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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Chicago Tonight: Coleman vs. Thompson

I missed it on TV, and in case you did, too, here's a transcript of the discussion, with thanks to AlderTrak. Click the link and scroll down if you want to see this with live links. (Note 4/17: For some reason, this link is not working. The site is:

I'll let it speak for itself.

Chicago Tonight: Alderman Shirley Coleman, Joann Thompson

Christian Farr: The race is between a sixteen year incumbent and a challenger facing each other for the third time in four years. Personal attacks and issues of personal integrity have come up in this race. We'll get to those in just a moment. But first, while the ward has some new development it still is dotted with abandoned buildings, empty lots, and empty storefronts. The 16th Ward covers the South Side neighborhoods of New City, parts of Englewood, Gage Park, and Back of the Yards. And now joining us in the order they'll appear on the ballot are Joann Thompson, a correctional officer in the Cook County Sheriff's Department, and Alderman Shirley Coleman, who's been a member of the City Council since 1991. And I want to welcome both of you to Chicago Tonight. Joann, let's start with you. First of all, what was your reaction when you came in first in this election?

Joann Thompson: Well, I was pleased. I was very pleased in letting me know that the residents of the 16th Ward is ready for a change.

Christian Farr: Alderman Coleman, your reaction in coming in second in this. Sixteen years in this ward.

Shirley Coleman: Well, actually, I didn't come in second. I'm still in the race and I would like to congratulate Channel Eleven. We've been trying to have a debate with my opponent for six debates, so this is the first one she's showed up at. So let me just congratulate the power that Channel Eleven had that the unions have finally let her talk and let the people hear what we're really up against.

Christian Farr: Ms. Thompson, do you have a reaction to that?

Joann Thompson: Yes, I do. The unions haven't kept me from talking to...

Shirley Coleman: Three hundred and ninety thousand dollars worth of talking and coming out to public hearings to debate the issues.

Christian Farr: Let's let Ms. Thompson answer that. Go ahead.

Joann Thompson: I wasn't ever invited to a debate, so...

Shirley Coleman: That's...

Joann Thompson: ...I don't know what she's talking about.

Christian Farr: OK, well, let's talk about this union issue because the Big Box ordinance is a big issue and the unions have backed you because you believe in that Big Box ordinance.

Joann Thompson: Right, I do. I believe in the Bix Box ordinance because the residents of the 16th Ward, they should not have to decide whether to have a job or to have a living wage. Alderman Coleman here, she voted three times for a raise for herself totalling fifty-seven thousand dollars.

Christian Farr: Ms. Coleman, would you like to respond to that. You voted against...

Shirley Coleman: You know, that is...the only platform that they have is the fact if you will check the records, I did vote for a living wage ordinance. I believe that the 16th Ward, every family should have and make as much as you can. Let me say that you told me, 16th Ward residents, you were tired of going out shopping elsewhere. We have an opportunity to bring a Wal-Mart in. Even if you're not in the union, or if you're in the union, aren't you tired of going to 95th? And then one thing, why is such a big deal now , they were not talking about a livable wage when it was built on 95th and Western. But now all of a sudden that it wants to come into the 16th Ward, into the Englewood community where...

Christian Farr: Ms. Coleman, Ms. Coleman...

Shirley Coleman: ...we need jobs, then it's a problem?

Christian Farr: Ms. Coleman, you did side with the mayor on this. Why?

Shirely Coleman: I did, because I had an opportunity...because we had a community meeting two hundred people were there. Four percent of them told me that they do not want a Wal-Mart in our community. The other ninety-six percent of the people--two hundred people--when we took the poll, physical poll, said they want the Wal-Mart in our community, that they want to be able to shop in their own community. And, again, it's not a problem at 95th and Western. Our people are tired of going elsewhere to shop when we have an opportunity to shop right in our community.

Christian Farr: Let's give Ms. Thompson an opportunity to respond to that. I mean, again, you want to bring a Wal-Mart in...

Joann Thompson: Right

Shirley Coleman: No, she's on record for not bringing a Wal-Mart. Will not support a Wal-Mart

Christian Farr: I understand that but you...

Shirley Coleman: She's on record. On public record...

Christian Farr: But respond to that, in terms of...

Shirley Coleman: So now she's going to change her mind...

Joann Thompson: That's not, that's not true...

Christian Farr: Let's give Ms. Thompson an opportunity to speak...

Shirley Coleman: which...what is she going to...

Christian Farr: Ms. Coleman, one second. Ms. Thompson?

Joann Thompson: First of all, on the 27th of February, eighty-three percent of the voters voted for the living wage ordinance. Now, that's eighty-three percent of the voters...

Shirely Coleman: That was not even in the ward...

Joann Thompson: Now, she's talking about two hundred...

Shirely Coleman: That was not even in the 16th Ward...

Joann Thompson: voters. That's what she's talking about.

Christian Farr: So, can you be an independent alderman? I mean...

Joann Thompson: Exactly.

Shirely Coleman: Of course not. How can you be...

Joann Thompson: Sure I can be. Sure I can be an independent alderman. I...

Shirely Coleman: I know, I didn't pray for you either

Joann Thompson: I'm for the people of Englewood, for the 16th Ward, not Shirley Coleman.

Christian Farr: Well, let's talk about you, Alderman Coleman. You've gotten money from supporters of the Mayor.

Shirley Coleman: Yes.

Christian Farr: Some money there.

Shirely Coleman: Yes

Christian Farr: You've also gotten some money from what I understand a 'First CD Victory PAC' which is connected to ComEd. You're on the ComEd board. Resond to that.

Shirley Coleman: I'm not on the ComEd board.

Christian Farr: Or the committee. Excuse me. You're the vice chairman...

Shirely Coleman: I'm the Vice Chairman of the Energy Committee

Christian Farr: I stand corrected. Respond to that. I mean, you're getting money from, of course, the Mayor's supporters

Shirley Coleman: I'm not nearly getting three hundred and ninety thousand dollars that the unions have paid to sit me down, first and foremost. I do not have a conflict when it comes to my community. My community is my family. And I listen to my family. She happens to be a member of the family that we have helped. We're going to help all of our family members in the 16th Ward. And so when she says eighty-three percent, that vote was not taken in the 16th Ward. The 16th Ward wants to shop, want to have a job, want to be able to work in their own community. We have the highest unemployment in the City of Chicago. And, you know, it's been said that I don't believe that a job is better than no job. That's not the case. But when unemployment is high, crime is up. We find that when employment is high, crime is down. We have attacked all of the issues of crime. I think it's an insult when you go on radio talking about the murder rate is up. We have three great police commanders that have all...we have double digit decrease in crime.

Christian Farr: Well, now, let's give Ms. Thompson an opportunity to respond

Shirley Coleman: But you know, the lies that have been told...

Christian Farr: Let's give her an opportunity to respond. What do you think of the 16th Ward in terms of jobs, in terms of crime, in terms of employment.

Joann Thompson: I think that crime is up. We have a high concentration of ex-offenders. When they come home from prison their pleas for help fall on deaf ears. We have no support services for them. We have no referral programs. If we had some of those things maybe they wouldn't go back into a life of crime.

Christian Farr: What would you do about it as alderman? What would you do?

Joann Thompson: I would bring those services to the ward for ex-offenders. For sixteen years, sixteen years Coleman has not done anything for our ward. We are tired. We are tired of her. We're tired of everything that she says that's not true. We're tired.

Christian Farr: Alderman Coleman, respond please.

Shirely Coleman: If my opponent had any idea of what was going on in the ward she would know we just got a hundred thousand dollars for an ex-offenders program. But, of course, we see her every four years and so she does not know what's going on in the ward. She does not know that there are programs available for ex-offenders...

Joann Thompson: I do. I do.

Shirley Coleman: You don't know because you have not come out. We saw you four years ago and we haven't seen you since. So, they are right at 63rd and Halsted. But I'll give you that information after this, after Tuesday. I'll let you know. I'll let you know.

Joann Thompson: There is no programs. There's not.

Shirley Coleman: Teamwork Englewood was just awarded a hundred thousand dollars for ex-offenders. Ex-offenders, that's why we want to put you back to work.

Joann Thompson: The programs are not in service

Shirley Coleman: We want to put you back to work. Don't be fooled.

Christian Farr: Let's talk about something else that has come up in this election and it's the alcoholism that you went through back in 2002.

Joann Thompson: 2003

Christian Farr: Or 2003. Talk about that. And talk about why you brought it up and why you thought it was important.

Joann Thompson: Well...

Shirley Coleman: That's because it was the only thing she had to bring up.

Christian Farr: Let's give Ms. Thompson an opportunity to respond

Joann Thompson: I thought it was important that the residents of the 16th Ward, the ones that didn't know Joann Thompson, know what Joann Thompson is about. I wanted them to know and I'm proud of the fact that I have recovered, I had nothing to be ashamed of. Proud of it.

Christian Farr: Now, Alderman Coleman, you say you helped her through this.

Shirely Coleman: You know, I'm very proud of Joann Thompson. As a matter of fact, we're the ones that helped her with it. The last community meeting she was at, everyone--and I have witnesses--where she stood up, and we congratulated her for being able for me to direct her to where she could get her job where she's presently at. So, Joann, we are very proud of you. We're going to continue to pray for you. Since you made that an issue, whether I prayed for you or not, sweetheart, I'm going to continue to pray for you. Tonight, as a matter of fact.

Christian Farr: Ms. Thompson, did she help you?

Joann Thompson: No, absolutely not.

Shirely Coleman: [laughing]

Joann Thompson: And I think it's sad that a reverend, that a reverend...

Shirely Coleman: It's sad that she tells...

Christian Farr: Let's let Ms. Thompson respond.

Joann Thompson: ...would be on TV saying this. It's sad. It's really sad that she, as a reverend, that she would get on TV and say that she prayed for me when she didn't. I didn't even know her at the time. Did not know her. It's sad. It's sad.

Christian Farr: What was the nature of your relationship?

Shirely Coleman: You know what, I am very proud to be a pastor. I don't have to sit here and lie. Like she said, I never prayed for her. She's been to my church, so God bless you, I'm going to keep praying for you.

Christian Farr: OK, let's try to move on. You have an endorsement from the Sun-Times. Why do you think you got that endorsement?

Joann Thompson: I got that endorsement because I represent fresh leadership and my committment to my ward. I'm very proud of that endorsement.

Christian Farr: In terms of your endorsement, you got an endorsement from the Tribune.

Shirley Coleman: I've never got an endorsement from the Sun-Times in the sixteen years that I've run, so it's no surprise to me. I've won without the endorsement and I'm going to win again without the endorsement. I'm proud of the Tribune's endorsement because they can see the work we've done in the 16 years. Stevie Wonder can see what's on 63rd and Halsted between Halsted and Ashland. Everyone can see but my opponent because she's not been around to see anything. She's not been around to know any of the programs. She's not been around to know any of the programs that have come into the 16th Ward. The millions of dollars. Over three hundred million dollars of renovative work we have going on right now. We're going to break ground for a brand new 7th District Police Station that I fought for to keep in the 16th Ward. We have a $254 million dollar Kennedy-King getting ready to open next month. When I became alderman it was all in the 16th Ward. And so now, through the redistricting, some of it got into the 20th Ward, but that's something, a project we have labored over for the last eight years to make sure there was minority representation, we have Black people on the job, Black people working...

Christian Farr: Well, let's let Ms. Thompson respond to that.

Joann Thompson: Thank you.

Christian Farr: As Alderman Coleman said there's a lot going on

Joann Thompson: Yes

Shirely Coleman: A lot

Joann Thompson: The Kennedy-King sits in the 20th Ward

Shirely Coleman: That's not true

Joann Thompson: She has...

Shirley Coleman: She doesn't even know the ward boundaries

Christian Farr: Let's let her respond

Joann Thompson: She has a school at 55th and Morgan, Holmes school, where the six hundred children there use the gym room for the lunchroom, for the auditorium. She voted three times for the LaSalle Street development project which took one billion dollars out of the Chicago Public Schools, and she sits on the Eduction Committee.

Christian Farr: OK

Joann Thompson: Now, not only that, what about her pending cases

Shirely Coleman: Well, you asked about as far as responding. Now, here's a candidate that lives right down the street from the school. If she was so concerned about the school, it wouldn't have taken since 1971 to do something about that school...

Joann Thompson: She's the alderman...

Shirley Coleman: Now, you go figure...

Joann Thompson: She's the alderman...

Shirley Coleman: You go figure

Christian Farr: Alderman Coleman, Alderman Coleman...

Shirley Coleman: You're a resident. You can do something to help that school

Christian Farr: Alderman Coleman, let's talk about this lawsuit that's been going on in terms of this real estate consultant who received a half of a million dollars from some investors. Are you involved in this lawsuit?

Shirley Coleman: No, I am not. I have been accused wrongly. Just like, I mean, she's been accused of being a prostitute. We all have accusations against us. I have not done anything wrong. I am going to continue to lead the 16th Ward where it needs to go. That's...I've been accused of doing something wrong. Who of us in this world has not been accused of doing something wrong? If I had been proven anything I wouldn't be sitting here.

Joann Thompson: Well, the case is pending.

Christian Farr: Well, let's...we've only got one minute to go. Alderman Coleman, really quickly, last pitch.

Shirley Coleman: 16th Ward, please, don't be fooled. Don't be fooled by all of the garbage and the lies and the distortions that have been printed. Let me lead the 16th Ward into these next four years. Don't...You know what? Where your heart is where your money is...

Christian Farr: Ok, Ms. Thompson...

Shirley Coleman: Unions. Three hundred and ninety thousand dollars...

Christian Farr: Ms. Thompson's going to get the last word

Shirley Coleman: She will report to the unions...

Christian Farr: Ms. Thompson, your last pitch here

Joann Thompson: Thank you very much. The 16th Ward...

Shirley Coleman: And I'll keep praying for you

Joann Thompson: ...The 16th Ward know they need a chane. They voted for a change. I got forty-two percent of the vote to her thirty-six percent of the vote.

Shirley Coleman: Thirty-eight percent, thank you.

Joann Thompson: Do not vote for Shirley Coleman. She represents the same. Nothing.

Christian Farr: All right, that's it. Our time is up. My thanks to Joann Thompson and Alderman Shirley Coleman

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