News Analysis with Carol Marin
Our series of aldermanic forums continues today with the South Side third ward, one plagued by crime, unemployment, and sparse development. We'll talk to 23-year incumbent Dorothy Tillman and challenger Pat Dowell.
Phill Ponce: And now to Carol Marin with the candidates in the hotly contested race for alderman of the Third Ward. Carol...
Carol Marin: Phil, thank you. As you say, the race for Third Ward alderman is a very hot one, heating up ever more in these last few weeks. It's drawn endorsements from such political heavyweights as Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. and Senator Barak Obama. Economic development is a key issue in the race. While the incumbent points to development in Bronzeville as evidence of progress, critics charge there is sill much to be done. The ward remains dotted with empty lots and vacant buildings, unemployment, and crime. The Third Ward covers the Near South Side, including Bronzeville and the South Loop, parts of Back of the Yard, Wentworth Garden, and Fuller Park. Joining us to talk about this in the order in which they will appear on the ballot are Alderman Dorothy Tillman, who has been in office for twenty-three years in the City Council, and Pat Dowell, she is an urban planner currently with the University of Chicago. Thank you both for being here. Alderman, why are you the best woman in this race?
Dorothy Tillman: First of all let me say, Carol, I saw your prompting and you said we were plagued with crime and vacant lots, and that while Bronzeville was moving other parts were not. That's incorrect. I don't know where you got that information from. Let me first of all talk about the Third Ward. The Third Ward...when I first got to the Third Ward it was plagued with crime, abandonded buildings, vacant lots, and it was just really dirty. But we cleaned that ward up. Not only did we clean that ward up, we began to move from a holistic perspective. 47th and King Drive is one of our centers. We have built every community, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood. We have built over three hundred...three thousand homes. You said only Bronzeville. That's not true. We have built affordable--you know, affordable does not mean poor people--and moderate. We have built senior citizens, handicap accessible, energy efficient homes, and also for moderate and low-income people. So we've tried to build from a holistic perspective. We've also dealt with the whole economic engine in the Third Ward. State Street corridor, which we're working and putting a lot of businesses over there. We took IIT and we gave them over fifteen hundred and...fifteen point something million dollars. And they were able to put together jobs. We have jobs coming down 35th Street. You cannot say, when you look at Park Place on State Street and not associate that with us. Legends has been associated with us. Even when you go west of the Dan Ryan we have housing. So, yes, we have created housing, we have created jobs, and we're very proud of our record. We've taken a community that was nowhere and we moved it forward to somewhere, into a community that everybody wants. Because we have begun to change community to where it needed to go.
Carol Marin: Ms. Dowell, why are you the best woman for this job?
Pat Dowell: Well, I think the Alderman is stuck, really, in the 1980's. When she talks about the ward being as well developed as it is. The ward actually has a tremendous number of problems. It's filthy. It's extremely dirty and we have a tremendous need for economic development. The Alderman talks about new businesses along State Street. I can't think of any. If you can point to a store I'd be happy to see it. The Alderman talks about building up on vacant lots. We still have over eighteen hundred vacant lots in the community, many of them garbarge strewn. And I just think that this Alderman is out of touch with the people in the community. I believe that I bring a change, a new type of leadership, a fresh approach and new ideas to the ward. And I think that ward is really ready for change.
Carol Marin: Each of you--and this is part of the heat of this race--has, in the course of these conversations raised some questions about the fitness of the other, and the accuracy with which the other has portrayed them. Alderman, you have taken issue with Ms. Dowell. Would you explain on what basis?
Dorothy Tillman: First of all, you said she was an urban planner. She's not an urban planner. But you keep saying that and Pat is not an urban planner. And the fact that she would say that our ward is strewn with vacant lots and garbage is not necessarily correct. I think its disingenuous. When we did the Plan for Transformation there was a certain amount of lots that we had to save for transformation. If you go from State Street over, you begin to see housing for transformation. But not only that, Carol. I showed you something tonight. Every corner of my ward is planned. Not things that are in my head, but things that we are actually doing. And Pat has said time for change. She said we're not doing anything. The building she lives in, the condo she lives in, we built. And we have built in every inch of our ward, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, and to give our ward the impression that it's strewn with garbage, it's vacant lots, it's filthy. Our ward is not filthy. Our ward is not filthy. Crime is not that heavy in my ward. She's said crime. When you look at the data [reaching for documents], I can show you the data, as they talk about crime in the ward, crime in all of our districts has gone down. We have more than one district. We have five districts. In the Second District [aka 'The Deuce'] our crime was down tremendously. Seventh District, the Ninth District, the Twenty-First District, all of our crime has gone down. But to say it's crime-ridden, it's dirty, it's nasty. That's not correct. That's why everybody wants to come into our ward. And that's why everybody wants to take our ward, because we really have been working to rebuild this ward.
Carol Marin: Ms. Dowell, first of all, are you an urban planner?
Pat Dowell: Yes, I'm an urban planner. I don't think the Alderman really understands what that means. I have worked on very many projects throughtout this city that I'm very proud of. I was one of the people involved heavily in the Planned Manufacturing Districts when they were built in Chicago. I was one of the people involved in the decison to bring lights at Wrigley Field, I was also involved in the whole Community Benefits program for the United Center project, I was involved in the...one of the major architects of the Historic Bronzeville Plan, a plan that this alderman did not participate in but which I lead from the city's perspective. I've done a lot of work in the community. I've also been involved in working to save a lot of the historic buildings that the Alderman wanted to tear down, and we did that without her support. We did that with the support of the late Senator Margaret Smith. And we worked to try to save the ramps along the Dan Ryan when this alderman didn't do anything. When this alderman cut her deal for 47th and King Drive but failed to be outspoken on the saving of ramps at 43rd Street, 51st Street, 59th Street, the closing of Root Street, when all of those streets served the Bronzeville and Third Ward community.
Carol Marin: Alderman?
Dorothy Tillman: Let me just say, first of all, Pat worked at the behest of the alderman and the mayor. If you come and work in the community you work...
Carol Marin: You mean when she worked for the city?
Pat Dowell: The record will show that I was never dismissed by the city.
Dorothy Tillman: Secondly, secondly, secondly, secondly...oh yes... I mean, secondly, secondly, Pat talks about what I did or did not do...her plan, this is the very plan that she talks about, is the reason why she was dismissed. She said give me your, you give me your resignation or you'll be dismissed. Because she worked on a plan to really totally just remove our community without...not that I did not want to be, to have any input, she didn't do that. She told the mayor...
Carol Marin: Hold that thought one second, Alderman. [turning to Pat Dowell] Were you dismissed?
Pat Dowell: No, I was never dismissed from the city. I submitted a resignation to the city because I wanted to leave and to do things within the community.
Dorothy Tillman: That's not true.
Pat Dowell: In fact, in fact...
Dorothy Tillman: That's not true.
Carol Marin: Hang on one second.
Pat Dowell: I was asked to stay. In fact, I was asked to stay and decided that I did not want to stay. I was never dismissed and if you can show me any documentation of that then, you know, I'll apologize to you.
Dorothy Tillman: Pat was told you either give me your resignation or you will be dismissed.
Pat Dowell: No, I was never...
Dorothy Tillman: Based off the same project she's talking about where she put herself a ninety-thousand a year salary...
Carol Marin: Do you have some documentation on that?
Dorothy Tillman: Oh, yes, I have that. I have it.
Pat Dowell: Well she needs to produce it because I've never, I've never earned ninety-thousand dollars a year.
Dorothy Tillman: OK, now you asked me to let her speak, right?
Carol Marin: I did
Dorothy Tillman: But throughout the night you just let her go on and on, OK Carol?
Carol Marin: Well, I did...
Dorothy Tillman: But on and on. You have let her say that on and on.
Carol Marin: Just consider me sort of like City Council Sergeant-at-Arms.
Dorothy Tillman: I want to consider you as being fair
Carol Marin: And I want to be.
Dorothy Tillman: OK, let's go back to my ward and let's go back to Pat. Here it is. She talks about what she's going to do. Eighty-five percent...Eighty percent of Pat's funding comes from the union. There's no way that you are free enough to do anything if eighty percent of your money comes from one source. You have to do what they tell you to do. Pat has gone on record saying that I have menu money that I had not spent.
Pat Dowell: Which is true.
Dorothy Tillman: ...that I had a surplus. This is from CDOT.
Carol Marin: When you say menu money, just to clear up for people, you mean money in your aldermanic fund that you have not yet spent.
Dorothy Tillman: Yes, yes, streets and...yes
Pat Dowell: I'd like to also say, Carol...
Dorothy Tillman: Excuse me...
Carol Marin: Hang on, Ms. Dowell. I'm going to get to you, I promise.
Dorothy Tillman: Excuse me...this is from CDOT which shows you that we have zero in our menu budget. We are very proud of 47th Street. They've taken issue because we have decided to deal with our culture. That we've taken 47th Street, we have statues, we have a theater, we have businesses there. And for someone to take issue with that, then that's on them, because every community, the first thing you do is you build a civic center, you build a cultural center, and you move from the center out, and we have. And I think, Carol, you need to come out and pay a visit to our ward. I mean, we have done so much in that ward. So much so that's why Pat moved in. That's why everybody else is moving in. That's why everybody wants this ward. It's really about taking this ward...this ward is being developed differently from most wards and most areas, because we said seventy percent African-American, thirty percent others. And we have made sure that African-Americans was involved in the contracts in our ward. And we've done that.
Carol Marin: I just drove through the ward last week as a matter of fact and what I saw was both a combination of development and a lot of empty space.
Pat Dowell: Can I...
Carol Marin: And you may.
Pat Dowell: I want to say ...
Dorothy Tillman: But wait, wait. Where did you drive? You need to tell me what parts you drove through?
Carol Marin: I drove through the whole ward, Alderman. Honest. I promise. But let's hear from Ms. Dowell. This isn't really about me, this is about Ms. Dowell.
Pat Dowell: Let me say...I want to say a few things. First of all, crime in the community has increased. We've seen an increase in property theft, motor vehicle theft, and aggravated assault. Secondly, when the Alderman talks about that she...that her menu money has been, is zero, the reason it's zero is because she gave it back and it went to another ward.
Dorothy Tillman: That's not true.
Pat Dowell: She cannot identify any particular projects that she has used this menu money for
Carol Marin: Hold on. Will you hold that? Is that not true?
Dorothy Tillman: No, that's not true. City Council, City Hall would not even allow me just to [?] menu money. And how do you give money back? That's unheard of.
Carol Marin: Is there money sitting there, Alderman...
Dorothy Tillman: No.
Carol Marin: ...that you'd wished you speant or that you hadn't...
Dorothy Tillman: No, no, no. Why don't you check just like you drove through the ward, you should check that. There's no menu money that I have not spent.
Pat Dowell: I would like to know for what she has used that money...
Dorothy Tillman: There was no money, there was no money that was not given back. Every inch of my ward has been used with the infrastructure. You know, you've got to remember, I've been in office for twenty-four years, and every street in that ward has been resurfaced, but because of shoddy work over the years you've got to go back. And we have done all the lights. We have done a whole in terms of infrastructure. You have a few dollars, this is where you concentrate. You concentrate something here. You take this particular money this year, you concentrate it there, and you do concentration.
Carol Marin: Let me switch the subject here for a second because we're running out of time.
Pat Dowell: Can I just say one thing. I want to comment on the seventy-thirty plan. Just as an example. There's a greenhouse project being built at the corner of 44th and Vincennes. On the plaque it says African-American homebuilders. But when you go by there's not one African-American working.
Dorothy Tillman: That's not true
Pat Dowell: That is true.
Dorothy Tillman: That's not true.
Carol Marin: And, ok, but let me, let me...we have three minutes left.
Dorothy Tillman: You know what? Pat spends her time, because she's working on behalf of the unions, with her eighty percent.
Carol Marin: But you have business money, Alderman...
Dorothy Tillman: No
Carol Marin: ...I mean, is there a difference in that?
Pat Dowell: It's developer money.
Dorothy Tillman: The difference is one person giving you eighty percent of the money. No person should take most of their money from one person.
Pat Dowell: The alderman has fifty percent of her money coming from developers...
Dorothy Tillman: Eighty percent of her money came from one source
Pat Dowell:...almost four hundred thousand dollars
Carol Marin: Can I ask a 'Big Box' union question, please? Since you [turning to Pat Dowell] have a signficant amount of union money, you [turning to Dorothy Tillman] have a signficant amount of business money, if 'Big Box' came up, the question of raising the minimum wage in these big retailers, if that ordinance goes to City Council again and one of you is sitting there, which way do you vote?
Dorothy Tillman: Well, I'm not going to...I'm going to vote the same way I voted. I'm going to vote agains that because I don't think and alderman has the responsibility to organize for the union. We are legislators. We don't have the responsiblity. They should go in and they should organize...
Pat Dowell: I would vote for it because I think that people deserve a basic minimum wage, a living wage with good benefits, and that, you know, we have five thousand union workers in our ward that deserve to be represented by their alderman.
Dorothy Tillman: The union, the union can start by allowing Blacks to become a part of their union. I mean...
Carol Marin: One last question. i saw your press conference with the mayor today...
Dorothy Tillman: Thirty, thirty dollars an hour instead of eight dollars an hour
Pat Dowell: She wants all the unions together
Carol Marin: Quick, quick last question. I saw you with the mayor standing behind when he was talking about taxes. In the beginning of your twenty-three years you were a pretty frequent critic of his. These days, if I read Fran Spielman in the Sun-Times right, you vote with him sixty-three percent. Has he been good for your ward.
Dorothy Tillman: Well, I think that he's been a good mayor. But I mean when he's right, I vote with him. If he's wrong, I fight him. If you looked, also, at Dick Simpson's article it said that I probably voted agains the mayor more than anybody on the City Council floor.
Carol Marin: And, Ms. Dowell, you quit the City, and the Planning Department...
Dorothy Tillman: She was asked to be dismissed...
Carol Marin: Whichever it was...
Pat Dowell: I quit. You know the Alderman has this..
Carol Marin: Do you agree with the mayor? Do you feel that has not done a good job or do you have issues with him?
Pat Dowell: I think the mayor has done some good things for the city. I think when you look at downtown he's done a wonderful job. But our neighborhoods need help and we need to have more investment in the neighborhoods, and...
Dorothy Tillman: I think we're bringing investments in the neighborhood and I also think that we do have things in our community. And I just want you to know, Carol, that the Third Ward do have investments in our community. Don't sit here on Channel 11 and say the ward is just filthy, nothing is going on
Pat Dowell: I ask people to drive through the ward, and they'll see for themselves, and they'll know that it's time for a change.
Carol Marin: I just want to thank both of you and thank you for making me earn my money tonight, Pat Dowell and Alderman Dorothy Tillman, candidates in the Third Ward aldermanic runoff. Thank you very much.