You don’t know me, but I am a resident in your district. I am also a Cook County Juvenile Probation Officer. For the past Eleven years, I have been blessed to serve the families of Cook County on Chicago’s far south side. I cover neighborhoods where Chicago’s Finest refuse to go without a partner, a gun and a bullet proof vest. I work these same neighborhoods, sometimes well into the night, by myself. I am not complaining. I love my job. But by the end of this week, you and your colleagues want to remove my job for political reasons.
I should mention one additional fact about my job: I provide supervision, case management and treatment to juveniles who have committed sexually aggressive behaviors. I’m on the Illinois Sex Offender Management’s Board of Approved Treatment providers, and I have 12 years of direct experience working with this difficult and expensive population. The services I provide are cheaper than sending a juvenile to Big Muddy or to a residential treatment facility. And these services will be cut due to the County Board’s insistence on Layoffs.
The County Board believes the best way to close the budget gap is to lay off 29 of my coworkers. Of these 29 dedicated officer, at least two work with me in the Juvenile Sex Offender Unit. Laying off those two workers will at least double my work load. Laying off front line workers, something that President Preckwinkle stated she will not do, will directly cut the services to Cook County’s most vulnerable residents. Within 30 days, instead of providing direct service to the residents of the South Side, I may be limited to coordinating services for a much larger neighborhood. In short, I will have to attempt to find other low-cost Sex Specific Treatment Providers on Chicago’s South Side.
To be blunt, Mr. Commissioner, I am the only low-cost treatment provider on the Management Board’s list in those neighborhoods.
Instead of fixing the budget gap by eliminating waste in the forest preserve, within management or with the FIVE IT departments in Cook County (Chief Judge, State’s Attorney, Public Defender, Office of the President, Cook County Clerk), you are targeting the people who rely on services.
Why are you cutting Services, Mr. Garcia? The argument we have heard was that AFSCME refuses to negotiate. As a member of the Bargaining Committee, I can assure you that we have come to the table in good faith. We want a contract–a contract that is years past due–to ensure that our rights as workers are protected. Instead, you want to close the budget gap by directly eliminating county services, in this case necessary mental health and law enforcement. Your actions in this case will make the South Side less safe.
Mr. Garcia, I urge you to work with AFSCME to create a budget that is fair to the people of Cook County. Do not balance your budget by cutting services to the people who need them the most.
PS: I would mail this do you directly, but you don’t have an email address on your Commissioner page or your campaign site.