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CCFB News» June 2023

DownwindA Long Way From the Farm

06/01/2023 @ 8:00 am | By Bob Rohrer, CCFB Manager

Sometimes, I feel a very long way from the farm of my youth. April 27th was one of those days.


I negotiated snarled traffic on the Stevenson and Dan Ryan to head to the Cook County building in Chicago. No traffic like that on the farm. A Farm Bureau group from Cook County as well as Illinois Farm Bureau was attending the county board Meeting to present a plaque commending the Cook County Board for approving a sweeping resolution that recognizes and declares the importance of agriculture in Cook County.


I first realized this was going to be “something” of a meeting as I approached the Cook County building that morning on the 27th. Walking by the Daley Center, news trucks were set up and a TV interview was occurring on the sidewalk at the corner of Clark and Randolph. As I entered the County building, a news conference “circus” was in progress by the ground floor entrance.  All of this for our pro-agriculture resolution?


Picking my way around the gawkers, I made my way up to the fifth floor to the county board room. The gallery area was packed…standing room only. Great. That’s what I get for running tight on time always – I should know better! Always blame the traffic.


Everyone who crowded in the room must love our resolution!


Starting a few minutes after 10 a.m., President Preckwinkle called the meeting to order and roll call was taken. Public testimony to follow…our time to recognize the county board for passing the agriculture resolution. A quick in and out… I wouldn’t have to stand too long!


Oops, check that…First on the agenda, Mdm. Pres. Preckwinkle accepted a motion not to follow the published agenda, postponing the public testimony until later in the meeting. The motion carried.


The county board moved into the important topic of passing a resolution honoring the work, service and success of Commissioner Brandon Johnson as a Cook County Commissioner on his road to becoming the new mayor of Chicago. The room was not packed to celebrate agriculture.


Mayor-elect Johnson was attending and participating in his final Cook County Board of Commissioners meeting on April 27 before heading to the Chicago Mayor’s office. I’m guessing he experienced a significant upgrade in his office desk and décor when he moved his nameplate from the county side to the city side of the building. His successful election victory over incumbent Mayor Lightfoot, Paul Vallas and many more was surprising. As a non-Chicago resident, I did not have a vote but like many, I did pay attention to the mayoral election. Chicago’s influence throughout the region is undeniable.

A lengthy “Brandon is Awesome” resolution was read by the County Clerk, Karen Yarbrough. This was followed by each of the remaining 16 Cook County Commissioners and many other elected officials (including Congressman Danny Davis and the county clerk) taking the mic for 3-5 minutes to praise, provide personal stories, provide advice, joke and subtly share their vital role in Mr. Johnson successes.


Lovefest and total gushing time by politicians: 1hour, 5 minutes.


Following the “roast” and passage of the resolution, mayor-elect Johnson spoke to those assembled with many platitudes that focused on anticipated transformation towards equity and justice in Chicago.

The Cook County Board of Commissioners collectively seemed to look forward to a quality working relationship with the new Chicago mayor. Apparently, the previous two mayoral administrations have been difficult to work with for the county board.


I’m a long way from the farm.


Two questions:

  • There will be a honeymoon period between the mayor and other local elected powerbrokers. How long will that honeymoon period last?
  • Will those on the county board remember all the gushing praise heaped upon the new mayor on April 27 when Chicago and Cook County’s leadership interests diverge?


Eventually, public testimony was opened, led off by the colorful figure of George Blakemore (do a search for him if you don’t know who he is) and a series of individuals presenting comments and testimony.


I’m a long way from the farm.


Finally, Bona Heinsohn, Cook County Farm Bureau staff leader stepped to the mic and Cook County Farm Bureau was able to properly commend the Cook County Board of Commissioners for approving the agriculture importance resolution. Bona suggested a group photo and I was stunned that they stopped the meeting to gather for a photograph. Of course, all the commissioners wanted to be in the commemorative photo op with CCFB members Ruth Zeldenrust, Amy Hansmann, Bona and me! However, I believe that Mr. Johnson exited the meeting by that point to take care of a mounting pile of important city business.


Mayor Johnson missed that photo op but I know how he can set up another photo op with his Cook County Farm Bureau friends. I call upon Mayor Brandon Johnson to now pass a pro-agriculture resolution through the Chicago City Council for one of his first major Chicago policy actions. Politicians like to eat.


Yep. I’m a long way from the farm.

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