a diverse, interesting and dedicated group of colleagues who have helped move the land bank forward. I look forward to continuing to work with you all as we make the land bank a successful reality. 


Bridget Gainer 
Cook County Commissioner - Tenth District 
118 North Clark Street, Room 567 Chicago, IL 60602 

From Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, City of Chicago:
"I applaud President Preckwinkle and Commissioner Gainer for their leadership in dealing with vacant properties. The land bank will provide another tool to strategically bring vacant buildings into productive use in cities and towns throughout Cook County."

From Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County:
"I've been to every corner of Cook County, and I've seen first-hand how municipalities struggle to return vacant properties to their tax rolls. This landmark ordinance will help the County combat the foreclosure crisis that has decimated communities. We are going to work hand-in-hand with communities throughout the County to ensure the Land Bank Authority is effective and sustainable."

To learn more about the Cook County Land Bank Authority, click here.

News Release: "President Preckwinkle & Commissioner Gainer Introduce Ordinance Creating A Cook County Land Bank"
December 18, 2012

December 18, 2012 

Board President's Press Office 
(312) 254-6211 

Commissioner Gainer's Office 
(312) 603-4210 

President Preckwinkle and Commissioner Gainer Introduce Ordinance 
Creating A Cook County Land Bank 

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer today introduced legislation creating a Cook County Land Bank Authority, that will be tasked with acquiring vacant and abandoned properties throughout the region to seek to return them to productive use. 

The Cook County Land Bank Authority, created under the County's home rule authority, is designed to address the critical problems facing communities as a result of the foreclosure crisis. It will ultimately serve as the main tool used by state and local governments to address foreclosure. Its initial focus will be on three key areas related to neighborhood stabilization: demolition of blighted properties, property maintenance, and the establishment of a single-family rental program. 

"A Cook County land bank is a critical step towards stemming the foreclosure crisis in our communities and protecting residents in a difficult economy," President Preckwinkle said. "By returning vacant and abandoned property to productive use, we can eradicate blight in distressed neighborhoods, promote open spaces and improve property values for homeowners. This is an important step towards strengthening our housing market, and one of my top priorities in the coming year." 

As the Cook County Land Bank Authority becomes fully functional, it is expected to derive funding from a range of sources including County money, grants from foundations, and in-kind support from stakeholders. 

"From the first calls I received three years ago from constituents going through foreclosure to the passage of the vacant building ordinance in 2011 to today's introduction of what will be the largest land bank in the country, Cook County is evolving from reactive regulation to proactive economic development," said Gainer (D-10th). "The Cook County Land Bank will be an essential tool in breaking the grip of vacancy and foreclosure on our region." 

The Land Bank Authority will be governed by a 13-member Board of Directors. President Preckwinkle and Mayor Rahm Emanuel will each appoint one representative. A Cook County Commissioner, two local elected officials from suburban Cook County and other individuals who represent groups such as banking, real estate, development and open spaces also will serve on the board. The Board of Directors will be unpaid. 

The introduction of the ordinance creating the Land Bank came after months of work consideration and analysis from the County's Land Bank Advisory Council, a group created by President Preckwinkle that submitted detailed recommendations to the County on the role, structure and governance of a Cook County Land Bank. The group was chaired by Mary Sue Barrett, President of the Metropolitan Planning Council. 

There will be a public meeting on the proposed ordinance January 15, 2013 in the Cook County Board Room. 


Approval of JTDC Advisory Board
October 3, 2012

Yesterday, October 2, 2012 the Cook County Board, with your support, approved my legislation establishing an Advisory Board for the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. The Ordinance, establishes an advocacy and resource group that will provide public recommendations on the polices and operations of the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. 

Since 2007, a court appointed Temporary Administrator has run the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC). Under the federal court order, it will remain under the stewardship of the Temporary Administrator until the facility is in substantial compliance with the Court order. Once the JTDC is deemed to be in substantial compliance, the administration will transfer to the Office of the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County. 

The purpose of this ordinance is to ensure oversight exists before the Federal monitor leaves, so that we will never again forget the purpose and mission of the JTDC: to act "in loco parentis" in place of the parents, for young people in desperate need of the mental, physical and educational services. 

There is safety in numbers when it comes to protecting young people in the County's care. Creating an Advisory Board at the Juvenile Detention Center will not only prevent bad behavior from again taking root, but it can bring the efforts of the best and brightest in our community to the Detention Center.

President Preckwinkle is on the right track to transition young people to community-based care, but as long as there is one child in the JTDC our oversight must be creative, comprehensive and vigilant. The average child will spend about 21 days at the JTDC, rather than approaching this time as a period of incarceration, we should view this time as an opportunity to evaluate and re-engage the child.

Amending the Cook County Amusement Tax Ordinance
February 1, 2012

In difficult budget times, we need to make sure that we close tax loopholes and re-examine deals that have outlived their usefulness. I introduced an amendment to the amusement tax ordinance that was passed by the Cook County Board of Commissioners on February 1, 2012 to address these loopholes. The amendment would require the County Board to approve exemptions or waivers to the County's amusement tax where the loss to the County would be $150,000 or more in tax revenue.

Such tax exemptions have been granted to the popular Chicago music festival Lollapalooza. Lollapalooza is a success story and a great example of how public tools like temporary tax abatements can be catalyst for cultural entrepreneurship, but the taxpayers no longer need to subsidize a profitable event.

Additional Resources

Amending the Amusement Tax Ordinance New Clips
"Cook County sees unexpected $160k from Lollapalooza sales"
By: Lisa Donovan, June 5 2012

"Curtain may drop on Lollapalooza's county tax break" - Chicago Tribune
By: John Byrne, February 3 2012
"Commissioner Bridget Gainer on Lollapalooza's Tax Break" (radio interview) - AM 560 Wind
Big John & Amy Show, February 2 2012

"Lollapalooza could lose big Cook County tax break: Commissioner" - Chicago Sun-Times
By: Lisa Donovan, February 2 2012
"Lollapalooza may have to start paying taxes to Chicago" - WLS 890 AM
By: Bill Cameron, February 1 2012
"County to Lollapalooza: Pay Up!" - WBEZ 91.5
By: Jim DeRogatis, February 1 2012
"County Board To Decide Whether tax Break Continues For Lollaplooza" - CBS 2 Chicago
February 1, 2012
"State Rep probes Lollapalooza sales tax" - WBEZ 91.5
By: Jim DeRogatis, January 29 2012
"Proposal Would Put Lolla's Tax Exemption Up to Board Vote" - Chicagoist 
By: Chris Bentley, January 20 2012

Cook County Vacant Building Ordinance
December 15, 2011

In the past five years, vacant buildings have increased exponentially throughout Cook County with nearly 10% of the housing stock in the County now vacant. Instead of being absorbed back in to the private market, these buildings sit vacant for years as magnets for crime and a drag on property values. Now is the time to stop just reacting to the spread of foreclosure and vacancy and fight to keep our neighborhoods and communities strong, vibrant and intact before it's too late. Stabilizing our local housing markets protects our tax base and must be a top priority for the County and local communities.

The Cook County Vacant Building Ordinance will require owners or mortgagees to register the property, pay a one-time $250 registration fee and report each year about the status of the property. In addition, owners and mortgagees will be required  to comply with  maintenance, enclosure, and security standards set out in the ordinance for the buildings  as long as they are vacant. Fines will be assessed in cases of non-compliance. Municipalities that opt-in will also be able to use Cook County Administrative Hearingfor vacant building violations, avoiding costly and lengthy cases in the County's Courts. Finally, Cook County will be working with municipalities to create a master registry of vacant buildings throughout the County.

We have received enormous support from cities and towns throughout Cook County, housing policy experts, realtors and the banks in drafting this ordinance. Vacant buildings pose risks to the safety of neighbors and the stability of communities and the County and local communities pay through increased costs for public safety and city services and a compromised tax base. Using taxpayer dollars to address these buildings is not efficient or sustainable; this is the first step towards getting our local housing market out of its downward spiral.

If you are a suburban community official who is interested in the ordinance, please email or call my office to set up a meeting. 

Have Questions? Feel free to call me at the office at (312) 603-4210 or email me at

Statements of Support

Vacant Building Ordinance News Clips
"Cook County puts mortgage companies on the hook for vacant buildings" - Chicago Tribune
By: Mary Ellen Podmolik, December 15 2011

"Cook County Passes Ordinance to Regulate Vacant Homes" - Realty Biz News
By: Travis J. Hampton, December 15 2011

"New county fines of up to $1,000 a day for problem vacant buildings" - Chicago Sun-Times
By: Lisa Donovan, December 14 2011

"Cook County Board to Vote on Vacant Buildings Crackdown" - FOX News Chicago
By: Staff Reporter, December 14, 2011

Public Safety: Diversion & Deferral Opportunities
November 30, 2011

One of the most important opportunities for diversion at the County is for non-violent incarcerated women, especially the mothers of minor children. The children of incarcerated parents are often the forgotten victims when a woman cannot post bond and ends up in Cook County Jail. Of the nearly 1,000 women in our County jail, the majority are mothers and were living with their children at the time of arrest. It's vital to insure these children get the support they need, especially at school.

Below is a presentation that I have developed that addresses how some of these changes can be implemented. We need to improve the pre-trial interview process, front load treatment and services before the detainee goes to jail while also devising an appropriate exchange of custodial parent information between the County Jail and Chicago Public Schools. For those mothers who do end up in jail, keeping them connected with their children through video messages, Skype, and regular communication between the school and the incarcerated parent improves their post-jail outcomes. At the end of the day, we need to remember the children who are separated from their parents and how we can keep parent and child connected.

Opportunities For Diversion and Deferral.pdf

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