We Should Be Thanking Dorothy Brown for ‘Jeans Days’

From the Chicago Tribune:

Democratic Cook County Board president candidate Dorothy Brown today tried to move past an employee "jeans day" controversy that’s dogging her campaign by providing records she said shows the money was accounted for.

Brown, the county circuit court clerk, said the $2 or $3 that employees paid to wear jeans on some Fridays has gone to charities including the American Heart Association, a Hurricane Katrina victims fund and a Pakistan earthquake victims fund.

"It is unfortunate that this innocent practice that helps so many causes is being subverted and maligned by some members of the media," said Brown at a lengthy news conference. (You can read her documents by clicking here.)

Questions about jeans day follow previous stories about Brown raising money for pet causes from workers in her office, which has more than 2,100 employees. She’s also raised campaign money through her employees and they’ve been asked to contribute to gifts for her.

Today, Brown’s staff acknowledged that there’s no comprehensive accounting of the jeans day cash contributions that reach the tens of thousands of dollars each year. She said the office tries to verify that the number of permission stickers issued equals the number of contributions. Employees also are supposed to write their names on envelopes when they contribute for jeans day, she said. The comptroller in her office tracks the money, Brown added.

According to documents Brown’s staff provided, nearly $23,000 was spent last year from the employee appreciation fund, accumulated with jeans days’ contributions, to pay for an the annual appreciation dinner held at a union hall. She provided an overall accounting, canceled checks and bank account statements.

In any other season that does not begin with the word "election," Dorothy Brown would be, and should be, praised. But this is election season, and the worst dirt Toni Preckwinkle can unearth in Dorothy Brown’s professional career is the fact that she collects donations from staff for the privilege of wearing jeans, and the money goes to charity, or to a fund that can be used to show appreciation to employees.

What a great idea.

This tells me that, outside a campaign, both of these candidates are wonderful people.

Are you at that point yet where you’re wishing it was already February 3, 2010?

We haven’t even seen the deluge of commercials all the candidates are waiting to unleash closer to election day…