Category: Politics

Chris Kennedy Brings Campaign to Proviso Township

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 || Tom Holmes/Forest Park Review || @maywoodnews

Feature photo: Illinois gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy greets people at Old School Tavern in Forest Park. | Alexa Rogals/Wednesday Journal 

Friday evening it was standing room only as about a hundred people squeezed into the Old School Tavern to hear Christopher Kennedy explain why they should support him in his run to become the next governor of Illinois.

Continue reading “Chris Kennedy Brings Campaign to Proviso Township”

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In Maywood, A Congressman Takes Stock of Republicans

Tuesday, August 15, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Davis Maywood Town Hall 2During a town hall meeting he hosted on Aug. 14 at Council Chambers, 125 S. 5th Ave. in Maywood, U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-7th) gave a dire assessment of a political climate controlled by Republicans and lorded over by President Donald Trump.

“We probably are in the worst position that we’ve been in in a long time,” Davis said, referencing the Democratic Party’s minority status in most statehouses and in Washington, D.C.

Continue reading “In Maywood, A Congressman Takes Stock of Republicans”

Boykin Considering Run for Board President

Tuesday, August 8, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (1st), whose district includes Bellwood, Broadview and Maywood, said in an interview last week that he’s considering a run to replace Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle — who is currently dealing with the fallout from an unpopular sweetened beverage tax, deep budget cuts and mass layoffs.

“President Preckwinkle has taken us as far as she can take us,” Boykin said. “She’s damaged the county in a real way. She’s done as much as she can do. … I expect that this whole beverage tax, the incompetent way it’s been rolled out and the unfairness of it will hurt her. It will damage her [politically].”

Continue reading “Boykin Considering Run for Board President”

Breaking: Sun-Times reports Clerk David Orr Won’t Seek Reelection as Yarbrough Preps Run

David orr

Cook County Clerk David Orr, who is expected to announce that he won’t seek re-election. Below, Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough, who plans to run for his job next year.

Yarbrough, KarenWednesday, June 21, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

According to a June 21 report by Chicago Sun-Times columnis Michael Sneed, Cook County Clerk David Orr will not run for another term in a position that he’s held for 26 years.

“Orr appears poised to make an announcement this afternoon that he will not seek re-election when he appears before the Democratic slate-making committee on Thursday,” Sneed reported

The announcement comes less than a week after current Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough, a resident of Maywood, announced that she plans to challenge Orr for the clerk’s position next year.

A Chicago Tribune report noted that Orr had intended to announce his re-election, which would have meant a face-off between Orr and Yarbrough for the right to lead the combined office.

Last November, Cook County residents voted to fold the recorder’s office into the clerk’s office. The vote meant that the recorder’s position would be eliminated as part of the merger. The last two Recorders of Deeds have been Maywood residents.

It’s not clear whether anyone besides Yarbrough has announced a run for the clerk’s position. VFP

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Recorder of Deeds Yarbrough to Challenge Cook County Clerk David Orr

Yarbrough, KarenFriday, June 16, 2017 || By Local News Curator || @maywoodnews

The Chicago Tribune has reported today that Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough will challenge incumbent Cook County Clerk David Orr in the Democratic primary next year.

Yarbrough, who lives in Maywood and is committeeman of the Proviso Township Democratic Party that’s headquartered in the village, announced her plans to run today, the Tribune reports.

“I plan to submit my credentials to the Cook County Democrats and hope to win the support to get the endorsement,” Yarbrough 66, told the Tribune. “I will be running.”

Orr, 72, has been in office since 1990 and will be seeking his eight term.

Yarbrough’s recorder’s office was folded into the clerk’s office after voters approved a referendum last year to consolidate the two bureaucratic bodies.

The Cook County Recorder of Deeds position, which has been held by a Maywood resident since 1999 — when the late Eugene “Gene” Moore was appointed to succeed Jesse White — will be eliminated in December 2018, the Tribune reports.

Some elected officials, including Orr, argued that the consolidation would save the county money, in part by eliminating the duplication of duties. Both offices are responsible for maintaining records.

The clerk’s office keeps birth and death certificates and government documents. It also facilitates elections in the suburbs. The recorder’s office keeps property-related information, such as liens and real estate transfer taxes.

Yarbrough argued that the consolidation would not be as cost-effective as some of its proponents claimed and she often touts “the industry-leading reforms we are pushing, like stronger property fraud laws, better data portals, and blockchain technology for land records,” according to a statement on the recorder’s website.

But Yarbrough hasn’t been able to shake allegations of wrongdoing within her office. Last month, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Yarbrough’s office “spent two nights at the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa for an ‘Executive Staff Leadership Retreat’ that cost the county $12,303.09, records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times show.”

Yarbrough told the Sun-Times that the getaway was a “small, strategic investment” that was made to improve the morale in her office in the wake of the consolidation. The recorder is responsible for a budget of around $12 million and employs roughly 134 people, the Sun-Times reported.

“I wanted to have some extended time to talk to staff and to get their inputs without telephone calls and, you know, all of those things,” Yarbrough told the paper. “I wanted them to be focused.”

And another Sun-Times report, published last month, focused on a report by prominent government watchdog and attorney Michael Shakman that found “several negative developments.”

Among those developments included the “an investigation by the county’s independent inspector general, Patrick Blanchard,” in which he “alleges ‘political reasons or factors affected’ the recorder’s October 2015 hiring” of Congressman Danny K. Davis’s nephew, the Sun-Times reported.

“Blanchard also says his office learned that an aide to Yarbrough — ‘with the support of the recorder herself’ — announced job openings at the recorder’s office to members of the Proviso Township political organization,” the paper reported.

In response to the Sun-Times query, a spokesman for Yarbrough stated that the recorder’s office “disagrees strongly” with Blanchard’s report.

The Sun-Times article also pointed out the considerable political influence of Yarbrough, whose husband is former Maywood mayor and sitting trustee Henderson Yarbrough.

“She’s the vice chair for the Democratic Party of Illinois,” the Sun-Times wrote. “On paper, she looks up only to Michael Madigan, the all-powerful party boss and speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives.

Yarbrough and Orr are scheduled to argue their candidacies before Democratic party committeemen, who will ultimately offer an endorsement, next week. VFP

To read the full Chicago Tribune report, click here

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Congressman Davis Could Face Primary Challenge in 2018 Midterms

ANthony Clark.jpgMonday, May 22, 2017 || By Tim Inklebarger for Wednesday Journal || @maywoodnews

Congressman Danny K. Davis (7th) could face a young primary challenger in the 2018 midterm elections. Anthony Clark, an Oak Park high school teacher and founder of the advocacy group Suburban Unity Alliance announced in a May 17 Facebook post that he’s running for Congress.

Reached by phone, Clark, 34, (pictured left), told Wednesday Journal that he was encouraged to run by several people in the community who connected him with an organization called Brand New Congress, which aims to fix a “broken” Congress, according to its website.

“Both major parties have chosen big donors over the American people,” the Brand New Congress website states. “We are going to recruit and run hundreds of outstanding candidates in a single, national campaign for Congress in 2018. Together, they will pass a practical plan to significantly increase wages, remove corruption, and protect the rights of all Americans.”

Clark said in a telephone interview that he has dedicated his life to giving back to the community, but he felt not enough was being done to address systemic issues such as racism, sexism, homophobia and misogyny.

“I thought, ‘I have to do more,'” he said.

Clark has a profile on the Brand New Congress website stating that he aims to end partisan politics in Congress in an effort to bring the nation “together and celebrate our common dreams.”

“When we do this, we realize that we are all part of the same humanity,” Clark stated in the online profile.

Clark says he founded the local Suburban Unity Alliance in 2016 “to work to end discrimination in our communities and to help fund good causes that may need a helping financial hand.”

Clark says that’s why he led a delegation of the Women’s March in Chicago and collaborated with the Women’s March D.C. and “fought hard for the Welcoming Village ordinance recently passed in Oak Park.”

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“We must embrace diversity,” he says on the Brand New Congress webpage.

Clark’s LinkedIn profile page notes that he has worked as a special education teacher at Oak Park and River Forest High School since 2013. His work history notes that he worked in special education at other Chicago area schools beginning in 2009, including Banner West Academy, Aspira Mirta Ramirez High School and Kenwood Academy High School.

He served in the U.S. Air Force from 2003 to 2009.

Clark said in an interview that he will not run a negative campaign against his opponent, Congressman Danny Davis, who is currently in his 10th term in that office. Davis was first elected in 1996.

“I truly thank Danny for everything he’s done for Chicago and the surrounding communities,” Clark said, but added that it is “time for a change.”

In a phone interview last Friday, Davis said he doesn’t know Clark but added that he welcomes the competition, particularly if it will increase voter participation in the midterm elections.

Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (D-1st), who once served as Davis’ chief of staff, described the incumbent as a liberal Democrat, not a moderate.

“I don’t see how anyone can try to position themselves to the left of him,” Boykin said. “There’s nowhere else to go. He’s got that space already and he’s done a tremendous job as a U.S. Congressman. But this is democracy and we all welcome those who would put themselves forward for public service.”

Clark said he is running as a Democrat but is not afraid to take on members of his own party if they put partisan politics before constituents. He described Brand New Congress as post-partisan.

“I’m ready and willing to hold anybody accountable,” he said.

Clark is one of seven candidates endorsed by Brand New Congress, the only candidate running in Illinois, so far. Clark said other Illinois Brand New Congress candidates are in the works, but none are yet ready to announce their candidacies.

Michael Romain contributed to this article. VFP

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New D209 Board Majority Sworn Into Office, Kelly Re-Assumes Presidency

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A screenshot of live video feed posted to Facebook by Proviso Together showing the slate’s four candidates getting sworn into office at PMSA on April 27. 

Friday, April 28, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Three years after members of the Facebook group “Forest Parkers For Better Schools” met inside of Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor in Forest Park to talk about the direction of Proviso Township High Schools District 209, the group is now solidly steering the ship.

In 2015, the group, informally called the “Brown Cow 20,” fielded Proviso Together, a three-person slate of candidates to run for three open school board seats. All three candidates — longtime incumbent board member Teresa Kelly, Claudia Medina and Ned Wagner — won handily.

Two years later, Proviso Together pulled off another sweep, with all four of its candidates — Amanda Grant, Sam Valtierrez, Della Patterson and Rodney Alexander — winning first terms.

At an April 27 special meeting held inside of the cafeteria at Proviso Math and Science Academy, the four new board members were sworn into office by outgoing board president Theresa McKelvy and Kelly re-assumed the presidency after a unanimous vote.

Grant, who garnered the most votes among the 8-person school board race, was voted vice president while Medina was voted secretary.

In 2016, a year after Kelly had been elected board president, she was ousted from that position when board members McKelvy, Brian Cross, Dan Adams and Kevin McDermott voted to shorten the board president’s tenure from two years to one. McKelvy was then voted Kelly’s successor.

With Kelly again at the helm, the new supermajority is hoping that they can pull off a complete overhaul of a district where, fewer than five years ago, Wagner and Medina were worried about sending their children.

On Thursday, both board members announced that each had one child who would be enrolling at PMSA in the fall. Medina said that when her son received his acceptance letter to PMSA, he called Ned’s son.

“[My son] said, ‘No matter what we do, we’re going to stay together,’” Medina said. “We’re all here together.”

In their remarks, all of the board members stressed unity and togetherness, a constant theme of both the 2015 and 2017 campaigns.

“It is time for Proviso to unite and to be one union,” said new board member Sam Valtierrez, of Melrose Park. “We have to break the curse of disunity that has broken our community. We must get involved and let the fear go. [That’s how we’ll] see the transformation of our wonderful schools.”

“There is a wealth of talented and amazing people here,” said Grant. “We have the resources. We pay about $90 million in taxes each year to Proviso District 209. What we needed all along and have been sorely lacking is a unified board of education that understands that students come first.”

“I pledge to be earnest, hardworking, full-time, available and consistent in discharging these responsibilities and duties,” said Alexander. “And most of all, I pledge to work together [with fellow board members] as a team.”

Some board members emphasized the importance of enhancing equity at the district. The issue was a centerpiece of a burgeoning strategic plan that D209 Supt. Jesse Rodriguez presented to the public at a meeting at PMSA last week.

“I am fully committed to working with all community stakeholders to ensure that regardless of where your child is enrolled, he or she will have the resources to succeed,” said Patterson.

Patterson added that her focus will be on raising the district’s standard of academic performance, increasing the range and amount of selective courses that are offered and making AP and IB courses more widely available at Proviso East and Proviso West.

Wagner said that he plans on building on the record of accomplishments, particularly in the area of equity, that have been secured during the young tenure of Rodriguez, who was hired roughly a year ago.

“I want to continue working on making our schools a welcoming environment for our kids and parents,” Wagner said, before pointing out a range of measures that have been implemented within the last two years, such as offering more training for security staff at the district and putting in place restorative justice measures at the school a year before the passage of SB 100.

“We were talking about restorative justice a year before SB 100 was passed, which is the law that schools have to do everything they can to keep kids in school rather than just expelling or suspending them,” he said. “We put some good practices in so we’re in really good shape. I want us to build on that, expand on that and create a culture of understanding ad acceptance in our schools so our kids can grow into responsible adults.”

Kelly presented each board member with copies of compasses, “to remind us to measure our progress, because we know that movement does not necessarily mean progress. Each of us as a group has a moral compass that will allow us to know right from wrong, good from bad.”

“We are no longer responsible to the interest of any one person or special group,” Kelly said, “but we are accountable to all of our children and to all of our communities.” VFP

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