Kim Foxx for Cook County State’s Attorney

I am utterly devoted to the election of Kim Foxx for Cook County State’s Attorney.

Rarely has our county— and the oblong city which makes up most of its mass— been presented with such a stark choice. Foxx is looking to replace the incumbent, Anita Alzarez, who has failed again and again, in cases large and small, in to act in the best interests of the people.

Find a well-researched laundry list here: The case against Anita Alvarez. The theme is aggressive prosecution against regular residents of Cook County and slow or negligent efforts to prosecute those who have power over us.

It is a matter of priorities.

These are the priorities of Kim Foxx. I am copy/ pasting the entire list here, so that we can have them preserved. When Foxx is elected, I want to be able to return to this list and measure progress.


Too many of our communities are ravaged by violent crime, while our current criminal justice system is more committed to the destabilizing incarceration of nonviolent offenders than to keeping communities safe. The State’s Attorney’s office should be the fair and unbiased arbiter of justice, diverting people with mental illness and drug addiction to the appropriate treatments and doling out stern but fair sentences to those who commit violence.

What Kim will do:

  • Employ evidence-based practices to ensure the equal administration of the law and fight against racially disparate outcomes
  • Deploy an early-intervention model to divert low-risk offenders from the criminal system and into treatment programs and other community-based initiatives
  • Work to implement presumptive sentencing rules to ensure that violent offenders who use guns to commit crimes get serious penalties, but that those penalties are meted out based on rigid, unbiased guidelines


A young person’s first interaction with the criminal justice system is a pivotal turning point in his or her life. Currently, the justice system sends too many children down the path to recidivism with policies that over punish youthful offenses rather than create an opportunity for meaningful, positive interventions to set youth on the path to college and careers, not the first step on the road to a lifetime of incarceration.

What Kim will do:

  • Disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline by ending excessive arrests on school grounds and refusing to up-charge schoolchildren for in-school misbehavior
  • Form partnerships with schools and other youth agencies to implement restorative justice practices for young people
  • Recruit top talent for the juvenile division instead of using it as a second-tier assignment or a stepping-stone elsewhere


Shamefully, Cook County has become notorious for wrongful convictions. The lives of hundreds of innocent people have been irreparably harmed–and these inexcusable mistakes have cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

What Kim will do:

  • Work with a panel of outside experts to assist in reevaluating the evidence in cases in question
  • Increase staffing in the Conviction Integrity Unit to ensure we have enough manpower to adequately address this urgent need
  • Collaborate with other prosecuting agencies like the U.S. Attorney and Attorney General to ensure the integrity of convictions


The State’s Attorney’s office is broken — and it’s costing the taxpayers, victims, and offenders dearly. The office needs bold reforms to the office to streamline case management, eliminate inefficiency and wasteful spending, increase diversity in office hiring, and modernize the functions of the office.

What Kim will do:

  • Reduce such wasteful spending as providing a taxpayer-funded vehicle for every member of senior staff — current practice in the office
  • Invest in professional and personal development for Attorneys to reduce turnover and retain the best talent in the office.
  • Create a more diverse management team that is more reflective of the diversity of the community— presently over 90% Caucasian — and ensure that any firms who receive outsourcing work from the office are equally diverse


The criminal justice system doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Conditions in our neighborhoods are directly related to the likelihood of ending up in the system. As such, the State’s Attorney needs to be proactive in reaching out to communities across Cook County to create a two-way conversation between residents and the office and help reduce crime.

What Kim will do:

  • Form strategic partnerships with entities inside and outside the criminal justice system, including schools, social service providers, mental health care providers, and faith leaders, to reduce prosecution and increase community support
  • Work with the Chicago Police Department and other police forces to revitalize community policing
  • Implement cultural competency training and bring front-line attorneys into high-risk communities to ensure a two-way dialogue between neighborhoods and the office


The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees all Americans the right to a speedy trial. Sadly, in Cook County, many people accused of crimes are deprived of that right because of the tremendous backlog of cases languishing in the system. The system need to be overhauled, to re-prioritize the way the office handles cases, drastically reducing the backlog to save taxpayers money and protect the rights of the accused.

What Kim will do:

  • Streamline felony review by increasing review staff and changing felony review shifts from two 12-hour shifts to three 8-hour shifts to improve efficiency
  • End frivolous prosecutions of non-violent drug offenses to clear time in the courts and allow staff to focus on more serious cases
  • Invest in technology that expedites the exchange of evidence and other documents needed for trial


Being a victim of crime is a traumatic experience for an individual and the victim’s family and loved ones. Sadly, in Cook County, that trauma is too often compounded by confusion and uncertainty, as the State’s Attorney’s office is uncommunicative and obstinate. The office should instead be transparent, forthcoming, and compassionate, supporting victims and ensuring them the fairest and most expedient journey through the criminal justice system.

What Kim will do:

  • Ensure open communication and responsiveness to victims and their families about the state of their case
  • Increase oversight and accountability to reduce wrongful convictions, a process which can re-traumatize families by providing them a false sense of closure
  • Advocate for speedier trial dates, curtailing the prolonged agony of waiting for a loved one’s case to come to court


Times are harder than ever for working families. The cost of living is going up, tuition is more expensive than ever, taxes, fines and fees are on the rise, and yet wages have stagnated, hours are down, and our neighborhoods don’t feel safe. The State’s Attorney’s office can play an important role in providing protections for working families against abuses by employers and those who seek to exploit those who are vulnerable, including undocumented residents.

What Kim will do:

  • Aggressively pursue cases of wage theft and other workplace abuses·
  • Crack down on those who unlawfully pollute our air, water, and environment
  • Stand up to the gun lobby and demand strict new safety standards for firearms and penalties for irresponsible gun manufacturers.

Kim Foxx for Cook County State’s Attorney.

All-In For Hillary Clinton

I am looking forward to March 15, 2016. That’s the day I am going to go outside in my home state of Illinois, head to my polling place, and vote for Hillary Clinton to be the next President of the United States. Here’s why I’m going to do that:

  • Hillary Clinton is by far the most qualified person on either side of this race
  • She has served our country for decades, with distinction and competence
  • Her priorities match mine— national security, infrastructurecriminal justice reform. The more I read from her, the more I like
  • Hillary Clinton is a transformational figure of our time. There’s something kind of awesome about replacing the first African-American president with the first woman president
  • I still believe in hope, I still believe in a welcoming, strong, tolerant, and contemplative nation, and I want Hillary Clinton to lead it

Her opponent in the Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders, is a fine American. I share his interest helping poor people, but I don’t like his remedies, which I find to be a jumble of unrealistic rhetoric about rich people. His plan for a single-payer healthcare system is nothing I want anything to do with. Obamacare is one of the greatest victories for the people in recent decades. Turning our collective attention to changing-slash-destroying it at this time makes zero sense to me.

So to me, a vote for Hillary Clinton is both a positive expression, connoting progress and joy, and a protective expression, indicating a rejection of Sanders’ misplaced priorities and the unchained hatred on the Republican side.

It’s an easy choice to make: All-in for Hillary.

The Mayor + Accountability

It has been a remarkable couple weeks here in Chicago since a judge forced the release of a video showing the murder of Laquan McDonald.

I could link all day/ all night to the pressure for the resignation of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. In the news, in opinion, in the streets.


I supported Rahm Emmanuel for election in both 2011 and 2015.

As is my custom, I wrote a blog post explaining my voting decisions. I had a number of bullet points as to why I was voting for him in the February election, and I also noted “two discordant notes”:

The Mayor should post his schedule and list of the people with whom he has met in the administration of his duties. There’s no reason why he can’t do this. My guess is that he meets with lots of rich and powerful people, which is a great way to get big things done in a market economy. I believe that meeting with poor and disenfranchised people is worthwhile as well. You are what you measure.

There’s no reason for the Mayor to spend so much time and money on trying to remove and/or silence other elected officials who disagree with him on occasion. We’re a big city, with hundreds of thousands of adults living here. We can handle some differences in opinion/ approach.

The underlying agita here is that the Mayor just doesn’t care about poor people— that he doesn’t listen to anyone who 1/ isn’t rich and 2/ doesn’t already agree with him.

I wrote about his Sweater Ad during the election. That was when he “owned” the fact that he sometimes doesn’t listen. I was hoping that would change:

But I also appreciate processes and procedures, especially genuine ones that allow for real people to drive policy and solutions. I do a lot of this work in my professional life— I am deeply devoted hearing people and responding to their needs. It’s the most human thing we can do for each other. The goal is better lives, and that feels better.

In a second Emanuel term, I would love to see more structures for listening to residents. This is what elections are for— to elect the people we want, and to get them to make us feel the way we want to feel.

Let’s work with our Mayor on that.

But with the exception of the return of the budget hearings, there have been no structures for listening. I took photos at the first session. The mayor was forced from the stage in the second session, and once the third scheduled meeting was done, there was no more talk of the mayor appearing at open forums.

There is a persistent, abiding notion that the Mayor just doesn’t care what regular residents think. It’s at the core of his trouble.

Out of the river of damning text published about our Mayor and his inadequate response to the crisis of police violence and corruption, the words that hurt the most were in this Washington Post piece, “Rahm Emmanuel is in Deep, Deep Trouble“, published yesterday:

The natural thing to do would be to spend time in Chicago’s community rebuilding trust — listening to people instead of talking to them, Williamson calls it, stressing that Emanuel’s first priority should be how to keep Chicago governable rather than how to keep his job.

But mending relationships takes time, and as the protests on the streets of Emanuel’s beloved city make clear, the time for sincere action from Chicago’s mayor might have already passed in the eyes of those who matter.

I am accountable for my efforts in the political process. I voted for and advocated for the Mayor during the election. This is my accounting. And I crave this listening.

And, as he keeps saying, our Mayor is accountable to us. I want to help build those structures for listening that I wrote about back in March.  I want to hold him to his promises from back then and his “Justice, Culture, and Community” speech this week to City Council. The whole world sees him struggle now. It’s not pretty. I am disappointed.


Runoff Election Day, April 2015: We are in a Golden Age of Civic Engagement

It is axiomatic to say that it’s hard to recognize you are in a golden age while you are in one. Chicago: we are in a golden age of civic engagement. Treasure it, build it, please don’t let it go.

Today is election day in Chicago. I strongly urge you to vote to retain our Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, in office. He’s earned more time. In the last six weeks I’ve written much about why I support him, on this website and on social media. Please vote today for Rahm Emanuel.

It has been a stressful six weeks. I’ve stuck my neck out for this guy, personally. And that is part of the golden age. I’ve seen hundreds of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, supporters of both candidates, do the same. Taking stands, with integrity, openly, and with love.

I’ve reviewed budget books for the last four years to check facts on funding levels for the Chicago Public Library. I’ve looked up the ordinance covering the Inspector General’s authority. I’ve seen, finally, more media voices in the coverage of TIF spending.  I’ve seen more real talk about the pension crisis than I’ve heard, ever.  I’ve listened to people peppering the Mayor with tough questions at a get-out-the-vote event. Watched debate after debate.

I’ve participated in Twitter fights. I’ve defended my vote on long Facebook threads, and watched as friends have done the same. All of this with respect, and the unquestioned understanding that it won’t affect our real relationships.

I’ve watched with growing awe at the early voting numbers, brought to me by Aldertrack, a service I’ve seen grow over the last eight years into an essential tool for the people of this city. They cover everything, every race, with the detail and attention each ward— each precinct— each person, deserves.

I’ve seen one candidate promise to listen more and the other promise to figure out what’s going on if elected. I strongly prefer the one in office, the one who already knows what he’s talking about, the one who I believe can guide us out.

But the last six weeks, the rest of us have learned— or remembered— that we have the knowledge, the power, and the tools to hold everyone to their promises. Let’s not stop.


Technology, Equity, and Who’s Mayor

I read this article this morning, looking for myself, since I am in technology and I support the Mayor for re-election: “Can Chicago’s Tech Community Carry Rahm Emanuel To Victory?

I found lots of places and themes that are familiar to me (1871 as a hub for innovation, the growth in tech jobs, and the Mayor’s concrete efforts to make Chicago a more inviting place for tech businesses).

What I didn’t find is anything about the parallel growth in support for public computer centers, and the training in digital skills, and the support for the hundreds of technologists and regular residents I work with all the time in order to make technology work for everyone.

It’s a common oversight. There’s a natural tendency to focus on heroic tech people, gleaming downtown workspaces, and gaudy corporate job announcements. But we’ve got a pretty special sauce here in Chicago, and the Mayor’s policies and people have played a significant role in that.

Technology isn’t just a driver of raw economic growth— it’s an engine of equity for all. Where getting an email account is necessary for getting an entry-level job, where being connected to the Internet is essential for receiving social services, and where we can use networks to plan our lives together. I want more of that.

Public Computer Center, King Library, Chicago
Public Computer Center, King Library, Chicago