Chicago Sheriff Halts Evictions Due to Economy

October 10, 2008 at 2:50 am Leave a comment

Diane Limas was already planning a protest as she walked out of Cook County Sheriff’s office. She and other renters had wanted to meet with Sheriff Tom Dart to
complain about deputies tossing people out of their homes because banks
had foreclosed on their landlords. 

Dart was unavailable.

On Thursday, Limas
was still marveling about Dart’s announcement that he would no longer
send deputies on court-ordered mortgage foreclosure evictions because
many of those forced from their homes were renters who faithfully paid
their rent.

“That he had the courage to do this was huge for us,” she said. She
said she was impressed that Dart was willing to accept possible legal
consequences for his decision not to carry out court-ordered evictions.

Dart met Thursday with a judge and offered several suggestions to
ensure that tenants are properly notified they are subject to eviction
and that banks correctly identify those who should be evicted.

“I’ve just been trying to come at the entire eviction process from an entirely different way, to take a horrific, traumatic event and make it less so,” Dart said after the meeting.

It’s an approach that sets him apart from other lawmen in the area.

“A court order is just that, it is an order by a judge,” said Sheriff Keith Nygren in nearby McHenry County. “It doesn’t say if you want to follow it or if you think you should.”

Dart brought a somewhat different perspective to the job when he was
elected sheriff three years ago. While most police chiefs and sheriffs
can look back at long careers in law enforcement, the 46-year-old Dart
has never been a cop.

A former prosecutor in Cook County, Dart was tapped to fill a vacancy in the state senate in 1991 and won an election as a state representative the next year. He served in the General Assembly from 1993 to 2003, and made an unsuccessful run for state treasurer.

Dart then joined the sheriff’s department as Sheriff Michael
Sheahan’s chief of staff. When Sheahan announced he would not run for
re-election in late 2005, Dart announced his own candidacy and was
elected.

He quickly dispensed with a few of the trappings of the office. He
doesn’t have a security detail. He doesn’t travel with a driver, unless
he has several appointments. He declined to emblazon his name of
department vehicles and signs — a typical practice among newly elected
public officials.

His most pressing crisis as sheriff came during the summer, when
federal authorities released a report criticizing his management of the
county jail.
The report cited unsanitary conditions at the facility, serious
problems with the medical treatment of inmates and the physical abuse
of inmates by guards.

Dart remains angry about the report.

“My major issue I had and still have is that it completely ignored
all of the major and somewhat monumental changes we have done,” he said
Thursday, citing improvements in the dispensation of medication to
inmates and steps to reduce inmate violence.

“I was treated as if I had done nothing since I got there,” he said.

Source: AP

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