column), I was surprised. Silly me. I must have consumed too many orgasmic editorials...">
Carol Felsenthal
On politics

Toni Preckwinkle Backs Machine Candidate for Assessor

Toni Preckwinkle, almost certainly the next President of the Cook County Board, is backing Democrat Joseph Berrios—lobbyist, head of the County Democratic Party, toady of House Speaker and state Democratic Party chief Mike Madigan—for assessor.

When I read of Preckwinkle’s preference for Berrios over reformer Forrest Claypool (in Stella Foster’s Sun-Times column), I was surprised. Silly me. I must have consumed too many orgasmic editorials…

 

Will Editorial Writers Still Swoon?

Bone marrow at Longman & Eagle
Toni Preckwinkle poses with Joseph Berrios at the 2009 Puerto Rican Day Parade
Toni Preckwinkle, almost certainly the next President of the Cook County Board, is backing Democrat Joseph Berrios—lobbyist, head of the County Democratic Party, toady of House Speaker and state Democratic Party chief Mike Madigan—for assessor.

When I read of Preckwinkle’s preference for Berrios over reformer Forrest Claypool (in Stella Foster’s Sun-Times column), I was surprised. Silly me. I must have consumed too many orgasmic editorials portraying Preckwinkle, 4th Ward Alderman, as the second coming of Adlai Stevenson and Paul Simon. Then again, compared to her primary opponents—Todd Stroger and Dorothy Brown—Preckwinkle is. 

After she crushed them in February’s primary, the Sun-Times gushed, “…real reform may be coming to Cook County.” The Tribune declared that Preckwinkle’s nomination “repudiates the party bosses.” (The Sun-Times story is no longer available.)

Take a deep breath. Preckwinkle, 63, seems way too smart to believe that Berrios—a former member of the Illinois House, where he learned strict subservience to Madigan—would be a better assessor than Cook County Commissioner Forrest Claypool, 52, who announced earlier this month that he is running as an independent. (Claypool is not quite as pure as the editorial writers depict him; after all, he did serve two terms as Mayor Daley’s chief of staff.)

With her studious visage, her residence in Hyde Park, and her two degrees from the University of Chicago, Preckwinkle appears the very image of the good-government candidate. That’s true, but this is Chicago. Madigan runs things here, and Preckwinkle, elected alderman in ’91 and a Democratic committeeman in ‘92, is, as she sternly lectured me in a brief telephone interview, a good Democrat. “I am a Democrat. I work for Democrats. I believe in the Democratic Party.” She chastised Claypool for skipping the Democratic primary and then declaring as an independent. (Claypool has explained that he assumed retired judge and former alderman, Raymond Figueroa, would beat Berrios.)  

Claypool was traveling Thursday. Tom Bowen, his campaign manager, said in an e-mail, “Forrest is going to work hard to win the support of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents across Cook County. He looks forward to working with Alderman Preckwinkle to make the property system fair and transparent.”

My next call was to Roger Keats, 61, the former state senator who is running as a Republican against Preckwinkle in the general election next November. “Why is anyone surprised?” he asked about Preckwinkle sticking with Berrios. “She re-nominated Berrios to be chairman of the county party. She is close to Madigan and close to Berrios…. She is part of the Chicago machine.”

Keats told me that he signed Claypool’s petition—he needs to collect 25,000 signatures by June 21—but in the assessor’s race he’s backing the Republican candidate, Sharon Strobeck-Eckersall, a former Evanston Township assessor—the only one, he says, who is a licensed appraiser.

More about the only-in-Illinois tangled business/political ties and conflicts between Madigan and Berrios can be found here and here.

 

Photograph: Flickr / Toni Preckwinkle photostream

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comments
4 years ago
Posted by Still Here

It is beyond difficult for a party cantidate to support an independent against another party cantidate. I never understand why an endorsement from another politician should influence anyone anyway. Claypool is going to have to raise a lot of money and have a very effective campaign if he hopes to win this. The big risk for the Democrats would be that his campaign delivers the office and its jobs to the Republicans.

4 years ago
Posted by SOS

Can somebody please explain to Mr. Claypool that when you "assume" you make an ass out of u and me?

4 years ago
Posted by -l-l-l-

We desperately need an effective President of the Cook County Board and an effective Cook County Assessor. Fortunately for us, we can vote for the best candidate regardless of their party affiliation.

4 years ago
Posted by H-bomb

Do independents ever actually win city-wide elections in Chicago?

4 years ago
Posted by danny600

Toni Preckwinkle's endorsement of Joseph Berrios is disappointing to say the least.

4 years ago
Posted by Colonel

When a Cook County Democrat, such as Alderman Preckwinkle, says they are an independent reformer, you should always ask what insider interest group are they independent of and what have they ever reformed? A 20 year incumbent Alderman and ward committeeman who received $190,000+ in the primary from the union that represents the majority of Cook County employees and has a finance report that reads like a who's who of every insider, double dipper and county contracter needs to show some bona fides. Talk is cheap, where is the beef?

4 years ago
Posted by Razzmatazz

Thank goodness someone is playing close attention to Chicago politics for a change. Good work Felsenthal. And S.O.S. hit the nail right on the head.

4 years ago
Posted by TomTee

You might've also checked in with Tom Tresser, the Green Party candidate for Cook County Board President. He was an organizer for No Games Chicago that worked to stop the massive rip-off of the 2016 Olympics. Toni Preckwinkle was a major booster for the games. The 2010 winter games has landed the citizens of Vancouver in a $1.5 billion hole. Think how much more massive OUR debt would be six years from now with Ed Burke and his cronies running the games (he was to on the board of the Operating Committee if we got the games). Alderman Preckwinkle is an inter-changeable part in the Democratic Machine.

Vote Green for REAL change in 2010.
Tom's web site: http://www.tom2010.us
The Illinois Green Party: http://www.ilgp.org

4 years ago
Posted by vincent kamin

Ms. Preckwinkle has certainly cast her lot into running for Mayor
with such an endorsement of Berrios, who has cost Cook County taxpayers and families a fortune by under-assessing commercial properties over their own; forcing them to fork over the difference
on their own tax bills. Thank you, Ms. Perkwinkle. What next,
a move to Bridgeport?

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