• picture of benton house ramova room

    Sullivan Fundraiser At Benton House’s Ramova Room, November 12

    picture of benton house ramova room

    (Above: The Ramova Room at Benton House)

    Join us Wednesday, November 12th for the latest fundraiser for Maureen Sullivan for 11th Ward Alderman.  This time the festivities kick off at the Ramova Room in Benton House’s north building at 3034 S. Gratten (aka Ma Benton Lane). As with all our campaign fundraisers, expect refreshments, fine beverages and great company.

    This time, we gather in the Ramova Room,  one of Maureen’s favorite personal projects from her past ten years of service to the community. Here’s some background on Maureen’s involvement in building the room.

    About The Ramova Room And How Maureen Preserved It

    In October 2012, when the famous, Dinos-family-owned 83-year-old neighborhood diner  Ramova Grill closed, Executive Director Ward Miller of Preservation Chicago called Maureen Sullivan. He had tried to save the furniture from the diner by placing it with a Greek history museum downtown, but the plan had fallen through.

    “Even though I was pretty busy with [releasing] our Bridgeport history book, I dropped everything when Ward called me for help,” said Sullivan.  “I knew how fond the people were of the Ramova Grill, so I wanted to make sure the seats and interior would be kept in the neighborhood. The grill opened in 1929, the same time as the theater, and our community has loved it for generations.”

    Added to the furnishings were tables from another shuttered South Halsted dining classic: Healthy Foods.

    Sullivan had an idea.  She contacted Benton House and spearheaded the preservation project by supervising, photographing and publicizing the removal and restoration of the Grill’s interior to its new home: the Pearse Hall gymnasium and activities building of Benton House on Gratten St.  Today it’s used as a community center and for Benton House’s many seniors meetings, as well as playing host to its food pantry.

    Come on down November 12 for a close look at the preserved history and have a chat with the lady who made it happen: the next Alderman of the 11th Ward, Maureen Sullivan.

     

    Photo Credit: We Farm America  

  • Comparison of 11th Ward Office cleanup and Maureen Sullivan cleanup

    Who Cleans Up The 11th Ward? Not The 11th Ward Office

    While usually a quality source of fair-minded coverage about the 11th Ward, writer Casey Cora at DNAChicago made a small mistake with his photo yesterday.

    It happens: doing local news well is a tough job, and sometimes a detail will slip.

    But when a small mistake points to a big leadership problem in our community, it’s worth talking about the problem.

    In Casey’s story “You Can Help Clean Up The 11th Ward,” as published Wednesday morning, he unwittingly spread confusion about who cleans up the 11th Ward’s streets — and who doesn’t.

    It’s about the picture he used. Here’s how the story and original picture appeared at publication time:

    Original DNAChicago Story

    (Above: Wednesday’s DNAChicago story mistakenly using photo of Maureen Sullivan and volunteer crew, 2012)

    The problem is that the story talks about a cleanup event “co-hosted by the 11th Ward and the city’s Streets and Sanitation Department”.  But the photo doesn’t show that event. It shows instead an entirely independent and effective, home-grown neighborhood operation. It shows the 2012 “Bridgeport Clean And Green” created, hosted and managed by Aldermanic candidate Maureen Sullivan and Rene Paquin of the Bridgeport Alliance. It shows the hundreds of pounds of garbage their team took off the streets and the crew of awesome volunteers they organized to do it.

    This matters, because who you don’t see in this photo is anybody from the 11th Ward office. They were all no-shows. No Patrick Daley Thompson, no Alderman Balcer, no John Daley.  Not even anybody from the South Loop Chamber of Commerce could be bothered to show up and lend a hand.

    Which is par for the course, because they had nothing to do with it.

    This photo reminds us that under Patrick Daley Thompson and Alderman Balcer, the 11th Ward office doesn’t actually get the streets cleaned up. It reminds us that real cleanup takes organization, community activism and hands-on work to accomplish, and that’s not what they do.

    That’s what Maureen Sullivan does. And the picture Casey ran shows her just getting started, launching the first of a multi-year effort.

    Again, this isn’t to bash Casey Cora. But it is time we all got clear about who actually works for the people of the 11th Ward, and who pretends to.

    There’s A Right Way And A Wrong Way To Do It

    On one hand, there’s activism — organizing, leading, following through. That’s what Maureen Sullivan does.

    And on the other hand there’s what Patrick Daley Thompson and Alderman Jim Balcer prefer: inactivism.

    At the 11th Ward office, “cleaning up” the neighborhood streets is a strictly hands-off process, and it shows.  The 11th Ward office merely publishes a flyer, tells you to call 311 and then never follows up, never organizes volunteers, and most importantly, does not remove any trash.

    This approach doesn’t clean garbage off the streets, and here’s the proof.

    The last time they promoted a local cleanup was on August 23. We were paying attention, so we took pictures at the end of that day.

    See the difference for yourself.

    Comparison of 11th Ward Office cleanup and Maureen Sullivan cleanup

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    The choice is clear. Community organization and leading volunteers is what works.

    Pretending to clean up the streets doesn’t.

  • Maureen Sullivan: Progressive Activist Poised To Beat The Daley Machine

    Screenshot of Curtis Black article on Maureen SullivanCurtis Black‘s profile piece published today in the Chicago Reporter says it all:  Maureen Sullivan is the popular progressive activist poised to beat the downtown Daley machine on its own turf.

    In the first major piece on her Aldermanic race, Sullivan’s clear alternative to the 11th Ward leadership and its tendency to do nothing but claim credit is illustrated by Black:

    “Bridgeport native Maureen Sullivan, who has founded civic, business and park groups, and organized against school closings in Bridgeport, describes a local political elite that has become too comfortable with the status quo and neglected the neighborhood.

    Sullivan may represent an approach we’ll see from more aldermanic candidates this year: emphasizing the local impact of citywide policy issues like education and TIFs along with ward service concerns — and tapping into the growing sentiment against Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s policies.

    She calls the mayor “a Wall Street banker from Wilmette who wants to help his friends become even wealthier at our expense” and attacks the “rubber stamp City Council” including retiring Ald. James Balcer, who’s backed Emanuel in 100 percent of contested council votes.”

    “Balcer announced his retirement shortly after Sullivan entered the race, throwing his support to Patrick Daley Thompson, grandson of the original Mayor Daley and a commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District since 2012. Thompson’s name is featured prominently, along with Balcer’s and that of his uncle’s, ward committeeman John Daley, in the windows of the 11th Ward Democratic Party building at 36th and Halsted.

    downtown corporate attorney who handles property tax appeals and represents developers seeking TIF money, Thompson said his real estate and development experience would be an asset to the ward. But it didn’t seem to help a few years ago, when the Better Government Association identified Thompson as one of several politically-connected individuals who’d been granted homeowner exemptions for investment properties. Thompson pled ignorance and paid the back taxes.”

    Read the entire Curtis Black article on Maureen Sullivan here.

     

  • Alderman Balcer Steps Aside

    Jay Levine at CBS2Chicago.com reports that 11th Ward Alderman Jim Balcer will not run for re-election, owing to health issues stemming from his service in Vietnam.

    Balcer tells CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine that he’s stepping down to pursue treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder stemming from his military service in Vietnam.

    Balcer, a former Marine, was awarded a Bronze Star for heroic acts during combat.

    Upon hearing the news, Maureen Sullivan, candidate for 11th Ward Alderman, issued a statement:

    “Along with so many in our Ward, I salute Jim Balcer for his distinguished service to our country and for his sacrifice of his health. I am saddened that he faces this personal challenge today and it is my sincere hope that he recovers as soon as possible. Get well, Jim.”

     August 8, 2012: Maureen Sullivan shares a copy of her book with Alderman Jim Balcer

    Above: In happier times: Maureen Sullivan and Alderman Jim Balcer share a copy of Maureen’s new book at a 2012 CTA Board meeting. Both addressed the board that day on the topic of the 31st St. bus.

    Photo: Josip Trutin

     

  • Gathering Volunteers, Petitions And Momentum

    Maureen Sullivan and more than fifty friends kick off her campaign for Alderman

    The popular progressive challenger receives a sharp expansion of support, gathers volunteers

    After kicking off her bid for 11th Ward Alderman one week ago, Maureen Sullivan‘s campaign is already reaching thousands of voters.

    Gathering dozens of cheering supporters in front of the ailing Ramova Theater last Monday, Sullivan started things off by calling for a major change in the local political leadership, unveiling her campaign platform and promising to  bring accountability to the Alderman’s office.

    The message is very well-received.  Online engagements are off the charts for the campaign, says campaign Communications and Policy Director Rob Warmowski.

    “We’ve reached nearly ten thousand people in only the first week,” said Warmowski.  “Social media, web and community channels are buzzing about her candidacy, and the conversation is in her favor.  People in the 11th Ward are already excited about her thanks to her many years of community service, and people who are just learning about her are impressed by her record and platform. She’s inspiring volunteers to stand up and ask to help.”

     Gathering Volunteers On The Eve Of Petition Circulation

    Snagging over 600 likes on Facebook right out of the gate is great, but the campaign runs on real-world support — and that means showing up and helping out.

    The campaign’s volunteer force will be hitting the streets starting this week to gather signatures for Sullivan’s position on the February 24th election ballot. Readers wishing to join up and help Sullivan get on the ballot can sign up at the campaign volunteer page.

    How many volunteers does the Sullivan campaign have currently?

    “Dozens and growing every day” says Warmowski. “But there’s always room for more.”

     

  • Sullivan Kicks Off Campaign In Front Of Ramova Theater

    Picture of DNAChicago story covering Maureen Sullivan's run for 11th Ward Alderman

    Casey Cora’s DNAChicago piece yesterday really did justice to our kickoff rally yesterday in front of the Ramova Theater.  Way to pick up on the symbolism, Casey!

     

    BRIDGEPORT — Maureen Sullivan, the homegrown activist, author, organizer and neighborhood historian, has announced her candidacy for 11th Ward alderman.

    At a campaign kickoff event outside the shuttered Ramova Theater on Monday, Sullivan came out swinging against sitting alderman James Balcer and the Daley clan — political heavyweights who she said have an icy grip on the city’s oldest neighborhood.

    Choosing the rundown theater as the backdrop couldn’t be more poignant. 

    The city-owned building is surrounded by boarded-up storefronts on an ailing stretch of Halsted Street, and it’s also located within eyeshot the 11th Ward offices and next to Cook County Commissioner John Daley’s private insurance business.

    On Monday, about 50 supporters gathered outside the theater to back Sullivan’s candidacy.

    Among them were Kieran Delaney, 40, a graphic designer who said he’s been frustrated with Balcer for about a dozen years.

    “When we ask the alderman for anything it feels like we’re imposing,” he said.

    Sullivan said she’s hoping to turn that pent-up frustration into votes. 

    “I know I can win. When I knock on doors in this neighborhood, this ward, people already know who I am. We went to the same schools, the same church … I love to talk directly to my neighbors. I’m not afraid to knock on doors. Knocking on doors and engaging neighbors is exactly what we’re missing in this ward. That’s how I plan to win this race,” she said.

    Read the entire article here.

  • Maureen Sullivan Declares Candidacy For 11th Ward Alderman

    Longtime community activist, author, and businesswoman Maureen F. Sullivan will today announce her candidacy for Alderman of Chicago’s 11th Ward.  The declaration will take place at 6PM, Monday August 18th in a special location: the front of the embattled Ramova Theater near the corner of 35th and Halsted.

    The campaign theme is “Fight For A New 11th Ward”.

    Since 2005, Sullivan, a near-lifelong resident of the Bridgeport neighborhood, has been a firebrand standing up to challenge the political status quo in the very neighborhood that is the home of the Daley “machine”.

    “I have never been associated with the machine nor with politics as usual in Chicago,” said Sullivan. “My father was a gas man for 48 years. Nobody in my family benefited from political clout or favors.”

    Sullivan, an activist,  author and small businesswoman with an art degree, represents a new wave of Chicago progressive challenges to the policies enacted by the City Council that favor school closings, privatization, TIF abuse, and sneaking legislation past residents.

    “We’ve seen it all. Their record speaks for itself. The neglect by the leadership of the past seventeen years has led to blight, to poverty, heightened crime and a tremendous waste of some of the city’s best-located neighborhoods.  We have had enough.  It’s time for a change.” she said.

    The announcement coincides with the launch of Sullivan’s campaign website at http://sullivan11thward.com .

    In 2005, Sullivan and her chief policy and communications consultant Rob Warmowski founded the nonprofit Save The Ramova, agitating the city owner of the theater to act to restore it, successfully preventing its demolition and winning $330,000 in funding to hold the line on damage to the structure.

    “When I got the theater petitions around in 2005, back at the beginning, the overwhelming question from the people in this community was ‘why don’t the powers that be do something?’, said Sullivan.

    “Almost ten years later, with the same do-nothing Alderman in the chair, that question applies more than ever to the whole 11th Ward,” she said.  “Why don’t they do something about the garbage and empty storefronts on Halsted?  Why don’t they do something to protect parents and kids from school closings?  Why don’t they stop pretending there’s no money when there’s always millions of tax dollars for sports stadiums, crooked charter schools and privatization?”

    Sullivan’s first elected position in 2010 was as President and founder of the Palmisano Park Advisory Council.  Her most recent elected position was to School Council at McClellan Elementary on Wallace and 35th.

    “If you want a job done, you had better be ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work. That’s why I’m running.”

     

    (Photo: YoChicago)

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