11 Replies to “Cook County Board President Candidate Terrence J. O'Brien's Video Interview”

  1. Evidently, it’s Stockholm syndrome, the tendency of some hostages to bond with their captors. How else to explain Illinoisans’ habit of re-electing lawmakers who chronically spend and borrow billions more than taxpayers supply? The result: huge debts and unfunded obligations that will make this an unaffordable state for employers and workers to build a future.

    Politicians primarily loyal to public employees unions and other interest groups have Illinois on a path to become New Michigan or New California. Now they want you to pay them higher taxes. And maybe you should, but not before they make businesslike reforms to how they spend all the revenue they now collect.

    Today’s newspaper includes the second of four editorials in a pre-primary series that we hope will catalyze The Revolution of 2010. Our goal is to elect officials who will force the tough decisions that many of today’s lawmakers dodge. One imperative: breaking the pattern of money mismanagement summed up by the editorial’s headline: “Splurge. Borrow. Repeat.”

    Let these four editorials be your guide to crucial issues facing Illinois.

    If you then cast smart votes on Feb. 2, and persuade your relatives and friends to do the same, Illinois finally can escape its Stockholm syndrome.

  2. Since being elected in 2006, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger has made more missteps in his career than Wrong Way Corrigan.

    Every morning when they wake up, Cook County taxpayers say to themselves, “It’s just another day in hell.”

    Unemployment statistics are vastly under-reported because the self-employed, the seasonally employed, and the never-employed are not counted.

    Bill collectors call them every twenty minutes starting each day at 8 AM harassing these poor people who would pay up if they only could.

    Every purchase they make to survive is taxed at over 10% thanks to Cook County Board President Todd Stroger.

    Stroger hires his inept pals and his cousin’s felonious boyfriend at taxpayer expense.

    At least in the old days when pols hired their relatives or friends they were fairly competent at their jobs or they were hidden away where they couldn’t screw things up.

    Everyday Cook County taxpayers live under the burden of Todd Stroger’s 133% tax increase while trying to make ends meet. The optimists among them hope for some relief. But when will it come?

    In 2010, voters in Cook County will finally get the opportunity to vote Todd Stroger out of office. They will definitely have choices this time around. Congressman Danny Davis, Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown, and Alderman Toni Preckwinkle have all declared their candidacies.That makes four African Americans running for the seat, including Stroger.

    While each has a history of accomplishments, none can compare to the resume of recently declared candidate Terrence J. O’Brien.

    O’Brien has served as President of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, (MWRDGC), for 13 years and has served on the board of Commissioners for 21 years. He has overseen a budget in excess of $1 billion and runs one of the few government agencies in the State of Illinois to have an AAA bond rating from all three bond rating agencies.

    O’Brien boasts of a “professional workforce”, because his employees are “hired for what they know and not who they know! They are required to take exams!”

    Exams for public employees? Now that’s an idea that should strike fear into the heart of every loafer who ever picked up a paycheck from the county payroll. Maybe we should start holding exams for public office.

    If an administrative exam were given for President of the Cook County Board could all the candidates pass? Would they ask to be graded on a curve? And who in the world would be grading these exams? Hopefully it wouldn’t be Todd Stroger’s cousin.

    If Terry O’Brien can get his message out to all Cook County voters we might actually turn the corner on the ineptitude of the last few years. O’Brien represents the best opportunity for greater financial accountability and real leadership for the Cook County Board. He says, “I want to do for Cook County what I have done for the Water Reclamation District.”

    It sure would be nice to wake up some morning next year and know that there is a professional in charge. If the electorate has the opportunity to learn more about Terry O’Brien, Cook County’s days of misery may soon be over. Let’s hope so.

  3. As Mayor Sits by, Race for County Head Is Wide Open

    Published: January 1, 2010

    Mayor Richard M. Daley’s neutrality in the coming Democratic primary for Cook County Board president has created a free-for-all campaign, with no clear favorite yet to emerge from the four candidates vying to oversee the county’s $3 billion annual budget and 25,000 employees.

    The mayor has cut off support for the incumbent, Todd H. Stroger, ending the mutually beneficial, generations-long alliance between his family and arguably the most significant black dynasty in the local political machine.

    The mayor’s hands-off approach to the Feb. 2 primary is a product not only of Mr. Stroger’s broad unpopularity but also of the diminished ability of Mr. Daley and the Democratic Party to dictate the outcome of elections.

    The unpredictable dynamic that will unfold in the next month presents a sharp contrast to the party discipline that marked Cook County politics for decades — and catapulted Mr. Stroger into the board president’s seat four years ago.

    With the mayor and the Democratic Party declining to unite behind a slated candidate, the most significant allies of the Daleys and other leaders are largely spread among the three challengers to Mr. Stroger.

    “Everybody is kind of splintered,” said Terrence J. O’Brien, president of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, and the only white candidate. Mr. O’Brien has support from many of the mayor’s underlings, particularly from the Northwest and Southwest Sides.

    William Beavers, a county board commissioner from the South Side, was once among Mayor Daley’s key City Council allies and is now one of the relatively few longtime backers who have remained loyal to Mr. Stroger.

    “I think the mayor thinks that Todd is dead, but he doesn’t want to be the one that killed him,” Mr. Beavers said. “There might be a backlash if the mayor totally dissed Todd after all that John Stroger did for the Daleys.”

    John Stroger, Todd Stroger’s father, was the county board president from 1994 to 2006 and was loyal to the Daleys for almost half a century. The current mayor’s father and predecessor, Richard J. Daley, gave John Stroger his start by helping him become Eighth Ward Democratic committeeman in 1968, Todd Stroger said in a recent interview.

    The bond between the families grew closer even after Richard J. Daley died. In the 1983 mayoral primary, John Stroger endorsed Richard M. Daley in his failed run against Mayor Jane Byrne and the eventual winner, Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor. John Stroger also helped the younger Mr. Daley when he became mayor in 1989 and in his re-election campaigns. After becoming county board president in 1994, John Stroger deferred to Mayor Daley and worked closely with John Daley, the mayor’s brother, who is chairman of the county board’s finance committee.

    Mr. Daley and every other major Democrat supported John Stroger again as he won the party’s nomination in 2006, despite suffering a debilitating stroke shortly before that primary. Soon after Mr. Stroger’s primary victory, party leaders anointed his son to replace him as the nominee, and the younger Stroger won the November 2006 general election in the heavily Democratic county.

    But earlier this year, the Daleys rescinded their support for Mr. Stroger’s 1 percent increase in the sales tax. They said the increase was hurting business in the county, and the county board recently forced through legislation that rolls back half of the increase.

    Within minutes of that vote, Mr. Stroger gave an interview to the Chicago News Cooperative in which he blasted the Daleys for their lack of support.

    John Daley said that he and Mr. Stroger did not have the same sort of bond he enjoyed with John Stroger, who died in January 2008. But he said the Daley family’s rupture with the Strogers “has been blown out of proportion.”

    “He has his own friends,” John Daley said, adding, “You can’t just expect the endorsement. You have to reach out to everyone and talk to the people about it.”

    The mayor heatedly rebutted the county board president’s accusation that his lack of support was a slap in the face to Mr. Stroger. “I never slapped anybody in the face,” Mr. Daley said to reporters last month. “Even symbolically, I haven’t. How does he know he doesn’t have my support?”

    Asked if he would indeed support Mr. Stroger after all, Mr. Daley said, “No, I didn’t say that.”

    Also professing neutrality is the speaker of the State House, Michael J. Madigan, Democrat of Chicago, and the only other politician in the state whose influence can come close to Mr. Daley’s. Their public stances have only fueled rumors that the mayor and Mr. Madigan are secretly aiding other candidates.

    Toni Preckwinkle, the 4th Ward alderman, has been coy about her efforts to gain the mayor’s backing. “He came to a fund-raiser that one of his friends had for me,” Ms. Preckwinkle said. “That was helpful.”

    Pressed to name the mayoral friend, she interrupted the interview and asked her aides, “Am I at liberty to say?” She concluded that she would not reveal the name.

    Ms. Preckwinkle, who is black, has the most cross-racial support of any of the candidates, with endorsements from Representative Luis V. Gutierrez, Democrat of Illinois, as well as Democratic organizations in such largely white suburban townships as New Trier and Northfield.

    But the early front-runner in newspaper and campaign polls is Dorothy Brown, clerk of the Cook County Circuit Court. Mrs. Brown was first elected in 2000 after winning the Democratic nomination over the officially sanctioned candidate.

    Mrs. Brown garnered little support in a 2007 challenge to Mayor Daley. She is getting help in this campaign from Fred Moody, a longtime political supporter of Mr. Madigan and a high-ranking manager in the clerk’s office.

    “I am the only real independent in this race,” said Mrs. Brown, who also is black.

    Mr. O’Brien, president of the water district, has received the backing of almost all of Mr. Daley’s most important white and Hispanic allies, including the Democratic organizations in the 19th, 23rd, 25th, 33rd, 36th, 38th, 40th, 45th and 50th Wards.

    This led Mr. Stroger to assert that the three black candidates could divide black support, which makes up about 40 percent of the primary vote, and clear the way for Mr. O’Brien to win.

    Mr. O’Brien said he had helped Mr. Daley as far back as his 1979 race for Cook County state’s attorney. Mr. O’Brien’s senior strategist is Thomas Manion, the City Hall lobbyist who once was a top aide in the mayor’s re-election campaign.

    But Mr. O’Brien and Mr. Manion said this did not mean that Mr. Daley was backing Mr. O’Brien.

    “All of the Daley guys with us are there because they like Terry,” Mr. Manion said. “They’re not there because the mayor cleared it, like in the old days.”

    Mr. Daley has stayed out of the fray in the important local primaries since the 2006 conviction of his patronage chief, Robert Sorich, and the subsequent decline of the campaign armies that worked for his endorsed candidates.

    Candidates with little establishment backing won both the March 2009 special primary for a seat in Congress and the 2008 primary for Cook County state’s attorney. The mayor did not issue an endorsement in either of those primaries. The victors squeaked by against multiple rivals, winning with relatively small pluralities of only about a quarter of the vote.

    John Daley, who is also party chairman in the family’s 11th Ward power base, said the influence of the local machine had been greatly exaggerated. He then issued a surprising call for something that would have been heresy in his father’s day: the end to all official endorsements by party leaders.

    “I’m to the point where I believe we should do open primaries for any race,” he said. “The voters will decide.”

  4. O’Brien wins race to air TV ads in Cook presidency race
    Chicago Business
    Terry O’Brien has won perhaps a key round in the race for the Democratic nomination for Cook County Board president, becoming the first in a field of mostly little-known candidates to appear on TV with paid ads.

    A spot that began airing Monday features Mr. O’Brien talking about how, after cleaning up pollution as president of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, he now wants to “straighten out Cook County.” Mr. O’Brien then proceeds to, um, straighten out a Cook County sign that’s hanging askew in the background.

    As phrases like “healthy families” and $”56 million tax return” appear on the screen, a stolid looking Mr. O’Brien goes on to promise to repeal the rest of incumbent President Todd Stroger’s penny-on-the-dollar sales-tax hike and “end the embarrassment.”
    The County Board has repealed half of that increase over Mr. Stroger’s opposition. The other two contenders for the job — Ald. Toni Preckwinkle and Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown — say they intend to do so, too, but apparently on a somewhat slower timetable.

    The O’Brien campaign says it’s purchased about 1,000 ratings points — which normally would cost several hundred thousand dollars — and expects to buy more later.

    Ms. Brown was not available for comment, and the Stroger campaign did not return an e-mail asking for comment. Ms. Preckwinkle’s spokeswoman says she has made a similar-sized buy for the final days of the campaign and hopes to buy more.

    Meantime, there is no question that allowing Mr. O’Brien to be on the tube by himself with only a month to go until the election gives him a big advantage.

  5. January 2, 2010 (CHICAGO) (WLS) — A Chicago congressman endorsed Water Reclamation District Pres. Terrence O’Brien Saturday for Cook County board president.

    The endorsement is from U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, a 3rd District Democrat.

    O’Brien is one of four Democrats running for board president. Lipinski says he’s worked with O’Brien and knows that he is a hardworking, experienced and proven leader.

  6. Down in the polls, Terry O’Brien launched a half-million-dollar television ad campaign today that he hopes will help carry him across the finish line first in the race for Cook County Board president.

    Introducing the 30-second spot to reporters this morning, O’Brien, president of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, says “we’re running strictly a positive campaign here,” but his veiled references to Cook County Board President Todd Stroger in the ad aren’t exactly happy talk.

    Referring to his 13 years as head of the water district, he talks about his agency’s work to keep Lake Michigan clean, telling viewers: “We hire people based on what they know and not who they know.”

    Stroger, whose campaign wasn’t immediately available for comment, has been hit with accusations of patronage hiring, and O’Brien is vowing reform.

    Going hard at a pivotal issue in the race, O’Brien has vowed to immediately repeal the rest of the unpopular sales tax hike championed by Stroger and approved by a majority of county commissioners in 2008. After months of debate and with this year’s elections looming, commissioners late last year pushed through a half-penny rollback.

    “As County Board President I will repeal the whole sales tax increase and end the embarrassment. Enough is enough,” O’Brien says in the ad.

    While considering a small giveback last spring, Stroger has been firm that penny-on-the-dollar sales tax increase was necessary to keep the county-run healthcare system, serving the poor and uninsured, in place.

    The other two board president candidates seeking the Democratic nomination, Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown and Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th), have vowed to roll the sales tax back after some belt-tightening to keep the county in the black.

    In the closing segment of his ad, O’Brien fixes a crooked picture of “Cook County” on the wall, saying: “It’s about time we straighten up Cook County.”

    A December poll by the Chicago Tribune showed O’Brien was dead last in the race, but O’Brien says those numbers reflect name recognition and not necessarily a preference.

    O’Brien’s own polling suggests, like the Tribune poll, that Brown is leading the pack but that he and Preckwinkle are tied for second place.

    O’Brien, who spent right around $500,000 for the ads, running on local stations as well as CNN and MSNBC, is the first in the board president’s race to roll out a television ad campaign.

    “The holidays are over and I think people are paying attention to the election,”

    Campaign staff for Brown and Preckwinkle confirm they’ll also be running televised campaign ads.

  7. O’Brien first Cook president candidate with TV ad
    By Ted Cox, Daily Herald Staff
    Metropolitan Water Reclamation District President Terrence O’Brien fired the first TV salvo in the campaign for president of the Cook County Board Monday.

    O’Brien unveiled a TV ad he said will run in an “extensive” media buy on local broadcast and cable TV channels over the last month of the campaign before the Democratic Primary on Feb. 2.

    O’Brien, who has been trailing in polls, called it a “positive” message, as it begins touting his record as head of the MWRD. “We’re running strictly a positive campaign here,” he said.

    Yet, the ad also offered implicit criticism of incumbent President Todd Stroger, with O’Brien saying that he hires employees based on “what they know and not who they know” and finishing with O’Brien righting a crooked Cook County sign.

    “I will repeal the whole sales-tax increase,” O’Brien says in the ad, “and end the embarrassment. Enough is enough.”

    O’Brien connects his MWRD experience with implied criticism of Stroger by concluding, “I’ve spent my life cleaning up messes. It’s time we straighten up Cook County.”

    O’Brien did not say how much was being spent on the ad campaign, produced by Chicago’s Adelstein/Liston agency, but allowed, “It’s important, in that there’s a large percentage of undecided voters out there.”

    Fellow Democratic rivals Chicago Alderman Toni Preckwinkle and Clerk of the Cook County Circuit Court Dorothy Brown have said they plan to buy time for TV ads, but haven’t launched their TV campaigns yet. Stroger’s campaign isn’t commenting on others’ advertising plans or its own.

    O’Brien has scheduled a series of meetings with suburban mayors and village presidents and will meet Des Plaines Mayor Marty Moylan and Lincolnwood Mayor Gerald Tuerry this morning at Myron & Phil’s, a restaurant in Lincolnwood.

  8. The only one with Stockholm syndrome is you Pat. Your sided with your enemy’s friends. Obrien is a Daleyite and Daley is getting him in through stealth and you know that is true. I am on your side Pat, but you are wrong here. (response) Wrong on what?

  9. Wrong for supporting this guy who is Daleys friend and will be the new Daley puppet. Why do you keep supporting these people who are all connected to Daley. Vote for an independent for once. I bet you will vote for Quinn, who is campaigning on doubling state income taxes. Do you like giving away 3.5% more of your money to this state instead of giving it to your children? This is all simple logic.

  10. Hi Mr. O’Brien, I’m retired but I remember you. You have all my support and if there is anything you need out here in Alsip, IL, please contact me.

Comments are closed.