Friday, October 29, 2010

NBC Chicago's Edward McClelland writes the truth about Joe Berrios

A lot has been written in the press about Joe Berrios. What does the truth look like? NBC Chicago's Edward McClelland called out Forrest Claypool's witch hunt against the Democrat for what it is, "It’s a conspiracy of goo-goos, with no backing from the minority community." I am a "goo-goo" and I have seen through this shallow sham since day one. McClelland sums it up nicely: "I just don’t believe that Claypool is as virtuous as he claims, or that Berrios is as corrupt."

Read it:

I’ll tell you how I voted in this fall’s elections, and why...

Cook County Assessor: Joe Berrios
Berrios actually wants to be Cook County Assessor. He wants it so badly he has spent 22 years preparing himself as a member of the Cook County Board of Tax Appeals. Maybe I’m cynical, but it’s hard to remain a virgin in politics that long. The Better Government Association and Chicago magazine reported that Berrios accepted campaign contributions from lawyers who did business with the board, but politicians take money from lobbyists all the time. And the BGA was unable to pin anything illegal on Berrios.

I voted for Forrest Claypool when he ran for Cook County Board President in 2006, because I thought John Stroger was petrifying into a political boss. But I am mystified by his dilettantish campaign for assessor. Earlier this year, Claypool suddenly decided that the fate of honest government in Illinois depended on keeping Berrios out of the assessor’s office. Claypool’s allies in the news media and the Lakefront Liberal establishment have gone along, even questioning Toni Preckwinkle’s progressive credentials because she supports Berrios, a fellow Democratic nominee. It’s a conspiracy of goo-goos, with no backing from the minority community -- not a healthy coalition for winning countywide office.

I just don’t believe that Claypool is as virtuous as he claims, or that Berrios is as corrupt.

Read it all:

Friday, October 15, 2010

Help the Democrats against the Billionaires

With just 17 days left to go until Election Day, campaigns against our Democratic candidates in Cook County are really heating up. I want to bring one example to your attention. Once again, Forrest Claypool is complaining about being unable to raise funds to bankroll his candidacy for Cook County Assessor.

Who is he kidding? Claypool has been taking $100,000 checks ever since he started running.

This plea for funds is coming from a candidate who failed to cast a ballot in the primary because he was too busy, yet expects people to vote for him. Claypool is asking for small donations so that he doesn’t have to report them immediately to the Illinois Board of Elections.

This plea for funds is coming from a former Democrat who gets hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from his billionaire friends – people who want tax breaks on their mansions, vacation homes and even parking spaces.

This plea for funds is coming from an elitist who states publicly that he will pay little to no attention to the minority and less-wealthy communities in Cook County during this campaign. A recent Sun-Times columnist said Claypool is on the verge of “political extinction” because if he loses, he will be out of work.

Meanwhile, Joe Berrios is working tirelessly; not only at his job as a commissioner on the Cook County Board of Review, but on the campaign trail throughout Chicago and its suburbs. He is listening to property owners’ concerns and is promising to treat them fairly once elected, as he has done in the past.

Joe Berrios grew up in public housing at Cabrini-Green. He does not own a yacht or a mansion. And he doesn’t have billionaire friends to bankroll his campaign. Joe Berrios wants to serve the people of Cook County for the right reasons. Unlike Claypool, he has a plan to improve the Assessor’s office and treat property owners with the respect they deserve.

There is only one candidate who has the experience to be our next Cook County Assessor, and that’s Joe Berrios. To contribute to Joe’s campaign, visit

If you can’t contribute, you can help get Joe Berrios and other Democrats elected by voting early or on Nov. 2nd. For a list of early voting sites, visit or

Scott Cisek
Political Director
Cook County Democratic Party

Friday, May 14, 2010

Yesterday, I submitted an op-ed piece to the Chicago Tribune in response to its "Stroger-Berrios" editorial. Editor Bruce Dold responded that the newspaper did not “run campaign pieces on the commentary page.” but that he’d be willing to consider running a letter to the editor. If you read the original editorial that ran, it was nothing more than a campaign piece. Below is my op-ed:

Forrest Claypool – an independent candidate for Cook County assessor, not board president, lieutenant governor, commissioner, or dog catcher – has clearly been making the rounds. He was recently seen at Manny’s Deli with a TV crew behind him. A newspaper columnist twice in a week encouraged people to sign his petitions.

This smacks of fear of looking like he can’t get the job done.

Mr. Claypool is desperate to appear credible. Once considered a reformer, his star has fallen as of late. Four years ago, he proclaimed that fixing the woes on the County Board was his only focus. Yet, after another term of doing almost nothing, he opted against running for Board President, choosing instead to enter the world of private health care. He couldn’t even find the time to lend support to reform-minded candidates like Toni Preckwinkle.

Now, Mr. Claypool is again trying to appear credible, but he can’t do it unless he gets the 25,000 signatures needed to run for the Assessor’s job.

Columnists and the Tribune editorial board fawn over this man. But it’s time that they wake up, see through the trees and take a hard look at the real Forrest, a former Democrat in Cook County:

  • Mr. Claypool has said the low voter turnout during the February 2nd election encouraged him to run for the assessor’s office.

    What he failed to mention was that he did not take advantage of his fundamental right to vote. That’s right, Mr. Claypool, an alleged Democrat, failed to cast a ballot because according to his campaign manager, the day got away from him. Never mind that he had nearly three weeks prior during the Early Voting period, or that he could have voted a no-fault absentee ballot.

  • He has also failed taxpayers horribly. On the back of his petition clipboards, Mr. Claypool asks voters to sign their name if they’re tired of paying higher property taxes. Again, he fails to tell the entire truth. He doesn’t care about taxpayers.

    Example 1: The Sun-Times reported on May 13th that Mr. Claypool recently promoted a staffer, raising her pay by $20,000 – despite a Board-imposed pay freeze. Another staffer got a $4,000 raise. The Tribune ran a similar story but omitted this same information about Mr. Claypool.

    His position on across-the-board cuts is inconsistent at best. He supported a two percent cut in 2004, yet in 2007 he opposed across-the-board cuts, claiming “It takes no thought whatsoever to cut across the board. Real leadership demands that you set priorities.”

    Apparently that means handing out $20,000 pay increases during the nation’s worst economic crisis – similar to President Todd Stroger’s way of thinking.

    Example 2: If you get your property tax bill this year and it’s higher, you can blame Mr. Claypool. He was chief sponsor of the County’s “10/25 Ordinance” without having it fully vetted by a blue-ribbon task force. Now you, the residential taxpayers are paying the price.

    Because the “Claypool 10/25 Ordinance” wasn’t thoroughly studied, the tax burden will shift to residential taxpayers. (“Why You Might Sit Down for This Bill,” Don Haider, op-ed, Chicago Tribune, April 29, 2010)

    Rather than making sure the task force received all of its needed information, Mr. Claypool rammed the 10/25 Ordinance through the County Board.

    So when you get your tax bill and it’s higher, remember that paper comes from trees – and your increase comes from Forrest.

    Scott Cisek

    Political Director, Cook County Democratic Party

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Vote Democrat in November

I am a Democrat and I believe in the Democratic Party and the democratic process. I am afraid a perfect storm is brewing which could result in the Democratic loss of the Governor's mansion, Barack Obama's Senate Seat, possibly even the electoral map. I truly fear what will happen to the Democrats in Illinois if we head into November with a divided Cook County Democratic Party. With the encouragement of Toni Preckwinkle, I have left her campaign as of today. I am pleased to announce that I have been named Political Director of the Cook County Democratic Party. From this position, I will work night and day to ensure that ALL of our Democratic nominees win in November. From our Judges, to our Cook County Board President, right on up to the top of the ticket - all of them must win. I hope I can count on the support of every Democrat in this exciting new endeavor. Now, let's all focus on electing strong, Democratic candidates throughout the County.