Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle let Time Out Chicago poke around her office and her condo to see what she eats, how she decorates and what she reads. Politicians often submit to these journalistic invasions of privacy in an effort to make themselves look human for the voters. And let’s face it, few politicians need humanizing more than Preckwinkle, who is affable and funny in private but comes off as severe in public. It turned out that Preckwinkle’s tchotchkes, and her explanations of why she owns them, only reinforced her super-serious persona.
Here are some highlights from Preckwinkle’s desk, refrigerator and bookcase.
- She has a stuffed orangutan on her desk. When TOC's Marissa Conrad misidentified it as a monkey, Preckwinkle corrected her: “That’s not a monkey! It’s an orangutan. There’s a difference between monkeys and apes.” Preckwinkle is still a schoolteacher.
- Besides leftover Jerusalem salad from Cedars in Hyde Park and chicken drumsticks from Treasure Island, Preckwinkle has apples, oranges and bananas in her refrigerator. “We are hoping to reach employees… and show them that leading a healthy lifestyle is possible with Cook County as a partner. I want to lead by example.” Such a scold! Tell the sheriff’s deputies at 26th and Cal about healthy eating.
- She’s reading Taylor Branch’s "America in the King Years," a three-volume history of the civil rights movement. Your Ward Room Blogger read the first volume, Parting the Waters, after learning it was Preckwinkle’s and Barack Obama’s favorite book. It was 1,000 pages long. This is a bookworm.
- On her wall is a patchwork quilt made special education students at Cantor Middle School. “Each kid made a block. They wrote things that they learned about me. [One drew] a basketball, since I used to be a basketball player in high school and college.” Yes, Toni Preckwinkle is tall and formidable.
- Her phone is a Samsung cricket. She bought it for the keypad, but only uses it to make phone calls, never to text. Who still talks on a phone? Only fuddy-duddies like Toni Preckwinkle.
Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!