Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle came out swinging on Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s claim there has been a lack of communication between the two powerful pols, who are at odds over Chicago gun violence and the way errant young black men are handled in the bond court system.
The tragedy: Both women hold the future of half the population in their hands.
During a sit-down Friday with the editorial board of the Sun-Times, Lightfoot admitted to Sun-Times reporter Rachel Hinton she’d had zero sit-downs or personal conversations with Preckwinkle and said Preckwinkle had not reached out to her.
In a press release sent Friday afternoon, Preckwinkle stated: “I’m disappointed Mayor Lightfoot continues to confuse the issues of how to reduce Chicago’s gun violence with our efforts to ensure our justice system is safe, fair, efficient and represents the voice of both victims and the accused,” Preckwinkle said.
“Talking about collaborating and demonstrating the leadership to do so are two different things.
“Here are the facts: We’ve invited the Mayor and Superintendent Johnson to the table several times in hopes of having a productive conversation based on identifying solutions. It is clear they are not willing to sit down as they have either been unavailable or declined those requests.
“We need real dialogue that goes beyond just a discussion about who has the best data but rather expands to a conversation about how to responsibly use these statistics to drive smart decision-making and the reduction of violent crime. From our perspective, we want to talk about how to save lives, reduce violence and do all we can to eradicate the socio-economic factors that contribute to it.
“For the last decade criminal justice stakeholders and I have made significant strides in reforming Cook County’s criminal justice system. We know bond reform, for example, has not led to an increase in violent re-offenders. Our most recent data tells us that of the 30,466 pretrial felony defendants released to the community 99 percent did not get charged with a new violent offense.
“To say otherwise is a falsehood and nothing more than a fear tactic.
“I am also in the community. I live on Chicago’s South Side. I also talk to the parents and loved ones who are directly impacted by gun violence. What I am hearing from people in these communities is the desire for real economic opportunities and investments in their neighborhoods. What I am also hearing from people in these communities is their frustration with the Chicago Police Department and its lack of arrests of people committing these heinous acts. The criminal justice system cannot release people who have not been apprehended.
“This is about governance — not politics. To say my concerns are in response to a long-gone election is their talking point and that still does not make it the truth.
“Criminal justice reform is good for families, community and the economy. Our work in Cook County is collaborative and thorough. Our criminal justice stakeholders have invested considerable effort in making our system safe, efficient and reflective of our common belief in due process and fairness.
“The Mayor also said today that she supports bond reform. We commend her for publicly stating this position.
“The City and County must come together to discuss comprehensive solutions to the complex issues we are facing and not allow politics, personalities and falsehoods to thwart the needed progress that Chicago and all of Cook County should expect and deserves.”