Preckwinkle again says she regrets remarks about Ronald Reagan
By Casey Toner firstname.lastname@example.org August 22, 2012 1:42PM
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle attended a groundbreaking at the Oak Forest Health Center Tuesday. | Larry Ruehl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 24, 2012 7:45AM
Once again calling the remarks “inflammatory,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle on Wednesday she regrets saying the late President Ronald Reagan deserved “a special place in hell,” for his drug policies.
But Preckwinkle maintained Reagan’s war on drugs has failed and promised to keep pushing for the decriminalization of drugs.
Preckwinkle clarified her remarks during the groundbreaking of the Oak Forest Health Center, the outpatient center being created at the site of the shuttered Oak Forest Hospital.
“We’re spending an incredible amount of money on detaining and incarcerating people and we ought to be investing in treatment,” Preckwinkle said. “And I think it’s appropriate here at this facility — a health care facility — to be talking about ... treatment for those that decide that they need to deal with their addiction.”
Preckwinkle talked about Reagan while appearing as a guest speaker during a leadership conference Tuesday at the University of Illinois. She mentioned her efforts in Cook County to decriminalize marijuana possession and turn it into a ticket-worthy offense as part of an effort to clear the county and state’s clogged penal systems of low-level drug offenders.
State Rep. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) challenged the county’s policy by asserting addicted drug users are more likely to get treatment through the criminal courts as opposed to when they simply have to pay a small fine for low-level possession.
From there, Preckwinkle brought up Reagan’s drug-prevention efforts and criticized them for subjecting low-level offenders to jail time.
That’s when she said Reagan deserved “a special place in hell,” a comment that produced a discernible gasp among conferees, according to some in attendance. Hours later, Preckwinkle issued an apology.
Contributing: Mark Konkol, Dave McKinney