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.
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]
Where Was This Picture Taken?
Over the weekend, a campaign mailing from Patrick Daley Thompson hit our mailbox.
Because Patrick is a candidate for 11th Ward Alderman, we were surprised to see a bunch of high-rise buildings printed on it.
So we asked ourselves: where exactly are the high-rises in the 11th Ward?
Is this over by Freddie’s?
Is this the Appleville apartments? Or over by Shinnick’s?
No and no.
Maybe it’s by Sox park? The old Amp? University Village?
It’s downtown. Which is where Patrick Daley Thompson does his job as real estate attorney and lobbyist for big business. Where he helps the connected get their hands on our tax money.
So the next time you take a walk down our Haslted St. and wonder why there are so many empty storefronts in our neighborhood with Thompson signs mounted inside the empty windows, remember where Patrick Daley Thompson is coming from. Remember what he’s thinking about.
It’s not the 11th Ward.
Announcing January’s 11th Ward Aldermanic Forums
In a town that could use some heating up in January, a pair of political forums* are guaranteed to raise the temperature on the insider leadership responsible for mismanaging the 11th Ward for decades. Two debates in the 11th Ward Aldermanic race are announced:
- January 21 – The Canaryville Improvement Association has announced an Aldermanic Forum. In attendance will be Maureen Sullivan, Patrick Daley Thompson and John Kozlar. Time: 7PM Place: St. Gabriel’s School Auditorium. Get details here.
- January 25 – Bridgeport Alliance Aldermanic Town Hall Forum. In attendance will be Maureen Sullivan, Patrick Daley Thompson and John Kozlar. Get details here.
At least one additional forum is planned for Feburary. Watch our website for details.
* [CORRECTION: The original version of this post characterized these events as debates, but in fact their formats are not debate-style. The formats are instead panels with Q&A directed to the candidates individually. We regret the error.]
(Photo credit: Bridgeport Alliance)
Sullivan Denounces Hate Attacks, Calls For Unity
Responding to an anonymous sticker campaign in the Bridgeport neighborhood, Aldermanic candidate Maureen Sullivan called for unity in the face of a hate attack, the first of the political season in the 11th Ward.
Stickers reading “Maureen Sullivan Bad For Bridgeport Bankrupt Financially And Morally” went up on area light poles at some point in the last few days.
“There is no place for hatred in this or in any election,” said Sullivan. “There are significant differences between the candidates, but I don’t believe that any of us endorses this kind of deeply disrespectful personal attack. I call upon my electoral opponents Patrick Daley Thompson and John Kozlar to join me in denouncing these hate stickers and resolve to focus on the issues that are important to voters.”
Since launching in August, Sullivan’s campaign website has detailed the personal bankruptcy in her history, triggered by the 2008 housing crisis.
An online attack came with the stickers, when in a web comment, Ed Marszewski, owner of Maria’s on 31st St. and a Thompson supporter, called Maureen “a crazy cat lady” (photo).
Sullivan’s campaign has collected dozens of volunteers, thousands of dollars of donations and has snagged key endorsements including Democracy For America, the People’s Lobby, Reclaim Chicago and National Nurses United.
“We’re seeing again how women are singled out for terrible abuse in electoral politics,” said Sullivan campaign spokesman Rob Warmowski. “But our neighbors know that Maureen has always been up front, and has always stood up to bullies. This neighborhood loves a fighter.”
Sullivan, Candidates Address Bridgeport Village Homeowners Association
Last night at Polo Cafe, during the first event of the campaign season attended by all three candidates for 11th Ward Alderman, the questions flowed like beer from Polo’s cash bar.
Addressing a gathering of the Bridgeport Village Homeowners Association was Maureen Sullivan and her election opponents John Kozlar and Patrick Daley Thompson. The event planned 20 minutes for each candidate to deliver remarks followed by questions from association members.
After drawing straws, Maureen led off, letting the homeowners know why she’s running for office:
“There are many reasons why I’m running for Alderman, but the number one reason I’m running is because my neighbors demanded it. For the past ten years, I’ve been a highly visible community volunteer stepping up to improve our neighborhoods by providing leadership, creativity, experience and successful community organizing. Time and time again over that ten years, I have been asked ‘why don’t you run for Alderman? We need you. You already do what the Alderman is supposed to do.’ This year was the year I finally gave in and stepped forward.”
Questions for Maureen included how she would shape the business development in the neighborhood. “At Archer and Halsted,” she said, “there should be commuter-related businesses such as a day care, and we should consider a drive-through coffee place. I envision Halsted Street and Archer Avenue as walkable small business districts, that look inviting.”
After remarks by Kozlar including a round of applause for his work with the Canaryville Little League, Patrick Daley Thompson took the stage to present a very different vision for Halsted’s business district and its shuttered storefronts. He said retail wasn’t the right focus.
“You don’t need as much retail on Halsted. You shop on the internet now,” said Thompson.
On Alleys And Designation
The Q&A for Daley Thompson got a little fractious. Feeling neglected by Jim Balcer, current Alderman, Daley machine appointee and office-mate of Thompson’s, association members pressed Thompson on issues including the arrangements in the development for garbage pickup. One homeowner said he had been asking the Alderman for eight years to have city garbage pickup arranged in Bridgeport Village’s alleys.
“That’s easy to do,” said Daley Thompson. “We have to create a designation for the alleys.”
The crowd, familiar with the process but having gotten no response on it for years from Alderman Balcer, did not like that answer.
“If it’s so easy to do, why hasn’t it been done?” shot back another homeowner.
“You’d have to talk to Jim Balcer,” responded Daley Thompson.
(Above: The office on 37th St. where Patrick Daley Thompson and Alderman Jim Balcer have desks.)
(Photo credits: Planet99.com, HGJones.org)
It’s Official: Maureen Sullivan Is On The Ballot!
It’s official: all the hard work — unpaid field volunteer work going back months — has been worthwhile. All the careful planning, all the management, all the communications and all the detail work — has paid off. There are no petition challenges, all the I’s have been dotted and all the T’s have been crossed.
We couldn’t be more proud to report the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners has announced that Maureen Sullivan is on the ballot for the February 24th election.
As a groundswell of support for real change increases across the 11th Ward and the campaign’s red window signs appear in ever-greater numbers from University Village to Canaryville, the message is clear: Maureen Sullivan is for real.
It’s Time To Step It Up
Now is the time to step it up. Here’s how you can help:
- Make a donation today. Remember: we will always be outspent, but never out-campaigned.
- Spread the word – sign up for campaign news today, or sign up your neighbors.
- Let us know you need a window sign by signing up here, or shoot an email to email@example.com
- Volunteer! Shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll find a slot for you in our growing street team!
- Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
Don’t let this chance pass — our first in decades — to elect a responsive, independent and experienced community leader.
Show your support for the lady who you’ve seen out there actively improving our community for ten years, not just out there knocking on doors at election time.
Show your support for the candidate who stood up to the old-boy leadership on 37th Street and Halsted and said “enough is enough”.
Get behind a leader. Get behind Maureen Sullivan for 11th Ward Alderman.
Photo credit: CBS2Chicago
11th Ward Tax Tricks Written Up In DNAChicago
“Hosted by The Civic Lab co-founder Tom Tresser, the ongoing, citywide seminars are for residents looking to learn how money is being collected and spent under the oft-misunderstood economic development tool of TIFs.
“Here’s how it works: When an area is declared a TIF district — by law it’s supposed to be in a “blighted” area — the county sets a “base value” by totaling the property values within the district.”
“Then, the amount of property tax money public agencies like schools and parks can take from that area is calculated using that base value for 23 years. Any additional property tax money generated from an increase in property values within the TIF district is instead sent to the TIF fund overseen by the city.”
“The event is sponsored by Friends of Maureen Sullivan, the political group backing the candidacy of 11th Ward aldermanic candidate Maureen Sullivan.
“In a statement, Sullivan criticized TIF misuse and what she’s labeled the 11th Ward’s “old-boy leadership,” citing her decade-long crusade to renovate the long-shuttered Ramova Theater, which is owned by the city.”
“The city in 2012 spent $330,000 shoring up the building but hasn’t secured a developer to renovate it.”
About That Shoring-Up Of The Ramova
City ownership of the Ramova has been a major topic of Maureen’s community work since she created and led Save The Ramova in 2005. It was Maureen who called attention to the specific architectural damages to the building and it was her work that forced the appropriation of remediation funds. Before her pressure, the city had let the property deteriorate.
“It’s just one chapter in a ten-year long story of fighting for that theater,” Sullivan said. “But it’s an important one.”
How I Helped Fight The Coal Plants — And Helped Us Win
Like a lot of people in Bridgeport and Pilsen, my family has struggled with respiratory problems tied to the nearby Crawford coal plant. In 2010 I read a report detailing the plant’s terrible health costs to residents, including premature deaths, asthma episodes and heart attacks every year. Beyond that, I learned the dollar costs were more than $120 million to the people in the community.
I knew this situation was wrong. I decided to get involved to change it.
That was the year I and a core group of community leaders co-founded a group called the Bridgeport Alliance and steered it to join the city-wide and Pilsen-centered efforts to end the coal plants’ costs to the community.
I had first gotten involved in the specific coal plant issue after attending Green party community meetings where I learned that Pilsen-based PERRO had been working on closing the plants for years. We first made contacts with Dorian Breuer from PERRO and then later Christine Nannicielli and her staff at Sierra Club in 2011.
I own a business, so I’m always mindful of what works for commerce. But I learned these plants were open for one reason: to sell power outside of Illinois and to contribute to an Enron-style national market for electricity. We know how Enron ended up. There was no way it was right to pay for that kind of business with the health and lives of our people.
That year, I became part of a big effort. My allies and I worked on volunteer organization, educating residents, raising awareness, collecting signatures on South Halsted, collecting photo petitions and enlisting the support of 11th Ward businesses. We were on the streets, engaging our neighbors. Our work, organized and presented as the Clean Power Coalition, culminated in a City Hall action Dec 2, 2011.
Along with the Coalition’s city-wide pressure, which included the Bridgeport Alliance, I personally asked 11th Ward Alderman Jim Balcer to sign on as a co-sponsor of the City Council Clean Power Ordinance, which was introduced in April 2010.
The Old-Boy Leadership: No-Go and No-Show
Alderman Balcer never signed on, and in fact sold out the people of the 11th Ward by delaying the vote on the Council floor twice, putting it off until after the end of the Daley administration.
Also, my election opponent Patrick Daley Thompson, at that time an executive of the South Loop Chamber of Commerce, was a no-show on the coal plants. Patrick made no appearance nor statement about the health hazards faced by the people of the 11th Ward during the entire fight. If he’s ever said anything about people in our community dropping dead thanks to coal plant pollution, I’ve never heard it.
No thanks to Thompson’s absence or Balcer’s interference, it was ultimately the threat of the City Council vote — that threat created by community pressure city-wide through our Clean Power Coalition — that eventually ended the pollution in 2012 and improved the air quality in our community tooday.
Today, as President of the Palmisano Park Advisory Council, it’s one of my greatest joys to climb the hill and look north to the now-smokeless smokestacks, take a deep breath, and remember what can happen when people get together to stop footing the bill for an operation that doesn’t even serve them.
What can happen?
We can win.
(Photo credit: ELPC.org)
Sullivan Puts Mayor Emanuel, Thompson On Notice: Quit Stealing Credit
Maureen Sullivan, independent progressive candidate for 11th Ward Alderman addressed the media at City Hall today along with Reclaim Chicago and Bridgeport Alliance to demand that Mayor Rahm Emanuel withdraw his campaign commercial claiming credit for closing the nearby Fisk and Crawford coal plants in 2012.
In a crowded press conference before television and print media, Sullivan, a candidate whose own community work has been claimed by her political opponents, fired at Mayor Emanuel over his own attempt to portray himself as the reason the coal plants were closed.
“What Mayor Emanuel’s commercial doesn’t mention is that during the first year of his term, he had activists who were protesting the coal plants arrested,” said Sullivan, referencing the May 2011 arrests of anti-coal plant protesters early in Emanuel’s term.
“There’s a reason his commercial doesn’t mention this. It’s because it’s much tougher for the Mayor to claim credit for the hard work of community activists when the truth is that he put the activists who were doing the work in jail.”
Sullivan, a ten-year community organizer and business owner, appeared with 25th Ward Aldermanic candidate Byron Sigcho and representatives from community groups including PERRO, Rising Tide Chicago, Bridgeport Alliance. She worked with Bridgeport Alliance on opposing the plants in 2011.
Afterward, Sullivan reflected on the problem of inactive politicians taking credit for the work of community activists.
“Community activists get out there, unpaid, and get things done, and it’s wrong for politicians who had nothing to do with it to get the credit. When I won the grant to fund the new playground equipment at McGuane Park in 2012, it was the result of months of solitary work. But when the cameras came out on the dedication day, suddenly there’s my opponent Patrick Daley Thompson standing next to me in the picture. It’s wrong, it’s transparent, and the voters aren’t going to stand for it.”
Sullivan’s next community event is “11th Ward Tax Tricks” on December 4th, a workshop explaining how the community’s tax money is being misspent using TIFs.
Photo credit: Reclaim Chicago