The County’s Honoring of Eugene Moore Full of Irony and Pathos

Yarbrough WTTW Chicago Tonight .png

A screenshot of Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough’s appearance on Chicago Tonight earlier this month. The Recorder of Deeds office, for decades occupied by either Yarbrough or the late Eugene Moore, pictured below, could consolidate with the county clerk’s office by 2020 if voters vote in favor of the measure on Nov. 8. 

gene_moore_rgbSaturday, August 27, 2016 || By Michael Romain || OPINION

It took some searching, but we finally tracked down the Cook County Board of Commissioner’s resolution honoring the late Cook County Recorder of Deeds, longtime Maywoodian and lifelong Proviso East Pirate Eugene “Gene” Moore.

Moore died on June 14 from prostate cancer. The next month, during a July 13 meeting, the county board voted unanimously on the resolution, which cited Moore’s contributions at the local, county and state level. You can read the full resolution underneath this post.

UPDATE: Moore’s old office (still) faces threat of consolidation 

Some may have noticed the irony in honoring the life of a former Recorder of Deed’s a month after the board acted to allow voters to decide on Nov. 8 whether or not the position should exist.

If a majority of voters decide that it shouldn’t, the recorder’s office (which includes its thousands of jobs and roughly $13 million budget) will be folded into the larger county clerk’s office.

The current recorder, Maywoodian Karen Yarbrough, a cinch for reelection in November, will be allowed to serve out her 4-year term before the consolidation takes full effect.

In June, Commissioner John Fritchey’s proposal to allow voters to decide on whether or not the office should be eliminated passed 10-5 (with two commissioners absent).

All five no votes came from the board’s African American commissioners, one of whom, the 1st District’s Richard Boykin (who represents Proviso Township), suggested that the measure represented an “all-out attack on black elected officials.” David Orr, the current county clerk, is white.

Proponents of the referendum, who include the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board, say getting rid of the office will save county taxpayers around $1 million. Some proponents also say that it’ll just be one less county hothouse of graft and patronage hires watchdogs will have to worry about.

Yarbrough, however, has noted that the cost-savings don’t really amount to much and  the projections may and may not be reliable, since the county board hasn’t really studied the issue.

Yarbrough has also argued that she’s already found millions in cost-savings during her tenure and that the recorder’s office provides certain services, like mortgage fraud prevention tools, that will wither if they’re placed under the clerk’s jurisdiction.

Regardless of the arguments, however, it seems that the referendum to consolidate the offices is likely to pass, a prospect that even Yarbrough’s allies have acknowledged.

Earlier this month, two commissioners who opposed the binding referendum introduced a measure that would call for the referendum question to “be limited to studying the concept of combining the offices” instead of actually combining them, the Chicago Tribune noted in an Aug. 2 editorial.

That measure failed and Fritchey’s referendum stands. Since then, Yarbrough has laid out her arguments against consolidation on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight.

In June, she told the Daily Herald that the recorder’s office, which basically keeps the county’s land records, isn’t laden with patronage hires like it had been in the past (another ironic and subtle invocation of the former recorder?).

That’s not to say there hasn’t been smoke.

In 2013, Yarbrough came under fire from the county’s inspector general and at least one board commissioner for what appeared to be the recorder’s violation of the county’s ethics ordinance barring the hiring of family members and friends.

Yarbrough’s office maintained that they had followed proper protocol and that the employees in question were hired because of their qualifications.

Beyond the allegations of patronage hiring, and the counterclaims made by the recorder; beyond the arguments for or against the existence of the office; one issue of particular resonance to people in Proviso Township, and in Maywood in particular, is that the office that has anchored two of this village’s major political personalities, one of whom has gone on to greater rewards, may be annihilated in several years.

We could be approaching the end of an era. And perhaps the beginning of a new one. What for some people translates into tax savings, for others translates into a loss, an abyss, the end of a world and/or the opportunity to create one anew. For whatever it’s worth. Good, bad or indifferent.

Now, be it resolved 

“PROPOSED RESOLUTION IN MEMORY OF FORMER COOK COUNTY RECORDER OF DEEDS EUGENE “GENE” MOORE WHEREAS, Eugene “Gene” Moore was born on July 19, 1942 in Baltzer, Mississippi to Sara Ella (“SE”) Burrell and Joseph Moore; and WHEREAS, Gene Moore moved to Maywood, Illinois at an early age;

and WHEREAS, Gene Moore graduated from Proviso Township High School in 1960, and attended Otero College in La Junta, Colorado on a football scholarship until an injury ended his football career;

and WHEREAS, Gene Moore was elected to his first political office, Commissioner on the Provisio Township of the Provisio Township Board of Trustees, in 1988; and WHEREAS, in 1999, Gene Moore was selected by the Democratic Party of Cook County to fill the role vacated by our current Secretary of State, Jesse White, as the Cook County Recorder of Deeds;

and WHEREAS, Gene Moore would later run for a full term and win the office of Cook County Recorder Deeds in a landslide;

and WHEREAS, Until his retirement in 2012, Gene Moore made many innovative changes and brought the Recorder of Deeds’ Office into the 21st century; and WHEREAS, Gene Moore created the “Property Fraud Unit” by joining forces with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, the FBI, and the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court;

and WHEREAS Gene Moore served on numerous boards including: The Boys and Girls Club of West Cook County, The Proviso-Leyden Council on Community Action, the John C. Vaughn’s Scholarship Fund, and the Community Economic Development Association;

and WHEREAS, Gene Moore peacefully left this natural world on June 14, 2016; and WHEREAS, Gene Moore is survived by his children; DaWanna, Natalie, and Eric; his siblings: Barbara, Anise, Freddie, and Michael; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren;

and WHEREAS, Gene Moore was instrumental in starting and furthering the careers of many Cook County community leaders.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the President and the Cook County Board of Commissioners, on behalf of the residents of Cook County, do extend their deepest condolences and most heartfelt sympathy to the family, friends, and associates of Eugene “Gene” Moore;

and NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a suitable copy of this Resolution be tendered to the loved ones of Eugene “Gene” Moore as a means of communicating our deep respect and reverence for his commitment to public service and the people of Cook County.” VFP

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