The Tribune Praises Pat Dowell’s “Expertise in Urban Planning”

Pat Dowell
Pat Dowell

I know Streetsblog Chicago has been giving Third Ward alderman Pat Dowell a lot of guff over various transportation issues during the past year, but I’d be remiss if I let some puzzling praise for her in the Chicago Tribune go unaddressed.

The paper is endorsing the City Council rep, whose district includes parts of the South Loop and Washington Park, for several reasons, some of which may be legit. They praise her “thoughtful approach to problem-solving” and her support for transparency initiatives in the council, and call her “level-headed and fair.” But, oddly, the Trib also gives Dowell a shoutout for “her expertise in urban planning.”

It’s true that that the alderman is a former city planner. But it’s also the case that, for as long as I can recall, Dowell has been on the wrong side of just about ever sustainable transportation issue she’s been involved with. Here’s a brief recap:

Today on Twitter, some of Dowell’s constituents were scratching their heads trying to think of good urban planning decisions she had made for the ward. They weren’t able to come up with much.

Screen Shot 2019-02-05 at 6.13.37 PM

Obviously, running a ward involves juggling many different concerns, so just because Dowell has a terrible track record on transportation doesn’t mean she doesn’t deserve another term. But please, Chicago Tribune, don’t refer to her as someone who can be trusted to make decisions about transportation that benefit anyone except private car owners.

Update 2/6/19: Based on a constituent’s statement, this post previously stated that Dowell was involved in the removal of the plastic posts from the Harrison protected bike lanes, which was incorrect. Apologies for the error; the post has been edited accordingly.

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  • JacobEPeters

    She’s good on urban planning issues that she dealt with when she was a city planner, but like Chuy, as a politician she hasn’t shown a backbone to stand up to NIMBYs to implement logical public improvements that increase transportation equity. They haven’t kept themselves up to date with how modern planning has evolved and this is why they have both been hostile to prioritizing transit and bikes over maintaining car capacity and the convenience of car owners.

  • Dennis McClendon

    She had nothing to do with Harrison bike lanes. No portion of Harrison is within the Third Ward.

    Nor did she try to “block” the 15th & Clark station. She asked developers to look again at a location on their own land, which turned out to be possible and will be better for riders.

  • Roo_Beav

    That’s right. Give credit where it’s due. Ald Sophia King is the one who removed protection from her part of the Harrison bike lanes.

    https://chi.streetsblog.org/2019/01/31/due-to-alderman-kings-focus-on-car-parking-south-loop-bikeways-may-be-in-jeopardy/

  • johnaustingreenfield

    You’re correct about the Harrison bike lanes, which don’t lie within Dowell’s ward. I got that info from a constituent, but I should have double checked the ward boundaries. I’ve added an update.

    Here’s what Dowell initially said after the developer offered to move the 15th and Clark station out of her ward to the other side of Clark, according to Crain’s: “But Dowell said her opinion would be a ‘hard no’ at the 15th and Clark intersection because ‘the impact is going be faced by the residents who have invested east of Clark who have made that land valuable, so to speak.'”
    https://www.chicagobusiness.com/commercial-real-estate/south-loop-alderman-opposes-new-cta-red-line-station

    Dowell wrote the CTA board that the 31st bus (not the many single-occupant car drivers on the street) “cause[s] major congestion.” Read her full letter here: https://chi.streetsblog.org/2018/08/15/near-south-siders-urge-the-cta-to-expand-not-cancel-31st-street-bus-service/

  • Random_Jerk

    I would say South Loop is a big failure in urban planning.

  • what_eva

    I get her not wanting a Red Line stop at the SE corner of Clark/15th as it would replace green space. Put it across the street in some of the new land. Her statement that implies that a station would lower property values is odd and somewhat indicative of how a lot of the South Loop has built up and therefore her constituents. Not great transit for an area so close to downtown. Lots of garage parking, etc. ie, lots of car owners.

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