Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Claypool on TV, Packing Heat: The griller and the grillee

This week's suburban edition of "Public Affairs," features Forrest Claypool, Cook County Commissioner and candidate in the Democratic Primary for Cook County Board President. Claypool debates and discusses Cook County Board public policy issues and politics with show host Jeff Berkowitz [See the end of this post for a detailed "Public Affairs," airing schedule and please note special additional airings of the show tonight and Thursday night in 10 suburbs].

Commissioner Claypool is already facing his fellow reformer, Commissioner Mike Quigley [who preceded Claypool as a County Board Reformer] in the Democratic Primary. And, it is expected that the 11 year incumbent County Board President, John Stroger [who has been on the Board for more than three decades] will announce in October that he is seeking re-election. Claypool has already raised more than a million dollars for his campaign and he will have David Axelrod, the Mayor’s long time media, communications and strategy guru, working on his campaign [as is discussed briefly on this week’s show].

On the Republican side, County Commissioner Tony Peraica is apparently running uncontested in the County Board President Republican Primary, and Cook County GOP Chairman Gary Skoien thinks he and others might be able to locate the kind of financial support for Peraica to run a credible campaign in the general election. Republican Peraica, in the last three years, has joined Democrat Commissioners Suffredin, Quigley and Claypool, to form the “Four Horsemen,” trying to bring about reform and Stroger’s Apocalypse Now. They do this by getting the four other Republican Commissioners [Gorman, Goslin, Hansen and Silvestri] to join them on key issues, and turning to Commissioner Earlean Collins, the Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the County Board, to be the swing vote and make reform happen, which she has done the last two years running to defeat Stroger’s proposed tax increases.

Axelrod, Cong. Rahm Emanuel [D-Chicago; 5th CD] and Commissioner Claypool go way back as friends and political allies, with each of them working intensely, in one form or another, to elect the Mayor in his 1988-89 campaign. Forrest Claypool served the Mayor twice as Chief of Staff: 1989-91 and again in 98-99, as well as in the position of the Mayor’s Parks Department CEO. Of course, all of that [and issues related thereto] is discussed in this week’s Public Affairs show. Also, Forrest Claypool worked in the past for Axelrod’s firm, worked with Axelrod to help Barack Obama get elected to the U. S. Senate in 2004 and the former Kirkland & Ellis associate still serves as General Counsel for Axelrod’s firm. And, both Emanuel and Axelrod have given impassioned defenses of the beleaguered Mayor Daley during the last month or two.

Is your head starting to spin from trying to keep all of these tangled and interlocking political connections straight? Well, don’t go wobbly on me yet. Rounding out the circle, it is said that the Mayor, notwithstanding all of his above connections to Claypool and his good friends-- Emanuel and Axelrod—will be pushing the 74 year old [in somewhat ailing health], 8th Ward Boss, John Stroger to seek re-election as County Board President. Moreover, Mayor Daley [and his team- alas without the now convicted felon and former City Waterworks and political boss Don Tomczak ] will be there to support Stroger, assuming of course the Mayor is able to handle his own current challenges, from the public corruption that surrounds, if not permeates, his own Administration.

During this week’s Public Affairs, Claypool shows his stuff in his criticism, among other items, of the continuing mess, patronage and cronyism at County’s Provident Hospital and the County’s Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, which spends about $60,000 per kid per year [about half the cost of a four year University of Chicago undergraduate education, or the lesser, but still valuable, Harvard undergraduate degree]. Claypool also discusses how the Hospital fails to serve its patient community and the Detention center fails to serve the 10-17 year old kids, who have been arrested and are waiting trial, notwithstanding the enormous tax bill that is presented to Cook County residents to fund these efforts.

On the other hand, as the host tries to be tough but fair with all Public Affairs guests, Commissioner Claypool faces some challenging questions about what he knew, didn’t know or perhaps should have known and what he did, or didn't do, about public corruption and patronage when he was Mayor Daley’s Chief of Staff.

How did Claypool do on the show? We discuss, you decide. One thing is sure, you won’t be bored if you watch this week’s show. If you are, you can get your money back, if you can find me.

The suburban edition of Public Affairs regularly airs in ten North Shore suburbs three times each week:Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8:30 p.m. on Comcast Cable Channel 19 in Winnetka, Bannockburn, Deerfield, Ft. Sheridan, Glencoe, Highland Park, Highwood, Kenilworth, Lincolnshire and Riverwoods. This week, two special airings have been added for those ten suburbs:

Tonight at 7:30 pm and Thursday night at 8:00 pm.

In twenty-four North Shore, North and Northwest suburbs, the show will air once this week in its regular time slot: Tonight, Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. on either Comcast Cable Channel 19 or Channel 35, depending on the suburb. The show airs tonight at 8:30 pm on Comcast Cable Ch. 19 in Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, Niles, Northfield, Palatine, Rolling Meadows and Wilmette. The show airs tonight at 8:30 pm on Comcast Cable Ch. 35 in Arlington Heights, Bartlett, Glenview, Golf, Des Plaines, Hanover Park, Mt. Prospect, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Prospect Heights, Schaumburg, Skokie, Streamwood and Wheeling.

The "Public Affairs," program with Cook County Commissioner Forrest Claypool also will air through-out the City of Chicago on Monday night, Sep. 26 at 8:30 pm on CANTV, Cable Ch. 21.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at JBCG@aol.com