Cook Co. state's atty candidates spar

October 28, 2008 8:13:26 AM PDT
The three nominees for Cook County state's attorney sparred over ethics and experience. They clashed at a debate sponsored by ABC7 and the League of Women Voters.

"Innocent men were tortured in our county. And they worked in tandem and have done nothing, done nothing to bring justice to the taxpayers who get stuck with the bill," said Commissioner Tony Peraica, (R) Cook County state's attorney nominee.

Republican Tony Peraica's accused the veteran prosecutors in the race, Green Party candidate Thomas O'brien and his Democratic opponent Anita Alvarez, of turning a blind eye to former police commander Jon Burge's alleged torture of homicide suspects, the rampant corruption in cook county government. and the railroading the innocent men who ended up on death row.

But Alvarez, who is one of the top deputies in the office, says that she's not responsible for any of that.

"Mr. Peraica is showing his ignorance of the office and the work that we do. I've been a part of the safeguards that were put in place to make sure this doesn't happen again," Alvarez said.

"There's no doubt about it, that mistakes were made in the attorney's office," O'Brien said, but added that he didn't believe the state's attorney's office was responsible.

O'Brien denied Peraica's allegation that he's in the race to help Olivarez. But the fireworks continued after that debate when Peraica accuses Alvarez of a blatant conflict of interest, including the violation of county ethics laws, for taking campaign cash from her employees and from law firms involved in cases against the county, including the firm that sued the county on behalf of the victims of the fatal fire at 69 west washington.

"It not only raises the appearance of impropriety, but it is, I believe, something the public shouldn't tolerate," Peraica said.

"I'll respond to his rhetoric and nonsense, I have not campaigned inside my office, I have not solicited funds from inside the office. Unlike Mr. Peraica, there's an article about him running his Cook County campaign from his county office," Alvarez said.

Alvarez says the office needs someone with experience and a reform agenda. Peraica says the reform has to come from the outside. And O'Brien said he wants voters to start paying attention to Green Party issues, like the elimination of the death penalty.


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