WBEZ | Dorothy Brown http://www.wbez.org/tags/dorothy-brown Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Dorothy Brown tries to fend off Rick Munoz in bitter Cook County Circuit Court Clerk race http://www.wbez.org/story/dorothy-brown-tries-fend-rick-munoz-bitter-cook-county-circuit-court-clerk-race-96891 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-March/2012-03-01/web.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>It's been a difficult few years for Dorothy Brown, the elected clerk of Cook County's circuit court. She's lost two bids for higher office, for mayor in 2007 and county board president in 2010.</p><p>Brown also faced a lot of criticism for poor bookkeeping of an employee "Jeans Day" program, for taking campaign money from her staff and office vendors and for accepting cash gifts from employees.</p><p>Now seeking a fourth term, Brown touts her record as an experienced administrator. First, she'll have to get past a feisty opponent, 22nd Ward Ald. Ricardo Munoz, in the March 20th Democratic primary.</p><p>Back in 2000, Brown won the court clerk's office by plowing through a Democratic field that included two Chicago aldermen. The machine-endorsed candidate was the 45th Ward's Pat Levar and the other was Joe Moore of the 49th Ward.</p><p>"I had previously announced my candidacy for that office and was getting a lot of support," Moore remembered. "But when she entered the race, it kind of sucked all the oxygen out my campaign."</p><p>Moore had television commercials, but Brown had an energized, independent organization of volunteers, and another advantage.</p><p>"What I failed to take into account is the large amount of favorable publicity that Ms. Brown received from news media. That free press was worth hundreds of thousands of dollars," said Moore, who is backing Munoz in this year's election.</p><p>That "favorable publicity" might be surprising now, after several years of ethics questions, but back in 2000 Brown won endorsements from the <em>Tribune</em>, <em>Sun-Times</em> and <em>Daily Herald</em>. They were impressed by her multiple professional degrees and her political independence.</p><p>Brown is now the Cook County Democratic Party's endorsed candidate and has had little trouble keeping the clerk's office. Four years ago she didn't even have a primary opponent. This year, though, she's up against Munoz, a 19-year veteran of the Chicago City Council. The two met for a debate last week in a Lincoln Park church. The setting didn't temper the mudslinging.</p><p>"You know what after 18 years [Munoz] doesn't even have a [ward] website for his constituents," Brown said.</p><p>"We can clean up the last corner of corruption in Cook County," Munoz told the crowd, referring to Brown's office.</p><p>"And then he just went on the floor and just voted for it blindly," Brown said, referring to Munoz's vote for the unpopular parking meter lease.</p><p>"The most eye-popping example is her failure to adopt an electronic document filing system that could save the taxpayers millions," Munoz said.</p><p>Munoz has tried to put electronic filing at the center of this election. He said it's long past time Cook County had a system for lawyers to file all legal briefs online. Some are filed electronically in a test program approved by the Illinois Supreme Court. But the court is not yet letting the county expand that program, and is not saying much publicly about why not.</p><p>Still, Brown defends how far the clerk's office has come since she took over.</p><p>"I had to actually move [the office] from the 19th Century...with handwriting, we didn't quite have quill pens, but we were close to that," Brown said at the debate.</p><p>Cook County, Brown continued, has one of the largest court systems in the country. Her office is responsible for handling the millions of documents that move in and out of hundreds of courtrooms.</p><p>How efficiently the office does that most certainly affects attorneys, who - at the Daley Center the other day - tended to give Brown a mixed grade.</p><p>"Great Job. There's a billion cases filed in this thing, and for the most part, things are where they're supposed to be, when they're supposed to be," Mark Mayer said. 'I don't know if she's wasting money or doing good with money...But as far as what I need to do...as far as my business, she does a great job."</p><p>"I notice sometimes that documents are mis-filed, which is only human considering the massive number of documents that they have," Ken Peters said.</p><p>The clerk's operation, of course, also impacts non-lawyers: people dealing with traffic tickets, divorces, criminal charges and foreclosures. And with about 2,000 employees and a $100 million budget, it affects anyone who pays taxes in the county.</p><p>Rick Munoz wants to take over the responsibility of the office after almost two decades on the City Council, where he was known as a rare voice of opposition to former Mayor Richard Daley. But Dorothy Brown disputes Munoz's reformer credentials, noting that he took money from developers in his Southwest Side ward and his vote on the parking meter lease. (Munoz has since sought to repeal the lease.)</p><p>Brown also questioned whether an alderman with only a handful of employees has enough management experience.</p><p>"You can throw out all kinds of accusations, but can you run an office of this magnitude? That's what's going to be important here," Brown said at the debate.</p><p>Munoz scoffed at that, citing the recent example of his key supporter, the county board president and former alderman Toni Preckwinkle. He's been dropping Preckwinkle's name all over the place, and also her photo - on campaign fliers Munoz passed out this week at the Loyola University 'L' stop.</p><p>"[I'm] just visiting all the way around - New Trier, Palatine, Wheeling, Hegewisch - just all over the county," Munoz said.</p><p>Has he found any commuters who cared about the circuit court clerk's office?</p><p>"Once they learn about the office, once they hear that I'm running against Dorothy Brown, the lady with the blue jeans scandal - they say, 'Oh, good. I'll support you," he said.</p><p>Munoz took a brief moment to find a response when he was asked if that's how he wants to win the race, by emphasizing Brown's negatives rather than his own positives.</p><p>"You know, I'm running to reform this office. Her negatives are just what they are," Munoz said.</p><p>In the city's Bronzeville neighborhood, Brown's campaign said it has well over a hundred volunteers. The campaign is running a seven-day-a-week phone bank, evidence that the clerk's political organization has some of the same heft it did twelve years ago.</p><p>And in an election in which most Chicago Democrats have, really, no big-name contested primaries to draw them to the polls, every little push may count.</p></p> Fri, 02 Mar 2012 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/dorothy-brown-tries-fend-rick-munoz-bitter-cook-county-circuit-court-clerk-race-96891 Dorothy Brown and Rick Munoz fling insults in Cook County Clerk of Court debate http://www.wbez.org/story/dorothy-brown-and-rick-munoz-fling-insults-cook-county-clerk-court-debate-96616 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-February/2012-02-21/web.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Accusations of mismanagement and unethical behavior are flying between Democrats running for clerk of the Cook County Circuit Court. They met Tuesday night for a debate in the city's Lincoln Park neighborhood.</p><p>The debate was in a church, but that won't faze politicians content on hurling negativity at each other.</p><p>Chicago Ald. Rick Munoz (22nd) accused incumbent Court Clerk Dorothy Brown of negotiating a contract for electronic document filing that he said "smells really bad." Munoz said the Alabama company, which is a big campaign contributor to Brown, stands to gain millions off a processing fee.</p><p>"They want to charge $4.95 for every user, for every case transaction, for every time that somebody files a court document," Munoz said.</p><p>But Brown said that's actually a good deal, given the alternative.</p><p>"It's nothing compared to the $5.75 per hour that they would have to pay if they came downtown and would have to park at the parking meter for the bad parking meter deal that the alderman voted for.</p><p>In the city council, Munoz was one of 40 aldermen to vote to lease Chicago's parking meters to a private company.</p><p>The two square off in the Democratic primary on March 20th. No Republicans filed to run for the office.</p></p> Wed, 22 Feb 2012 04:04:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/dorothy-brown-and-rick-munoz-fling-insults-cook-county-clerk-court-debate-96616 Cook County Democratic Party slates ticket http://www.wbez.org/story/cook-county-democratic-party-slates-ticket-92916 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-October/2011-10-06/Dem Slate.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Candidates for next year's Cook County elections made their pitches Thursday for why they deserve the support of the Democratic Party.</p><p>The three minute speeches candidates gave may or may not have actually mattered in the final vote. Many Democratic committee members had proxies show up in their stead, and others had already decided who they'd vote for in slating the ticket.</p><p>The Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County is a hot position in next year’s election, and incumbent Dorothy Brown is the Democratic Party’s choice. She faced Ricardo Munoz for the Party’s backing.</p><p>He used much of his time Thursday pitching the committee, trying to convince them that Brown wasn’t fit for the job. Chief among his complaints was her office's lack of e-filing capabilities for lawyers.</p><p>“Dorothy Brown’s inefficiency is as outdated as her computer technology,” Munoz said.</p><p>But Munoz’s many complaints weren’t enough to win over the Democratic Party, and neither was his being backed by Cook County Board President Tony Preckwinkle.</p><p>But other candidates' pitches did end in success.&nbsp; Karen Yarborough is the committee's choice for Recorder of Deeds, and State's Attorney Anita Alvarez ran unopposed.</p><p>Other offices up for grabs are three jobs with the the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. The committee chose to slate incumbent Deborah Shore, chemist Kari Steele and lawyer Patrick Thompson.</p><p>Thompson grew up in a well-known Chicago political family: the Daleys. He said growing up with so many public servants inspired him to seek the office.</p><p>For the Cook County Board of Review, the committee chose Larry Rogers, Michael Carbonargi and Casey Griffin.</p><p>As for the candidates that didn't win the Democratic Party's backing, some will still run, but most are expected to drop out.</p></p> Fri, 07 Oct 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/cook-county-democratic-party-slates-ticket-92916 Candidate for Cook County office vows to clear up $17,500 in overdue fines http://www.wbez.org/story/candidate-cook-county-office-vows-clear-17500-overdue-fines-91887 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-12/RS2572_22nd Ward Alderman Ricardo Munoz.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated at 6:18 p.m. on Tuesday, September 13 </em></p><p>A politician running for a Cook County office on a message of reform owes more than $17,000 dollars to Illinois' election board. Ald. Rick Munoz is promising to clear up the overdue fines.</p><p>Munoz is listed as chairman of a couple campaign funds, including one called the 22nd Ward Independent Political Organization.</p><p>The fund has racked up big fines this year for failing to file on-time campaign disclosure reports, which are supposed to list who gave the committee money, and how it spent that money. One of the reports was more than a year late.</p><p>All together, the 22nd Ward campaign fund owes $17,500 in overdue fines to the state board of elections.</p><div class="inset"><div class="insetContent"><p><strong>CHART</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/which-political-funds-owe-illinois-most-91940" target="_blank"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-13/fundspromo_0.jpg" style="float: left; width: 280px; height: 169px;" title=""></a></p><strong>RELATED: </strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/political-groups-owe-illinois-700k-overdue-fines-little-reason-pay-91939">Political groups owe Illinois 700k in overdue fines, with little reason to pay</a><p>&nbsp;</p></div></div><p>Alderman Munoz's staff declined to make him available for an interview. But in a statement, his advisor, Andrew Sharp, said that fund has "essentially been inactive for the past few years." Munoz's filings show the account raised just $2,127.07 during the periods covered by the late reports.</p><p>"After being alerted to the fines by WBEZ, we plan to close this committee quickly and start conversations with the [board of elections] to resolve any and all outstanding fines," Sharp said.</p><p>Munoz is running for Cook County Circuit Court clerk in next year's election. Earlier this month, he criticized the incumbent, Dorothy Brown, for accepting campaign contributions from employees of her office.</p></p> Tue, 13 Sep 2011 23:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/candidate-cook-county-office-vows-clear-17500-overdue-fines-91887