[ Program Transcript ] Brutus and Brian Presents the DEBATES - the Cook County Primary Candidate Forum June 5, 2022

[ Program Transcript ] Brutus and Brian Presents the DEBATES - the Cook County Primary Candidate Forum June 5, 2022 at the Carter G Woodson Regional Chicago Public Library with Richard Boykin, Kari Steele, Fritz Kaegi, Noland Rivera, LaTonya Ruffin, Andre Smith, and Jason Decker.

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( *** rough draft please help correct any name errors or mispellings thank you ***)

Patrick Brutus

Welcome to the Brian Kennedy forum, otherwise known as the Debates.

And as you know, Brian and I have a podcast show on Facebook Live that streams every Sunday at 6pm to 7pm. And we're excited to branch out in this avenue of media, as our show is focused primarily on public policy concerns and issues, and particularly the things that impact black voters the most. So today's event is a forum with all of the county offices that are contested races that impact black voters. And so we're very fortunate enough that candidates for president assessor Sheriff, districts two and five, were all invited, and those who chose to appear today, we thank you for being brave enough and willing to join us here today, but also the face questions and talk to constituents and those in the audience. So give yourselves a round of applause. Party, today's program is going to be one that is primarily informational. We're going to provide a little information, and then we're going to take questions, we're going to offer questions, and then there's audience participation. So those of you who are here, you also get a chance to talk to these candidates, ask them questions, and see what they had in store for you in terms of their plans for their agenda. Did they take office? So that being said, I'm Patrick Brutus, this is my co moderator for today, Brian Mullins. We want to thank our sponsors. Natasha Dunn from the black community collaborative and resilient to Tango from cause they too also will be part of the panel asking questions. And so we're gonna start today with the president's office and so we're gonna invite Richard Boykin up to the state

Richard Boykin, as you know, was a former commissioner of the second district currently in the first district, currently an attorney continuing working on behalf of the voters.

Okay, for each office in first let me let me introduce the candidates here we have Richard Boynton, President running for president. We have Andre Smith, running for commissioner of the second district. We have Jason Decker running for Commissioner undefeated returning assessor we have first Katie All right. So before we eat before we ask questions, each office will will show little sign here. What did these officers do? What role does an officer the office holder had? What do they control and what is their annual budget?

The President oversees the offices under the President and is charged with presenting a balanced budget to the Board of Commissioners. The President has 11 departments and bureaus under their authority and 28th division. The President appoints members to 35 boards and commissions. This is a little flowchart of the Office of the President of the Cook County and all of the departments under their jurisdiction. There's a Bureau of Finance Administration to have development and so on. The president of the County Board of Commissioners is actually also the chief executive of serve Cook County what is the budget? Fiscal Year 22. Eight point $11 billion. The Cook County Board unanimously approved this budget, which equitably addresses the county's ongoing pandemic response efforts, while not increasing taxes or cutting critical services, the president earns $170,000 annually. Wow. Summation of some of the directives and departments and some of the spending. Okay, so, for our first question, Brian Mullins

Brian Mullins 5:48

How are you doing? What are you coming out here? So, those that know me know that I am a advocate for black Cook County. And one of the issues and initiatives that we are pushing is making Cook County equitable. So we are approximately 32% of the population of Cook County. So my first my question is, Are you open to talking about and discussing giving black Cook County 32% of that budget that we just saw in there so that we can make ourselves whole, you know, within some coordination, but we want to know, I want to know, is that can that be on the table in your administration to make contracting and sustainable employment equitable in Cook County for light Cook County residents?

Richard Boykin 6:42

Well, thank you very much. And let me first of all, thank the Brutus and Brian shell for having me here today and for holding this candidates forum. And let me thank the sponsors as well. And all of you who've come out and including the other candidates for being here. I'm attorney Richard Boykin, and I'm running for president of the Cook County Board. I grew up not far from here. I grew up in Inglewood went to school at Chicago vocational high school 2100, East 87th Street. Then I went off to college, and then I went off to law school at the University of Dayton School of Law, came back and went to Washington practiced out there for a little bit. And then I worked for three members of Congress, Congressman Bobby Rush, Congressman Danny Davis, former Senator caramels that actually had the opportunity to work at a major law firm for 13 years as a partner, and then serve as a county commissioner from 2014. And 2018. was enjoying my life actually serving as a county commissioner, responsible for getting rid of the regressive soda pop tax, also get rid of the tax on feminine hygiene products, and ban law enforcement from so we can people when they arrest them, in the county approved as well. And we made sure my four years there too, we had a balanced budget every year. And I participated big time I actually had an amendment to actually create a position in the Inspector General's office to deal with nothing but sexual harassment complaints at Cook County. That position is still there today. Also put money in the budget so that Sheriff Tom dark can have his first command center in the city of Chicago, and that was in Austin, on the west side. He now has a second one in River North. And so the answer your question, my friend, yes, equity is front and center on my agenda. I want to say this, though, when I was a county commissioner asked the question of what the percentage of black contracts with what percentage of contracts were going to blacks as Prime's, the answer surprised me, less than 1% of the health and hospital systems contracts. Were going to African Americans as cramps I got to fill in is still not that much better today. equity across the county that county government can be used to help stabilize communities with contracts with jobs. And we have to do that. So I'm fully committed to it. The answer is yes. Great. Thank

Natasha Dunn 9:25

you. Thank you. Hi, how are ya? So Mike, my question is, how would you work with the other board members to really create that equity that's on top of and then what sets you aside? Well, number one, why are you running and what sets you aside from the current sitting president?

Richard Boykin 9:48

So the reason why I'm running is because as I sit here today, there are people starving. In our county. There are children who are dying Our streets, gun violence, carjackings, retail FEPS, all of these things have combined the terrace to many of our neighborhoods, our children are dying and families are not getting justice. But the reality of it is, is that too many people are leaving Cook County last year 90,000, that's non zero 90,000 People left Cook County. And in the last 10 years 1000s of businesses have had to close down and leave Cook County. And so we got a dwindling tax base. We got people who are leaving. And just two weeks ago, this county board voted to raise their own pay by 10%. I mean, I wish you could vote to raise your pay by 10%. If they do it, right, seniors can't vote to raise there's about 10%. The, you know, the arrogance, the contempt that this board has for the people. That's why I'm running. I'm running for our children. I'm running to make sure that single parents, grandparents raising grandkids have the resources they need in order to help them in those in those homes. I'm running so that our children can have mentors and role models, so that they can look up to folks who will do the right thing all of the time. Let me tell you about some random because my opponent didn't show up today. That's arrogance. That's contempt for you all is not for me. It's reom. Everybody who's here, she said, Forget you all. But she just say forget the South Side. At the NAACP debate, two weeks ago, she didn't show up to that either. So she's not showing up to these forums. I think that's a matter of arrogance. She's been there for 12 years, our communities look like hell. And our people are experiencing worse than that. And so when you look at the wealth gap, when you looked at health disparities, that have exacerbated under this administration, and when I say that I'm talking about heart disease, diabetes, you know, strokes, you name it, black people suffer disproportionately from it, and brown people. You look at gun violence. Last year, we had 1000 plus people killed in Cook County, the highest number in 27 years, 81% of those people killed look like everybody in here, they were black, and they were young black men. And so that's an issue, we got to deal with that. They don't have a plan, I unveiled my public safety plan. It's on my website, I just unveiled a public health plan to strengthen the public health of folks in Cook County. So I'm a bridge builder. I'm going to work with everybody. What sets me apart from this, this, the opponent, who's not here today is that she won't work with the mayor of Chicago to deal with the issues of gun violence and other issues. I will, whoever the mayor is, I'm going to work with that person. I'm going to put my ego aside, I'm gonna check my ego at the door. And I'm going to say that you elected me to solve problems. I'm a problem solver. And that's what I'll do, thank you.

Rosita Chotunda 13:38

I proceeded to telephone call Chicago online suburban school educators. And one of the issues that we face is the violence and the pipeline to prison. A few weeks ago, we had a press conference at the Juvenile Justice Center. And one of the things we talked about is the young people that are in the juvenile justice center, and the return back into society, what that looks like for them. And we're finding that as they go into the system, and there is a pipeline to prison, a man coming from Chicago public schools into the system. Our concern is that our young people, many of our former students are in that system. And there's nothing for them in terms of education, trade. We have literacy programs that need to be implemented in a way and we know that that's not being done at Chicago public schools. But since Cook County has these jobs, and these are most troubled to one Do you see what is your vision for our young people that are incarcerated and have to return back in society with no skills? sense?

Richard Boykin 15:01

That is a very good question. Now, I must be clear, the county does not have a role in funding education, or dealing with education, we do two things primarily, public safety and public health. That's 90% of the budget. The other part, of course, is economic development and that sort of thing. But you're right when you say that the county is over the juvenile temporary detention center, where we keep our kids once if they get in trouble. What I've always maintained, and I learned this, when I was with Congressman Danny Davis as his chief of staff for almost 10 years, I helped pass the Second Chance Act that has been utilized all across the United States of America to help people who are returning from correctional institutions, back into communities, communities like Inglewood and Austin Lawndale, communities like that if the most people coming back from Department of correctional facilities in Illinois. And so we have to do everything we can to provide the resources to them that are available. One of the things that I'll say is this, I believe, in this African proverb that the ruins of a nation begins in the homes of its people. And so when I talked about single mothers, single parents who are raising their kids, I grew up in a single home, and Inglewood. I know what it was like. And it's tough for those single mothers, because they're trying to work and make ends meet. And also know about the grandparents raising grandkids, because that's a new phenomenon that's occurring more and more and more. And so we, as a community, we say it takes a village to raise a cow, but we haven't been wrapping our arms around those children, and send them we love you, and those single parents and those grandparents. So as a county, we're going to provide grants, to faith based organizations to parenting organizations that help those folks where to where the gaps are, we're gonna help them. Then for children, four out of school and out of work, we're gonna call for a major jobs program, a major public works program that put these kids back to work. You saw that $8 billion budget instead of a lot in their own pockets, these commissioners and stuff, they should have been putting money into a Works program, a jobs program for our young people. Now, the county doesn't have a summer jobs program the city does. But the county is also overall of the forest preserves. And so we can put our kids to work in the forest preserves, we can put them to work and county gov and agencies of county government, and we can work with the sooner we can work with the state's attorney, we can work with all these other officials that we provide their budget for, and say, hey, look, now we got to participate in the Summer Jobs Program, you got to hire so many kids from from the inner city at risk communities. So that's another thing I would do in terms of a jobs program. But for for those kids, those males who are in those homes, I have a major mentoring program as well. That provides a male role model, pretty young men who are coming up, we're going to say, we got to do everything we can. And so I use the accoutrements of government to make our children have opportunities and resources, a rising tide lifts all boats, I'd lift those boats. This President has not done that. And not just this president. Let me just say this. And I said I wasn't gonna say this, but I'll say, because because these guys are good for holding this. I'll say tell it tell him sometimes, by the way, that some advisors out there who say rich, don't, don't go so far. But you got a lot of black folks are in positions of power. You got the mayor. You got the Attorney General. At the county board president. You got the chief judge, you got the state's attorney, you got the Speaker of the House, and on and on and on. And you got a black police chief. So I'm saying why is it that black folks are catching the handle? I mean, if you got all these blank peer warning positions of power, I'll tell you what it is. And I figured it out today. I figured it out today. But Good Book says and we're just Sunday, right? Where there is no vision the people perish. So these people got sight, but they ain't got no vision. They only have enough. That answers your question. And then what else

I'm going to do too, is I'm going to set up a task force, because I'm gonna, I'm gonna meet regularly with the people. When I was a commissioner, I held more town hall meetings than anybody. They will tell you, they know you I came out to the community, not just the first district, I was Mo, Southside I was everywhere. So I'm gonna hold those meetings with people, and they're gonna hold my feet to the fire hold me accountable. Too many people don't hold their elected officials accountable. We continue to elect the same people over and over. And we get the same results, which isn't good for all of us. And so we need somebody who's going to make sure that they looked out for everybody. That's what we're going to do.

Patrick Brutus 20:28

Thank you very much. Thanks, Attorney Boykin. Let's give them a round of applause. You ready for some audience participation? Oh, I'm ready, or whenever you ask some questions. Okay, I saw Helen Johnson's hand up first. So Brian, can you give her her mic, and then you have your hand up, bring her? Okay, you'll be compared to Lori West, come back to Lori. And then I'll be probably five minutes or so. So any questions? Thank you.

Helen Johnson 20:56

Thank you, Brian and Patrick for organizing and holding this forum this form. And thank you, Richard Boykin for showing up.

Richard Boykin 21:06

Yes, ma'am.

Helen Johnson 21:07

So I don't know if you can answer this or not. But I'm gonna ask them anyway. When Patrick put the chart up for the county government offices positions, and they show $8.1 billion budget. And it showed all the offices up under the President. And I was thinking how many of those positions or the duties of tasks and those positions appear repeated or redundant. The redundancy in that upon the that office, the bureaucracy the redundancy, the red tape, the bureaucracy, it's really hard to hold public officials accountable. Because we have to go through oh my god, you know, and I tap I get from the blue, from the green to the blue to the yellow to the gray. I'm fed up and frustrated. So how is it you know, that we the people can hold our public officials accountable, when we can't even really which say, contact, don't have a relationship, no community liaison for us to go to, that we can identify with? No one from our community that we can connect with in order to hold our public officials accountable. So in looking at that chart? And I don't know, maybe you don't know. Maybe you do not know how

Richard Boykin 23:01

I know, I was there for four years.

Helen Johnson 23:04

Okay. So how extreme is the redundancy in services, duties and responsibilities?

Richard Boykin 23:12

So thank you for that question. And I set your frustration with government. And here's how you know when people aren't accountable or not, when they show up, they show up in your community. They don't just show up at election time, and handouts and sadness and say, vote for me to you know, if it's working, if you call an agency of government, if you have an issue, and you call and those people are responsive or not, you know, they're responsible with Richard Boykin, I'm going to show up, I'm not going to send the liaison to show up on my behalf. Although one could do that. But I think it's more important that you hear from me directly. And that you asked me that question directly. When I was a county commissioner, I voted to actually consolidate the operations of the clerk's office and the recorder of deeds. We say several million dollars about doing that. Right now. They're about 24,000. Counting employees, that number has gone up other stupid about 2000 full time employees. Most of them are in the health and hospital system. And so we've grown government, and of course, these pay raises, grew government to the tune of maybe a half a million dollars or more. These 10% pay increases that these folks have over. Let me tell you as a county commissioner, it's a part time job. They make $85,000 a year and you get full benefits and you get a pension. Now their salaries went from 85,000 to 93,500. Who wouldn't want that part time job in America? Everybody wants that right? I want them part time. And then you can do something else too. And you get the hand for staff, people as well. Wow. full time staff people, and you got your own budget that you can work with in the community in the neighborhood that help people lower their taxes, work with the assessor's office and stuff like that. There is some redundancy in county government, there are some things that we're going to look at what we think we can do better. And believe you mean, we will do them better. I'm looking forward to that opportunity to actually serve and help people and to be good stewards of the taxpayers resources.

Brian Mullins 25:37

Thank you for your answer. We have a question back here from Ronald Jackson.

Ronald Jackson. 25:44

Are you I'm okay, we already know one another. So I'll do directly to the me. The first thing you kind of insulted me what that tear thing. I mean, you know, that was a statement made by the plan back in 1827. To keep our children down stupidly, and I don't believe that we need to continue doing that. Our adults have actually done that very well. But I'm gonna say this, and that is, while you work Commissioner, I believe they tore down PhantomJS clinic. They build the 10 storey a professional building that houses all kinds of things, except for behavioral or mental health services. I do not understand how you could have all of those years of finished planning, at the end, omit behavioral health or mental health once you build a professional facility. Now, even worse, the county has tried to do inter governmental law contract with the city for telehealth when telepsychiatry. There's only five there's only five psychiatrists in there in the slots are only 15 minutes and $60 per 15 minute increments. What would you do differently? So the mental health services for the whole town?

Richard Boykin 27:15

Absolutely. First, let me just say this, that I don't know what you didn't understand about the answer to the children. But I'm all about investing in our youth, providing a summer jobs program or provide a jobs program for people who are out of school and out of work. There's nothing clannish about that. That's a brilliant idea. It's not being done. I O hands are a devil's workshop. And then let me say this. So the clinic that you see on the west side, the $12.5 million clinic, mental health clinic, the drop off entity, a place where they can divert people from jail to get mental health treatment on the west side. That clinic was put there. I helped get it there. When I was a county commissioner. Now, the problems with mental health, behavioral health, they're real. They're real. didn't just start today. Rahm Emanuel closed 13 clinics, I think mental health clinics. And, and nobody, that was seven, you said. Okay. So, okay, so, so here's what I say is that we haven't done enough as a county to invest in mental health and behavioral health treatment for residents in our county. And so what I would do differently is this. There are too many of our neighborhoods that have been traumatized by gun violence, about COVID-19. And other issues. out make sure that we have outreach workers who would be knocking on doors, send the unique mental health services, here's where you can go and get it. We would bring the services to the community, as opposed to waiting for the community to come to where the services are. The other thing I would do is work with you and others to help destigmatize mental health issues. You know, all of us at some point, may need those services, and so on. But if somebody says, Well, if I don't get some mental health treatment, then people won't call me crazy. I want to do it. Know, if the services are available, we kind of made sure to folks get into those services. And so that's what I would get different. Hope that answers. Thank you.

Patrick Brutus 29:37

I know there's a lot of questions from the audience. I want you all to remember that there is a round robin at the end where all the candidates will be here taking questions from you all. And that's why this part of this first round of each department or each office with information and some background on the office is important for me to learn with The role of the government is so let's give Richard Boykin, the run and Commissioner district, two and five candidates on tracer and Jason Becker, let's welcome them to the stage all right, what we're gonna do is we're going to allow each candidate to have a 90 second opening statement.

Jason Decker 30:50

Hello, my name is Jason Decker. I'm running for Cook County Commissioner of the Fifth District. I live in Midlothian. I'm a lifelong resident of suburban Cook County. Minus three years I lived in Oregon straight, straight out of high school. I'm a self employed handyman, a community activist. I'm a father and husband. I'm a family man. And ultimately, the reason why I'm running is because of what where'd he go, we can set the lack of engagement from our elected officials. And with it being a vacated seat, the iron is hot, I'm running as a libertarian. Don't let that scare you. Look into us. We're not all in our kisser. I am a very left leaning libertarian. I'm a free thinker. And ultimately, like being a libertarian because I can work both sides of the aisle. I can be independent, but I also have support and guidance from a group I'm not an independent. Over the last two years, I guess my biggest claim to fame is one of the biggest problems in my district is blight, crime and the lack of resources a lack of engagement from elected officials on all levels of government specifically in the city of Harvey. And two years ago in August, I started boarding up abandoned properties that were not just abandoned, but they were left completely wide open. I know we all saw the news story. Over on 100/15 and Eggleston, the woman that was found in an abandoned home, okay, the city normally keeps track of those properties. They keep them secure, they keep them locked down and tried to for some reason in the city of Harvey, many of them were left completely wide open. I took it upon myself to volunteer my time my truck my tools to board these up and very awesomely took off like wildfire to this day we boarded up 304 that we're getting, we're not just abandoned. These were houses that were completely left wide open, no front door, no back door, people lost sleep. We heard many stories of people being dragged inside these houses, people running out of the house to carjack people, and simply the local municipality, the county, and even our state elected officials were saying it's not our problem. So we took it upon ourselves. And that's one, one of the great things that I've done. And ultimately, if I do win my job as Commissioner, I will make it a full time job. I will be engaged I will shut my handyman business down for the duration of the time that I'm in office and I will be there I will be present. And I can promise you one thing that nobody is going to work harder to better the lives of the people in my district and all of Cook County, but specifically, my district has nine of the worst the 29 of the 25 worst places to live in the whole entire State of Illinois within my district. Nine of the top are worst 25. And they've been that way for a long time. And I'm not going to have a magic wine, I'm not going to be able to just make everything better. But I'm going to work my butt off and I'm going to work hard and engage and be present and be reachable and my cell numbers out there for everybody. And that will remain the same even if I went so I I will I will leave it at that

Patrick Brutus 34:00

Commissioner Candidate 2nd District Andre Smith

Andre Smith 34:03

Hello, how you doing? My name is Andre Smith. First let me thank you all for putting on the form. And thank you for being concerned about our city, our state and county. 54 years old, born and raised in Chicago. I was the little young boy that grew up with Robin take on projects that looked off the ballot, the balcony, the head, the wind fence, it always looked up in the sky as God where's my father that I followed every day. It became a habit became something I like something I enjoy. And I've done a whole bunch of other things. And when I went to high school, my desk was at a press ball office. And the principal told me that you're going to stay here when you're going to get kicked out that was dissolved by At school, when I went home, my mom called the police on me. And she told them to take me to the aisle. My mom passed about five, six months ago, but the story has to be told. Police came for the one on one South federal apartment 60 in the mail cane, the female came. The male walked in the door. And he said, Come on, let's go. The female came in and she said, Ma'am, do you mind if I talk to your son for a moment? My mom said, I don't care. But once you finish, take them out of here. Me and a young lady, we want to know why Shall we begin to talk and I opened up to her and I came back out. And she told my mom, now I'm I'm not taking your son anywhere. This should be the son. He feels that you don't love him. And my mom looked at me because she hid my my niece in her hand because my sister had passed. So she had five more kids in the house. And she looked at me and I was standing next to the police officer. And she said, is that true? I shook my head yes. And a tear again to roll down my mother face. And she said, Son, you're my baby son. I love you. I would always love when I've seen as tough as they can be. I robbed three people a day. My teachers were paying me to take them to the ill. Why would rob now? Wow, this is real. This is serious. Taylor proud. We need to know a whole lot. So listen. Listen, I can relate. That's why I'm out there. The difference between me and any other people, I don't take a check no $1 or grant. I do it for free. There's no record of me being out there for 30 years, never have taken anything. Because that day, when I see my mother, the tear rolled down her face, and I really felt that she loved me. I decided to take a chance to take a change, a change. I assigned myself into Job Corps. Just because I was a product of the project it don't stop instantly. Here to take a process almost got kicked out of a job corps three times. So the white man, the head beginning that he looked at me said, if you do something one on one time, I'm keeping you on here. He left got a phone call 11 o'clock at night, it took him an hour to get back. I took a combat boot, threw it over here, the white guy and it folds out. He came back he looked at me he said I'm not going to take you out. I'm gonna make you finish. Thank you, Lord Jesus. From that point, from that point, a finished job call. Dan I went to number one, do you see that it's good in the nation or weapons of California, the other one age and then I could fix anything underwater. We hit the ground. My school DC died. From that point all over the country of the world when group called slave boys we had the television show called New York undercover, and so on and so on. So I'm saying I'm what you been looking for. I'm about our pain and uncontrolled. So do this thing. I'm gonna tell you who I'm supporting. I'm gonna tell you who I'm standing with. Because I am not empowered because it's too late. And I'm finished. It's too late to play around. You got to go out and vote and tell your friends or your neighbors that we need to get these that I want to use a certain word at the office. Because my friend in the backseat was she lived out the front door and you look out the front door is a disgrace. It's time for change. And I'm Andre Smith.

Patrick Brutus 39:31

Thank you. Thank you for your opening remarks. A little bit about the office. The Cook County Board of Commissioners is the governing board and legislative body of the county. It is comprised of 17 commissioners each serving a four year term and is elected from single member districts reminder. Jason Decker is running in the fifth district Andre Smith is running in the second district district represents about 300,000 constituents residents, stakeholders voters. The Board of Commissioners is responsible for the management of the A fare for the Cook County and for each fiscal year the board must adopt the resolution termed the annual appropriate appropriation bill in which the board appropriates funds for the operations of the County. County Commissioners are elected officials who oversee what did they do? What role does the office holder have? The county commissioners are elected officials who oversee county activities and work to ensure that citizens concerns are met. Federal and state requirements are fulfilled, and county operations run smoothly. What is the annual budget? Each Commissioner earns a salary of $85,000. As you heard, President candidates which are pointing indicate that the salaries have been increased to 93, that reflects a percentage change that is in the salary proportion portion of this data sheet. But District Two, has three and currently, fy 22. District Two has three employees and staff that assist in the administration in office, the total budget for that office is $407,000 374,000 is essentially allocated towards salaries and the office operations and rents are 32,000. That's at the fourth district five, as currently for employees that assist in the administration of the office and the FY 22 budget for district five offices. $478,380, of which 399,000 is salaries $79,000 in office operations, right. Okay, so Brian had the first question.

Brian Mullins 41:42

Thank you guys for showing up. I appreciate it. I just want to give a little clarity on this. Office offices here. The Cook County Commissioners are they go on automatic side in Chicago, right. So they do not control those offices under the president. They do vote on the budget. Right. And they can talk to the county board president but in our in our current state. We know that doesn't happen very often. We know that the 17 commissioners are pretty much a rubber stamp, Toni Preckwinkle gets to pass everything she wants to pass without any conversation without anything. Jason, I know you're a libertarian. So that's a start. You know, Andre, you're running with a Democrat? Can we count on you to to stand separate from what the President may want? No matter how she threatens or how she pushes people? Because we don't have independent commissioners, then that means she is the boss or Mr. point do we want? We want if Richard Boyd who becomes kind of our president, we want you to push him also to not be a rubber stamp. Can we count on that? Oh, what do you guys think about the way the current commissioners seem to be rubber stamps?

Patrick Brutus 42:55

Before you answer that question, we would part of this engagement today is audience participation. So we have a section in each segment to offer audience sufficient time to answer questions. We know you have a lot of questions. So we're going to ask our panelists in our candidates to greet to be as succinct and brief as possible in their answers, knowing that there are more opportunities to give expanded answers and once the audience also pertains to this event. So please,

Andre Smith 43:22

real quick, and thank you for answering that question. Richard Morgan says my man, I'm running side by side him, I support him 100% But one thing that I said to him and one thing I will most definitely fight for, but since I'm on board, and uncontrolled, I'm gonna fight for that. So we get an office and I hate go down. And we find all those preachers wives, all all of those pay to play people, all of those people that's doing work for the for the President and the rest of those commissioners, that's a time that's on the payroll, they got to go out you know. So, the other thing is, is time out to go along to get along. It's time if somebody gives you something that means you will get the Bible and the Koran save you in debt to someone you're a slave. So that's why we can't get any resources cuz we got too many slaves.

Jason Decker 44:26

I can't talk that great answer. Yes, as a libertarian, I would stand out as it stands. Now, there's two Republicans on the board, which again, on a legislative panel of 17 commissioners, you only need nine to pass anything. If you've ever watched the Cook County Board meeting, some of them run four or five hours. I know I've watched all of them from 2021. And your vote no on something doesn't mean much. But you do have a voice. And if you put some Putting up, you put them on record of saying no. If I say my district needs this, or the people of Cook County need this, and they say, No, you're an outsider here, you're you're a one of a kind or libertarian. That's fine. You're on record as saying that my district doesn't need mental health services. My district doesn't need help getting vacant properties back on the tax roll, you're gonna go on record to say no. When I say yes. But at the same time to further your or to further my answer, it all comes down to common sense. You know, most residents of Cook County asked two things. What is this going to cost me? And what rights are going to be taken away? Anytime something gets passed, or voted on, or a resolution goes across the board? The number one thing, from what I've talked to people over the last 20 years, whether it be customers of mine as a contractor, volunteers, neighbors, whatever it is, those are the two questions everybody asks, what is this going to cost? And what rights are going to be taken away? And I can say, as a libertarian, these people want to add programs and add it sounds great. Everybody wants mental health services, I want mental health services. But I don't want it to be a bill that we get. There's money there. There is money there. And it needs to be allocated and spent wisely and not foolishly.

Patrick Brutus 46:28

I got it.

Brian Mullins 46:31

We talked about the budget. Not when Todd Storger was president the budget was 3.1 billion is now eight point what is it? 8.1 8.1 word. So that is $6 billion gone somewhere? We don't see it. None of us see it. But it's $6 billion more than it was.

Patrick Brutus 46:48

I have some questions, but I will defer. I'll defer the essence of offering our audience an opportunity to answer questions. I know that we have some hands up over here number one, that to get your head over there. Number two, that Helen but the brother behind you. And then I think there was a person over here and then Karen and Nevada So start with you

Kernetha Jones 47:09

For example, I wanted to know how do we go about eliminating the school to prison pipeline, where 14,000 Black educators have been highly qualified with master's doctoral degrees have been specifically removed from the system, therefore opening the door to our children to be transgender. Yeah, say it and I'm gonna say it straight in your face, child grown, free school that teach them how to have all kinds of spreading sexual activities, sheets and how to put a condom on when 70% of our children cannot pass a test because they have gutted out the heartbeat of the school system, which is the black teachers that represent most of the children in the school system, where now we have the biggest prison system in the world. When you have to combine the prison system of 10 countries to total the number of black men locked up in prison 15 million account that means 15 million wives don't have hundreds, hundreds of millions of black babies do not have fathers. How do we come up against that systemic racism, where you see across the board now the governor said he proved that gerrymandering is against the law and has been since 2012. And he knew saying he's going it is against the law, but he won't correct it until 2031. He must go if he don't change it today. This is what we're saying right now of gerrymandering of our children, the blackmail seed has been the school to prison pipeline, and the gerrymandering all of this is against our children. I want to know how can we turn that around where now we have one of the worst school system yet the biggest prison system in the world? So I want to know how can we stand up for that? 6% black children and I'm saying the black man right now, up 50% of the suspended children. Okay. 80% in prison, how can we come against that genocide? How can we I'm not voting for a person who is for the bill to transgender our children. I believe that you don't have to teach a preschooler how to have eight or represents masturbate using a meal. I don't believe you have to have condoms for fourth graders when they get in fourth grade after your child grown up. Now you're gonna prepare them for the One World Water so I'm gonna drop it right now. Because I need people right now who's going to stand up for the least to be Jesus if you go to the least of the ones at the bottom blackboards. Rejecting that and abusing. I need an apology right now I'm not I'm no more. So I'm gonna I'm gonna pull the mic at the end right here. No more transgenderism. If you vote for the transgender, they've given you my vote period I don't care much call yourself libertarian librarian, whoever you are. If you if you are voting for abortion, you ain't yet my goal is that genocide of black babies murdered every day 50 being the country to destroy 20 cities of Chicago, the total number of black people destroyed due to abortion. So I'm talking about a revolution and I'm telling you break the law. I don't think those baby crashes are in the curriculum in Jesus name, a man of God approves of this

Andre Smith 50:54

question is in there. That's why they say yes. We could watch this. That's why Andre Smith is supporting Beverly mounts. Because we have to, we have to be, we got to come up close. We got to stop being so scared to say who you support and why you support. We got to let people know there's a difference. There is another candidate running for governor did JD Thank you. Here's the other piece of that system and all that luck. So I don't have to apologize because I spent 30 years losing but Gainey with my people fight for free first aid I would do in the thing that I'm doing, I would just turn over the damn table. The whole table need to be filled. The whole political table all of them. Hey friends, all of them that says oh, it's got to go and need to go. That's why I'm also supporting carry steal your stamp saying see you got to stop hiding who you supporting, being in the closing because all of this stuff is sister said is to control the way things gone. And they doing it because they lawmakers because they can control the law by being politicians. And by you sitting down in your house. You're comfortable is single house.

Karen Hicks 52:46

It's forcing you to come out

Kernetha Jones 52:49

as transgender and I'm out. I don't support

Andre Smith 52:51

me. I don't think you have to do what you want to do. But I know if I had a vote what I'm not voting for voters that way. I didn't need them. No way. So look, look, look and I'm finish. We're here for a reason. Not just here. When you go back home, talk to your family in your house. Call your friends, you got a lot of people a lot of content put on your Facebook post. I heard from Andre Smith, and you live in that district support him. I heard from Kevin steel support. I heard from support close to not get fed up unless you want to pay zero unless you got organization and they found in your organization or unless you're a snake and you're in the room getting paid to be in the room to go back to them to tell them what we did here. That's time for change. And I'm telling you in no time no mo for no pucks.

Jason Decker 54:07

Likely To start I'm going to say one thing. I think we can all agree that the number one systemic thing that's happened in our communities is the failed war on drugs. It's locked up more men and taken more men out of homes and created those single mothers and those households that are struggling because the man was taken away for using or possessing a substance that is slowly we're slowly waking up Canada has done it. Cook County needs to do it. Because the tough on crime tactics of the 80s and 90s. The War on Drugs of the 80s and 90s has left our communities in shambles. It's left our homes broken. It's left our kids without fathers and it's made criminals So out of people for simply using something, and those that speak out against it, want to go to the bar, want to drink their coffee in the morning, you some people can't go, they can't get through lunch without at least two cups of coffee. But you want to lock people up to put something on their record and ruin their lives that you put them on a path. You're talking about the pipeline. That's the pipeline, the fact that you're creating criminals with somebody who's doing something and minding their own business. Now, if those drug addicts or drug users go out and commit a crime, then yes, throw the book at them, lock them up. If you commit crimes that are violent against somebody, or taking their property, or stealing, especially carjacking in a violent manner, that's what we need to be tough on. Right now. We're tough on drug users and drug dealers. And we're soft on these people that are shooting and carjacking and causing harm to other humans. We need to change that. Last week I went to a town hall Toni Preckwinkle was out there, speaking and she she said the drug use is a public health crisis. And I stood up and I asked her if it's a public health crisis, then why are we still created, treating it as a criminal crisis. Now, she said that they've made steps to not charge people for small amounts of drugs and to leave those people out of Cook County jail to not waste resources and time of the courts. I haven't looked into it yet, because that was just last Thursday night. I'd like to see that. Because I know for a fact that there's people sitting in Cook County Jail for simply possessing or using something that they were choosing to do on their own time on their own business. And that, to me, is the number one thing that needs to change. We need to end the war on drugs in Cook County. Real quick, as far as the schools go, Yes, I am with you 100% out of schools. If anything, wait till Junior High High School, and then you can opt out and parents can opt out. But as a libertarian, we need we need more private schools and less public school, the government has no business controlling what we and our kids learn in schools. Because right now, they're taught to memorize information just long enough to pass that test. And just long enough to graduate, so the school looks good, and everybody has high scores, and, and they're taught that if you don't go to college, you're not worth anything. Right? If you don't go to college, you're not going to do anything with your life. You're not going to be anything. We're slowly learning that to tradesmen make more money than any college graduates unless you go to school to be a lot doctor or lawyer. So but as as a county commissioner, as as Boykin said the county has really no say in what happens in our schools. But we do have the title and the influence to bring change, regardless of what our authority is.

Patrick Brutus 57:51

Thank you. Thank you for your answer. Thank you for your answer. Listen, we're gonna take here's what here's what we're going, here's where we are right now. Okay, we need everyone who's going to ask a question not to have a three minute question. It's got to be honest game candidate. You know, this is why I love audience participation. And this is why we love black people at the Bruce branchial. But we're gonna have one more question from the audience. Because we have to respect your time, then we're going to let these guys answer that question if they want to. And then we're going to transition from the commissioner districts to the assessor. And then while the assessor is coming up, we're going to allow all candidates who are here that are not part of the form, but if you're here, we would love to hear for them so they can do a little commercial for their campaign as well. I think we have a few people here that fit that mold. So we have one more question. I think that guy right there. Okay, we're gonna take you know, right here, the president of Africa black, and then we're going to have you

Devon Bordeen 59:03

Good afternoon Devon Bordeen, black people first party. My question is oftentimes, recently, for years, public safety has dominated the resources, conversation, vision of life within Cook County, from the candidates. What is your economic plan to increase the viability of the business community with a Cook County and also have black families returned to Cook County to increase that tax base that attorney Boykin talked about that has been reduced? Because well, we don't want you don't want increase taxes because we get a lot of people leaving the county. What is your plan for bringing people back to the county so that they can be successful homeowners, business owners, and have a safe community within the communities that code time,

Jason Decker 1:00:02

thank you. I, I think we all agree public safety is a downward spiral and creates light, it creates people leaving, and the more people leave, the more vacant lots we have the more vacant areas we have, and that increases crime. And then we want to put more police on the streets. And we think that that's going to solve the problem. That is not the problem. I will say that more police on the streets is not going to reduce crime. If anything statistically raises crime because you put more police on the streets, you arrest more people, crime rates go up, you want to hire more police to fight the new crime, new crime goes out of the system perpetual. It's a downward spiral. It's good for them. But ultimately, as we've seen, as I said earlier, over policing of the 80s and 90s, what did that do for us, it lacked a bunch of people, and created criminals and it left families in shambles. Ultimately, public safety and revitalization have to work together. Nobody wants to invest in a community that has high crime rates. Nobody wants to invest in community that doesn't have other businesses. So we need to do it at the same time. It's not the easiest thing to do in the world, but it can be accomplished. And once we achieve better public safety and community involvement. See, that's that's what public safety people don't realize, with a lack of public safety, you get a lack of community involvement. Nobody wants to come out to forums, nobody wants to come to town halls, everybody thinks that their their concerns are going to go unanswered, because they're scared. Right? So we need to work together and engage with the community. And as I said, if I do win as a commissioner, or even if I lose, I'm going to continue to be just as engaged as I am with the communities in my district like Riverdale, Ford heights, Harvey Robbins, and try to bridge those gaps and to create just a better life and to you know, we need to do it together. That's what it takes. The more crime we see the less community involvement we see. And then again, it's a downward spiral. And all they all the people in power want to do is add more police. And they say this and they do that. So. Okay, I want to be real quick. Question unless you prefer.

Karen Hicks 1:02:26

I just want to say this, this is a great form. You know why? Because not only are we talking about voting, get educated. You're putting on a string, what each position for, because I'm tired of hearing for us to vote. It's time to educate. Andre, you got my vote, you know why you put your post in the middle of trash, and we put you on Facebook, you wouldn't clean their trash. So anybody in here that wants to vote that have their signs in trash, you're trash until you get out there to clean that place up, because a real leaderpaves the way. Thank you. This is Karen Hicks from a Few Good Women and we're tired of the garbage that we're seeing if you're really not running clean our communities up. Thank you, Andre. Thank you very much. Thank you, let's give her permission. All right.

Unknown Speaker 1:03:28

In closing Andre Smith and supporting Beverly Miles for governor. We supporting Willie Preston for Senator and he also supporting Kari Steele for the next assessor and you crazy as hell if you support somebody else

Brian Mullins 1:03:58

you take this gubernatorial candidate moving the mouse first black woman on a

Beverly Miles 1:04:12

good afternoon, everybody. I wasn't expected to be here today and I didn't think I was going to speak. But I am gubernatorial candidate Beverly Miles. I am a lifelong resident on the west side of Chicago. I am also an at risk youth from the west side of Chicago, anything and everything that goes on in our inner city. I've experienced in both personally and professionally. The difference between me and people in my community. I did not get caught and I did not get caught up. So I came here today to ask you all for your support and your vote. I don't want anybody to support me a vote for me because I'm a woman. I don't want anybody to support me or vote for me because I am African American. I want you to support for me because I am qualified and what does my qualify occasion look like. I am a double Master's repair registered nurse. I have four classes into completed my doctorate degree. I sacredly served his country, I rose to the rank of Major from the west side of Chicago. And I retired in 2014. It was very important for me to come back to Chicago, not to just give back what to put back. Because we got to look at our politicians and our pastors. They're so used to giving up giving back. They're not pulling back. They're giving us those chicken wings, they're, they're giving us this grant money, but they're not giving us anything to sustain in our community. I am a woman, I am a mother. I am a friend. And I am a concerned citizen who is fed up with the bullshit is going on in our community. So with that said, I decided to do something about I drew my name and a hat. I had the lion nice. I had the heart of a lion. Nice. I kept like the 6450 signatures to get on the ballot. And Governor JB Pritzker and money could not keep me off. He didn't only just try one, he tried twice. And he tried three, three times and he failed. So again, I am gubernatorial candidate, barely miles, come June 28, I need your support. I mean your vote, because we as black people, we got to stop giving our votes away. And it's time for us to change the trajectory of our communities.

Latonya Ruffin 1:06:23

Thank you.

Beverly Miles 1:06:24

I salute each of you. And I'm out. My Punch Number is 12

Patrick Brutus 1:06:33

coming. On soil, so as you all know today, we have the assessor in the building and we want to bring the assessors up to the stage here. But we can do that see as Carrie still due to a scheduling conflict, largely in part due to the volume of burdensome Brian show she's unable to appear today. But unfortunately, the assessor is here debate stage and ask the questions.

Fritz Kaegi 1:07:12

Thank you, everyone.

Patrick Brutus 1:07:14

So you'll be afforded an opening statement that will give some history or on the opposite.

Fritz Kaegi 1:07:19

Okay, thank you, everyone. I'm Fritz cakey. I'm your Cook County Assessor and I'm so happy to be back here. In the neighborhood. I'm a South sider. I was born in Brownsville with Michael Reese hospital. I grew up at 53rd and Greenwood right next to my old my neighbor was Brian moments old partner. I went to Kenwood Academy. And I'm a proud graduate in some of my classmates owned businesses right here in the neighborhood. John's bicycle up the street on Halston. And a friend owns a clothing store over in Chicago Ridge Mall. And it was the experiences of people like my classmates that made me run for this office because I saw that my classmates, my neighbors, my friends, they were bearing the burden for unfair low valuations, insider insider reductions for the big buildings downtown. And that meant that the average homeowner in Chicago was paying more than $1,000 per year, more than they should have as a result. And it's my administration that is reversing that the reform vision of this office is making sure that even the biggest buildings are paying their fair share. And they're valued in line with the market. And I want to show you how I'm delivering. You know, last year was the first year in almost a decade, that the average homeowners property tax bill in Chicago fell first time in the decade. And that was just because we made sure that homeowners are one percentage point less of the burden. And that was just the start. You know, we have the last two years Cook County residential property tax bills went up only 1% each of the last two years that dramatically reduced the past growth, because we made sure that the big buildings were paying their fair share. And that's just the start because of the reassessment of Chicago that we just did. Homeowners are bearing nine percentage points less of a burden. That means more than $600 million are staying in the neighborhoods with our homeowners that they used to be picking up the tab for those big buildings downtown. They're on track for that and that's how we're delivering right here the neighborhoods of Chatham, Auburn Gresham, Washington Heights, and Roseland. It's on track for more than $30 million a year to be staying here, not only with homeowners, but also small businesses. Because although we increase the assessments dramatically on the big buildings downtown because they were so undervalued, increases in the cure on commercial properties in this neighborhood are much less they're less than the city as a whole, which means their share of the burden is also falling. So that's how we've been delivering. You know, I get called lots of names in this office, but Crain's Chicago Business Let's call this the KTX effect. And that's one name. It's one moniker I'm happy to take. We've been modernizing the office we put in put, we found this office is a total Shambles at prehistoric technology. 40 years old, so much paper 600 tons of appeals files, just from 2018. We replaced that whole computer system so we could create online appeals. All the exemptions, we proved to the General Assembly, we could keep track of who's alive and who's dead, so that seniors don't have to recertify that they're still over 65 every year. This is a well known biological process that we don't get older. But we got that past 10s of 1000s of seniors, hundreds of 1000s of seniors are benefited each year. From that. We got passed the auto bill, affordable housing bill that's gonna incentivize the construction of affordable housing and we changed the policy of vacancy. Under the barrios administration, they were awarded vacancy. They give incentives for vacancy. And that caused chaos. Here on Halstead on 87th Street, 95th Street, people are getting incentives for keeping their space empty. We changed that policy, they get much lower reductions for vacancy. And you know, what that resulted in Trump Tower is tax bill going up 40%. And it's gonna go up even more with the reassessment. But, guys, when you put more burden on those big building owners downtown, they are not happy. They want me out, you know, in in 20 2019, I wasn't even a year into this office. And this group appeared called Renu Cook County, pretending to be an advocate for small businesses. But the Tribune and the sun times they called them out. Because Absolutely, it was being secretly funded by the big building owners downtown. They called it unsavory. They call it clandestine, it was true. But you know what, they have been taking a different tack. Now. They recruited a candidate to run against me, they given a $25,000 to my opponent. And the big buildings downtown that I've tried to stop our reforms in Springfield. They gave my opponent a million dollars from their PAC. So that's what's at stake in this race. But I hope you guys have seen my dartboard ad.

I take the hit. So you don't have to. That's what you need from your assessor. Because they're trying to stick you with their tax bill again. So that's what this race is about. And happy to take your questions.

Patrick Brutus 1:12:31

Thank you. Thank you. All right. Let's get some some education data. Okay, so the assessor's office has a lot of divisions, nine departments, and 276 full time equivalent employees and the office as it stands for fiscal year 2022.

Fritz Kaegi 1:12:54

This is the first time anyone's shown our org chart. So thank you for allocating,

Unknown Speaker 1:12:58

let's go, let's go back to where are you on the org chart sir.

Fritz Kaegi 1:13:03

Up at the top taking the darts for you

Patrick Brutus 1:13:12

do a just a 10 seconds on the org chart. So as you can see here, hopefully you can see there's nine departments in the office of the assessor. There's administrative operations, HR, legal policy valuations, data, it and communications 276 positions, multiple divisions. And not essential but I would argue that one of the most important ones is the valuation department. US taxpayers and the residents who fund the budget of the county. What does the office do? The Cook County Assessor office strives to deliver accurate and uniform assessments, in compliance with industry standards, build transparency into every part of the office, a treat an office culture of professionalism, inclusion and public accountability. What role does officeholder have? The Cook County Assessor is an elected government official who is responsible for establishing fair and accurate property assessments. valuation of the county's 1.8 million parcels of property is conducted for an ad valorem tax purposes. It's 1.8 million pins, property index numbers that are in this county. That's a lot of properties. So one nation that includes your city, Chicago. And lastly, what is the annual budget? The budget of the assessor's office is $34.3 million. The assessor himself earns $125,000 annually. Okay. I think Brian Mullins has our first question. As you know, we're taking questions from the panel first and then we'll go to the audience Brian bones. Stage.

Fritz Kaegi 1:15:05

How are you? Right?

Brian Mullins 1:15:06

Pretty good. So when you were when you ran for office the first time that came on the heels of Joe Barrios, Toni Preckwinkle and the Democratic machine, what I call run a hustle on black Cook County taxpayers. Part of a pro publica report that was brought out, say a day for about 10 years, black communities were over assessed. And that led to foreclosures, tax sale, white people losing families, all this other stuff for 10 years. And of course, there was no redress to that. So Cook County government, it came out later that everybody knew about it. Black folks just lost in suburban Cook County, you were like, can you explain? Can you address that problem of the black communities in Cook County that were harmed for 10 years? Have you addressed that problem? If so, can you explain to everybody so we understand what has happened since you've been assessor to change that trajectory in Cook County for the black taxpayer and the one that we're on 14

Fritz Kaegi 1:16:11

years. Thanks, Brian. And there are many ways that need to be done to redress this, the power that I have to redress it is the power over assessments, which affects the distribution of the burden, which is really about equity. Because the burden itself is determined by others. It's determined by the Chicago public schools in the city. It's like that dinner bill, but that comes at the end of dinner. And we all are sharing in that bill. But if the person ordered the 40 ounce, porterhouse steak, like I didn't know that, sometimes, if they're under paying their fair share of the bill, and you only have a side salad, but you're paying the same amount of hackers. That is where the assessor's office is going wrong. And that's what we can fix. The biggest problem coming in in 2018, was that the big commercial properties were more than 50% under assessed downtown commercial properties as a whole were 40% assessed or under assessed across the county 50% under assessed in the city. But it got worth worse than that. Because if you had a small commercial business in the neighborhoods, you actually could have been over assessed, or you were the data showed you were much closer to the mark. But that meant you're picking up the tab for the big buildings downtown. So we have addressed that data shows this green so that our reassessment of downtown was the most accurate ever, the assessment of those big buildings downtown went up over 60%. Okay, and that's shifting the burden away from homeowners and small business. And as I said, in this neighborhood, there's gonna be more than that it's on track for more than $30 million a year to stay here every year, rather than being taken out picking up the tab for the big buildings. That is what we can do. So our assessments in the first year of our administration was shown to be within industry standards for the first time ever, that anyone can remember for equity, uniformity and accuracy. The preliminary data shows the same thing is happening here. And we've greatly reduced the overall assessment of homes at the bottom end of the price scale. We're also being creative and using our other powers to get better data from the government so we can further reduce that disparity. Mike, chief data officer, who I'm proud to say is a daughter of Englewood is leading this effort, we went to the White House and we're leading a group of the top 15 assessors in the nation to get access to federal mortgage appraisal data that will reduce the disparity on bottom and a bottom is of the price spectrum. So we've bent over backwards train every muscle to do that I do not control the pen over the financial damage done in the past. Kim Fox does that. But what I can say is that there was a lawsuit, there was a civil rights lawsuit against our office because of the damage that was done. And all of the commitments that we made on transparency on showing our work on eliminating conflicts of interest that led the plaintiffs to drop their lawsuit and all the transparency gains that we've made in terms of recognition from our peers, or following through on the commitments when that lawsuit was made.

Patrick Brutus 1:19:14

Okay. Hold on. We have a couple of questions from the panel. I have a question myself. Thank you for coming. We appreciate you being incumbent coming to this audience to talk to black people about black issues.

Fritz Kaegi 1:19:30

I'd love to come here every time.

Patrick Brutus 1:19:32

Thank you. We appreciate it. So I have a question. It's tough question. You say you're the dark guy and configured so hopefully, this won't be too hard. in a constructive way, everyone relax. All right. It's in the headlines I need to ask question. Recently in the headlines, the Jewish community issued the letter headlined by several Jewish elected officials insisting that President Carrie Steele denounced certain statements made by her When a media personality makes deaths, those statements were described as hurtful to the Jewish community. And they both apologized. However, however, do you think that the article one communities expressing outrage over another communities and other communities outreach inspires competence in building unnecessary collaboration of working with all communities represented amongst the nearly 6 million residents in the county? And are you concerned that a failure in this area raises suspicion among black residents whose property historically has always been undervalued? As you do your work? And I'm really speaking to you back to Cook County to a little bit of county, extremely undervalued? Are you worried about the perception of what I just said? Well,

Fritz Kaegi 1:20:52

I gotta say that I don't expect people to earn their trust by talking, you know, trust is earned. Trust is earned. And I have, I have been there tirelessly, going to the communities that have been affected by this. I, I don't take the darts from the big building owners downtown, because it's fun, although it is a little bit file. But I do that because you need an assessor who can say no, to the people who want a piece. You know, there have been people who've been getting a piece of you for years. And who was it was the big going on or Santa when they're 50% under assessed, that means the burden, the tax that was given to others. So that's, you know, the path of least resistance is to go along with those people are saying nothing. We've had plenty of assessors who've done that. You'll know when assessor is doing a good job, let's I said my head, I knew I was doing something right. When they said they have a picture of me on a dartboard and every developer downtown, okay, but that's fine. But with respect to the letters that are coming from the different communities, you know, the light of God is within everyone, within every human soul. God's light flows through every human soul. And we all have dignity. And we cannot engage, I believe you need to speak out on this when and not benefit from that kind of hatred. So I think it's important to call attention to inequities. It's a fight on behalf of inequities. But I believe in the Bible and not creating scapegoats, scapegoats, do not push us in the right direction.

Patrick Brutus 1:22:36

I want to follow up, I just want to make sure that we have it on the record in terms of answering the spirit of collaboration that you need to inspire the citizens of the county, by working collaboratively with communities when you have one community against another community, one that you represent another someone that we represent here. So do they answer that question? Sure. And then we'll move on to ask questions.

Fritz Kaegi 1:22:57

And again, don't take my word for it. Look at the trusted voices in your community. You know, Danny Davis was the first congressman who supported me when I ran, even though he ran, he went against the machine. I'm supported by most of our congressional delegation now, including Congresswoman Robin Kelly, who was private Congresswoman Robin Kelly and Congressman Davis, you know, in our Congress, they're probably some of the two most knowledgeable people on fighting against property tax and equity and fighting for school funding so that we don't have to fund our schools through levies the way we do. So we have their support, you know, don't take my word for it on what we've been doing to help the communities that have been most hurt by the system. I mean, I'm supported by the leading mayors and proviso the mayor in May one, the mayor of of Broadview, the mayor of Forest Park, the mayor of belwin in the Southland to Hazel crest, Markham Calumet, Park, Fortin, you know, our work, you know, we take the darts from these people, but you know, the average homeowner and Harvey they're paying $500 less per year because of our work. Same in Markham. You know, and that is, that's how we're not just talking to talk. But following through, you know, the support of United working families, that there they are very credible, progressive voice on these issues in taking on the powerful for average people who don't have that power. And I'm proud of the support and you know, on terms of transportation, transparency, don't take my word for it. Look at the awards we won from national bodies, like the National Association of Counties and the Chicago Tribune. So don't take my word for it. That's how we're working collaboratively. And, you know, you know, Michael Madigan didn't was not a fan of me. Okay. We have we have busted up his racket. You know, I'm the first assessor who doesn't take campaign contributions from property tax appeals lawyers We made appeals at our office anonymous. So our analysts do not see the identity of the lawyers who are making the appeals anymore. It's just based on the data. We have a visitor's log, don't believe me when sometimes when people come in to visit, they turn tail when we asked him to sign. And we put our numbers out in public for everyone to see. And, you know, but we still got things passed in Springfield, even though Madigan was there and we got past automatic renewal of the senior exemption, we got past the Southland reactivation Act, which is going to take property that's been off the rolls for decades, and get put back on and only phase in their assessments. We worked with all the south suburban mayors of South suburban mayors and managers we worked with in the trenches to get that done, even though hardly anything got done this session in Springfield. So I'm proud of the collaboration. And you know, lastly, President Preckwinkle did not support me when I ran last time, even though I grew up, right up right down the block from her on Greenwood. But we won her over. We've been in the trenches with her on making good on the technology contract with the county side in 2015. Barrios didn't move that project forward one single solitary inch, and that our old computer system prehistoric. Older Mike data analysts weren't even born when the system was put into place. It's older than post it notes early couple of elderly people don't know how to program on it. God forbid anyone gets hit by a truck, the whole company. So we worked with her to deploy that cap at that computer system in her area of technology. And now we have her support. And she spoke up for me and Slater. So that's how I work connected.

Rosita Chotunda 1:26:49

First of all, let me say thank you for coming. This has receded to Tanda. I'm over here. Okay.

I wanted to say to you, I heard some of the things you talked about, and repairing the assessor's office and bringing equity to black communities that are often underserved in overcharge. My question is for the last, say, 10 years that's been going on. And you did say that you did do things to repair that. But I My concern is we have to do more than just repair. We have the brain restorative justice in terms of reparations, in terms of giving back what was stolen from our people. I want to know how you feel about that reparations. And when we have been harmed our communities have seriously been harmed. And people just think they can just fix it and move on. Well, the problem is that our children are in the street raging as a result of equities that we face as. So I need to know what you feel about restorative justice and reparations.

Fritz Kaegi 1:28:08

But thank you for asking, Rosita. And, you know, the most important thing that I've been able to do besides you know, within the four walls of my office, my power is over the the assessors, the assessments and exemptions. But I've spoken repeatedly on behalf of getting more funding into our schools, because that is how, and just bear with me, how does funding for schools have to do with property tax fairness? Well, our state is dead last in the United States of America for supporting school districts and funding our schools. And that is why our property taxes are so high. And it's also why they're so regressive. Why is the rate six times higher in Harvey than it is in Chicago? For $1 property? Oh, and your rate is six times higher? It's because and it's not because of assessments. It's because of the fact that the good people in Harvey have to assume more of the cost of educating their children for taxing themselves than any other place in the nation. And that is totally unfair. So what have I done? I spoke out on behalf of the progressive tax amendment that Governor Pritzker wanted, that would be the best tool to get more funding from the state into our schools. That would be really good for not only reducing the tax burden on black and brown homeowners, but also with turbocharged house prices. In places where they've been depressed by head taxes, the more that we have a lower burden in places like Harvey, the better response will be on house prices and Harvey and that's that's the best thing that I can think of in repairing the damage done because those homeowners in Harvey were damaged by this. There are people displaced. There are people put underwater because of that. So I spoke on behalf of and then I've been stopped There, I did the same thing calling for more federal funding for our schools from the federal government wrote op eds on this, I spoke out on it. I wrote book chapters on it. So I've extended the the platform, the bully pulpit of this office to speak out on that, and I speak about it in my speeches all the time. I don't have the pen that that that our state's attorney does in terms of making amends for the past financial damage. But I've got I don't, I've bent over backwards in terms of the assessments, reducing the burdens on people who've been hurt by the system.

Patrick Brutus 1:30:35

Thank you for your questions. Thank you for your answers, do a run of applause. We have some questions right here. Please state your name when you ask them a question.

Unknown Speaker 1:30:51

Thank you. Also, thank you, Brian, for putting on this forum. And thank you for your attendance. This is a kind of a combined question. I hope you have a sense that there is a tone in this room, that there is no longer a rubber stamp for the Democratic Party.

Unknown Speaker 1:31:08

This is a statement that you want over Toni Preckwinkle Yeah, I'm happy for you. But most of us in this room. And most of us in this room voted for you last time. Often did that because you were independent organization. Yeah. There's a distrust there. So I'm glad you feel like you made inroads. But it's hard for us to trust that. Now, specifically, when you talk about some of the dangers made. And I'll give you some of the things that we've done. Understand that in our business corridors, you don't see any big businesses in this specific chain downtown. We don't have big business in our communities, we have business corridors that often look like third world countries, their taxes go up, sometimes upwards of 3% that will kill that business or the property. It's a kid. And it's Rosina tried to speak to and I think Brian alluded to, there's got to be some redress for the fact that they had already been improperly assessed for decades. And I think you even acknowledged the tribute to that you have brought their bills down some, but they're still improperly assessed. So it's like we're on a treadmill here. Also, let's speak to your office, your C suite, your top level executives, doesn't look like this room. As a representative. I know you mentioned your chief data officer came to me, but I'm glad to hear again. Let's talk about transparency. There have been there's a recent article published about FOIA request. And I know how important transparency is to you. And I know you gave the response that, hey, you're trying to put more things on your website, which is admirable. I've looked at your dashboard to make sure that you're transparent, because again, these are all triggers for us. When we see that that's, that's the same old same old that we're used to seeing it we just want to end with the reason you see here such a overwhelming support for caring and like I said, I have no doubt most of us in this room voted for you last time is now we hear you aligning yourself with the same people who created these problems,

Fritz Kaegi 1:33:24

actually Laury. I'll take that, but, you know,

Unknown Speaker 1:33:28

psycho Bronco, Bronco love. Okay, that's just real friends. Okay, well, when the question comes up, why should we trust you? Why should we believe that you can truly move the ball in our favor, because as Ben adequately eloquently stated, but Andre, and even Mr. Morgan, people who even look like us have been dumping people who look like us having done it right. And that's a sad thing for me to have to admit to you. But that's just real. That's where we are in this county.

Fritz Kaegi 1:34:02

So I'm hearing your worry. There are a couple of questions there. It's good to see your Bronco here. I gotta gotta mention that. First of all, you know, let's remember that I beat the boss of the Democratic Party last time. I did not have their support. And who was behind him? Who was behind the property tax appeals lawyers, the biggest buildings and these are not It's not mysteries who these people were. Robert Hartwig. Michael Madigan Burke, Ray Lopez some of these machine people and you know, we had we had a hard fight for slaving and we made a decision Should we should we go for slavery or not? But the reason why I go to every single room, I go to everything. The only way you're going to change this Sometimes if you go everywhere, and talk about it and move things forward, eventually, you have to win fake things. You have to win people over. If the change is going to endure, you have to win people over. And so that's why I go to every room to make that and you know, there was a big effort against me, enslaving, but all the people who are with the people who are most buying Barrios, the stalwarts, the fire eaters, the people who didn't think there was anything wrong with the system before they voted for my opponent. Mark Lake, Ray Lopez, Felix Cardona if you'd like started all that was very osis very osis henchmen at the assessor's office, he ran a concierge service for insiders he is now the alderman of the 31st. Ward supported my opponent. Okay. We won some, we won some people over who were not with us before. We did it through hard work. And we did it through showing that we don't just talk, we walk the walk. And that and that's how we did it. So you asked about so I believe you'll change it in to have change habit and change at my office. It is built there is a built in multi year lag, because we only get to reassess 1/3 of the county every year. And it just so happened that when I came to this office, Chicago came last. Okay, so the suburbs saw the benefits of our work before Chicago, that but that's why I talked about the reassessment of Chicago so much, because homeowners are very nine percentage points nests of the burden communities like this. So, as I said, Auburn Gresham, Chateau Washington Heights, Roseland, they are bearing less of the burden in the reassessment net includes the small businesses that you're talking about worrying. So the money that's gonna be staying in these communities, it's on track to be around $30 million, just in those four community areas that I mentioned every year. That's money that will be staying with small businesses, the stake in the hands of homeowners that can be spent that those small businesses, and that is how you bet is how change moves beyond talk into action. And that is the best way possible that I can pick up to make it actually stick. So Laurie, that's yeah, and then staff. So my, so the number two person in my office, Sarah Garza, resume consultant, Tina, my number three Chief Administrative Office officer at Kimberly Harris, Laurie, black woman, the head of our HR, the person who heads hiring. She's a deputy black woman, Chief Data Officer, the person who runs our models who oversees the engine room in the engine room of office, black woman. So I'm really, really proud of the diversity that we have we attract one of the top bike assessors in America here to be a director in our chief value in our valuations office. That's Michael Piper, he used to be the assessor of Philadelphia. And this this focused data science, it valuations, these are industries where there is there's not diversity, okay, so we worked really hard to get that diversity in this office, and we're proud of it. And we should do we want to do more, you know, we are gonna be doing lots of hiring, and make sure that the hiring that we do is more diverse, and I want to push what county allows us to do and making sure that we can do things like a Rooney rule when we interview people so that you must interview people from black and brown communities in every interview pool, and not just randomize it the way we're forced to buy the Chefman degree right now. And I've been on the record for that. Already. Did I get all the questions.

But I understand the distrust. I understand where it's coming from already. But the only way we're going to make change in the office where change is phased in over a three year period is you know, engaging with others is a really important part of that and winning people over the vital it's, it's required.

Unknown Speaker 1:39:11

Hi, my name is to make a hope. And I hear you keep speaking to the room for the Southside neighborhoods. So remember, when you want to these forums, we come from all over to participate in this forum. So I'm from East Garfield. And I didn't say our property tax as a homeowner. That's number one, as a small business owner, while I own on the south side, my property taxes was higher. And not only that, my bills came late in the eight months late they were not for sale. So tell me about that. So unless how Dallas in the sense I'm not sentimental. A lot of us have acids and minerals and they're all about who likes you don't mind. None of that. Let's talk dollars and cents. Math is absolutely

Fritz Kaegi 1:39:55

sure to do it. So, first of all, and again, you don't have to believe me Go to the Cook County treasurer's website. And you can go on Mary Maria pappases website they have she has a statistical report of every ward. And you can see how many homeowners had a lower property tax bill versus last year versus a higher one. And the words that cover East Garfield Park, the vast majority of homeowners had a lower bill. Now there can always be such special situations where it might not apply to you. Maybe you had an improvement, maybe an exemption was dropped. But in the city overall, more homeowners than not had lower bills. That's especially true in the woods that cover East Garfield Park. I'll be happy to connect with you afterwards to help you find that. Now. That was just the start that came from just homeowners share the burden falling 1%. Last year, last year, when we reassessed Chicago in 2021 homeowners now have nine percentage points less of deferred versus just one year before and that, that cause homeowners bills be down for the first time in a decade. So homeowners are in line to really benefit. And how will you benefit because we made sure that the big buildings downtown were finally valued in line with the market. Because these rates are not fixed. How those big buildings are valued determines your bill. Okay, so you are connected with how we assess the biggest buildings that have and that is what's at stake in this race. The choice that we'll have at the ballot box is do you want to pick a candidate who is funded by the big building owners downtown? Or do you want the person who's taking darts from, you know, who's trying to stop them from sticking you with their bills again, that's what this is all about. And that's that's the choice you have. And I'd love to have your vote. But I understand the step I understand the skepticism, because when we reversed when we reassessing the county, Chicago came last in the state schedule, the state gives us that schedule. So you haven't seen the benefit of the reassessment yet, in your bills, which you'll get in the second half of last year. Now most people I know, are not complaining about their tax bills coming late, to be perfectly honest with you. And people's bills have become late to replace our computer system. Like that 40 year old computer system that I mentioned, I wish we could all wave a magic wand and replace a 40 year old computer system with a new state of the art system that is not the way it works, you have to transfer data, you have to do error checking, you have to train people on it. And if we didn't do it this year, we'd have to do it next year. The hard work of reform, the hard work of modernization goes to saying this bridge is rickety, it's about to fall down. We put the baling wire and tape on it for too long, we gotta replace it now. And you know, President Preckwinkle and I, we went to the vendor, they better paid up front $30 million in 2015. In Barrios didn't do boot and deploy it. So, President Franklin Cola, we went to that vendor, and we said by God in heaven, you're gonna give us the system that we paid for already, and you're gonna give us your best. Or we're going to talk to the stock market about you that made them listen, that made him help the system get deployed. And you know, the best time to appoint replaced the system would have been years ago. The second best time is now you know, all of you. I've heard from so many of you in this community, about frustrations with our system, about exemptions being dropped, about errors about having to tell the assessor's office every three years about the characteristics of your home. We've had study after study showing that the key to changing that is replacing Information Technology at this office, you cannot have an Atari. You know, a five year old phone is embarrassing, right? Let me tell you how bad a 40 year old system is, when there are only a couple people, elderly people who know how to program on it. So making the hard work of modernization comes from Yes, the bills will be a couple months late this year, but we have a new system is deployed and now the rest of the county they can move forward on their obligations. That's what this is all about.

Unknown Speaker 1:44:20

So a couple of months later afterwards.

Fritz Kaegi 1:44:25

Okay, so the tax sales are administered by the treasurer. So I don't know how she does that. But what I can say is that the reassessment is the essential thing for getting fewer people caught in this net of tax sales, which is terrible for the people who are affected by it, but it's also terrible for people's neighbors. It's not good when on Halston Street. I mentioned my teammate, a candlelit, he's one of the owners of John's hardware on all set. It's not good when all the neighbors there are vacant, right and no one knows who owns these properties. That's because they were caught in this net of this tax debt system before making sure that properties like that are not over assessed, and they're not bearing the burden and picking up the tab for the big buildings downtown is the most important thing that someone in my seat can do. And that's the choice you have when you vote. Are you making sure that those big powerful voices downtown are paying their fair share or not?

Patrick Brutus 1:45:23

Okay, we think you listen to the essence of time. Thank you, Katie. And yes, it's a time. We have two questions that remain for a strategic from the audience, too. But we're going to do them in rapid fire progression. So we have the done. And we have Yeah, hello, real quick. Hello. First question. Questions, and then I'll let you answer them. But we need to get to our sheriff. Close our forum today. So demand first, that the person didn't help

Devon Bordeen 1:45:58

during the pandemic? Were allowances given to homeowners in higher assessed areas. If that saw your answer, and then how is that sustainable? And what is the dollar and cents amount going to look like to people in black communities where our properties are assessed as high as the ones in these other more affluent areas? Thanks.

Fritz Kaegi 1:46:29

Thanks for asking that. So. Okay, rapid fire. Okay.

Helen Johnson 1:46:34

Yes, so my name is Helen. I had a home and a family home in a world we sold and all prepaid damage, and now live in a Washington Heights Denial of Death. I wish I had bought textfields, from Ohio to Inglewood, and from the new house in Washington Heights. So definitely looking forward to the benefits the tax benefit that I'm going to be receiving here in Washington. Hi. So thank you.

Fritz Kaegi 1:47:01

Okay. So thank you. So, for homeowners, in many business owners during COVID got reductions that we leaned into, we've made sure that because the effects of the pandemic was so devastating on all different kinds of communities, all different kinds of property. Every single homeowner in Cook County got a COVID reduction from our office. And that was the thing that drove homeowners share the burden down one percentage point in Chicago in a year when there was not a reassessment. Okay. And, and it was all all communities, because we had to we have we had limited data in terms of what the impact of COVID was, we had data showing that homeowners, the value of single family homes early in the pandemic was down 10 percentage points. We had that. And then we could say that we had a choice of do we want to have a uniform 10% reduction across all communities? Or do we want to try to estimate the ones that are more impacted by unemployment or less? Do we want to take that into account and we chose using the best data that we had, and we published our methods on how we did it. The communities that had more unemployment, as a result of the pandemic, got slightly wretched marcher reductions, the ones that did not so Englewood, Chatham Washington Heights, these communities had larger reductions and the wealthier communities that have lower unemployment and smaller percentage reductions, we also made the reductions for communities that were impacted at small commercial properties that were impacted. And that includes all the ones that lake Township, which is commercial properties south of Pershing west of State Street. Okay. And so and that was 1000s of commercial properties that they got those reductions, but it's the reassessment of Chicago is even better for communities like this one, because as I mentioned, homeowners share the burden down one percentage point in the 2020 and 2021. With the reassessment, Chicago homeowners share the burden down nine percentage points, that means much more money on track to stay in the community.

Patrick Brutus 1:49:08

Thank you very much sweet

Fritz Kaegi 1:49:09

that I get your question. And so that affect that affects Washington Heights to and that affects your old neighbors in Englewood, two. Second, a second. So on the second, on the second hand, Bill, you'll see the impact of the reassessment in Chicago, one is going to be late. But the one that will be a couple months later, yes.

Andre Smith 1:49:30

Thank you, everyone.

Patrick Brutus 1:49:33

Is it a statement or a question? Okay, so it's a 10 Second question, and it's inclusive like your final statement. Okay, now give you total 30 seconds.

Unknown Speaker 1:49:45

Okay, so when you talk about when you talk about trust. When you talk about ethics, and you talk about trust, you talk about understanding the plight of the black community Is it true that as a hedge fund manager, and as a private investor in the prison industrial complex, that incarcerates millions of black bodies?

Fritz Kaegi 1:50:13

Absolutely false. Thank God, I didn't manage a hedge fund. First of all, in the fund that I did manage. We didn't we didn't own any of those prison industrial complex companies. And the reason why is I said, I don't want to buy these companies. Okay. So there was a, there was a fact check article that was written by the better government association back in 2018. And you can go read that and you can, it'll show you that I never while I managed to find I never own stocks and any of those kinds of companies, because I thought they're terrible companies that do bad things and you don't want to invest in with people like that.

Patrick Brutus 1:50:52

Okay, thank you very much, Miss V. Let's do a run of applause. Let's bring up our sheriff candidates running for sheriff let's give them a round of applause. I just want to say you guys are making it very difficult for Brian and I keep on all right. Okay. All right. We're gonna allow each candidate here to give us a 45 second, greeting, opening remarks before I give you some education and then we're gonna take questions, knowing that we have to dismiss for the purposes at 430. So first, the Tony Robbins. Thank

Latonya Ruffin 1:51:46

you. Good afternoon, everyone. I always start saying giving honor to God who's ahead of my life, because this race was a calling. I didn't ask for this race. I was had had enough is enough of Tom dark. No more than four years of his work that he's not doing. My name is LaTonya Ruff and I'm a candidate for Cook County share. Why am I running for Cook County Sheriff's crime is a gun gun violence is out of control. This keeps me up at night. I ask the community do you feel safe? Do you feel safe? My family and friends don't. This is why I'm running for Cook County Sheriff. I'm a breast cancer survivor. I have survived domestic violence. I have 18 years plus experience in law enforcement. I have worked at Cook County Jail for 16 years. I've been on special units. Anybody in the audience that's worked for the Cook County Sheriff. How many 10s hands and all available still we go to a lot of eyes is in jeopardy every day. I am the most qualified spirits inside that jail. I know what it takes need someone like me LaTanya Ruffin, who is qualified, who's capable, who understand who's gets it. And I'm also a police officer in the south suburbs and worked for four different departments, robins Dix more and now they're dumb. You tell me about those crimes in that area. You need somebody who's tough. And I am your candidate for Cook County Sheriff.

Nolan Rivera 1:53:31

Good afternoon, everybody. Thank you for allowing me to speak here. And being your guest. My name is Nolan Rivera, and I'm running for Cook County Sheriff. I'm a 33 year combat veteran with the Army Navy Air Force. I've been on the Chicago Police Department for 28 years. I'm a sergeant there. I'm a graduate of the University of Chicago with a master's in Threat and Response Management and into for police academies. I've been in the United States Federal air marshal. I'm a father of five. And now a single parent for the second time. late in life. My wife, Sheila Rivera was the first Cook County Sheriff to die in the line of duty, but due to COVID. So when I stand up here, talking to you about the sheriff's office and that it needs change. Believe me, I know that it needs change. It needs change because my family has suffered under this current administration, lack of leadership, lack of being the president. I am not that person. I am a person who will be present all the time. I'm a person who will be in that car, walking those tears with those officers making sure things are being done, right. So why am I running? I'm running, of course because I have a personal interest and it's right. It's very personal, but it's not vindictive. It is personal, because things need to change. The other reason I'm running is because I'm a professor You know, I'm the highest, the most highly trained and experienced candidate for this office. And the other reason I'm running is because as a professional, in the end, I could not turn my back on most people that are working day in, day out in that jail, on the streets, knowing that I have the capacity and experience to make the change that needs to be made. So I hope you will vote for me. My number is 106 and a June 28 ballot, and I look forward to your questions.

Patrick Brutus 1:55:35

Thank you. Let me give you some education about the Office of the county sheriff.

Okay, what does the office do? The Cook County Sheriff's Office is the principal law enforcement agency that serves Cook County, Illinois. It is the second largest sheriff's department in the United States of America with over 6900 members when operating at full screen. It is headed by the Cook County share currently Thomas Dart who was elected first in 2006. What role does the office holder had, the sheriff can provide all transit traditional law enforcement functions, including county wide patrol and investigations, irrespective of municipal boundaries, even in the city of Chicago. Right didn't know that. But has traditionally limited its patrol functions to unincorporated areas of the county because unincorporated areas are the primary jurisdiction of a sheriff's department in Illinois, such as in the heights. Under the provisions of the Illinois State Constitution. The sheriff has three primary responsibilities, providing services and security the county and court facilities, administering the Cook County Jail and protecting and serving the citizens of Cook County with policing throughout the county. What is the annual budget? The annual budget is $608 million. That's a lot of money. The sheriff earns $160,000 annually. And there's four departments that are primary to the sheriff's office, community relations, the sheriff's police, corrections and court services. I won't go into all the detail.

All right. Our first question comes from the panel, the black community collector.

Natasha Dunn 1:57:32

I thank you guys for coming out. So my children's father served 24 years as a Cook County Sheriff, he actually worked in a correctional facility usually passed away. And, you know, one of the things that, you know, my concern is, and this is multiple concerns, but definitely the treatment of staff and how, you know, safety protocols. And I know that you also lost someone. So my condolences to you is way over? What are some of the safety protocols and things you're going to put in place to protect the workers. But then also, the other question I have in terms of our community is, you know, we have been riddled with so much crime, and there's just so many different disparities. And we're equity is thrown around so much, right. And we want to know, particularly from the Black Panther collaborative side is a how, how have you once you take office work with the community to really reduce some of those those issues that are really run a rapid within our community? Sure.

Nolan Rivera 1:58:31

And my condolences again, as you know, when you live, when you when you're with your spouse or significant other, you live their job, you listen to what's going on, and it's obvious that during all that time, you've heard the worst of the worst. Well, I've heard the worst of the worst also. And my question to my wife was always, well, why doesn't somebody do anything? Or, like, why is it still going on? And her response was, because nobody cares. Okay, well, I care. I care. My family cares. My, my own 20 year old was a victim of attempted carjacking not long ago. So crime is everywhere, and it touches everyone. Okay. One of the things that I'm going to do is that peer support appears support in the last budget was reduced by one position. We only have five positions now to help the officers and the staff that are there now. So out of those five, there are no professionals that really psychiatrists, counselors, things like that. So my goal is to expand that to at least 15 And I'm talking about licensed counselors, psychiatrists, on and on, okay, so because those people that are working those tears and working in the staff are under under stress and on a great deal of crisis. And one lady who was From the nurse at cernik, that literally cried in front of me out in front of the jail, telling me of all the things that go on to in that section that she works, and what happens to her and how she's threatened, and all those other things. So those are my concerns, too. Now, as far as your question about the equity. So what I want everyone to understand is the people that that the individuals that come to the county, they come because they are sent there by the courts, the courts and the prosecutor. So now we have them. So as far as my equity, what I can do for them, is to bring the churches, the synagogues, the mosques, nonprofits, and private organizations, all together, I can talk to people, I've done it for 33 years. And as a sergeant, on the Chicago Police Department, I can bring people together. So what what's going to happen is we're going to create a Citizens Academy, where those individuals can come in. And through minority owned contracts. Let's say I'll give you an example. Somebody who a minority owned trucking business that teaches how to drive or operate trucks, that is a an easy fix, to start getting some of that equity back. Okay, and getting somebody a job. While we're doing that we're rehabilitating their their driver's license records, because we all know that that is a big hindrance for our youth, because they have bad driving records, and there's no way for them to get out of that system. So we will rehabilitate those driving records, we will have minority own trades contractors, to be mentors and to be the same as they are. And that's how the equity is going to come about.

Latonya Ruffin 2:02:06

Great, great answer. I can only speak on experience with the jail. I've been there 16 years, and we talk about safety. We're not safe in that jail. We don't have enough officer. We're understaffed. And when you all don't hear about that side? Yes. I want to bring Brian programs to they took out the bootcamp and women's justice. Do you know when they left out? I don't want to say inmates but when they left out, they became better citizens where they didn't come repeat offenders to come back to jail. Man, we got to start somewhere. We got to be proactive first, so they won't be coming back and forth to jail. We are understaffed at the Cook County Jail. It's time again, the programs, the faith, the preachers, I want to bring them also they've sat down I've had meetings with them. I want to create a program where they can have different learning right now they have things called music. In the JLC. They do have some programs. They do have some school and outdoor to school wing. But they don't have they need to get a handle on these kids. They don't have anybody. These are children. Do you know these children call me auntie mama? Because they don't have anybody. But see me somebody who has worked at jail who understood understand that genome I have, by the fact is 500 women who don't feel safe. I'm one of those women. Where will you walk the sale they hear my voice they masturbate don't feel voice. Or you when they said they waited for you to put the flashlight to see that. It's time for there is no safety in there. So you need someone who does understand none against Mr. Rivera. But I've been working this jail for 16 years. And my condolences. Why? Because I was going to do on tour when we did 1042 is called under tour. We all had our radios on silence. We always heard because we went to work as doctors instead of officers. See, I'm an officer first. I'm not a professional politician. I believe in law and order. And it's time for us to come together as Coalition for us to do this. It was a shame that he lost his wife to COVID That didn't nobody know about we come into work each and every day. And then now we start coming to work looking like doctors. So again, I plan on breaking bootcamp, women's justice, the fake base back into the into the jail. These kids are nice, same thing. Let me tell you something about these babies this nine year old carjacking. Now that is Over another department told me the department. But at some point we have to go back to Scared Straight. I don't know if y'all remember back in the day, my parents was frightened. Let's go back to carrot scare Street. There's so many empty buildings on that county jail. That's not being utilized. Let's bring the kids up. Y'all understand y'all taxpaying dollars? Let's talk about electronic monitoring. That's definitely Mach number one. How is it that they get electronic monitoring and can be led out a gold kill and shoot somebody? And they have the monitor that gives more an ankle bracelet? Is that connected? Why is that? Because they're not spent enough time on that undermine leadership? I'm sorry, I hope I don't offend nobody in here. But if you've been convicted of carjacking, and a murderer, you will not be on em. That is far lower offense, target 2900. Convicted felonies or murders on em. And I asked you again to you feel safe, because I don't. And my family don't. And I'm here to work tireless hours on day one. I'm a mother of one son. And I'm going to set up proudly say of a black first black woman, this made this battle of Cook County share. I've already made history because Tom dark and China, take me off the ballot. Three people challenges challenge me to take me off the ballot. Common to tone charts to take me off the ballot. Why is that? Why did they want me up, let the voters decide who should be on the ballot. This is going back to Tom dollar day that he can pick and choose who that is so unfair, it is not fair. And that's why I am going to be your next Cook County share because you all get a chance to make the vote, not the politician, the law enforcement.

Brian Mullins 2:06:56

Like some of these, this kind of Senators real quick kind of add. The local police officers are the ones who arrest. Right? The Sheriff's Department detained innocent people. So to be clear about that they're not criminals inside of Cook County jail until they're convicted. Right? They're detainees. So I look at it as we got about 100,000 people pass through that jail every year. We know most are black and brown right behind that. So it is a focal point for me to help fix the problem, you guys will be in who either shares will be in charge of and rich people 100,000. And so I think, Nolan, you started on some of your ideas on how to change. And so for me, we got a problem with the food, which is atrocious. We have a problem with putting people out without housing or eating skills. So they go in I think they sit for 15 or so days on an average, and then they come right back out. And that's a high recidivism. So I'm just asking, so my question would be to explain a little bit more we got, you know, we know what they need to come out of jail. And we need to fix all that behind the walls. And we knew we need full blown clinical mental health services, this time to direct partners as they leave out because there's a disconnect where everybody falls to the grinder? Yes,

Latonya Ruffin 2:08:22

that's a great question. First, let me start off about the food. I worked the kitchen also, I've worked every department division and visit state's Division five central kitchen exotics. So yeah, the the food is treacherous. You go under you smell it you smell is like for what they're doing is and I don't like it. You give the man soy. Soy is not healthy for them. They do that to bring the low medium down the libido down. But it's not healthy for them. And a lot of them are ill with this food. That's why a lot of them require different diets and stuff for that. One, I will change the whole contract of the food. That's number one. The mental health with all the mental health centers close. These kids have nowhere to go. It starts up here before we can say Second Chance program we got to get upstairs, we got to get in a minute. We got to give a program. We got to give them something to do like to idle. They are too high. No. Sorry, sitting around, they have the anchorman. It's like what are they going to do? Going through they got to do what commit crime. So we kind of chose the mount. We got to commit a program for that. So it's tough to read the repeat, repeat. We said it best to stop. We can stop as a community because that's what it's gonna take. That's exactly what it's going to take for us to work with that in that jail. That jail is not supposed to only be a holy spy man. That's not where to

Kernetha Jones 2:09:57

make money or make money.

Latonya Ruffin 2:09:59

Because what you don't know is that every day they get money for sitting in jail. Your tax data pain is it's a, it's a business. Absolutely. That gives more box is $3,800. So your tax panned out that eight kilometers, 100 hours, for whatever the day is 60,060 100 hours, that's the p&l, they got diabetes, that's 260. Or they got heart trouble. That's like, three, four or $500 a day. I think it's a business to them. We got to stop making it a business. And not only that, they commit crime to come in there. And I'm gonna answer your question about transgendered to get the shots come dark is giving them breast enhancement shots. Textiles, they come in for methadone, they get Ardennes and fight if they don't get the medicine. In his time, we are in jeopardy. Now. Our jobs is in jeopardy, because if we defend ourselves, they say assess the force. At one time, back in the day, you wouldn't even look at a woman you got dealt with? Did you look at the now they look, they feel like they attack you. They feel like I say what they want to see because it's up here. It stops here. And we cannot have four more years of the same old status quo. He must go. And as I'm asking you to vote for LaTonya. Robin for Cook County Sheriff, it is time for change. And it's this time for somebody who's been working our system who gets it who's willing to work. I worked 166 106 every payday for years. Because we don't have enough officers. They run short on the numbers. So awkward midnight, and I'm gonna let him have the mic. I want you to tears. Oh, watch to tears was 60 million 60 million over there. It's impossible people. And then if somebody in their hand they sell or doing something to who's in trouble. Now you lost your job, but because they're not following protocol. But see, you can kiss speak on this because I get it. workday. And you know, somebody who goes to work them jails who go through data jail, or they go from I'm sorry,

Unknown Speaker 2:12:16

I get a sales rep up everybody. Okay, sorry,

Latonya Ruffin 2:12:18

Division five, all the divisions, once one arm at a time and talk to your officer and tell them a change is coming because a change is coming? Well, the tiny rough and bold patch 109. But you'll Cook County share.

Patrick Brutus 2:12:34

Candidate prepare and offer a final answer and kind of a closing remark. We're getting dismissed here. So let's see.

Nolan Rivera 2:12:45

Isn't it the way it is? So as I as I've said, A little while ago, the sheriff's office cannot do it alone. And anyone that tells you that that they're going to fix everything. They're telling you a lie. Okay, I'm telling you a lie. Because the sheriff's office has very clear, distinct role in the justice system. They're just one part of that justice system. Elections have consequences. You have Kim Fox in there. You have chief judges in there. You have the county board president and the county board. The sheriff's office is only one part of that. Okay. And we have a budget of $690 million $690 million. The number here is a little off, by the way. Yeah, so it's $680 million dollars. Now, when I get in that top percentage of exams, what they call top tier employees, about 400 of them, they're going to be eliminated. They're going to be eliminated, because officers are in danger. It's not just the officers, I'm gonna get a little tip here. It's not just the officers. It's the the detainee. So when I get in there, I'm going to hire 3000 more officers and throughout the system, not just for the company police. It's throughout the system. Because what happens is when you have one officer guarding three tears, is dangerous for the officer. And it's dangerous for the detainee because they don't have that other officer in there, that they're supposed to have to protect them from the other predators that are in that jail. So it's not just a matter of getting more police. There's a reason for that. There's a legitimate reason that we need that. And that's where you're gonna get the money for those 3000 Police. They're gonna come from those patronage jobs that have been going on for 17 years. And you have an example just now of row con, and radio DJ announcer heading up the carjacking unit really Wow, there's not one person in the county sheriff's office that is a professional that can lead that unit. That's what you're telling me. So the average, the average exempt member gets $95,000 $95,000. So he's getting about $95,000, to be a showpiece. If he wanted to help, he can be a liaison with the businesses, and put a professional in that spot. And that's what you're gonna get from me. I'll professional, somebody who knows how to work across the aisle, and who has done a broad range of services to my country, and to my communities. I'll be a sheriff you can trust.

Patrick Brutus 2:15:45

Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Okay, two last things. Thank you all for coming. Thank you all for coming. Your participation here today made this event what it was, you know, this is the people's Kennedy forum. And we thank you very much for showing up. And those of you watching online live on the British Virgin brand, Facebook page, we then teaching for you watching this program, we have Torah things, we have our sponsors that want to get their information in case you want to follow up with the black community collaborative or cause and environment, we have another candidate who has joined us today. And she needs to get her 32nd pitch to get you to vote for her. So come on down. Just want to

Natasha Dunn 2:16:30

thank you guys for coming down. We appreciate your participation. I am one of the cofounders of the black community collaborative. What we do essentially is we fight to dismantle racism from a black perspective. Simply put, we fight for equity and parity for our community. And so for anybody who wants some of this data, I know we can talk a little bit about some of the data. We have all of the Cook County data, the stats and facts and education, to crime to housing, all on our website. So please write down his website go look for sign up to participate is That's Thank you guys.

Rosita Chotunda 2:17:19

Thank you for coming at Ambrosi there to time to I'm the founding president of Costco lives of urban school educators. We do advocacy for black educators and teachers, and also our veteran educators. We also am the founding president and executive director of Teach For the future, Incorporated. And that is our curriculum based advocacy group that we do. I am Willie, please go on our website, teach for the with the number for Matt the letter and sign our petition for literacy and on a mass termination. We need literacy for our children so that they can be competitive in the job market. But please do that. Thank you very much for thank you

Maria Barlow 2:18:13

Hey everybody, thank you for accommodating me. I'm attorney Maria Barlow. I'm a candidate for Cook County judge my punch number is 191. So if you're in the first step second best from 68 through the south to the end of the city line from the lake to Damon plus Dalton Burnham Cassidy in South Holland, please vote for me. I am the only woman in my race. I am a graduate of the John Marshall Law School I teach at USC law. I practice family law for more than 10 years. I have my own law firm and I'm looking forward to taking the bench I'm a lifeline long Southside resident again 191 See you at the election

Patrick Brutus 2:18:56

Okay, everybody there's refreshments across the hall and we hope you are more informed than you were before the came and we thank you all for staying for the duration of the event. Thank you and we will see you again at the general election. Brutus and Brian debates we'll be back.

Transcribed by & Substance News


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