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More Election Headaches for Dorothy Brown

By Prescott Carlson in News on Oct 28, 2009 8:40PM

Last week Chicagoist commenters debated on the value of job training programs. Whether they're beneficial or not, there's probably one thing we can all agree on -- slapping clipboards in people's hands and having them gather signatures for political candidates instead of giving them practical work experience certainly isn't going to have a positive effect.

That's what Fox Chicago's Dane Placko found happening when he took a camera crew down to 49th and Ashland for a visit to the Mother's House social services agency. Mother's House is supposed to be providing job training to people in Illinois' EarnFare program, which "is designed to provide adults who receive Food Stamps and who volunteer an opportunity to gain valuable work experience, earn cash assistance, and become self-sufficient." Placko spoke to a number of EarnFare workers who told him the only task they were given each day was to gather signatures on petitions for political candidates, most notably Cook County Circuit Court Clerk and Cook County Board President candidate Dorothy Brown. Besides the interviews, Placko also found several stacks of political petitions at the Mother's House office, which lead to a heated exchange with the manager there escalating to a point where police were called.

This isn't the first time Placko has gone after Dorothy Brown for questionable practices. Earlier this month he pointed out that Brown held a campaign press conference on the fifth floor of the Cook County Building on a workday, and also spotted Brown's aides with campaign signs -- pretty clear ethics violations. Last year he went after her about Brown hiring a driver on our dime.

Brown, as is the usual way around our city and county offices, took the route of plausible deniability, saying in a statement to Fox that she had no knowledge that EarnFare workers were gathering signatures for her, and that it was "a political hit job." Fox plans to air a follow-up tonight on their 9 p.m. newscast.