Chicago Green Party Endorses Sullivan Over Water Commissioner Opponent
Winning the Chicago Green Party endorsement in the race for 11th Ward Alderman over her opponent Metropolitan Water Reclamation Commissioner Patrick Daley Thompson is Maureen Sullivan, parks leader, public health activist, author and businesswoman.
Sullivan’s resume on environmental issues is strong. She is the three-time elected President of the Palmisano Park Advisory Council. She has been highly active on environmental and public health issues in the ward, including leading the volunteer effort called Bridgeport Clean And Green (click here for details). Sullivan was also highly active in the multi-neighborhood effort to end the health hazard of the nearby coal plants (click here for details.) She also created and manages the annual summer festival Bridgeport Air And Water Show in Palmisano Park. She has spearheaded capital and safety improvements to the park and to its sister McGuane Park.
In the wake of the Illinois Green Party’s announcements earlier in the month, the Chicago Green Party (CPG) announced their endorsements this week which included Mayoral Candidate Bob Fioretti, who Sullivan has appeared with on the campaign trail.
“Stewardship of our water and air is critically important to me, and I am proud to accept this latest Green Party endorsement in recognition of my hands-on work,” said Sullivan. “The balancing act needed to protect our environment in a densely populated Ward is one my record shows I am uniquely qualified for.”
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