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Photos from CSJ’s 47th Ward Candidates Forum

By Samantha Abernethy | Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The candidates, from left to right: Tom Jacks, Matt Reichel and Ameya Pawar. Candidate Tom O'Donnell had a previous engagement. Photo by Stacy Jeziorowski.

Center Square Journal and Inside Publications hosted a forum for the 47th ward aldermanic candidates at DANK Haus Tuesday evening.

Three of four of the candidates for 47th ward aldermen answered questions from moderator Mick Dumke, political reporter for Chicago News Cooperative.

Tom Jacks, Ameya Pawar and Matt Reichel attended. Tom O’Donnell says he had a previous engagement.

The room was packed by the time the event started. We estimate close to 300 people attended. About 20 students from Northwestern University’s journalism project were on hand to document the event, too.

Each candidate delivered 2-minute opening and closing statements. In between, Dumke kept the mood light. Candidates discussed school, crime and budget issues, among many others.

The absence of O’Donnell was palpable. Candidates took the opportunity to call him the “machine candidate” and Ald. Gene Schulter’s “anointed successor”.

His decision to forgo appearances at forums could hurt him, but also could help him. At the last 47th ward candidates forum January 26 at Coonley Elementary, O’Donnell didn’t make the best impression, reading his responses from a sheet of paper.

There is another candidates forum tonight at 7 p.m. at Lake View High School, sponsored by Graceland West Community Association. Jacks, Pawar and Reichel will be attending. GWCA said O’Donnell told them he has a previous engagement.

A full recap of the issues and audio from the event will come shortly.

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  • Anonymous

    ODonnell will be a no-show again??! If he can’t engage the community that he wants to represent, how will he be a good representative for us at City Hall? Will he treat his aldermanic position like his Ravenswood Community Council presidency and show up once a year?

    • Anonymous

      In a previous post, a commenter said O’Donnell was absent because he was at a RCC meeting last night. But he did not reveal that to us as his “previous engagement”. As for tonight, I predict he’ll be at DANK Haus, where Rahm Emanuel will be speaking, to take advantage of Rahm proximity again.

      Rahm’s campaign said they are not endorsing O’Donnell. I don’t think they’re endorsing any aldermanic candidates.

      • Anonymous

        “Rahm’s campaign said they are not endorsing O’Donnell. I don’t think they’re endorsing any aldermanic candidates.”

        Then why did I get an O’Donnell mailer yesterday with Rahm saying (paraphrased) “our Ward needs a man like Tom O’Donnell”? Sounds a helluva lot liek an endorsement to me.

        • Anonymous

          Exactly. But I asked the campaign if he is endorsing him for alderman, and they said no. The proximity at Saturday’s event and those statements are obviously implications that he endorses him. But he’s not explicitly endorsing him. So I show you the photo and tell you what they say. You make the decision.

        • Anonymous

          I have, until this, felt that Rahm was addressing issues in very precise, though thoroughly “politician-speak” ways, rather than as doublespeak, as has often been the accusation. This comes across as genuine doublespeak–trying to give the impression of reality while explicitly denying that the obvious impression is real. It stinks.

  • Anonymous

    O’Donnell is just another servant of the Machine. Perhaps voters in the ward can get off their ass and do something to change?

  • Anonymous

    Ameya has our vote!!! Hopefully the machine voters will stay home on Tuesday!

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  • Anonymous

    Wow, Reichel really blew them away again. That Jacks looks like a good future wonk-type. And Pawar just borrows what the other two candidates have been saying and pretends he came up with it himself. Plus he can’t be bothered to put a union bug on any of his material. No Union bug = No vote from Ravenswood Joe. Period.

    • Anonymous

      That’s funny. Pawar was endorsed by the Chicago Teachers Union — that doesn’t count?

      • Anonymous

        First of all, My wife is a retired teacher, and she is completely frustrated with how the CTU endorsements came down. They didn’t endorse anyone for mayor, and they endorsed Mr. “RhymeFest,” who has a history of domestic abuse and violence, so I wouldn’t use the CTU endorsements as any sort of guide for anything. I am a retired Teamster, and stopped paying any attention to Teamster endorsements after Clinton passed welfare reform and NAFTA, at which point I decided I was done with the Democratic Party.
        If you went to both debates at Coonley and here, you would have noticed that a number of things that Jacks and Reichel said at Coonley were repeated by Pawar at DH: such as referring to the wards as the alderman’s fiefdoms, or recommending a forensic audit, or eliminating the CEO of the CPS.
        This was the worst performance I have seen of Reichel, by far. All other times he had been nothing short of brilliant. I think it was fatigue? Before the debate, I talked to him and he said he was very tired from work+campaigning.
        Further, most of the questions were awful. After about 2/3rds of the questions were asked, my response was : “Who f’n cares!?” and I am glad Reichel gave them hell about that stupid question about who you’d rather meet in jail.
        I also like that he is the only one to see these issues in a BIGGER CONTEXT. He mentioned that TIF’s are bad fiscal policy built on bad monetary policy! Excellent! Now that is smart, open populism.
        Pawar is an intelligent guy and an honest technocrat. But in the computer age, you can program a computer to be a good technocrat. The aldermanic salary should go to someone with a broader understanding of the social and economic forces at play.
        This is why, as with the 5th congressional race, I will be supporting Reichel.

        • Anonymous

          Generally, I like Reichel’s ideas and the Green party in general – the Dems have let down the working class person long ago (read “The Death of the Liberal Class” by Hedges). Ralph Nader is a hero of mine. You should vote for your guy – he is a good man.

          However, this is a race for alderman and I don’t think the “bigger context” issues that Reichel espouses work in the context of the office. Pawar’s ideas have been with him for 18 month’s – since he started running. His ideas and values are good for this ward and I think he would be a good influence on City Hall. I think Reichel comes across too extreme and would quickly be frozen out in the counsel if he were he elected.

          The main point is that O’Donnell needs to be defeated as we can see that the 47th ward machine is full of criminals. Schulter is ripping off the tax payers to his benefit, his family’s benefit and his developer buddies’ benefits with an army of patronage goons who run the ward by intimidation and cheating.
          Pawar is the only one who stands a chance of beating these stinking rats.

    • Anonymous

      @Ravenswood_Joe, you say “Pawar just borrows what the other two candidates have been saying and pretends he came up with it himself.” Really? Ameya Pawar started his campaign 15 months ago and during that time Matt Reichel was running his campaign for the 5th district but you say Mr. Pawar “pretends he came up with it himself?” Sounds like a hack job Joe, especially since Mr. Pawar was the most confident of the three candidates in attendance on Tuesday night. I believe his ideas have been on his website since the day he launched it and know I read about them last fall. And you have a problem with no union seal but a guy that seems to be in O’Donnell’s corner, Rahm Emanuel, is known for not being very union friendly so that line of logic seems negligible at best. At least Pawar, Reichel and Jacks have the courage to show up and talk to the community vs. hiding behind “endorsements” and flooding my mailbox with useless mailers stating the equivalent of blah, blah, blah that we’ve all heard before. In case you were wondering, I voted for Matt Reichel in the last election. I like him but I think Ameya Pawar is the better candidate at this time.

      • Anonymous

        Mark,
        If you appreciated Reichel’s dynamism and populism in the Congressional race, I don’t understand how you can vote for Pawar in this race. Reichel, as a Green, is the only candidate who addresses the real source of the city’s budget and ethics problems: the influence of money in politics and the unyielding power of big corporations, bankers and real estate developers. Pawar is an Obama type: he is a keen orator, who relays cute rhetoric about ethics, reform and transparency, but fails to broaden his view to account for the sociopolitical dynamics of what is going on.
        Because Reichel understands these social dynamics, he is able to address the need to open up new revenue streams to close our budget shortfalls. Pawar and Jacks talk cuts: are you really going to cut our way out of a $600 million budget shortfall? Really!?
        Leave the “hopey changey” stuff behind, and get behind the only guy prepared to give him hell in City Hall.
        Full disclosure: I was a non-voter from 1994 until 2006, when Rich Whitney captured my imagination by winning 10% state-wide, at which point I joined the Greens (but can’t help too much because of health issues).

    • http://twitter.com/b001 Bhupendra

      He won the election and that is it.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PRD3U73G2B42BQVK6GQHU5ZA6E Trooper

    My family and I were able to attend last night’s meeting with everyone at DANK Haus and it was very informative. I, along with my wife, my 2 older children and neighbors came to this decision, because of the amount of information given at this event last night. I listened and took notes as each candidate gave their careful presentations of who they were, what were their back ground and experience and what they envision for the future of this Great ward and city.

    Unfortunately, all 3 of their backgrounds didn’t satisfy this attendee or the 7 others I went with last night. Here is what we all came up with from the Night’s debate:

    * We thought Candidate Reichal did a good job, very articulate and understood his answers extremely well
    until he mentioned charging $2.00 a piece for every car entering the City of Chicago.

    * We thought Candidate Jacks was also very thorough in his view of what he envisions for the city and the ward.
    I liked his stand at being independent and not to take campaign contributions.

    * We thought Candidate Pawar was also very thorough in his view on how he wants to change the way City Services
    are accomplished and going line by line on the budget for the city.

    Although all 3 candidates showed enormous respect for all of us, however they fell short in a few areas.

    Experience – To run a ward of this size, you have to be organized, know your strategy to be effective for all. Let’s face it, talk is cheap.
    Our only problem was the fact that the candidates needed to give more detail on “HOW” it would be accomplished, not just giving us a campaign speech. Actions speak louder than words.

    Specifics on Crime and safer neighborhoods – We don’t think Crime was really addressed. None of the candidates really had a way of informing us how they would pull those “resources” together?

    Grid System – Centralizing city services is a mistake. Having a decentralized system has worked best in the past. Many feel that the other wards just fall short on delivery of services. Ask anyone that lives in the 32nd ward. You can’t blame Ted Matlak after 4 years.

    Elected School Boards – Bad idea. You basically have no rights as a Parent on how to proceed with your Childs education. A Partnership with Educators, parents and CPS are more ideal. Having a Teachers Union endorsement for one candidate did nothing to sway our choice.

    On Sunday, we chose to ask Tom O’Donnell to talk with our Neighborhood Association after we found out that he could not make the forum last night. With his background in Law Enforcement, Assisting Tom Dart fighting crime, being President of the RCC for 10 years and being a resident (like all of us) and property owners for 25 years gave us the final decision on which candidate to choose for 47th Ward Alderman and it was Tom O’Donnell.

    Thank you all so much for your time and effort with this worthwhile program. It was definitely what was needed in this time of our city’s future.

    • Anonymous

      You wish to give Tom ODonnell credit for things that are not true. Please review his record of public service with the RCC and you’ll realize he is not what he claims to be. The RCC is in disarray and he does not even attend meetings regularly there or with the SSA 31 commission. Nor is crime an over riding issue in this ward. Over taxation for inefficient city services, bloated salaries and pensions, opaque TIF transactions and under funded schools are. Tom ODonnell is NOT the man to lead us out of the financial mess the ward/city is in.

      Try this article before you vote:
      http://www.wellesparkbulldog.com/news/local-politics/odonnells-bio-full-of-misleading-statements

      Candidate Pawar has a much better idea of what these problems are and how to fix them in a transparent and open way. The alderman shouldn’t be a dictator — he should be a facilitator and a partner with the community. And we have never had this with Schulter and we won’t get it with Tom ODonnell.

    • Anonymous

      Trooper with all due respect, I feel like you’ve been misled by O’donnell. I too am a property owner and have lived in this ward for the past 6 years. I was kind of enamored with what Schulter has done for the ward and thinking to myself, I would love to just keep things as they are with whomever Schulter annoints, but then I actually put some thought behind it.

      Yeah we have a beautiful neighborhood and crime really isn’t a big issue, but I have yet to feel like I have a voice in the Ward. All of the other candidates are preaching transparency and community involvement. If you really love this community, don’t you want to have a say in things?

      By the way, O’donnell attended one forum at Coonley and stated that he is in favor of the Grid System for City Services. He also stated that he sent his kids to public schools in the ward. Last time I checked Gordon Tech wasn’t a public school. All of his other answers were read off a sheet of paper…how sincere.

      Please enlighten us on what Tom O’donnell promised to do when he spoke with your Neighborhood Association.

      As to your statement:

      “To run a ward of this size, you have to be organized, know your strategy to be effective for all. Let’s face it, talk is cheap.”

      So you would rather have one guy working with his “guys” behind closed doors figuring things out or an Alderman who forms a council with residents of the ward that will come together collectively to make decisions.

      If you’re voting for a guy because he owns property in the Ward than I feel sorry for you and your friends. Not every 30 year old can afford to buy property in the Ward…

      While your at it, why don’t you look up Schulter’s experience prior to him becoming Alderman of the ward 35 years ago.

      My Vote: ANY BODY BUT O’DONNELL

    • Anonymous

      Trooper,

      I think the $2 pollution surcharge is a great idea! Let’s charge these suburbanites who work in the city, but choose not to live here, choose not to pay taxes here, and choose not to help enrich our communities, while driving their gas-guzzling SUV 60 miles roundtrip everyday.

      Plus, we need to raise more revenue. I just got this in my inbox from the Reichel campaign:

      In a statement released Saturday, 47th ward aldermanic candidate Matt Reichel takes aim at all three of his opponents for their lack of a sound fiscal policy.

      Reichel said:
      “In an election for municipal office at a time that the city has developed an over $600 million deficit, one would assume that any realistic candidate for alderman would address the need to create new revenue streams.

      One candidate has proposed reducing aldermanic salary by up to 50%, which would save us $3-4 million. Another candidate has advocated raising fees on people in possession of illegal firearms, which would probably do even less towards closing the budget shortfall.

      They have not made one proposal that would even begin to seriously close the deficit.

      Meanwhile, I am the only candidate advocating a financial transactions’ tax on obscure financial instruments: a tiny .1% levy on the exchange of futures, options, derivatives and other financial products dealt at the Board of Trade and Chicago Mercantile Exchange. This tax would serve the purpose of placing a price on the social cost associated with market speculation, whilst raising much-needed revenue for this city’s starving social services.

      While this tax alone could close our budget shortfall (there are literally trillions of dollars worth of these types of exchange in Chicago each year), I have also advocated two more social taxes, meant to charge people for behavior that implies a social cost. Firstly, I would advocate a pollution tax on commuters entering the city via Interstate, and, secondly, I would advocate a junk food sin tax on fast food establishments.

      Why are none of the other candidates proposing new, innovative and realistic means of raising new revenue to close this budget deficit?
      Do they not understand the seriousness of this budget issue? “

  • Anonymous

    What a cute baby!
    her mom

  • Anonymous

    What a cute baby!
    her mom

  • Anonymous

    Let’s make sure we have a run-off people !

  • Anonymous

    Would you hire someone who doesn’t show up for the job interview?

    • Anonymous

      O’Donnell won’t even show up for the JOB – just the paycheck.

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