Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown and Ald. Ricardo Muñoz didn’t debate Wednesday night on Chicago Tonight. They played the dozens. Both arrived at the studio with all their opposition research memorized, and treated every question as on opportunity to comment on their opponent’s moral, ethical, organizational and political deficiencies.
When Brown was asked about reports that she solicited campaign donations from staffers, she immediately turned the question around on Munoz.
"He accepted over half a million dollars from individuals who do business in his ward," Brown said.
"I have never solicited my employees," Muñoz responded calmly, as he always responds except when he’s kicking an interloper out of his aldermanic office. (See more on that below.)
“Midwest Generation, the largest polluter in Chicago, is his second largest contributor,” Brown charged.
“Even before Emanuel came in and negotiated a deal with Midwest Generation, I co-sponsored an ordinance that would shut them down,” Muñoz said, referring to the Chicago Clean Power Ordinance, which would forced the 22nd Ward’s Crawford Power Plant to shut down or switch from coal to gas.
“He accepted $7,500 just in January from them,” Brown said, as moderator Phil Ponce tried to change the subject to her acceptance of gifts from employees.
“That process started under my predecessor and that process has been stopped,” she said.
Ponce then asked Muñoz how he could go from running a small aldermanic office to an operation with over 2,000.
“My entire career in public service has been about moving bureaucracies,” Muñoz said. “When we had a severe problem with overcrowding in the neighborhood, we went to the Board of Education, and we told them, we need to build more schools.”
An innovative bonding plan, Muñoz said, led to the construction of five new grammar schools and a new high school.
“You know, the alderman, and I respect photographers, and I know that that is his profession, but I really don’t think that that profession is something that should be utilized for an office like this. In addition, if you go on YouTube, you can see how the alderman treats his constituents. If you search ‘Alderman Ricardo Muñoz attacks a voter’ on YouTube, you will see how he treats his constituents. He cursed at him. He literally assaulted him.”
“That was a gentleman who broke into my office,” Muñoz said. Then he got in a dig at Brown for allegedly using a staff member as a chauffeur. “Everyone knows I won’t need a bodyguard or a driver, because I can take care of my own business.”
Summing up Brown made a reference to Muñoz’s youthful membership in a street gang: “We’re talking about the second largest court system in the world. We don’t need anyone with the temperament of the alderman, or the criminal background that the alderman has, with all of these records.”
“We’re going to have to leave it there,” Ponce said.
As the saying goes, “I think we’d better run out of time.”
Voters will be much better served by reading the web extra on WTTW’s web sites, in which the candidates answer a questionnaire -- without interruptions from their opponents.