Friday, April 1, 2011

46th Ward Race Takes Turn For The Negative In Final Days

By Joseph Erbentraut, Windy City Times
With only a handful of days to go before voters in Chicago's 46th Ward head back to the polls April 5 to select their candidate of choice in the aldermanic runoff battle between social worker James Cappleman and attorney Molly Phelan, messaging in the race has taken a turn for the negative.

Some community members have stepped forward and accused Phelan of employing homophobic undertones against her opponent, who is openly gay, in several campaign flyers distributed throughout the ward last week. At least one of the flyers criticized Cappleman's plan to address crime in the ward as consisting of "anger management classes and flowers," in addition to "planters, public art, decorative pedestrian lightposts and streetscaping." Phelan has repeated similar statements in several debates and in interviews with other media outlets in recent weeks.

Further problematic was a "push poll" call recently received by Daniel Layman, a writer who lives in the ward. Layman said the caller identified himself as associated with the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police ( FOP ) polling on behalf of the Phelan campaign. The caller reportedly asked, "Knowing that [ Cappleman's ] only crime agenda is to plant flowers and hang out on Halsted Street, would you vote for him or [ Phelan ] ?" Continue Reading


  1. I don't know how you can call it intensely negative.

    I just received Mr. Cappleman's latest mailer where he states:

    "Although Alderman Shiller and I do differ on some issues, I have great respect for the work she has done in Uptown and the 46th Ward."

    What could be more positive than that?

  2. Lauren Peters, James' campaign manager, is quoted as follows in the article:

    "Peters described Women for Stronger Neighborhoods as a small group of women who individually support Cappleman but whose main purpose is funding more after-school programs in the ward. Peters claimed the group mistakingly registered as a personal action committee with the state Board of Elections and has not contributed any funding to the Cappleman campaign. She criticized Phelan for challenging the group."

    I was curious about this because I received an email from Clarenden Park Neighbors Assn aplogizing for publicizing WFSN's Kinetic Playground event. They thought that WFSN was a charity when they did so, but they subsequently found out it was a PAC supporting James and wanted to make clear that they do not support any candidate in the race.

    So I looked up Women for Stonger Neighborhoods on the BofE website. Having reviewed their D-1 form, I just don't see how they could have ever mistakenly filed it. From start to finish the form is blatantly clear that it is for a PAC. Additionally, in the section where you list what candidates you support or oppose, they list James for 46th Ward Alderman.

    IF you want to see the form for yourself:

  3. gordon, let's pretend you're right and it's all a PAC formed for supporting Cappleman.


    It's all a red herring for the sole purpose of throwing you off the real problem of Phelan's money coming in from all these wealthy developers and attorneys who are all not from this ward.

  4. And I can't see how Charlotte Neufeld can call herself a friend and ally of the GLBT community if she is stupid enough to have no understanding why it isn't a stretch to call the Phelan camp's tactics homophobic. She needs to go retire with her buddy Helen.

  5. I just received some seriously negative ads from Cappleman, connecting Phelan to the tea party. That's a pretty gross reach, no?

  6. DivaSkyChick - I don't think it's a gross reach - one of her major donors is a leader in the Illinois Tea Party movement and a right-wing reactionary.

    Another of Phelan's major donors, sad to say, is investor and Wal-Mart promoter David Herro, who has given thousands to candidates as odious as Cong. Michelle Bachman (the one who alleged Obama was "anti-white" and "anti-American" and called for the news media to hunt down members of Congress who were not "American enough" for her taste... Google her and you'll be appalled. Phelan has taken almost $10,000 from Herro.

    Interestingly, one of Phelan's 4 recent negative hit pieces mailed to voters attacked a relatively (relative to Phelan's questionable and large outside-Ward 46 development donations) small donor to Cappleman, calling him a "Republican Kingmaker" - as a neighbor of mine said, Chicago doesn't have any real Republican Kingmakers, and Denny certainly is not one!

    According documents filed at the Illinois Board of Elections web site, Phelan's hit piece overstated by several thousands of dollars Denny's donation to Cappleman, seemingly lumping in his daughter and son-in-laws contributions (they are Ward 46 residents) as well.

    Not knowing who James Denny was, I looked up his lifetime political contributions - yes he has given to some Republicans over many years.

    He's also given generously to Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and many other local progressive Democrats.

    Denny is a highly respected retired Vice-President of Sears, a senior citizen who is not heavily involved in any politics - and is not involved - as best I could determine, in any questionable real estate development schemes in Uptown or anywhere. He has made relatively few political contributions of any sort, and is mostly known for his generosity to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and other charitable medical institutions in Chicago and elsewhere.

    This is an example of the low-road level of sliming of good people that Phelan's recent campaign literature has attempted, when those individuals were not her contributors and if it served her negative purpose.

    Phelan's attack on the Uptown mothers who want more after-school programs (and have given ZERO - $0 - to Cappleman) is also beyond appalling, and an attempt at distraction.

  7. re: Bear's comments (which I appreciate), I will defend Charlotte Newfeld's quotes in this article. Although I may not entirely agree with the thrust of her quotes, I don't believe she knew of the push-poll calls by Phelan supporters, and that Charlotte was mainly responding generally to negative literature sent to Ward voters - sent mainly by Phelan, I would add.

    Charlotte, with whom I have not always politically agreed, but whom I have always respected for her vocal courage, has certainly been an LGBT ally going back decades when few others were. Charlotte, unlike Phelan, knows the difference between "sexual preference" and "sexual orientation" and other subtleties of terminology, AIDS issues and LGBT history that Phelan seems not to know, and has not expressed a willingness to consider.

  8. Holey Moley,

    Pretend I'm right? It is not a question of right or wrong--the D1 is the D1. #7 states that the PAC supports James. It was completed by WFSN, not me.

  9. Gordon, the purpose of the organization is to raise money for after school programs. Yes, they endorsed Cappleman, but not a dime was given, unlike the 100,000 dimes given to Phelan by David Herro, the rightwing conservative who wants to bring in more Walmarts to Chicago.

    Gee, I wonder how Phelan would vote on allowing more Walmarts in Chicago?

  10. Just an observation but I give gay people just a little more credit to identify what is and isn't homophobic themselves.

    The linking between decorative planters and being gay is in fact perpetuating a stereotype and mildly homophobic in itself.

    Lots of "straight" people love planters and decorating, and some gay people don't care.

    Molly was talking about allocation of resources and the response from James supporters is that she was talking about sexual orientation.

    That is an insult to the intelligence of my gay friends, family, and neighbors.

    As far as pretending that WSN is not a PAC as Holy Moley proposes is nice but the law is not a "pretending game".

    Innocent until proven guilty is more like it and we can wait until after the election to clear that up. Its only 4 days away at this point.

  11. Phelan's red herring is going after this women's neighborhood organization and it becomes a lame attempt to cover up the fact that she's getting the bulk of her money from outside special interest groups.

    RR, that is the real story.

  12. Imagine people who actually live in a the 46th Ward supporting a candidate. Molly must be irrate that she couldn't find them at a Loop law firm.

  13. Hi Racine Racer, I am gay.. and I think Molly is anti-gay... so I do not need your condescending credit. I am quite capable of standing up and voiceing my own opinion...

  14. Racine Racer,


    Woof woof.

    See you on election night.

    Now get out there and post some more signs on bus stops.

    Now I don't think Phelan's or should I say RR's campaign is purposefully being homophobic, but it is dumb. "Tin Ear" is the phrase that pays.

    The campaign opened itself up to this criticism. Sorta like taking the cash from Ed Burke and then claiming to be independent.

    As I said before folks Tuesday is going to be wild. Make sure you vote and talk to your neighbors.

    In a comment earlier today I mentioned that I "discovered" Campaign Phelan is reusing the signs of Tom O'Donnell from the 47th ward. They staple Phelan posters over them.

    Expect an ocean of out of ward machine fish on Tuesday. The shamrock mafia is in full attack mode. This ain't gonna be purdy, but I have reason to suspect most of us will be happy with the result.

    Know Hope. Damn the Torpedoes. Did we give up when the Germans Bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no and we ain't gonna let the leprechaun lobby take over the ward.

  15. Whoever wins they need to work to get stuff like the Lawrence House and the Lorelai out of the ward, I personally felt the effects of such a high concentration of mentally ill in one place and it was pretty close to hell as I could ever come to.

  16. As a gay resident of the 46th Ward, I am very disappointed in this discussion. Molly Phelan is not homophobic. It's a stretch to say that her comments about flowers are homophobic. I have met and talked with her twice and she has been nothing but respectful and engaging. This negative smear is the product of a desperate opponent and/or his supporters. Period.

  17. Mike,

    or should I say "steve", people have different perceptions of this.

    I don't think it's purposefully homophobic, but it was tin eared.

    By the way if you're going to post under a different name please change your aol info.



  18. The criticism of Molly over her campaign's Homophobic tactics has nothing to do with a "smear" of Molly.

    This is solely about Molly's refusal to consider that her campaign's methods and words were offensive, despite being repeatedly asked (by supporters) not to use the subliminal homophobic crap to attack her opponent - attack him using less loaded language.

    But Molly does not seemto be in charge of her campaign, so she follows the marching orders of her Karl Rove guys who tell her that negative homophobia works with a small segment of voters and that she can get away with it by playing ignorant about it in front of the rest of the voters- even in 46th Ward.

    I have yet to hear anyone address the explicitly homophobic push-poll calls that Molly has told every media source that asked her that she will not disavow, stop or apologize for.

    In case anyone thinks these did not occur on her behalf, her office was notified weeks ago by Molly's own supporters that they had received these calls.

    Her staff people (Owen & Dave Clarkin) acknowledged the calls being made but said they could not control the content, etc. and would not agree to stop allowing / paying for these explicitly homophobic tactics.

    Argument over the homophobic Phelan flower pot stuff is a bit of a distraction when the explicitly homophobic calls by Phelan-approved callers has been clearly documented and Molly's refusal to stop it has been clearly stated by her - in front of Ald. Tunney, in front of voters at debates, and now again by Molly herself to the Windy City Times.

  19. Thanks Irish Pirate. Should I call you Irish or Pirate. The bottom line is this discussion is silly considering there are so many more bigger issues. Everyone should stop focusing on negative silly conjecture and instead talk about improving this ward. I think either candidate will be an improvement.

  20. Mike-Steve,

    just don't call me late for dinner.