Lester: Preckwinkle has leverage to help state's attorney hopeful

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct that Scott Cizek is Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle's director of governmental and legislative affairs.

Cook County Board President

Toni Preckwinkle is calling on Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez to resign over handling of a police shooting of a black teen.

But what Preckwinkle didn't mention is how much she would gain if Alvarez stepped down.

Preckwinkle would have the power to appoint a new state's attorney, according to a Cook County statute. And Preckwinkle could use that power to put in office her former Chief of Staff Kim Foxx, one of two people opposing Alvarez in the March 15 Democratic primary.

County feud

Preckwinkle said this week she's “had no confidence” in Alvarez's leadership “for a very long time.”

Alvarez, a River Forest Democrat, said she won't resign for refusing for 13 months to release a video of Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke shot Laquan McDonald 16 times. She said in a statement that she won't be “bullied by politicians who do not have a full understanding of the facts of this investigation.”

Along with Foxx, Chicago attorney and former federal prosecutor Donna More is challenging Alvarez.

In August, Cook County Democratic leaders - including Preckwinkle, who is a ward committeeman and vice chair of the county party - declined to endorse Alvarez for a third term.

Long memory

Preckwinkle's current director of governmental and legislative affairs, Scott Cisek, suggested the Van Dyke case could be Alvarez's “Hanahran moment.”

Cisek, who obviously has a bias, was referring to onetime Cook County State's Attorney Ed Hanahran, whose career ended after Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton and member Mark Clark were killed in a 1972 raid by police attached to to the state's attorney's office. The county Democratic organization failed to endorse Hanahran, and black and Republican voters combined to oust him from office and elect Republican Bernard Carey.

School metal detectors

It's a familiar tune ... Barrington Community Unit District 220 Superintendent Brian Harris said the school board will review its decision not to install metal detectors at

Barrington High School

Barrington High School after a student brought a handgun to school Monday.

Elgin Area School District U-46 leaders had similar conversations after a student attacked a teacher with a knife in 2008, one of the most gripping stories I've covered to this day.

“Metal detectors at the gate change a school's environment,” security chief John Heiderscheidt told me then.

I checked in with Heiderscheidt this week, and he says the district is happy with its decision not to install detectors. Instead, U-46 uses metal-detecting wands to conduct random weapons checks on students and lockers during the school day. In recent years, those checks have recovered a shotgun and a loaded handgun on school campuses.

Palin cancels on Naperville

Why did former Alaska Gov.

Sarah Palin Associated Press File Photo

Sarah Palin abruptly cancel her Tuesday appearance at the Marriott Naperville, where she was to sign copies of her new book, “Sweet Freedom: A Devotional”?

I wondered, as did Anderson's Bookshop spokeswoman Candy Purdom, who organized the event and said Palin's agent was as mystified as everyone else.

Palin was in the news Tuesday for opening up about a cancer scare and her firing from Fox News.

Paying respects

Among those in the hourslong line to pay respects at the wake of Eileen Quinn of Hinsdale were the state policemen who were on the security detail for her son, former Gov. Pat Quinn; the Fenwick High School girls basketball team, where one of her granddaughters plays; and President Barack Obama's next-door neighbor Jacky Grimshaw, who ran Harold Washington's successful campaign for mayor in 1983.

Murder trial to start

The trial of 26-year-old Chavez Saulsberry in the 2005 murder of a 30-year-old Aurora man begins next week in Kane County circuit court. Officials say Saulsberry, who was 15 at the time, opened fire on the white Oldsmobile driven by rival gang member Michael Moore. Saulsberry is already doing 55 years for a different murder as part of a gang initiation. A conviction in the Moore case could add at least 20 years to his sentence.

Smith drops in

Rolling Meadows High School graphics teacher Kent Dyer says he was honored to have State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith pop into his classroom this week, where Smith tried on T-shirts made by students as part of the course.

Big stage

Arcada Theatre owner Ron Onesti says he recently booked a piano recital for 100 suburban youngsters after he met a 12-year-old and his father at an October Neil Sedaka concert and they mentioned there was no place to hold his school recital. The kids, Onesti hopes, will be ticket-buyers someday.

Today's snap

Elgin Area School District U-46 CEO

Elgin Area School District U-46 CEO Tony Sanders and board member Veronica Noland test a few snowplows in anticipation of a wintry day.

Tony Sanders and board member Veronica Noland test a few snowplows in anticipation of a wintry day.

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