Alderman Graham in the hot seat

The sitting 29th Ward alderman defended her record before a hostile crowd and a group of hungry challengers


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By Michael Romain


On Sunday, Jan. 25, the eight candidates for 29th Ward alderman gathered for a conversation that, for sitting Alderman Deborah Graham, must have felt like both an indictment and an inquisition. Both the challengers and a sizable contingent of the approximately 70 audience members passionately expressed their dissatisfaction with the alderman and the mayor she's supporting.

But perhaps no person in the sanctuary of the Greater St. John Bible Church at 1256 North Waller Avenue was more direct and explicit in his frustration than Chris Taliaferro, a Galewood attorney and police sergeant.

"We don't need 100 more days of Alderman Graham," said Taliaferro, who was seated next to the alderman and whose frontal attack Graham met with a barrage of eye-cutting and several unscripted rebuttals.

Taliaferro is one among a crowded field of eight candidates that, in addition to Graham, includes attorneys Lawrence Andolino, La Coulton J. Walls and Bob Galhotra; community activists Oddis "O.J." Johnson and Zerlina A. Smith; and community college professor Stephen Robinson.

The 29th Ward now includes a greater portion of Galewood and parts of Montclare, Schorsch Village, Belmont Heights, North and South Austin, the whole Island area and a large part of Lawndale.

The candidate forum was hosted by the Westside Branch NAACP and recorded by CAN-TV. Below, we've provided most of the questions the candidates were asked and summaries of each candidate's positions.

Each candidate was asked to explain what actions he or she would take in his or her first 100 days in office.

Andolino: He said that he will identify money for economic development, TIF [Tax Increment Financing] dollars and "our major streets where we need to bring jobs and commercial [development]."

Graham: "I'll continue the work we started," she said, adding that the proposed Mariano's grocery store on North Avenue is "already under heavy negotiations." She said that the ward has secured $225,000 in grants to study the business districts of North Avenue, Chicago Avenue and Madison Street.

"We've attained that money to make sure we are looking at bringing a healthy and viable business district" to the ward, she said. She also highlighted a partnership with Oak Park to implement a North Avenue TIF district "to help business owners in that area." She said that she would continue to work with the Austin-Galewood Sustainability group and touted her efforts to develop the corner of Central and Madison. She said the police parking lots in the area are draining the tax base.

Taliaferro: "We don't need 100 more days of Alderman Graham," he said. He said the ward has gone six years without significant development, noting that he "will ensure we put the proper committees [residents] can have an active voice in development."

Smith: She said that she would ensure that the ward gets an elected school board representative and would focus on bringing wraparound services; more union-based skilled trades; and more jobs with livable incomes into the community.

Galhotra: He said that he will have several community meetings to bring all stakeholders together and do a complete assessment of economic, crime prevention and education in the ward, so that residents have a full and clear understanding of "what we need to do going forward." He also said he is interested in redeveloping the Frederick Cooper Factory and Zenith Factory buildings.

Robinson: "I would like to come in and look at unifying the Galewood and Austin communities," he said. He noted that he will look at bringing manufacturing and light engineering jobs to the ward, in addition to evaluating job placement and crime prevention.

Walls: "The first thing we'll do is go after the issues we already know about," he said. He said that Austin is a food desert and that "there's no major food chain in Austin and it's been that way for six years." He said that he would have an economic development plan finalized before he is elected.

Johnson: He said he will convene a meeting between residents and businesses.

Each candidate was asked to evaluate Chicago police superintendent Gary McCarthy's performance and whether or not, if elected, he or she would support McCarthy in that role.

Taliaferro: "[McCarthy] has done a good job," he said, noting that he can't disparage McCarthy because of his position as a police officer (it's against departmental policy). He did say, however, that the department has room for improvement, noting that more funding should be allocated toward CAPS [Chicago Alternative Policing Strategies] and that the department can do a better job in building community trust.

Smith: "[McCarthy] has to go!" she said, adding that police abuse by cops who live outside of the community is a problem. She also advocated for more block-level organization among residents.

Galhotra: He said that it is probably better for CPD to be headed by someone within CPD, not an outsider like McCarthy. He also revealed deep skepticism of the optimistic crime data presented by McCarthy and Emanuel, noting that "there hasn't been a drop in the murder rate" and questioning the integrity of the murder stats used by the administration.

Robinson: "We do need to change the police brass," he said, noting that he would recommend 1st Deputy Supt. Al Wysinger to replace McCarthy.

Walls: "McCarthy does not get my vote of confidence," he said, referencing the recent superintendent changes in the 15th District. He said that this change was implemented without community input. He also stressed the need for beat officers to be more dedicated to attending CAPS meetings and that community policing officers should have more prominence and responsibility within the department.

Johnson: "He's fired…bottom-line," he said. Johnson also stressed that more black officers need to be assigned to patrol predominantly black neighborhoods.

Andolino: "If you're going to work for the City of Chicago, you should come from Chicago," he said, echoing Galhotra's sentiment. He also stressed the need for the department to build community trust by hiring officers who live in the city.

Graham: "I disagreed with Supt. McCarthy in some of his actions in replacing our commanders in the 11th and 15th Districts," she said, but she referenced CAPS and National Night Out as instances demonstrating that the police department has nonetheless been "working hard to improve relationships with the community."

Candidates were asked to explain their positions on medical marijuana and whether or not they would support a marijuana dispensary locating within the ward.

Graham: "We have very few areas zoned for a pot clinic," she said. "There is one trying to come into the ward, but I committed to the community not to allow anything that requires a special use without consulting the community. So they haven't presented themselves yet to come into the community. It wouldn't be a decision I'll make on my own. The community would have to make the decision….If the community doesn't want it in the area, they will not have it in the area."

Taliaferro: "I believe that there are those that may need [legalized marijuana] … I can't judge whether or not someone needs it," he said, but also noted that he doesn't "approve of our current alderman not making the community aware of where these proposed locations [for dispensaries] are." He said that there "is a proposed location on Harlem and Belmont," but that not all residents in that area were aware of the proposal. "I made them aware of it and I'll continue to make them aware of it. We need to have a voice in where these locations are."

Smith: "I don't support [dispensaries in the community]," she said.

Galhotra: He noted that the dispensaries would be producing legalized marijuana for people with serious medical conditions. "It ain't going to be homie scoring weed at the pot clinic, it's going to be cancer patients and these people need the help!" he said. "These are people who really need the help, let them get the help."

Robinson: "I think everyone overlooked the big picture—taxes," he said, noting that the city should capture the tax revenue that might be generated from the dispensaries. He also said medical usage should be considered.

Walls: "The community should be involved in making those decisions where they want things at in the community," he said, also noting that people suffering from grave illnesses should be considered during community consultations. "We're not talking about drug sales on the streets and on the corners," he said, emphasizing that Ald. Graham did not provide sufficient community consultation.

Johnson: "No," he said to the idea of dispensaries locating to the area.

Andolino: "Nothing gets built anywhere without our say so," he said. "It's got to go where people feel it's applicable."

Who are you supporting for mayor?

Walls: Willie Wilson, because "he's a CEO." Walls said the city would benefit from electing a CEO as mayor and that Wilson's economic development agenda would provide a boost to the city's economy.

Robinson: "The jury is still out," he said, although he mentioned that Jesus "Chuy" Garcia and Willie Wilson were his top choices.

Galhotra: He does not have a candidate he's backing yet, he said. "I'll find out on Feb. 24," he said.

Smith: "Anybody but Rahm Emanuel," she said.

Taliaferro: Willie Wilson, because "I believe he has a dream and a vision for the entire city" not just downtown.

Graham: "I'm working with Rahm Emanuel," she said, but noted that she's more focused on her own campaign.

Andolino: "I haven't decided who I'm supporting," he said.

How will you address the excessive force by police?

Robinson: "It starts from the top down," he said, adding that he would facilitate a community discussion that would bring residents, law enforcement officials and elected officials to the same table.

Galhotra: He said that he would reform the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), advocating for more citizens to sit on the board. He also mentioned that he is in favor of a body camera pilot program recently implemented in the Shakespeare district which would require police to wear cameras attached to their clothing and headgear to record events as they unfold in real time.

Smith: She said that communities should be able to choose their commanders and should have more input in the policing process.

Taliaferro: He said that all police need training in the use of force and that the use of excessive force "is never necessary."

"The police department's policy is excessive force should never, under any circumstance, be used," he said. "We have to qualify every year for marksmanship; however we don't have to qualify in use of force. I think every single police officer on an annual basis should attend use of force training and be qualified in the model [that] the department has."

Graham: She said that the use of excessive force is already banned and that the City Council introduced an ordinance to ban the chokehold. She also said that the department has already provided cameras, policies that would continue to monitor police "as they go out and do the work to keep us safe." She also stressed the need to ensure an open line of communication so "complaints are heard in terms of police performance out on our streets."

Andolino: "Excessive force is illegal," he said, noting that he advocates for the use of deterrents, such as body camera equipment. "If you have a body camera and your actions are recorded, then you're going to do the right thing," he said. He also reinforced his earlier point that police should be from the communities in which they are policing and that programs such as CAPS should be utilized more in order to gather neighborhood input.

Johnson: He said that police should who use excessive force should go to jail.

Walls: He said that the police should receive more training on citizens' Fourth Amendment rights and should be rewarded "for not making arrests," instead of being rewarded for making arrests. He said that IPRA and OPS [Office of Professional Standards] are just not working and we all know that."

It's estimated that 460,000 workers in Chicago do not have sick days. Once elected, will you support the referendum on the ballot to pass a citywide ordinance for sick day pay?

All candidates agreed that they would support this measure, with the consensus opinion being that paid sick leave is commonsense legislation that would be good for business, in addition to being the humane thing to do.

When it comes to workforce development, what are your plans to bring new businesses into the community and secondly, what process do you have to make sure that communities are hired and local tradesmen are on the job?

Walls: He said that he would identify economic zones on Madison, North Avenue and Chicago Avenue and try to allocate unused TIF [Tax Increment Financing] money to those areas. He also noted that Austin lacks the presence of major chains to generate large-scale employment and tax revenue.

Robinson: He said that he would "shore up the businesses we currently have first" before looking at other areas of opportunity. He also noted that a major tenet of his economic development platform would be crime deterrence, which he said is a major impediment to economic development.

Galhotra: He said that he would work with the Office of Economic Development to outline and identify areas in Austin with the most need for economic development. He said he has a "great interest" in repurposing the Zenith Factory and the Frederick Cooper factory. He also said that he would conduct traffic studies of major corridors as catalysts for mounting a comprehensive economic development plan.

Smith: "We do not just need any jobs to come to our community, we need jobs in our community [that pay wages] we can afford to take care of our families on," she said. "No fast food restaurants that get rich off of the poor, we need [co-operatives] where we actually own and have sustainable businesses."

Taliaferro: "I will support any businesses that will thrive with our community, that will grow with our community and hire our community," he said. "Unfortunately, over the last four years, we've seen pawn shops. We've seen liquor stores. These are jobs that are not viable to our community; in fact, they thrive off of our community. They grow, but [our community doesn't] grow," he said, adding that he would form a committee to vet businesses who plan to move into the area and would visit job sites to make sure that employers are hiring unionized and local workers.

Graham: "I'm going to continue to work with the Austin-Galewood Sustainability Plan," she said, noting that locations within the 29th Ward have been marketed to potential developers and that a community agreement has been fashioned that would be presented to the developers that are selected.

"One we narrow down who we would like to see in our community, we would develop a plan that the businesses would have to abide by—the number of people they hire in the community, the level of services, different areas that they need, from security to brick layers to concrete pourers."

Andolino: He said that he would build a case and go after each potential business in the same way that was done with the Galewood Starbucks, which he claimed to have helped lure to the area. He also recommended for a rebranding of the Austin area and suggested that the TIF process be reformed so that TIF money doesn't continue to get diverted to large corporations that produce far fewer jobs than advertised.

Johnson: He said he would convene a meeting with various shareholders in the community in order to find out what they want. He also said that he would lobby the mayor's office for tax incentives.

Ald. Graham was asked to explain her support for Mayor Emanuel.

Graham said that the mayor "has made tough decisions." She said that, when Mayor Emanuel decided to close 50 schools—four of which were in Austin—she let him know that she didn't agree with the decision, noting that the closings "pitted communities against each other."

"I worked really hard and he listened to what we needed…if you're going to close these four schools from our community make sure that the existing schools have the material and what they need so our children can advance," she said. "So [now], we have state of the art schools in the 29th Ward [and] a mechanics program at Michelle Clark that is flourishing."

If you're elected, will you use participatory budgeting to allocate your [$1.3 million] dollar discretionary fund and will you commit to doing so?

Background: "Every year, each of Chicago's 50 wards can address their own specific local infrastructure needs through the Aldermanic Menu Program.

In 2012, $1.32 million per ward was allocated from the CIP general obligation bonds to provide a menu of infrastructure project options for the aldermen to select and prioritize.

"Projects chosen by the aldermen include the repair and upgrade of streets, alleys, curbs, sidewalks, traffic signals, street and alley lighting and street pole painting" (City of Chicago).

Andolino: Yes. "That is the aldermanic menu fund and what you need to do is find out where it can be best deployed in the ward and make some benefit for the residents of the ward and you make that decision by bringing the people together," he said. "You're not going to spend that menu money without input from the community."

Graham: Yes. "The 29th Ward already has participation in the budget process," she said. "When the residents come forth and say … they're missing lights or things of that nature, we're able to go out and have our streets surveyed and get those streets done…We do get input from the block clubs, from the people, from various parts of our community—that's how we get the work done. We don't just go out will-nilly."

Taliaferro: Yes. "What you do is you make the community aware that we are going to have a meeting regarding the budget, how to spend it and where we should spend it and right now that is not happening," he said, noting that he would greatly support a participatory budgeting process.

Smith: Yes. "We need to go to the table collectively," she said. "That's where democracy starts, because most of the things going on in the 29th Ward and throughout the whole city [are] going on behind closed doors. They bring it to us after they've already made up their minds to do what they're going to do."

Galhotra: Yes. He said he would have four separate meetings in different sections of the ward "so everybody has a convenient place to go to and share their insight about what needs to be done in the ward and as alderman I'd make the decision" on the $1.3 million allocation.

Robinson: Yes. "I would do it through transparency, bringing the community forth and asking the questions."

Walls: Yes. He said that participatory budgeting is "a hallmark of my platform" and that he's met with the representatives of UIC "that developed that program."

"You get the community involved in developing and finding projects that they'd want in their community, then you have the committee get informed as to which projects can work and which projects can be viable in the community. After that, they vote on the projects and they choose on which ones will work," he said, noting that people who are at least 16 years old get to vote on those projects.

Johnson: Yes. He said that he would form a committee comprising residents of each of the 44 precincts in the 29th Ward and have an open debate before the community votes on projects.

Each candidate was asked whether or not he or she supports the proposal by UIC to build the Obama Presidential Library in North Lawndale.

All of the candidates agreed that they support the UIC-North Lawndale bid, with several, such as Lawrence Andolino, expressing regret that the library could not be built in the 29th Ward.

Click here to read coverage of this forum by our partners at Austin Talks.

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Comment Policy

jennifer mills from Benin city  

Posted: March 28th, 2015 9:32 PM

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Xavier Washington from Chicago   

Posted: February 2nd, 2015 8:32 PM

It's amazing to me that you people still even allow her on the ballot. Deborah Graham has been a real disaster for this ward. What can she hang her hat on? She has failed us. I thought she was at least a woman of values, but when the media reported that she gave her pastor $800, 000 to run a non existent program, she was exposed . I will not be voting for her again.I'm looking at walls, Taliaferro or Galholtra. This ward is in trouble. Let's send graham packing! There is too much at stake!

Tyrone from Chicago  

Posted: January 30th, 2015 7:24 PM

Well Jim or should I say Jimbo? Lol! Your conspiracy theory will get even worse Sunday, because more pastors are coming forward to endorse Taliaferro at Macarthur's. I heard you are a minister in training, the way you are assassinating Acree's and the other pastors character, you will never be a real pastor, the entire city now knows you have no integrity. Forget about ministry and go sell used cars. You implicate an NAACP official with out saying a name! Shame on you Minister in training!

Jim Allen from Chicago  

Posted: January 30th, 2015 12:53 PM

Like I said...I love when people call me names. It only proves they lack the intelligence to make their points and opinions. Seems to me this debate is above your pay grade Jackie, or at least your intelligence level. Lol, you seem a bit pissed off. Anyway please ask your candidate to answer my questions below. Thanks. Lastly why would the West Side NAACP host a debate at a place they know is hostile ground for any candidate? Duh?! SETUP!


Posted: January 30th, 2015 12:47 PM

OK, now we see that the wannabe Gator Bradley doesn't even know the definition of the definitiob if the word he's been throwing around: setup. How can it be a setup if it's out in the open? It was public knowledge that Acree endorsed Taliaferro. You're whole argument was that it was a secret. But Graham went to the debate knowing Acree was with Taliaferro, so she must be dumber than you are and you're a low IQ version of Queen Sister.

Jim Allen from Chicago  

Posted: January 30th, 2015 12:35 PM

Thanks for the update Jackie, all the more reason for me to make the case that forum/debate wasn't on neutral ground and was a setup! At best, the location was compromised. So is the candidate you're vehemently defending.

Jim Allen from Chicago  

Posted: January 30th, 2015 12:31 PM

Chris Taliaferro: Why did you meet with community leaders and pastors at the same location of the debate only days before the debate? Can you provide a list of names of those who attending the meeting with you, pastors and community leaders? What promises have you made those same pastors and community leaders if you would to become Alderman? Did the pastors provide hecklers and objectors at the West Side NAACP debate held at the location you previously met at? Thanks- Jim Allen


Posted: January 30th, 2015 12:09 PM

Here's the proof you are either liar or a half-wit. On January 16, Acree told the Austin Weekly News he endorsed Chris Taliaferro. It appeared in the print edition that week. All this was before the debate. If Deborah Graham employs at least one person who is not illiterate (I'm not so sure), she would have known and could have pulled out of the forum if she thought it was a trap! No trap! No secret! It's all in the open moron!!%27

Jim Allen from Chicago  

Posted: January 30th, 2015 10:41 AM

She i.e. Deborah Graham was on the hot seat by people who were told to be in attendance by their pastors, the same pastors who met with Chris days before the debate. It looks suspect for the host pastor of the debate to organize pastors and community leaders at his church to meet with a candidate at the same location of the debate. That's called coaching and favoritism! It was a setup and I will forever stand by my statements. Tha Movement University


Posted: January 30th, 2015 9:01 AM

Fairness, Honesty, and Openness are 3 things that are the opposite of what Deborah Graham represents! She is a documented liar! That's why she was on the hot seat!

Jim Allen from Chicago  

Posted: January 30th, 2015 7:17 AM

Our Ward deserves FAIRNESS, HONESTY, and OPENNESS. You sir meeting with pastors, community leaders, and West Side NAACP members only days before the debate isn't integrity, but rather cheating. If Ald. Graham would of done the same things I would express the same sentiments. Hopefully candidates won't be coached and/or met with for the next debate. All the candidates including the incumbent deserves a level playing field.

Bob Galhotra from Chicago  

Posted: January 28th, 2015 10:21 PM

My apologies, the correct email is:

Bob Galhotra from Chicago  

Posted: January 28th, 2015 10:19 PM

Renee, I do not recall hearing form you, but if you need to reach me, or anyone else for that matter, please email me at And Michael Romain, thank you for the excellent coverage of the event.

Tyrone Pearson from Chicago  

Posted: January 28th, 2015 4:42 PM

Attorney Taliaferro, thank you for giving a classy response to this wannabe named Jim Allen, who's only purpose for existing is to get some attention. Please do not engage into any further discussion with this guy and his conspiracy theories. When an intelligent man like you argues with a fool, after a while onlookers wont be able to tell the difference. He's paid by Rahm, since their candidate can run on her record they are trying to create mass confusion. Please ignore him and target gRAHaM.

Chris Taliaferro  

Posted: January 28th, 2015 4:19 PM

I was directed to this article and comment section because Mr. Allen has questioned my integrity about the NAACP's 29th Ward Candidate's Forum. Mr. Allen, please be assured that I did not receive any information, questions or assistance from the NAACP's staff to assist me at the forum. Your allegations are baseless and defamatory. Nevertheless, I will say that you are entitled your opinions. Stay active in changing the Ward. But, stay positive. Our Ward deserves it.

Jim Allen from Chicago  

Posted: January 28th, 2015 4:09 PM

I love when people call me names it just lets me know they lack the intelligence to make their argument without name calling. The truth is that meeting was bogus, fraud, and a setup thwarts Ald. Graham in favor of Chris! That's really the bottom line. Tha Movement University


Posted: January 28th, 2015 1:49 PM

You can't spell GRAHAM without R A H M

Tyrone Pearson from Chicago  

Posted: January 28th, 2015 1:00 PM

What a buffoon you are Jim! You are totally unreasonable. Had Graham not spent the last 5 years screwing the residents of the 29th ward, she would have had plenty of supporters in the room cheering her own. Nobody twisted her arm & pressured her to sign for more red light cameras! No one told her to support Rahm closing 50 schools. No one told her to be a house negro for Rahm and Sen. Don Harmon at the expense of the community. No wonder nobody showed up to support her but you & her paid staff.

Jim Allen from Chicago   

Posted: January 28th, 2015 12:32 PM

The people who expressed dissatisfaction were planted there to do so. That entire forum was a sham, sneak attack, and planned scheme that was organized days before the forum. It was greatly compromised and a setup indeed. Most of the crowd was full of people who were told to be there by the pastors who met with Chris days before the forum. WAKE UP! DUH!!!

Larry Andolino from Chicago  

Posted: January 28th, 2015 11:51 AM

As to the set up issue. Everyone was asked the same questions. These questions were no Surprise. They were questions the same questions we have answered for the Trib, etc. As to the alderman being in the hot seat. Really, she was not. She gave her response and people expressed dissatisfaction. the purpose of the event was for people to hear each candidate to make an informed decision. There was no favoritism. Everyone got to answer the questions and state their position.

Shawn Holly from Oak Park  

Posted: January 28th, 2015 10:54 AM

One thing was very clear at the forum is that Deborah Graham will sink or swim with Mayor Rahm Emanuel. It's rare that you have such blind loyalty from one politician to another, considering the fact that she knows Rahm' has extraordinarily low approval rating in this community. It seems that she's betting on the ignorance of the voters as well as the low political acumen of the residents of the 29th ward to help her get re elected . On the 24th of February we will see if she is right.


Posted: January 28th, 2015 10:29 AM

I didn't know there were self-hating blacks like Jim around anymore, people who can't handle the idea that there might actually be an independent and intelligent African-American man like Chris Taliaferro. According to Jim, the only way a black man could succeed is by cheating. Get your white is right nonsense out of here

Jim Allen from Chicago  

Posted: January 28th, 2015 10:20 AM

They CHEATED for Taliaferro. Met with him days before the debate at the same location of the debate. Probably gave him the questions as well?! Just shameful and deceitful! For more on that bogus meeting go to my blog Tha Movement University

Shawn Holly from Oak Park  

Posted: January 28th, 2015 9:36 AM

I really enjoyed the forum. A few observations: With so many candidates running, there is not enough time to get to any real substantive answers. 2. The incumbent is in a pickle, she has hitched her wagon to a very unpopular mayor, against the will of her constituents. 3. She also looks weak promising to bring a grocery store and a sustainability plan as a campaign deliverable. 4 The other candidates missed out on a chance to expose her flawed administration. 5. OJ and Smith don't have jobs

Larry Andolino from Chicago   

Posted: January 28th, 2015 8:58 AM

Renea from Chicago first yes I got alot of signatures from Galewood because this is where I live and I have help. Galewood is a diverse community. I did get signatures in Austin also I was on Massasoit and all the streets surrounding. I would represent everyone and I care about every person in this ward Especially the children. I recently represented the communities of Amundson Park and Galewood to stop a pawnshop. Call me 773-552-6532 I will earn your vote!

Jim Allen from Chicago   

Posted: January 28th, 2015 6:12 AM

Check out Tha Movement University over 400K views Also check out my google site, over 3 million views BE SURE TO FOLLOW MY FACEBOOK GROUP: Chicago's Political WAR Room.

Jim Allen from Chicago   

Posted: January 28th, 2015 6:06 AM

They tried to CHEAT for Chris but got exposed. I'm pretty sure he had knowledge of the questions afore hand as well. Simply shameful and a straight out scam! The forum wasn't fair and balanced. Just another lowlife trick on the citizenry.


Posted: January 28th, 2015 12:18 AM

Jim doesn't exist, this has to be Deborah Graham posting under an alias name, no one else could possibly be this clueless.


Posted: January 28th, 2015 12:08 AM

And Jim, why don't you come to the 29th ward and ask around about what Deborah was doing before Ike put her on the map.


Posted: January 28th, 2015 12:06 AM

Boo hoo hoo. Chris Taliaferro was brave enough to risk his life to serve in the Marine infantry and as a policeman for over 20 years and poor Deborah Graham couldn't even take a debate? She's a sitting Alderman! Maybe of she ever tried to reach out to her constituents, they wouldn't be so mad the one time in 4 years she actually shows her face in the ward. There's a reason almost every minister in the 29th ward has endorsed Chris Taliaferro- because he has character.

Tyrone from Chicago  

Posted: January 27th, 2015 11:08 PM

Oh you just helped me figure this out! There is no Jim Allen, you are actually Deborah Graham posing as an imposter. Girl , no wonder your azz is so sensitive! Hahaha! You should have thought about this when you and Rahm were screwing black people. Right Jim? I mean Deborah?

Tyrone Pearson  

Posted: January 27th, 2015 11:03 PM

Jim, bro it's public record that Deborah Graham is one of only 8 aldermen who voted mindlessly with Rahm 100% of the time. If you want specifics, she also helped him close 50 schools in black and brown neighborhoods. She also gave her own minister who's church is not even in the ward almost a million dollars to run a bogus program. It's sad! Wherever the forums are held she will certainly face a hostile crowd unless she has it in her mom's dining room. Every one else is fed up with her!

Jim Allen from Chicago   

Posted: January 27th, 2015 11:00 PM

Oh I get it now... Renea and Tyrone are the same person using 2 different names. Lol, just as fraud as that West Side NAACP political forum ?

Jim Allen from Chicago   

Posted: January 27th, 2015 10:57 PM

Hopefully the next meeting won't have as nearly as much fraud as the last one organized by the West Side NAACP held at Greater St. John Bible Church. It's clear some are doing all they can to sabotage Alderman Deborah Graham. Also any political rookie knows Deborah Graham had a name for herself way before Carothers!

Jim Allen from Chicago   

Posted: January 27th, 2015 10:48 PM

Renea, learn how to make your argument without name calling. At the end of the day that meeting was tainted and compromised. That's really the bottom line. hopefully the next forum won't benefit one person as clear the last forum was a home game for Chris. Tell me facts not general statements like "Deborah voted with Rahm 100% of the time". That sounds silly and baseless.


Posted: January 27th, 2015 10:29 PM

Amen Renea, I hate to see a brother get online and make a complete butt hole of himself. Please educate him. Its her fault that all she can say she did for the ward during her time in office is get a couple parks remodeled. By the way Andolino looked better than Deborah, Zerlina Smith looked better and even OJ for crying out loud, faired better than Graham. I guess thy were in on the set up as well. Actually everyone looked better than Deborah because they didn't have to defend her record.

Renea from Chicago  

Posted: January 27th, 2015 10:26 PM

Renee, Ike's not on the ballot. However, if you don't like Ike you really need to do some research on Andolino before you make your decision. Anybody can make you a facebook friend. Ask Andolino how many signatures he got south of North Ave. If you don't live in Galewood, he could care less. White is not always right. Research and get the facts from a different source other than facebook!!

Renea from Chicago  

Posted: January 27th, 2015 10:12 PM

Mr. Allen, don't be ignorant your entire life. There was no set-up to make Ald. Graham look bad, her record speaks for itself. Maybe the reason Chris looked so good at the forum is because you got a first hand look at a professional. You couldn't be use to what a real professional looks like if you support Ald. Graham. Anyway, if it were not for Ike Carothers we wouldn't be having this debate about Deborah Graham, we wouldn't even know her name, he put her on the map and everybody knows it!!!!

Tyrone from Chicago  

Posted: January 27th, 2015 9:15 PM

Jim, you sound like sour grapes. But in reality Deborah wasn't as bad as she could have been considering her record. What did Truth Speaks say about Deborah that's untrue? She did vote with the mayor 100% of the time, and she did vote to add more red light cameras and she did vote to close half of the mental health clinics. She may be a nice christian lady but her record is what it is. For your sake I wish she had given you a better record to defend. But she didn't perform all that bad Sunday.

Jim Allen from Chicago   

Posted: January 27th, 2015 8:35 PM

And what has the West Side NAACP done for Austin or the West Side of Chicago besides host biased political forums? The West Side NAACP operates as some clandestine group. Most on the West Side of Chicago doesn't even know there's a West Side NAACP! That organization needs to be gutted and needs new officers besides the ones who keep getting voted in year after year in partisan elections. Besides your black tie dinners and photo opts, the West Side NAACP hasn't done a damn thing!

Jim Allen from Chicago   

Posted: January 27th, 2015 8:23 PM

Truth Speaks you're a joke for several reasons. One being you're commenting behind a FAKE name which makes your comments illegitimate just like that bogus meeting better yet coming out rally for Chris! Hopefully the next forum will be balanced, fair, vetted, and on neutral turf.

Valerie F. Leonard from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: January 27th, 2015 8:18 PM

Maurice, the video should be on CAN TV soon. Check their website for their program schedule. Also, check their website from time to time for the YouTube video. They just posted the 24th Ward candidates forum on EveryBlock-24th Ward yesterday. Hopefully, they will do the same for the 29th Ward.

Maurice J. Robinson from Chicago  

Posted: January 27th, 2015 7:39 PM

I truly wish I was there to see the candidates debate. Reading the play x play from Mike and all of your comments has me excited but election. I know who I'm supporting but it absolutely wonderful to hear about the successes of all the candidates

Jim Allen from Chicago   

Posted: January 27th, 2015 7:26 PM

The West Side NAACP is bias and partisan. This political forum was a setup to degrade and disgrace Alderman Deborah Graham which is why the crowd was so tense thwarts her. This meeting the planning thereof needs to be investigated for fraud. This is gross deception of the public trust. The forum was setup for one reason and that reason was to make Chris look good.

Jenkins from Galewood  

Posted: January 27th, 2015 5:48 PM

Due to the number of candidates running in this race, it Is abundantly clear that there will be a run- off election in the 29th ward. The decision the voters have to make is who would have a greater appeal to the entire ward and can beat the current alderman?

Valerie F. Leonard from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: January 27th, 2015 3:29 PM

As one who participated in the planning of the forums, I know for a fact that the Chicago West Side Branch NAACP went out of their way to be objective and unbiased in the development of questions, staffing the panel and providing the presentation. No one was provided with questions beforehand. As one who served on the panel, from my observation, there were several vocal people from the crowd, from several different camps. It was exciting to see the size of the crowd and the level of engagement

Truth Speaks from Chicago  

Posted: January 27th, 2015 1:26 PM

Jim Allen you have lost all credibility as a minister and journalist. In your desperation to make money as a consultant for Rahm and his puppet Deborah Graham, you have lied and dishonored all of the clergy of Austin, suggesting that they plotted with the NAACP to set Deborah Graham up for failure. Why don't you name the NAACP official that collaborated with them. Truth is, you wont because you can't. Stand on principles and convictions Jim, and stop working for the highest bidder. Shame on you!


Posted: January 27th, 2015 12:36 PM

If it was a set-up, it was Graham setting herself up by giving public money to a liquor store and her crooked pastor, approving a pawn shop, and lying over & over. She promised development 4 years ago & all we got was a pawn shop & liquor store. And why is she talking about putting a Marianos in Galewood? What about us in Austin? She's been alderman for 5 years & got us nothing but 4 empty schools!

Jim Allen from Chicago   

Posted: January 27th, 2015 12:25 PM

The political forum was biased and a setup. Just days before the political debate, some members of the West Side NAACP met with Chris Taliafero at the exact location of the debate. There were implanted agitators thwarts Ald. Graham at the debate as well. For more info check out my blog Tha Movement University

Truth Speaks from Chicago  

Posted: January 27th, 2015 9:43 AM

Graham is one of only a handful of aldermen who support Rahm 100% of the time, yet Austin the largest community in the city was overlooked in the mayor's $3billion neighbor hood opportunity planning initiative for 7 designated communities. Deborah Graham fought against Galewood residents to open a pawn shop. Graham lifted the moratorium to open another liquor store on Madison. It's time for a change in the 29th ward. Anybody but Deborah Graham! Get rid of Rahm's puppet before it's too late.

Truth Speaks from Chicago  

Posted: January 27th, 2015 9:34 AM

Deborah Graham supported and voted 100% with Rahm Graham Supported Rahm closing 50 schools on the south and westside. Graham Voted to expand the red light / speed camera traps. Graham voted with Rahm to strip the churches and religious institutions of their water exemptions. Graham supported Rahm closing half of the city's mental health clinics. Graham supports a Rahm Emanuel ordinance that will pave the way for the Obama Library to be built on the south instead of fighting for our site!


Posted: January 27th, 2015 6:40 AM

Zerlina smith seems nice but she lacks business and gov experience. Just her conversation says that she wouldnt be able to get anything done. I reached out to WAlls yet received nothing. Odd considering hes an atty. He had no concrete solutions to anything. I hate there are 8 candidates, 1/2 of them couldnt name off the three branches of Government. Deborah is a yes girl to Rahm for a $130k Salary. Screw the residents. Shes acts like we dont need or want anything

Renee from Chicago  

Posted: January 27th, 2015 6:35 AM

l live closer to our NOW alderman. After seeking information about candidates, i reached out to all of the Candidates only to receive a warm welcome with Concrete Ideas from Larry Adolino! He quickly added me on FB, even called me to speak about his ideas We discussed our housing market and bringing Great businesses to blighted areas. The only response I received from Taliaferro was a meeting at a Preachers house. He also Supports Ike Caruthers and will bring him in for committeeman NO Thanks.

Judith Alexander from Oak Park  

Posted: January 26th, 2015 9:35 PM

I agree with Mrs. Reid. This story is another example of Mr. Romain's accuracy and thoroughness. His coverage of local news is a real asset to the community.

Mrs. Reid  

Posted: January 26th, 2015 6:27 PM

This coverage is a great source of information for voters. Detailed coverage, comparing the positions of the candidates, is sorely needed in this community. I encourage everyone to share this information.


Posted: January 26th, 2015 4:14 PM


Tyrone from Chicago  

Posted: January 26th, 2015 11:36 AM

Larry you did an awesome job last night. I like how yiu presented your case for police being hired from within the community. I also like how you were very clear that you wouldn't make significant decisions without getting input from the ward. You and Taliaferro have Graham hell .

Larry from Chicago  

Posted: January 26th, 2015 11:08 AM

Face book: Larry Andolino for Alderman 29th Ward Its time for change and together we can make this happen! We have the resources and we just need to use them.

Phyllis Gardner from Chicago  

Posted: January 26th, 2015 9:57 AM

You are right Rich! Graham recently voted to further the interest of the south side site for the Obama library.She continued her pattern of voting with Rahm 100% of the time even if its against the will of her constituency. But last night she lied and said that she supported the west side site. She has to be called out by the candidates when she blatantly lies as she does. The debate didn't allow the candidates an opportunity to rebuttal, that kept Puppet Graham from being completely exposed.

Phyllis Gardner from Chicago  

Posted: January 26th, 2015 9:49 AM

Graham was horrible at the debate. She supports Rahm Emanuel for mayor, but when asked who she supports she mumbled his name under her breath. This woman lied and said she fought against school closings. And she said Rahm listened to her. Hell, he still closed the schools,, you bumbling idiot! She also thinks we have state of the art schools in Austin. Will someone tell me where they are? Please! The one thing I hate the most is the challengers didnt make her defend her record. Expose her!

Rich from Chicago  

Posted: January 26th, 2015 9:18 AM

The forum was great, Ald Graham was terrible.She is supporting Rahm Emanuel and tried to fool everyone by saying she is working with him. She was at his endorsement session and stood on the stage with him .She is not for the community and recently voted to further the interest of the southside site for the Obama library.She voted with Rahm as usual.She must go,vote for anybody except Graham. Start the movement "Graham must go".

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