Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
  The first blood bank in the world was established at Cook County Hospital by Dr. Bernard Fantus in 1937.
   
     
     
     



Clerk Yarbrough touts ‘method to her madness,’ says hiring criticism ‘is purely personal’
Yarbrough sat down for a frank and free-wheeling interview to discuss her 11 months on the job, answering criticisms, touting accomplishments — and insisting she’s not eyeing a statewide run in the near future.

Saturday, November 09, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times
by Rachel Hinton

Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough says that good-government watchdog Michael Shakman’s criticisms of her office have nothing to do with politics or patronage.

“Give me a break,” Yarbrough told the Chicago Sun-Times on Friday. “Let me just say this is purely personal.”

When the two met, Yarbrough says Shakman wouldn’t even shake her hand. And after she was elected, he tried to get a federal monitor installed in the clerk’s office before she’d even stepped foot in it.

The reason? Yarbrough couldn’t say.

“I’m the first woman and the first African American in this position,” she said.

But even as she volunteered that information, Yarbrough said she has to be careful about bringing race and gender into the discussion.

“Why not bring race into it? I don’t know, let other people say that. I’d rather you know I’ve run on my record. I get elected because people [who] know me know I’ve been effective at being a state representative, effective at being a recorder of deeds, effective at being a clerk, I have a party position. I’m effective at doing that job as well. And I think what people know about Karen Yarborough is she’s effective at what she does. She is not perfect, she makes mistakes. However, she does do the right thing for the right reasons and there really in fact is a method to her madness.”

Yarbrough sat down for a frank and free-wheeling interview with the Chicago Sun-Times to discuss her 11 months on the job, answering the criticisms, but also touting her accomplishments — and insisting she’s not eyeing a statewide run in the near future.

Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough speaks at a press conference last January. File Photo
Max Herman/For the Sun-Times

The headlines over the past few months have been dominated by her run-ins with Shakman or the decades-old court decrees that bear his name. The decrees are designed to keep politics out of hiring and the internal affairs of county and city government.

The time spent on all that is frustrating for the clerk because “there’s

a job to do.” She has some history with Shakman, arguing that when she was in the recorder’s office the goalposts to end federal oversight were moved “on a regular basis.”

As for the allegations in Shakman’s September court motion that she’s running an “illegal patronage employment system,” Yarbrough said they’re “preposterous” and “outrageous.”

“I don’t have the time or the inclination to deal with that kind of thing,” she said. “I have an office to run, people who are depending on me to do the right thing for the right reason … Let me just say this is purely personal.”

Her comments elaborate on Yarbrough and her lawyer’s official court response to Shakman: “It thus seems apparent Plaintiffs’ issue is not with the office, but the office holder.”

Asked to respond to Yarbrough’s characterization of his motivations, Shakman said his allegations “have zero to do with my relationship with her or my views of her.”

He contends that Yarbrough “doesn’t embrace rform and seeks to maintain a patronage operation in her office.”

“My problem with her is very simple: she had a monitor [in the Recorder of Deeds] for all the years she was active there,” Shakman said. “The monitor found instance after instance of her violating the rules. She’s not interested in patronage reform. That’s why she’s still involved in this litigation and [County Board President] Toni Preckwinkle and the county are long gone from it.”

And Shakman says he has shaken hands with Yarbrough in earlier meetings.

But Yarbrough argues that the Shakman stuff is just a distraction.

The first year has been “busy,” she said, as she gets ready for the merging of the clerk’s office — which administers elections and handles birth certificates, marriage licenses and other vital statistics — with the record of deeds office — which is responsible for all the records relating to relate estate transactions.

She’s already implemented changes, which included written job descriptions and creating a policy manual for employees as well as a satellite rotation policy for supervisors, which incensed some supervisors but Yarbrough saw as an opportunity to bring consistency to an office that lacked it.

That rotation policy was one of the issues Shakman pointed to as a problem in the office, saying it was created to make life difficult for some supervisors, so they would quit and Yarbrough could appoint replacements.

“Obviously the supervisors weren’t happy with this, but the job is the job and the place to work is the place to work. … Wherever you’re needed, you should be ready, willing and able to go and do the job there,” Yarbrough said. “It’s going well though aside from we have a couple of outliers who don’t want to participate.”

In addition to merging the offices, her long to-do list includes adding two new languages on the March primary ballot and implementing the new election equipment she received in the hopes of making sure people know “that their voice is heard … and their vote is safe.”

And the office is her only focus for now — she said Friday she doesn’t think she’ll run for the Illinois Secretary of State position now that longtime incumbent Jesse White announced he will not run for re-election.

But even as she closed the door, Yarbrough did not slam it shut.

“[Am I interested?] Certainly, always have interest. Now am I going to pull the trigger? I don’t think so. There’s plenty to do here, and I would like to see this through. My total focus is not on what Jesse White is going to do, my total focus is on what I need to do in this office and what I need to do in absorbing the duties of the recorder’s office, and as much as I can, a smooth transition.”

Yarbrough hopes the public won’t focus on the Shakman allegations, but on her drive to make sure the county’s elections are secure and their voices are heard.

And even as she made her pitch to the public, she couldn’t resist a dig at Shakman, whose anti-patronage fight dates back to the 1970s.

“Come have lunch with me, that’s what I would say,” Yarbrough said when asked what she would tell the public. “Let’s talk. And I would like them to see all of my body of work that I’ve done since I’ve been in public office, and then judge me by that — not by some guy 50 some years ago who didn’t win his election. I won mine. OK? All of them.”



Recent Headlines

Editorial: Taxation tough love from Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi
Friday, December 13, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County’s property tax burden is shifting in the suburbs: Businesses could be hit hard, but homeowners might catch a break
Thursday, December 12, 2019
Chicago Tribune

The other financial storm threatening to capsize Illinois' economy
Tuesday, December 10, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

County: Higher property taxes partly a hangover from foreclosure crisis
Tuesday, December 10, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Glencoe District 35 increases property tax levy by 4.45%
Sunday, December 08, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Niles Township Property Tax Appeal Workshops Offered In Skokie
Friday, December 06, 2019
Patch

Want to pay your property taxes early? Here's how.
Wednesday, December 04, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Column: Twitter exchange with Cook County assessor sums up outrage and exodus: Tax hikes are paying for debt, not services.
Tuesday, December 03, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Niles taxing bodies, including schools, set to share $3.4 million surplus of TIF district funds
Tuesday, December 03, 2019
Pioneer Press

Unknown tale: Father George Clements’s role in Cook County court reform
Monday, December 02, 2019
Injustice Watch

State panel faces Dec. 31 deadline for property tax relief recommendations
Monday, December 02, 2019
Chicago Tribune

A drop in people, a $1 billion rise in property taxes
Monday, December 02, 2019
Daily Herald

In tents and under bridges, a new Cook County sheriff’s office program helps hard-to-reach drug users
Sunday, December 01, 2019
Chicago Tribune

No pay-to-play in the Cook County assessor's office
Wednesday, November 27, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Dorothy Brown’s office debuts upgrade to criminal court computers to wide ridicule
Tuesday, November 26, 2019
Chicago Tribune

What's happening to Chicago's safety-net hospitals?
Monday, November 25, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Cook County Health CEO ousted by board
Friday, November 22, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County OKs suburban infrastructure funding
Friday, November 22, 2019
Daily Herald

Cook County Health CEO out at the end of 2019 after hospital system opts against renewing his contract
Friday, November 22, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Board greenlights 2020 budget
Thursday, November 21, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP