[I apologize for not posting this earlier. I wrote the portion pertaining to U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis
and was dragging my feet about writing the portion on Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin
. Once Suffredin dropped from the race for President of the Cook County Board, it didn't seem as important what he had to say.]
Thursday, August 6, 2009, night U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis and Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin made presentations to Northside DFA
(a local affiliate of Democracy for America
) about their desires to replace Todd Stroger
as President of the Cook County Board. Two months prior Alderman Toni Preckwinkle
made her presentation.
Northside DFA rules require that the organization wait one month after hearing a candidate before endorsing. Northside DFA could have endorsed Preckwinkle last month, but some members wanted to hear from Davis and Suffredin. The vote to endorse Preckwinkle was 24-12, which failed to meet the 75% requirement for endorsement. There were some members who wanted to wait until next month when Davis and Suffredin would be ripe for endorsement.
One personal observation I will share is that the room was bristling with energy. People seemed genuinely enthusiastic to be there and to be participating. Davis, who presented after Suffredin, started by noting the enthusiasm in the room and ended with a genuine compliment (paraphrasing), even if he'd never run for office he would hope for meetings like this to happen because it was the essence of American democracy.
Davis started by saying county government was going in the “wrong direction”. He noted three areas of concern for him: health care, especially for the indigent, judicial/corrections and taxes.
Davis then boasted of his ability to pass bills, even when Bush was President and the Republicans controlled Congress. He noted that he has been pushing for single-payer health care on the Ways and Means Committee.
Davis' presentation was short leaving more time for questions.
Q1, Forest Preserve District. Davis discussed the Forest Preserve District as a place where the interests of labor and environmental activists conflict with each other.
Q2, health care. When asked about access to health care Davis extolled the virtues community health centers.
Q3, ethics. Davis had an evocative answer to the question of an ethical dilemma he faced. According to Davis, when he was alderman Davis was being courted by a developer who wanted a liquor license for a storefront just a little too close to a school. Eventually the developer brought a paper bag to a meeting. Davis said, “I thought is was a hot dog.” Davis said he made sure not an ounce of liquor was sold from that storefront.
Q4, advocating for single-payer health care in Congress. The next question asked who would replace Davis as an advocate of single-payer on the Ways and Means Committee. Davis said that's a decision the people will make. He then spoke of the 29th Ward People's Assembly, an organization that existed in the past. Davis did predict the state reps would not run for the IL-07 U.S. House seat. He did not mention them by name, but different places online claim that Rep. Karen Yarbrough, La Shawn Ford and Deborah Graham all have interest in running.
Q4. The next question lamented that Davis' expertise leaving DC. Davis responded, “I love being a member of Congress and I've been quite successful.” He spoke of “critical issues” and this being a “defining moment”.
Davis then went on to say that he would “get out the vote for Democrats... I'm afraid if some population groups aren't participating as effectively as they can we won't get Democrats elected governor and senator.”
Q5, environment. Next Davis was asked about environmental issues. He praised the technological innovations that went into making energy production and industry more environmentally friendly. This was one of the few times Davis has taken a question and sounded like he was clearly relying on BS.
Q6, why not accept the appointment to U.S. Senate? There was a question that asked why Davis was running for President of the Cook County Board if he declined appointment to the U.S. Senate because he was too busy working on expungement issues. Davis explained he declined appointment to the U.S. Senate by Gov. Rod Blagojevich because he thought that would be the end of his political career.
Q7, not a question. Then a particularly obnoxious Davis surrogate was recognized. Barbara started a speech about her credentials (being from the 1st Ward and being more conservative than liberal) and praising Davis. After awhile someone asked if she had a question. She said she did. But she never asked a question and finished her speech by saying, “This is the best man for the job.” Later Barbara interrupted others and said things like, “Toni Preckwinkle can't win; she doesn't have the experience.” Somewhere along the way Barbara expressed concerns there were too many Black candidates splitting the vote in the race for President of the Cook County Board.
Q8, county jail. Davis was asked about the Cook County jail. He made the point that the United States has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the people incarcerated around the world. He then said, “Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart already doing the things that need to be done. He would have been the toughest guy to beat [for President of the Cook County Board].” Davis went on to say that he is on the LSC for the school serving Cook County jail. He then went into listing all the professional licenses denied to convicted felons in Illinois, including barber, cosmetology, plumber, etc.
Q9, leadership. Next a question prompted Davis to address his leadership philosophy. He started generally by talking about the importance of inspiring and motivating to bring out the best in people. He then talked about his six years as a teacher in which he said he only missed two days, one for an Army physical and one to take a lady to the Lincoln Park Zoo. He also mentioned his leadership in medical clinics before he worked in politics. He also mentioned how Cook County government needs resources and he suggested applying for grants from state and federal government.
Q10, health care bill, public option. A person asked if Davis would commit to withholding his vote on the health care bill unless it contained a public option. Davis started his answer by mentioning some of the numerous caucuses to which he belongs in Congress, including the Asian Caucus and the Pan Hellenic Caucus. He then said that the Progressive Caucus discussed withholding their votes if the health care bill did not include a public option.
Davis said that he told the members of the Progressive Caucus that, “President Obama lives too close and is too popular [for Davis to vote against Obama's bill].” He then said he hopes the President “sticks to his guns.”
Davis then meandered into a story about taxes. He said that there was a proposal to pay for expanding health coverage by taxing pop (and similar sugary drinks) at ten cents per bottle. Davis explained that he is the co-chair of the Sugar Caucus. Davis along with his co-chair Rep. Mark Kirk
(R-IL10) and Rep. John Lewis
(D-Atlanta; GA Coke
is big there) fought to kill this proposal. Davis explained the point of the sugar caucus is to “keep the cost of sugar down”. This serves the interests of Chicago businesses that manufacture candy and other products that contain sugar.
Davis concluded by saying, “I would not support a plan without a public option.”
After the presentations Northside DFA endorsed Jeff Smith
, a member, for the Illinois General Assembly. Smith is an attorney running for the seat being vacated by Rep. Julie Hamos
, who is running for Congress.
Labels: Danny Davis, Northside DFA