Michelle Fennessy, Viaduct Activist, Sullivan Supporter Honored
The UIC Flames basketball game today will take time out to recognize the work of Michelle Fennesy, the University Village community organizer, Ph.D. and registered nurse who has been at the forefront of addressing the public health problem of filthy viaducts on Halsted St.
If there’s one thing that characterizes an activist who’s a Maureen Sullivan supporter, it’s that they don’t wait around for someone else to do a good thing in the neighborhood. Instead, they get on the case — and they get WOW-level results for their neighbors.
Take the problem of filthy and dangerous viaducts in our community. Community activist, PhD. and registered nurse Dr. Michelle Fennessy of University Village lives near the unhealthy eyesore where Halsted St. passes under railroad tracks owned by the BNSF Railway.
She pushed and pushed Alderman Balcer for a fix and got nowhere.
Other suggestions came along the lines of getting an unrelated corporation to fund the viaduct. Patrick Daley Thompson suggested that Google be contacted to sponsor the property and its cleanup.
“What about the tax money I already paid for this purpose?” thought Michelle (and everybody else who hears these kinds of classic answers that push privatization.)
And she took to Twitter. You can follow her here.
You won’t believe the results she got.
TRAIN EXECUTIVE GETS ON A PLANE
A major problem with viaducts is the fact that the city and the railroads that run over them both believe the other is responsible for the upkeep of the walkway and throughway. Michelle had seen this finger pointing between the city and the BNSF Railroad for a long time.
So she did some research. And she found out that BNSF railroad is owned by none other than billionaire investor Warren Buffett.
So she tweeted him. And he responded, sending BNSF’s Director of Public Affairs from his office in Texas to fly to Chicago to inspect the viaduct along with the company’s Supervisor of Chicago structures.
The viaduct cleanup is underway now. Results!
FENNESSY, A SULLIVAN SUPPORTER, TALKS INTERVENTION
Why does an effective activist like Michelle Fennesy support Maureen Sullivan for 11th Ward Alderman? “Maureen is going to be action-oriented, she has a history of it and I see her as someone who is not afraid to challenge the status quo. We need more of that! In the words of Elvis [Preseley], ‘too much conversation and not enough action.'”, Fennesy said.
“Now I realize Elvis meant other things, but I see it in nursing terms as “intervening” to make something happen. Maureen = intervention and the 11th ward needs a real advocate for our community,” she added.
We couldn’t agree more.
[Photo Credit: DNAInfoChicago]
Bridgeport Resident, International Musician Martin Atkins Speaks Up For Sullivan
A little fun is what’s needed in a political campaign sometimes, even if the underlying issues are serious. When I think of fun (and change and power and overthrowing an old regime), I think of the music I love. I think of the punk and post-punk music that came out of England and the US in the late 70s and 80s. I think of the hundreds of shows I’ve seen and of the great bands that changed the lives of so many.
And I think of the musicians from these bands, some of whom I got to meet over the years and become friends with.
Martin Atkins is among Bridgeport’s most internationally noted arts figures. He is an incredible drummer, has appeared with multi-million selling bands and is a world-class educator and lecturer on cultural business. And he’s lived in Bridgeport for the last fifteen years with his beautiful family. I’ve been honored to be friends and a fellow traveler with him for many years — not even counting the time before I knew him personally and only knew his tremendous work with favorite bands like Killing Joke and Public Image, Ltd.
Punk rock is an attitude, not a style. It’s about doing things yourself, and not waiting for someone else to do it for you. Don’t like the music you’re hearing? Start a band. Don’t like the way the neighborhood looks? Pick up some garbage. Don’t like the candidates you’re seeing run? Run yourself or back up someone who sees things your way. It’s all one continuum, a way of thinking that I believe in. It says: we can change things. Be real, be active and don’t take word from royalty as gospel.
If these themes seem familiar in my campaign, good. That just means you’ve been paying attention.
Our vibrant and growing arts community certainly understands this. And Martin is a perfect example of how arts has enhanced our diverse and working-class community without our losing any of what makes us proud to live here. Creative people and artists are family people, educators, good neighbors.
In fact, the only area where the 11th Ward has been lacking in creativity is in our government.
I’m going to change that.
So enjoy our campaign video clip starring Martin Atkins of Nine Inch Nails, Killing Joke, Ministry, etc. Thanks and hugs, Martin!
Sullivan Snags Endorsement From Potent Progressive Group
The Sullivan campaign is proud to announce its latest endorsement, this time from progressive powerhouse Grassroots Illinois Action, whose dynamic and smart work pushing back against the rubber-stamp city council is incredibly valuable.
“I am a fan, both of their work and of their principles,” said Sullivan. “I am again honored that bona fide progressive activists recognize my candidacy as being dedicated to working families and the issues that affect them. I am very proud to stand with GIA, Reclaim Chicago, Chicago Teachers Union, the Illinois Greens and NDFA to push back against the business-as-usual, pay-to-play politics that are taking things away from working families only to give them to already wealthy players whose lobbyists work City Hall and Springfield.”
GIA runs TakeBackChicago.org, our favorite tool to discover the voting record of Aldermen, among other initiatives.
The Deadline To Register To Vote Is Tomorrow, Jan. 27 At Midnight
A reminder: If you haven’t registered to vote in the February 24th election, Tuesday is the last day. You have until midnight.
It’s easy – you can do it online.
Here’s the page at the Chicago Board Of Election Commissioners to register to vote.
If you still need to register do it now!
Yesterday’s forum at Trinity Church resurfaced the community’s concerns about the CHE Heliport being built at 2420 S. Halsted.
My opponents had a lot to say. But they’re a day late and a dollar short on this.
John Kozlar seemed to say he was against the heliport. In fact, John Kozlar seems to say a lot of things, often loudly.
But the record says something more loudly: when his website went up on September 10, the words “heliport” and “noise” were completely missing.
Patrick Daley Thompson said at the forum that he was “against” the heliport. But the very next thing he said was to describe the “covenant” that the 11th Ward office at 37th street had arranged with the helicopter company.
In other words, he was “against” it, but not “against” it enough to stop it.
He cut a deal instead.
With “against” like that, who needs “for”?
And what is in this covenant deal? Who knows? Apparently that’s not our concern — we only live here! We’re not to be told by the grand and mighty machine in its infinite wisdom.
The fact is, when it mattered, Patrick Daley Thompson was nowhere to be found on the heliport. He attended no meetings I saw, and I was at most.
Patrick Daley Thompson’s office is a shared office on 37th St. with Alderman Jim Balcer. To imagine that that Balcer’s support of the heliport was different than what Thompson wanted is to totally misunderstand what the machine is, and how the machine works.
The ordinary people in the 11th Ward understand the machine very well. And they also understand this fact:
There is only one candidate in this race who was always against the CHE heliport.
It’s me. It’s in my record.
You can read what I wrote about it on September 16th right here:
I Never, Ever Supported The CHE Heliport
Remember, I’m not anti-business. I’m anti-B.S.
Thanks for paying attention. Somebody has to.
When A Good Idea Is Against The Law
Here’s a question you might hear in law school: is it worth breaking the law to do a good thing?
Law student John Kozlar has promised, if elected, to “give his entire $73,280 Aldermanic Allowance to support our seniors and veterans instead of using it for himself.”
I haven’t promised to do that with the Aldermanic Allowance.
The reason is I can’t. Because it’s illegal.
John’s idea is great. There is no doubt that seniors and veterans deserve support. We all know that. It’s a very good idea that comes from someone whose heart is in the right place.
But if you do it with that particular money, you have to break the law to do it.
What we have is a law student simply misreading the law.
The Aldermanic Allowance John talks about has very specific laws that govern the money. The rules say it’s to be used for the various expenses of running an Alderman’s office.
It gets expensive to run an office, as I learned in my many years of managing custom furniture showrooms.
In Chicago’s Municipal Code, ordinance 2-8-050 states that the Aldermanic Allowance is “to be used for ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in connection with the performance of an alderman’s official duties”.
(The law also states this money is never to be used for “personal, political or campaign expenses”, so it’s a misreading to say you could “use it for yourself” in the first place.)
But you also couldn’t legally give it away to seniors and veterans or to anybody because the ordinance specifically forbids it in 2-8-050 (c) (8), which reads “In no event shall any aldermanic expense allowance funds be used for any of the following purposes: […] trophies, awards, gifts or donations of any kind”
You can click here to see the Municipal Code section in question. It’s been on the books since 1991.
Again: John Kozlar’s heart is in the right place. Seniors and veterans need to live in dignity and be protected. And there are many ways to do that — legal ways — that I’m committed to.
But someone with a law education should know we need to do that legally.
That’s why we need someone with experience and attention to detail to make sure that happens. That’s why I will make the best Alderman for the 11th Ward.
If we make things up as we go along, if we say anything just to get elected, that makes us no better than the machine.
On Dr. King’s birthday, I like to think about how quickly the impossible becomes the everyday.
In the 1950s, steps toward equality between people seemed an impossibility. From the south to the northern cities, deep racial segregation was the order of the day. Law and custom kept working people separated for no good reason at all.
The lines crossed by Dr. King had divided not just people of differing bloodlines, but had also separated working people from each other.
Our being set against each other is how the bosses of the 1950s and earlier preferred it. Racial segregation kept us divided. And it was “impossible” to change.
Impossible — until King’s awakening spread in a few years across the United States, and the “impossible” gave way. Tradition ended and law developed, taking our country many miles down the road away from a brutal past and toward a modern civilization.
What used to be unthinkable is no longer.
Segregation does persist. Division is still profitable to some. Human beings are still human beings with all our faults and failings.
But to think about Dr. King is to think about how peace and justice are never off the table.
Happy MLK Day, everyone.
Green For Maureen: Illinois Green Party Endorses Sullivan
11th Ward Candidates On WTTW Chicago Tonight Tuesday Jan. 20 7PM
Maureen Sullivan will appear on a panel with Aldermanic race opponents Patrick Daley Thompson and John Kozlar on WTTW Channel 11’s Chicago Tonight program.
The show will air at 7PM on Tuesday night January 20.
Maureen Sullivan Endorsed By Chicago Teachers Union
In a Wednesday session of the Chicago Teacher’s Union endorsement committee, progressive 11th Ward Aldermanic candidate Maureen Sullivan was selected in an overwhelming vote by the union membership over her Aldermanic challenger Patrick Daley Thompson. Thompson had been originally proposed by union leadership.
“I couldn’t be more honored by the Chicago Teachers Union’s decision to endorse my candidacy,” said Sullivan, a school council member at McClellan Elementary in Bridgeport. “I owe this outcome to the CTU rank and file who I worked with closely fighting the recent wave of public school closings that threatened Armour, McClellan and Graham elementary schools,” she said.
The reversal decision for Sullivan and against Daley Thompson came in two steps. CTU leadership originally proposed endorsing Thompson, a move that sparked contention over the last three days following the proposal’s appearance.
At the meeting, 11th Ward resident teachers and numerous supporters of Sullivan, keenly aware of Thompson’s pro-charter, pro-voucher and anti-elected-school-board stances, led the membership in a move to strike Thompson’s name from the endorsement resolution.
After winning the vote to strike Thompson’s endorsement, an energized union rank and file introduced a second amendment, this time to endorse Sullivan. After debate, the membership took a voice vote which was overwhelmingly in favor.
CTU’s nod comes as welcome news for the Bridgeport native’s staunchly progressive, grassroots campaign against the legendary 11th Ward political machine.
“This endorsement is a victory for working families and everyone who understands that a neighborhood’s economic health drives education outcomes,” said Sullivan “Our public education system is under attack by pay-to-play privatizers. In this election, I am proud to stand with public school teachers, families and students to say enough is enough.”
[Above: Maureen Sullivan leads a class on machine politics at University of Chicago last week. Photo: Brian Cerullo]
[Above: Maureen Sullivan campaigns in Fuller Park against public school closures in 2012. Photo: Derek Johnson]