Preckwinkle Talks About Social Justice to New Trier Democrats

County board president gives a state of the county message with a humanistic bent.

Members of the came to a forum Sunday at the Winnetka Community House to heargive a state of the county address. 

What more than 60 people in the audience heard was not only the condition of county government in Preckwinkle’s first five months in office but a lecture about social justice. 

Preckwinkle indicated the primary focus of the county’s budget is operation of Stroger Hospital—formerly Cook County Hospital—and other health care facilities along with the Cook County Jail. 

With her first order of business reforming the office of the board president after her election in November, she told the group she has improved fiscal responsibility, instituted innovative leadership, increased transparency and heightened accountability. 

“We told every department they had to cut their budget,” Preckwinkle said. “They all did it and we kept our promise to repeal the one half percent sales tax increase (enacted under the administration of her predecessor, Todd Stroger).” 

With the county currently operating three hospitals—Stroger, Oak Forest and Provident—Preckwinkle explained how Oak Forest would be closed and Pvodident’s mission changed to much more outpatient and specialized care. The beds are Oak Forest and Provident are rarely in full use. 

After telling the group about her four pronged approach to reforming the office of the board president, she launched into a discussion of the underlying social issues behind many of the county’s problems. 

The Cook County Board president let them know she believes there is a strong relationship between failures in Chicago’s public education system and the jail population. 

“The education system has failed the young people,” Preckwinkle said. “Only 55 percent of students graduate from the Chicago Public Schools. Among African and Latino you have 40 percent.” 

Where do most of those drop outs wind up? According to Preckwinkle they are among the 8,500 inmates of a jail inordinately populated by African American and Latino men. “Virtually everyone in the jail is African American or Latino,” she said. It also costs taxpayers between $45,000 and $50,000 a year to house a prisoner. 

Preckwinkle went on to tell the group the best solution to reducing the jail population and with it the $142 per day expense to incarcerate an inmate is improving education and with it economic opportunity. 

“A high school diploma is not just entry to a trade school or community college, it is a ticket to the work force,” Preckwinkle said. “If an employer has a choice they will hire the person with the diploma.” 

What Preckwinkle wants to see is an end the avenue from dropping out of high school to the Cook County Jail. 

“If the young people can’t find work they end up on the streets,” Preckwinkle said. “If they are on the streets they will have contact with the police,” she added describing what she feels is a vicious cycle. 

Things are different in New Trier Township with some of the finest schools in the United States. Most graduates go to four year colleges. Preckwinkle sees North Shore involvement differently.

 “This is a social justice issue. A lot of people here (in New Trier Township) understand that,” Preckwinkle said when pressed after the meeting. She indicated many people in the area understand the evils of discrimination. 

When Kathy Somogyi of Wheeling asked if the unused beds at Oak Forest and Provident hospitals could be used to treat prisoners with mental health issues, Preckwinkle explained way too many of the people in the jail system needed such care. 

“One quarter to one third of the people in the jail have mental health challenges,” Preckwinkle said. “In treating the mentally ill we have just changed the institution,” she added explaining public mental health facilities have been closed. The former patients have become inmates.

 After making that statement, Preckwinkle returned to her social justice theme. “Having a place to live and a job go a long way to curing depression,” she said. 

When New Trier Democrat board member Sandy Stein asked Preckwinkle about increased gambling revenue for the city, she bristled at the suggestion. 

“It’s a reprehensible way to get revenue,” Preckwinkle said of gambling. “If you look where most of the lottery tickets are sold you’ll find it’s in the poorest zip codes. I wish more people had the courage to raise taxes for everybody not just the gamblers. We’re there yet.”

cris May 24, 2011 at 08:17 PM
'Social justice' and the programs that people who believe in it advocate, has just as much responsibility for crime and failed students; welfare rules that removed men from the family, schools that 'socially promoted', abandoning discipline. Churches and community groups 'working' with gangs, giving them cover from the law and funneling federal money to them (In Preckwinkle's own Hyde Park, the 1st Presbyterian Church was for years a protector of the Blackstone rRngers/El Rukn gang). What a sad charade. I'm sure the assembled North Shore matrons felt especially virtuous being in the company of an African American woman and hearing that message. And they all went home so proud of themselves.
GrossPoint May 24, 2011 at 09:33 PM
While I agree with most of your conclusions, I don't think 1st Presby is in Preckwinkle's ward. It is in the 20th, which is Willie Cochrane's ward. Used to be Arenda Troutman's, which may explain some of the connections you mention.
cris May 25, 2011 at 06:15 AM
Thanks, Here's excerpts from an AP story out today: Crime levels fell across the board last year, with a 5.5 percent drop in violent crimes in 2010 and a 2.8 percent decline in property crimes. The FBI in its preliminary figures on crimes reported to police in 2010 also showed declines in all four categories of violent crime in 2010. All categories for property crime went down as well. "In a word, remarkable," said James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University. Expectations that crime would rise in the economic recession have not materialized. The size of the most crime-prone population age groups, from late teens through mid-20s, has remained relatively flat in recent years. "I have not heard of any good explanations for the good news we've been experiencing in 2009 and 2010," said professor Alfred Blumstein of Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz School of Public Policy. "I hope the trend continues and I'm going to keep searching for answers." The FBI reported that violent crime fell in all four regions of the country last year The bureau's preliminary statistics for 2010 are based on data from more than 13,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide. Let me repeat that one line: "Expectations that crime would rise in the economic recession have not materialized. " Linking crime rates to poverty is an unsult to poor people, and the intelligence of people in general. .
Margaret Mcintyre August 22, 2011 at 04:10 PM
I don't see the connection between the North Shore and Chicago's school system that is blamed for criminality --unless you connect the dots between the high teacher salaries and resulting high retirement income (TRS) that must be paid out of state appropriations for all schools in Illinois. Instead, look to lack of parenting, missing parents (fathers) and the breakdown of the family social system. There may also be a connection between high paid attorneys (the cost of the criminal justice system) and the revolving door of the criminal justice system. Otherwise, I don't see the connection between gangs killing other young blacks and the North Shore and social justice. The reality is the New Trier kids would achieve at school with far less funding that the current overspending. The false premise that more money produces better school results is true for New Trier as well as Fenger.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »