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