Alderman Patrick O'Connor - Transcript

Transcript of Patrick O’Connor
Interviewer: Dorothy Nygren, Bob Remer
Date: 11/26/12
Place: Alderman O’Connor’s Office in Chicago, IL
Transcriber: Carly Faison
Total Time: 41:24

Copyright © 2013 Edgewater Historical Society

0:00 DN: We’re at Alderman O’Connor’s office on Lincoln Ave. Today is November 26, 2012. It’s after eight o’clock, I’m not exactly sure. The alderman has been kind enough to give us his time to answer a few questions that we have. Thank you Alderman O’Connor.

0:24 PO: Thanks for coming.

DN: How long have you lived or worked in Edgewater?

PO: I have worked with the Edgewater community since 1983. That was the year I got elected and I have had a portion of Edgewater more or less in three remaps since then.

0:42 DN: Great. When did you first get involved, want to run for election in this area, what prompted you, what precipitated your involvement in Edgewater. Were there some problems or issues that you wanted to address?

0:57 PO: When I was running for alderman in the fall of 1982, there were a number of issues throughout the community that included Edgewater. At that time there was a controversy that had resulted from the building of the Peterson Plaza, which was a big controversy when that went up. While I was running, after it was finished, the wounds had not quite healed in the neighborhood as to how that project got there and how it was built in the neighborhood.

But running for alderman in the 40th ward at that time was also part of a bigger decision based upon mayoral politics. A group of people that I was working with, who were supportive of Richard M. Daley at that time running for mayor, and Jane Byrne was the current mayor and Harold Washington was a congressman that nobody really counted initially as being the juggernaut that he became. Mayor Washington and I got elected on the same day.

2:11 DN: That’s quite an interesting historical fact right there for Edgewater.

PO: And actually he was pretty good for our community in terms of things that went on during his first several years. He was very helpful to me when I first got into the council.

2:29 DN: Now when Edgewater Historical Society was being formed, and looking for a place to house our artifacts, you were quite helpful. Maybe we can discuss that a little.

BR: Hold on, maybe we can talk about the dates. You were elected in 1983.

PO: That’s right.

BR: You were reelected in 1987 (Alderman O’Connor nods). The Edgewater Historical Society formed January of 1988. Twenty-five years ago next year. In January of 1996 a bunch of community members came to you with a petition of 1800 signatures.

3:06 PO: I will tell you, Edgewater as a neighborhood has always been, although there are many small neighborhood groups that make up Edgewater, Edgewater as an identity has always been blessed with very well organized neighborhood organizations that always strive to get consensus if they can and always strive to be proactive in preserving the good parts of the neighborhood and improving what needs to be improved. For me, often times just recognizing a good idea is more important than having the good idea because most often the folks that live in Edgewater have a pretty good idea of what they’d like to see. They have a pretty good idea of what would make their neighborhood better, and so the idea of Edgewater Historical Society looking for a home is something that really resonated with me.

4:06 And I’ll tell you one of the reasons it resonated pretty deeply. At that time, the Irish community in Chicago had just completed the [Irish American] Heritage Center, which is up on Knox out west. That was a huge goal and a huge accomplishment at that time for ethnic Irish in the city of Chicago because until you actually have a home, people can’t contribute to you, they can’t be part of what you’re doing, you’re kind of gypsy-like. You’re trying to do things but it’s very difficult to put down roots. So when the Edgewater Historical Society was saying, “we want a home to celebrate our past and bear new things for our future,” it was something that I recognized the need as being something that was important for our community.

5:05 BR: And you got those petitions, and then you helped the museum get the firehouse. How difficult or easy was that for you to work your way through the bureaucracy to help us get the building?

5:19 PO: You know, it’s, well, you know how it is with bureaucracies. I’ve made during the course of my time at City Council, I’ve made kind of a habit of trying to find city buildings and give them away to better causes. You know, the firehouse is the first to get done, but we had just the police department, the old police department on Foster, the 20th district, is the most recent one that we’re doing. And we did a firehouse actually off of Clark Street on [unintelligible] for private use. But the idea is is that city buildings, when they run out of their original use, which that old firehouse on Ashland had run out a long time ago, it was being used for air quality testing, which was an important function if you understood how they were using it and what they used the testing for. But frankly, it was the type of activity that could have been done in any number of places in the city, and any number of places on the north side. It didn’t have to be there.

6:34 So, the real question is whether or not the building would be suitable for the museum. Because frankly, it might not be large enough. And sometimes I look at the museum and I think you guys are bursting at the seams. But for an initial home, I thought it worked. The other thing you have to consider when you’re looking at that type of a use. It’s not paying taxes now, it’s not going to pay taxes in the future, so the city’s not really losing anything by trading that use. But we gain is that we gain an opportunity to have a site where people in the community can come to learn about where they live, to learn about the history of the area, and more importantly, a place where you can come then and plan the future of the area. That was my thought.

7:28 So difficulty with bureaucracy is just getting them to envision that they didn’t need to test the air there, that they didn’t need to store boxes there. That it could get to a higher use, and you weren’t taking somebody’s inventory, because often times bureaucracy is more about their inventory than about the actual end use. The one thing I find in working with city bureaucracies. If you say, “This is what we want to do” and then you continue to move in that direction and you’re just kind of relentless in moving that way, a lot of times they’ll just let you go. Because really, the bureaucracy doesn’t have a backbone, you know what I mean? The bureaucracy really reacts to movement and if you show movement, if you show progress, bureaucracies tend to get out of the way. They just want to at the end of the day survive. So, they’re surviving elsewhere. They’re testing air elsewhere, they’re storing boxes elsewhere, and that building is being put to a great use.

8:29 DN: That’s an interesting concept that there’s inertia there. Once you get the inertia to start moving, it’ll continue.

PO: Yeah and almost once you start it, it almost moves on its own. The real question going into the thing, which everybody had, which I thought was a legitimate question, was often times when the city gives a piece of property, for whatever use, it’s not only that we give the property but we end up adopting the cause or the entity we give it to. That was a big concern that the city had, as to whether or not we would continue then to have to fund and to keep putting money into the [Edgewater] Historical Society. Whether it really would become the city’s Edgewater Historical Society or whether it would have its own entity. That was really the convincing part.

9:16 BR: Well you were very helpful in getting the first down stroke for the fundraising which was the CDBG [Community Development Block Grant] grant and that was very helpful to then raise other money to create the momentum that we were talking about.

9:30 PO: Well and that’s frankly the purpose of CDBG money. It’s community development money. What develops a community better than a sense of self? A sense of place? A sense of history? To me, that usage was absolutely exactly what these types of dollars were meant to do. Some years ago Alderman Marino and I had helped get a grant for North Park University, for what was Old Maine. And we actually had to go all the way to Washington to get permission to build it and to use that. But the purpose of that money was to continue to have an identity in a place and that university be able to continue to thrive here.

10:19 Well, when you take that same type of usage and you apply it to a historical society, that was the actual argument we used to get the money to the historical society. Washington D.C. said it was okay here for a university to maintain itself. And we thought, well this money here helps this whole neighborhood maintain its identity, maintain its vigor. And actually, really helps to develop a sense of place among the other neighborhoods of the city of Chicago. We all compete for tourism, restaurant dollars, all the rest of it. This really, I think, helps bring people to this neighborhood. It’s a destination. People will go there to research or study or look at what the neighborhood used to be like, so it really fit.

11:09 BR: You may remember that we ran into some difficulties along the way and you of course were very vigilant watching how we were doing, and you may remember when we ran into trouble with the contractor. We had to use the city rules and regulations. Do you remember when we ran, Kathy probably came to you and said, “Alderman I have a problem with this contractor! He went bankrupt, what do I do?”

11:36 PO: Well, it’s one of those deals where, again it goes back to the idea as to whether or not we’d ever get to the point where the historical society could do what they needed to do. But contractors, you know they have bonds, they have to post bonds of performance, they do all these things. The idea for me was to just get the place open, get the place moving forward. I had every confidence that once that happened that this was going to be a homerun because for me, it was not about the building. The building just happened to be a place that we owned, but the location was perfect, the ability for folks in the neighborhood, you know, not right on Clark Street where you’re taking up a commercial space, but just off of it where you’re really part of the neighborhood which is really the strength of Edgewater. I do remember, she was panicky at that point in time, but the idea was just to find a way to get it done, and to find a way to get the city to be a little bit reasonable too, because a lot of what the city requires, I don’t want to say it’s superfluous or it’s not necessary because I mean obviously you need to look out for people’s well being and we need to make sure things are safe. But the idea is, you know professionals can disagree on how things should be done, professionals can say, “This staircase works or doesn’t.” It really, it’s a question of bringing, you know, reasonable people together and getting it to the point where we’re relatively sure that everything’s going to be okay.

13:07 BR: Yeah I remember too until we were finally opened you kept mentioning the backyard all the time. I remember running into you a few times and you saying, “That backyard, what’re you doing about it?” [laughs] Now, really, it’s what people know, it’s a real treasure.

13:23 PO: Well, and at the time, it was the only thing that people would say, “What’s happening here?” because they really thought it was going to end up being overgrown and not being a welcoming spot. Now, I mean it’s a really great open space part of that facility. And as I say. When we were talking about this, when it was first brought up, I always thought it would be good, but I’ll tell you I never ever thought that almost 25 years later we would be talking about how actually successful it is because it’s been great. I do think that at some point in time you’re going to get to a point where you’re going to have to find a bigger place. I mean I don’t think there’s any doubt, but you know, track record, the success you’ve had here, that makes it a very doable thing.

14:21 BR: This summer, Dorothy organized the Summer Music Nights–

DN: Summer Nights in Edgewater. We’ve had musicians from Edgewater performing in the garden where the community can come. We’ve had everybody from dogs and cats and babies to I want to say almost homeless people stopping by. I wanted to create a sense of community, that urban oasis, away from Clark Street, away from shopping. But just that old time feeling where you can come and sit and visit and listen to good music and have good conversation.

14:56 BR: People actually use that as a mini park. People will come and just sit there and read and with their dog or their kids and they come in and say, “Is it alright to be here?” and we say, “Oh please, we want you to be here!”

15:08 PO: Well and I think it’s really important for people from the community to be there because if there is no presence of a responsible sort, you get a presence of an irresponsible sort. So, the idea, it being used, it being part of the museum, it was real important for us. I always thought it was such an outmoded building. I thought, you know, how are we going to get this to really shape up. It’s a gem. I think there’s a lot of historical roots. You can look to watch you guys have done and try and emulate that because it really has helped set a tone in that part of our community that I think people are thrilled when they come in and they know that’s there, they visit it for the first time.

16:06 DR: You might be interested to know that out of Chicago’s 77 community areas, only five have a local museum. Ravenswood, Lakeview uses the Soldier Library, that’ll be number six, but other than that, there’s only four others that have a physical museum.

PO: I didn’t know that, but I’m thrilled that one of them’s in our community. Like you say, every once in a while, you do something that, you’re doing it at the time because it’s the right thing to do, but then you can look back on it and say, “Weren’t we visionaries?” [laughs]

16:51 BR: And I’m a big, you know people say, “Oh you have an interesting history,” but every community has a history. All you need is a few people. A Kathy Gemperle, people like that, that really love that history of everybody learning, and like you said when we first opened the place, we had all this stuff in our basement and attics that we all had to bring in, that we’d been saving for fifteen years.

17:13 PO: Well and I think the thing that’s kind of worth noting is that it really is a product of the local community and the people that live here. I mean its not like one person had a collection and we just had a home for it. I mean this is a really conglomerate and was put together by folks that live in and cared about this community. I just think that every neighborhood has a history, but not everybody is lucky enough to know what that history is. That’s the difference for us.

17:49 BR: You can set the tone, tell the rest of the aldermen how to do it.

17:54 PO: Well, I don’t want to tell them too much because we might need another building someday and if they’re all looking for one we might have that luck. [laughs]

18:01 DN: Alderman, I’d like to ask you about what were some other tough issues and problems in Edgewater that you tried to tackle during your career?

18:08 PO: Well we’ve got one going on still right now with the Edgewater Medical Center. It was an issue when it was closing down, it was a real problem in the offing. Not just from the standpoint of what would the facility become, but quite honestly, the north side of the city of Chicago had taken many hits from having a lot of our hospitals close down. There was a great concern as to whether or not the level of healthcare in the community would be met as the number of hospital beds, as the availability of good medical care seemed to be shrinking on the north side. That continues to be a real issue for us. We’re working with the current management company that is managing the site for the bankruptcy estate. We’re getting closer and closer to what we think will be a solution there. They’re much more reasonable than they were when we started out in terms of what they’re looking to put on that site. I think the neighborhood is a little more understanding of what the site can reasonably be and what it can’t reasonably be.

19:20 DN: In terms of the economic realities.

PO: Economic realities and just the ability to pay what that site would cost to maintain as totally vacant. It’s very difficult, particularly when you compare it to what we paid for in Rosehill Cemetery for what is 22-24 acres of virgin property, which is in the process of becoming a nature preserve. There’s no comparison, you can’t justify it that way.

19:54 DN: That takes care of one of the questions I was going to ask about what you see as the future goal. That’s certainly one. What other things. Let me backtrack. What do you see as being the most important accomplishment so far other than the museum?

BR: In Edgewater?

20:13 PO: I’m proud of a couple things. Hayt [Elementary School] is a school which was in the area that I represented for quite a while. We initially got a lunchroom for Hayt and at one point in time, the city was interested in building a new school in the park up by Peterson, I mean up by Western and Pratt. At the time, the local alderman had approved the school and then had a mini-revolt on his hands in terms of his community and then was not approving the school. In a matter of a couple weeks, I was able to go in with the Board of Ed. I chaired the Education Committee at the time so it gave me a leg up on this but I was able to go in, preserve the funding for that one school, keep it on the north side, put half of it into Hayt to build an addition on Hayt, and the other half to build an addition on Clinton [Elementary School]. In theory, you were still serving somewhat of the population that the money had been earmarked for, but it really helped make Hayt [Elementary] School the school it is today because it basically built another half a school there. So that’s something that I’m very proud of that’s not talked about too much because the nuance is not so important. You know, people aren’t cutting a ribbon.

21:46 That money was within days going to another community, and we’re able to keep it. Essentially I give full credit to the principal at the time and to the local school council because they were confronted with the issue of you have a week to make a decision here, whether you’re going to accept this or this money leaves and then we don’t ever know when this money’s coming back to do it. I regret that we weren’t able to complete that project because part of the original plan was to build out all the way to Clark Street and expand their campus and expand it to Clark. When the administration changed between the Vallus and when Vallus was leaving, the impetus to find the rest of the money kind of left, but the bricks and mortar part was there and it was tough to complain.

22:40 There’s a number of other things that I am very proud of. There’s a really great state-of-the-art firehouse on Clark Street that we were able to able to site in our community. While we closed one down on Ridge we also closed one on Thome just off of Clark Street, which had an unusually high incidence of cancer among firefighters, which was a fact that was recorded, but never really indicated where or why. Nobody was sure if it was something that resulted from fires that they had attended or if it was something in the house or just an anomaly in terms of what happened. Closing those two small firehouses and building that new one where it’s built there to me was a real good stroke for our community and we got. You know, the businesses that were there, other than the Firestone Tire Shop which I was told later was the most successful Firestone dealer in the city, which I felt kind of bad afterwards that we knocked them out of there, but you know Ben’s Auto Sales and a few of the other things we lost I don’t think we miss too much, and so that was part of it.

23:57 And then the Raven Theater I think is one of my happiest things because that was another deal where we had a bureaucracy that was just very difficult for a while. The property was a grocery store. The city was responsible for closing the Raven Theater because we were buying property that they were housed in for a school expansion. So the people from the Raven Theater came to me and said, “How can you do this to us? We’re a successful theater. We have all these Jeff Awards.” At the time I had no clue what a Jeff Award was. I found out later it was pretty prestigious. And so I felt bad about what we’re doing to them and I said, you know, “We’ll find you a place.” We looked at that grocery store. So we downzoned the grocery store to make sure that the owner really wasn’t going to get rid of it until we had a chance to talk with them and try and buy this thing. We went to the city and we found money that we could help put towards this. We got some state funding from our state senator and state representative Lisa Madigan, who actually at the time did not even represent the area, got involved in the project and help put some money into the project. Senator Silverstein was real involved at the time. The Speaker of the House, I had a conversation with him. He said, “How much money do I have to give you to never talk about this project again?” So, I mean really, it was classic. It was a great project, and that’s one of the things I’m very proud of too.

25:35 BR: And the Griffin Theatre, which used to be where the Cale building is now the Brown Elephant. You’ve also gotten them a location at the old Foster Avenue District.

25:47 PO: That’s a great for us, too. We’re waiting to see when they open and when they start actually doing theater in there. But it was another situation where, kind of similar to the historical society, it’s a building that was very single purpose and very outmoded. It wasn’t something that anybody could convert very readily. So we had a lot of people interested in building townhomes or condos or apartment buildings. The theater people. Our success on Clark Street has been so good that it has priced out a lot of businesses that used to be very successful there. So when they were essentially priced out of the market, to some extent you feel responsible for trying to help them stay in the neighborhood. Because they are a very vital part of our neighborhood. That’s a great theater group. And so working with them, it was one of those deals where you just had to convince the bureaucracy that this was going to happen.

26:52 It was really interesting because Mayor Daley, it was one of the last things he did before he left office, was allow us to maintain the sale of that property for like nothing to the Griffin Theatre. The city has subsequently changed the policy. If we wanted to do that now for the historical society or for the theater it would run counter to current policy, which is we have to get market values. But in that instance, we were able to convince the mayor that this was something that, the Griffin Theatre had spent all this money in anticipation of us giving them that property. All the planning, all of the architectural plans and all that. It really would have been an injustice to deprive them of that opportunity. That’s a great one for us.

27:42 BR: Yeah. That’s Edgewater, too.

PO: Absolutely.

BR: Even though the new theater’s just outside the boundaries.

PO: But we say in Edgewater, which is the main thing.

BR: Many theaters got their start here, so.

PO: Well you know, it’s funny.

BR: You’re giving them hope.

28:00 PO: It’s funny because they give me this aura of having class, but it’s not quite true [laughs] but I figured if I surround myself with these folks, it will rub off in some way.

DN: Well that whole Clark Street area, the whole community of Edgewater has really drawn people from outside the city to come here.

PO: It’s a destination. Yeah, it really is.

28:20 BR: That brings me, segue, into another topic that I think you might be interested in. Clark Street divides West Andersonville and East Andersonville and the east side of Andersonville is the 48th ward. The west side of Andersonville is the 40th ward. Many years ago the 40th ward wasn’t even in Edgewater, up until 1970. I brought all the ward maps going back to 1889 to show how Edgewater was divided. I just want to show you what lessons you might have learned or. This starts in 1970 and they flip forward every ten years. We used to be [47th ward], [50th ward], [49th ward], [48th ward]. Now you’re going back in time. That was back in time.

29:07 PO: That’s amazing, isn’t it?

BR: And then you’ve added pieces of Edgewater. You went from. You added St. Gertrude Catholic Parish. Now in the new remap you have that over I think twenty years.

PO: Yep.

BR: Now it’s back out of the 40th ward. Back in the early 1889 Edgewater was split between the 25th and the 26th wards. That’s when they had two aldermen.

PO: Right.

BR: And it was 25 and 26. Then it became 48 and 49. And so 40 is now becoming a newer part. It wasn’t treated earlier as part of Edgewater but now it has become definitely Edgewater.

29:46 PO: Well, I think there’s a couple things that are responsible for it. First, when I ran for election, Clark Street was the boundary. I really would question the sanity of any alderman who would be willing to give up that portion of Edgewater and Andersonville in a remap. Marion Volini, Mary Ann Smith, none of them would be willing to give up the east side of Clark Street in a map. And I would never be willing to give up the west side of Clark Street. It is that vibrant an area. It is that important to our community to at least maintain some level of input, some level of participation because it really is an area that just. It’s not just the fact that it’s a successful business area but there’s a great deal of entrepreneurship, there’s a great deal of energy, there’s a lot of great professionals that work and live. Work on Clark Street and live in the area, so nobody’s going to willingly give that up.

31:03 The portions of Edgewater that I picked up in the past were always basically reactions to what was happening in other parts of the city. When I moved east further into St. Gertrude’s, into St. Ignatius, into Rogers Park, into those areas, it was because I was giving up well over a third of my ward on the south end because of the need to create Hispanic wards because of the growing Hispanic population. So in the 1980s, I had to give up what was the Ravenswood Manor, which was another beautiful, dynamic area. But I needed to give that up because the 33rd ward was pushing north. Because south of the 33rd ward the Hispanic population was growing such that we had to create wards that would be majority Hispanic.

31:47 This retreat from Rogers Park and Edgewater that came about this year in the last remap was actually the result of a loss of population in the 49th ward. Because the 49th ward, the population had decreased so much that when you took the target number, which is roughly 52-53 thousand people per ward, they had to grow. They had to gain property. So I basically had to give up the northern portion of my ward to the southern portion of Joe’s, Joe Moore, and a portion of it to Alderman Osterman to allow for the numbers to balance out. My ward population-wise was just fine but the art of map drawing and compromising, to put the votes together to pass a map, basically requires that you try and work with one another and try to do it in a way that balances off but maintains to the extent you can the integrity of the neighborhoods.

32:51 So we basically given pretty much all of Rogers Park to Alderman Moore. We’ve given all of that portion which was Edgewater to Alderman Osterman so that he maintains Moore, and basically I keep the west side of Clark Street throughout, which was a goal that I had going into it.

33:11 BR: You know Edgewater lost a lot of population, too.

PO: Yes.

BR: And most of it was the Mexican population, a lot of which was in the northwest sections of the ward as well. So there’s a loss of population. A loss of five or six thousand. Almost all of that was foreign born.

PO: Right.

BR: We lost 75% of our Bosnian population and we lost half of our Mexican population in ten years. So that was a big shift in the dynamic.

PO: Well it’s a big shift in the social service agencies in the area. There’s a whole bunch of that. But that portion which Alderman Osterman got from us basically was helping to boost up those numbers. I grew up on the north side and so when I got a good portion of St. Gertrude’s, when I got a good portion of St. Ignatius, I was thrilled because those were parishes and neighborhoods I knew as a kid. I used to tell people I’ve either chased somebody or been chased down every alley of that neighborhood. [laughs] So I knew it very well. You know you hate to lose it, but you have to draw a map that basically makes some sense so those major streets become the dividing line.

34:22 BR: Would you say that having two wards representing Andersonville helps Andersonville?

PO: Well, you know you kid with people because some people think, “Oh my god, two aldermen as opposed to one. One’s bad enough.” But quite honestly, when aldermen work together well, I think they have twice as much chance of getting things done for their community. Particularly when you consider that the projects that a city can do, the money that it can give towards things, it’s a finite amount and it gets smaller and smaller. So if two aldermen are going in and are united in a single purpose it’s a much better chance of it resonating with our budget. Much better chance of working with the mayor. I’ve been fortunate in the aldermen that I have worked with in Edgewater have always really, while we might not be politically always the same, I will tell you that from a neighborhood standpoint, from the standpoint of trying to do what we think is important for the neighborhood, I can’t think of a time when we’ve actually had a disagreement. So, it’s really been good. And I think, you know all kidding aside, it helps when you have more than one person going in and trying to work for a community.

35:54 BR: I’d say we think so, too. [laughs]

DN: Alderman, Edgewater as a community has great diversity that’s changed over the time you’ve been representing it. What direction do you see it heading towards in the future?

36:08 PO: I think the change continues. I think it slows down a little bit when the economy gets better because Edgewater was becoming so expensive. Edgewater was becoming a place where, originally you had a lot of ethnic minorities. You had a lot of people coming in, new to the country or new to the city that between Rogers Park and parts of Edgewater would make that their home. It could be their first home or second place. Usually, it was a transitional area for a great number of people. Because of the effort of the neighborhood organizations, because of the effort of the people that lived here, it has become a place where people want to live and want to stay. As a result the stability then is engendered then, maintains property values and boosts them. So to some extent, when the economy was really really hopping, that diversity was in some ways pushed aside because you had to have money. Historically, minority communities did not have the money that would be required.

37:21 I think with economy having taken a hit, I think that the market going back to a rental market, you’ve seen some shift back to having more minority folks come in. But as Bob has suggested a couple minutes ago, the Bosnian population has left. The Mexican population has left over the course of the last decade, shows that the trend toward the housing becoming more costly has in some ways hurt the diversity. It’s an area that continues to change. If it’s not ethnic, ethnically or racially diverse, it’s diverse in its gender preferences, it’s diverse in the way people move in and you’ve got the movement from Boystown. It’s a place that changes all the time. I think that’s a great part of the appeal of Edgewater. It’s always exciting. It’s always a happening place. But it could be happening in a different way every time you come.

38:30 DN: I think you answered my last question, which is what is special about Edgewater. So I’d like to take the last few minutes to have you say whatever you’d like to say.

PO: Well, I will tell you. Edgewater obviously has a geographic definition, but Edgewater, when you work with people in Edgewater, when you work in the Edgewater community, you realize that geography is much less important than the actual quality of the people you work with. I mean, I’ve always found folks in Edgewater to be very open to working toward a positive solution. I’ve always found that they approach things from a standpoint of a reasoned approach as opposed to sometimes the knee-jerk reaction to change. I think that when you sit in an aldermanic office, you tend to gauge the level of sophistication or the level of capabilities that communities have and you try and give them the ability to try and run with projects and try and run with decision-making that is equivalent to fairness.

39:54 That’s an important part for me, for the neighborhood, giving the opportunity and fair hearing to somebody that wants to do something is very important because people that want to build things, people that want to bring businesses, they can understand and know but they never get over a sense if they weren’t treated fairly. I’ve always felt that in the Edgewater community, there’s a great sense of right and wrong. There’s a great sense of fairness in terms of trying to come up with ways in which things get done. Rarely have I ever seen them at a point where I thought, “Geez, they’re really just not giving this individual or entity a break or a chance.” For me, when I approached this remap and all the rest of this stuff, you know I knew I had to give up some of Edgewater. I think to a great extent, Harry, having lived there all his life, will kind of look after it the way I would like to see it done. I think we’ll continue to work cooperatively where we’re at, so we’re going to be fine. I think Edgewater is a place, but Edgewater really is a people.

BR: What a way to end.

DN: I can’t think of any better way to end it. Thank you. Excellent interview.

PO: I enjoyed it.