Grandson of Richard J. Daley ready to keep the dynasty going
BY ABDON M. PALLASCH Political Reporteremail@example.com October 7, 2011 8:28PM
Patrick Daley Thompson at the Chicago River. Thompson is running for a seat on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. | Al Podgorski~Sun-Times
Updated: November 16, 2011 8:49AM
Not only does he look like his grandfather; not only did he learn at his knee; but he lives in his grandfather’s bungalow.
Patrick Daley Thompson, 42, son of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley’s eldest daughter Patricia Daley Martino, is the first Daley grandchild to make a bid for “high” office.
“High” is relative. Like his grandfather and his uncles, he is starting with a modest goal: The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.
Walking along the Chicago River last week, Thompson explained why a zoning and land-use lawyer has an interest in cleaning up water.
“Bubbly Creek,” the bane of Bridgeport, is the fetid creek named for the bubbles that once rose from decomposing waste from the old Chicago stockyards. It’s just blocks from Thompson’s bungalow, and raw sewage is dumped during heavy rains directly into the adjacent river. As a commissioner, Thompson could help speed up the process to finish a new reservoir and stop the dumping, he said.
He has first-hand experience working for the district, he recounted.
“If you look in my eye, you can probably still see some discoloration,” he said, pointing to a pinkish part of the white of his left eye.
How’d that happen?
One of Thompson’s patronage summer jobs as a teen was shoveling, eh ... “Well, we called it ‘sludge,’” he said, at the district’s water treatment plant in Stickney.
“One day, we’re opening up the hose, and it just spurted all over my face, got in my eyes,” he said. “They took me to a clinic and rinsed out my eye with some saline and the next day the policy was you had to wear these goggles and a mask.”
Thompson’s friend Terry O’Brien’s sudden announcement of retirement as president of the Water Reclamation District opened the way for Thompson to seek a seat on the board. But Thompson is prepared to chart a course different than O’Brien’s.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has pushed for the district to disinfect water with ultraviolet light and/or filters, a process O’Brien voted against because of concerns about how to pay for it.
“To kayak and canoe and be down there on the water, you have to do the disinfecting,” Thompson said. “My grandfather once said he’d like to see people fishing on the Chicago River, and people believed that would never happen. But you know what? You go down here, and you see people fishing off the Chicago River.
“Daley” is Thompson’s real middle name but he has not yet decided whether to use that on the ballot.
“I’m very proud of my family, very proud to be a Daley, but everybody’s got to be judged on their own,” he said.
Thompson’s parents divorced when he was very young, and they moved back in with his mother’s father, the mayor, in the bungalow on Lowe.
“He would take me to school,” Thompson said of his grandfather. “He would walk me over. I wasn’t fond of school then. I remember walking up the stairs. He’d be holding my hand walking up. We’d get to the top of the stairs, I’d start crying. We’d turn around and walk down, and we’d go back home, and my mom and my Grandma would be in the house, and he’d say, ‘Sis, Pat, this kid’s not going to school — he doesn’t like it,’ And my Grandma would say, ‘Dick, he’s got to go to school.’ He’d say. ‘He’s not — he doesn’t like it.’ Eventually, I’d end up going.”
On Election Day, Thompson and his brother, Peter, would be in the 11th Ward office with their Uncle John Daley, the Democratic Ward committeeman. As vote totals were called in from each precinct, the Thompson boys would run the numbers into the war room to Uncle John.
On Thursday, Thompson and a cousin, John Daley’s son John, waited outside the closed doors of the Democratic committeemen’s meeting at Plumbers Hall where Uncle John successfully floor-managed Thompson’s bid to get the committeemen’s blessing on his candidacy.
Thompson’s mother, Patricia Daley Martino, eventually bought the home next-door to her parents and Thompson grew up hopping the fence to mow the lawn or shovel the snow in his grandparents’ back yard.
“I don’t have to flip the fence anymore, but I still have to cut the grass and shovel the snow,” he said.
After St. Ignatius, Thompson went to college at St. Mary’s in Winona, Minn. He came back and started working in real estate. After a couple years, he got married, worked on his law degree at night at John Marshall and started climbing the ranks of Chicago land-use lawyers.
As the Daleys spread out across the city, Thompson stayed behind in Bridgeport. For 20 years he has remained a precinct captain for Uncle John.
He moved from the firm of Ungaretti & Harris to DLA Piper to Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella. He represents clients before various city boards; helped with the sale of more than $400 million in general obligation bonds for the water reclamation district; and is registered as a lobbyist with the city for six companies.
The main controversy he attracted was when he represented the Children’s Museum as they sought to relocate to Grant Park. Some local residents and their alderman, Brendan Reilly (42nd), opposed the move. Thompson’s uncle, then-Mayor Richard M. Daley, strongly supported the move and attempted to muscle the deal through over Reilly’s objections.
Rather than become a lightning rod, Thompson turned the museum over to a partner. The move has stalled.
Thompson’s civic resume includes stints as chairman of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence; a member of the board of the Chicago Historic Bungalow Association and currently president of the Irish Fellowship Club of Chicago. Thompson now lives in his grandfather’s old home with his wife and three children. He put central air and heating in the 70-year-old house but scrapped plans for an expansion and modernization. He spent a recent afternoon in the front attic bedroom that was his mother’s, looking at color patterns his 14-year-old daughter was picking out to repaint the room that will now be hers. “We call it the Greg Brady room,” he said. It was the room he and his cousins would sleep in when they stayed home from school at Grandma’s with the flu. His uncles grew up in the bedroom at the other end of the attic
Thompson now lives in his grandfather’s old home with his wife and three children.
He put central air and heating in the 70-year-old house but scrapped plans for an expansion and modernization. He spent a recent afternoon in the front attic bedroom that was his mother’s, looking at color patterns his 14-year-old daughter was picking out to repaint the room that will now be hers.
“We call it the Greg Brady room,” he said. It was the room he and his cousins would sleep in when they stayed home from school at Grandma’s with the flu.
His uncles grew up in the bedroom at the other end of the attic
“I think Mayor Emanuel is doing a fantastic job — I’m not interested in that,” Thompson said.