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Mitchell: Unsinkable Dorothy Brown gets no respect from party

Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Chicago Sun-Times
by Mary Mitchell



Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown

Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown | Sun-Times file photo



We used to call the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court “Downtown Dorothy Brown.”

Don’t ask me why.


People thought she was down for the count when the Cook County Democratic Party abandoned her for 8th Ward Ald. Michelle Harris amid rumors the feds were about to make a move.

Instead of sinking Brown, the party’s betrayal apparently bolstered her standing among voters.

Although Brown didn’t pick up a single endorsement from the major newspapers, she won the three-way primary by an overwhelming margin.

Despite a deluge of negative publicity, Brown defeated Harris, the party’s handpicked opponent, and Jacob Meister, a lawyer who was endorsed by both publications.


I’m not sure what it is about Brown that other politicians dislike.

After all, we’ve seen plenty of elected officials getting some love from the political elite right up to the moment the feds slapped on the handcuffs.

Brown can’t even ask for a raise without being treated like she’s up to no good.

Days after Brown complained her $105,000 salary is less than that of her male counterparts in DuPage ($155,598) and Lake County ($121,713), there was a move afoot to scuttle the elected office.

On Wednesday, however, Cook County Commissioner Peter N. Silvestri, R-Elmwood Park, pulled the resolution that would have petitioned the General Assembly and Gov. Bruce Rauner to make the county clerk an appointed office.

There was little chance of the proposal passing, as opposition was already lining up in Springfield to defeat the measure.

“If Brown’s position is appointed, then all of them should be appointed. I cannot support that,” state Sen. Mattie Hunter told the Crusader newspaper.

The Rainbow PUSH Coalition also opposed the measure. “We want to preserve the concept of one-person, one-vote and the right of the electorate to elect those who will represent them in public office,” senior adviser Janette Wilson said in a news release.

Who would have thought Brown had something in common with Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president?

The ostracized clerk knocked the Cook County Democratic Party on its behind when she swept aside her opponents, the same way Trump did when he disposed of a troupe of candidates.

So the next time you are looking down on those Republicans scheming to stop Trump’s roll toward the White House, take a closer look at what’s going on in our own backyard.

Regardless of how Brown’s colleagues feel about her, she still has a strong base of the support, especially among churchgoers.

Additionally, Brown has raised a valid point: Democratic candidates are always yapping about gender equality.

“Vote for me and I’ll make sure you get equal pay for equal work,” candidates tell women.

But look at what happens when someone actually points out gender bias.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle shot down the raise and left the explaining to her spokesman.

Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey, D-Chicago, even sounded Trumpish when he was asked about Brown’s request for a pay raise.

“[F]or the clerk to play the gender card is arguably offensive to women,” he told the Sun-Times.

As an openly God-fearing woman, Brown obviously believes the Scripture: “You don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.”

But more importantly, even in Illinois where corruption seems to be an occupational hazard, a person is innocent until proven guilty.

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