Patrick J. O'Connor

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For other people named Patrick J. O'Connor, see Patrick O'Connor (disambiguation).
Patrick J. O'Connor
City of Chicago Alderman
from the 40th Ward
Assumed office
May 1983 (1983-05)
Preceded by Ivan Rittenberg
Personal details
Born (1954-06-21) June 21, 1954 (age 62)
Chicago, Illinois
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Barbara O'Connor (m. 1979)
Residence Chicago, Illinois
Alma mater Loyola University (B.A.)
Loyola University (J.D.)
Profession Alderman
Religion Catholicism
Website Official Website

Patrick J. O'Connor (born 1955) has been an alderman in Chicago's City Council representing the 40th Ward on the North Side of the city since elected in 1983 at age 28.[1] O'Connor was an unsuccessful candidate in the Democratic Party primary election for Illinois's 5th congressional district special election, 2009.[2]

Early life[edit]

O'Connor is the son of a Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Streets and Sanitation, Bureau of Equipment Services, under Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley.[3]

O'Connor graduated from Loyola University of Chicago School of Law in 1979. Fresh from law school, O'Connor successfully sued the city for back pay for his father after Mayor Jane Byrne fired him.[4]

Aldermanic career[edit]

O'Connor is a member of the Democratic Party.

During the tenure of Mayor Harold Washington, who was black, O'Connor, who is white, caucused with the mostly-white opposition block in City Council known as the "Vrdolyak 29". O'Connor chaired the City Council's Committee on Education as a freshman alderman.[1]

In his first term a federal grand jury investigated O'Connor for providing, in late 1983 and again in late 1984, year-end jobs on the Education Committee staff for fifteen persons, including his mother-in-law, his brother-in-law, his sister-in-law, wives of two former members of his law firm, and the wife of a former staff aide. Some of those hired admitted they did not realize they were on the City payroll. "All in the Family" was a popular name for O'Connor's hiring practices, and O'Connor became known as the "City Hall Santa." O'Connor compared his hiring practices to those of Britain's royal family.[1] When asked at a City Hall news conference if the practice amounted to nepotism, O'Connor said: "Absolutely. I think nepotism is a system that has been around a long time. It has worked very well in England. I don't think it's been much more of a problem here."[5]

O'Connor and the ward organization he chairs, the 40th Ward Regular Democratic Organization, were cited in a complaint filed on August 31, 2005 with the Illinois State Board of Elections by the Cook County Republican Party. The complaints charged that sixteen Democratic Party ward organizations are illegally housed in City-funded neighborhood ward offices.[6] Taxpayers fund aldermanic service centers, which are open to the public. State law prohibits the use of public funds by any candidate for political or campaign purposes.[7] The complaint against O'Connor and his ward organization was one of nine that a Hearing Officer appointed by the Board recommended proceed to the next step of the hearing process, an Open Preliminary Hearing. On October 17, 2005, at a regularly scheduled meeting, the Board entered an executive session and voted, in a 4-4 tie, along strict party lines, failing to adopt the recommendation of the Hearing Officer, and ordered the complaints dismissed.[8] The complaint against O'Connor and his ward organization was one of eight that the Cook County Republican Party appealed[9] all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court. On January 23, 2009, the Illinois Supreme Court unanimously ordered the Illinois appellate court to conduct a judicial review of the Board's dismissals of the complaints.[10] On December 19, 2009, the First District of the Illinois appellate court affirmed the Illinois State Board of Elections' dismissal of the complaints.[11]

In 2008 O'Connor was found to be one of seven Chicago aldermen who between them got ten of their children good-paying summer jobs with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.[12]

In May 2013, O'Connor suggested that the Catholic Church and other religious institutions and not for profit organizations should pay property taxes and be billed for water provided by the City of Chicago. O'Connor's comments were in support of a plan by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to charge such organizations for water which had traditionally been provided without charge to not for profit organizations. “The silliest things can be said and people latch onto it.” O’Connor said. “For Chrissake, we sell everybody water! And now all of a sudden because we’re a church, we’re not supposed to sell them water? At some point, i think what’s gonna happen is someone’s gonna say how about looking at property taxes? We’ll give ya free water. How about paying for the property you own.” O'Connor further suggested that the Catholic Church should not criticize the plan to bill it for water use, but ought to address its clerical abuse scandals.[13]

O'Connor is married to Barbara O'Connor, a real estate broker.[14] In the last decade Barbara has built a thriving business selling houses and condos, many of which couldn't have been built without zoning changes the developers sought from her husband, Alderman Patrick O'Connor. Barbara O'Connor has sold more than $22 million worth of houses and condos in the 40th ward after the projects were enabled by Alderman O'Connor.[15][16][17]

Unsuccessful campaigns for other offices[edit]

O'Connor was defeated by Cecil Partee in a four-way race for the Democratic nomination for Cook County State's Attorney in the Democratic primary of March 20, 1990, with Partee garnering 49% of the vote to O'Connor's 37.5%.[18]

O'Connor was defeated in his challenge to Republican incumbent Jack O'Malley in a campaign for Cook County State's Attorney in the general election of November 3, 1992,[19] with O'Malley garnering 62% of the vote to O'Connor's 38%.[20] O'Connor lost to O'Malley in O'Connor's own ward, 8,516 to 9,363.[21]

On Tuesday, March 3, 2009 O'Connor finished fifth in a 12-way race in the primary election for the Democratic Party nomination for the United States House of Representatives in the special election called to replace US Rep. Rahm Emanuel in Illinois's 5th congressional district.[22]

Professional career[edit]

O'Connor is a part-time alderman. O'Connor is an attorney in private practice. O'Connor is a Vice President and In-house Counsel to Foster Bank, a bank in the 40th ward.[23]


  1. ^ a b c Fremon, David (1988). Chicago Politics Ward by Ward. Indiana University Press. p. 262. ISBN 0-253-31344-9.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  2. ^ Spielman, Fran Ald. O'Connor now the favorite to get backing for Emanuel's seat Chicago Sun-Times, January 6, 2009
  3. ^ Mihalopoulos, Dan (2009-05-21). "Patrick O'Connor, 1927-2009: Meeting with Mayor Richard J. Daley led to City Hall career; Father of Ald. Patrick O'Connor (40th)". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009-05-22. 
  4. ^ Becker, Robert; Mihalopoulos, Dan (2009-02-25). "5th Congressional District candidate Patrick O'Connor embraces his deep connections to Chicago insiders". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009-02-25. 
  5. ^ Strong, James (1985-01-05). "ALD. O`CONNOR DEFENDS NEPOTISM IN HIRING HIS STAFF". Chicago Tribune. p. 5. Retrieved 2009-02-18. 
  6. ^ Spielman, Fran (2005-08-31). "Cook County GOP chief targets 16 aldermen, Says they use taxpayer funds to pay rent on political offices". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2009-02-27. 
  7. ^ Associated Press (2005-08-31). "GOP: Wards violating election laws". Northwest Herald. Retrieved 2009-02-27.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  8. ^ "Board Meeting Minutes" (PDF). Illinois State Board of Elections. 2005-10-17. Retrieved 2009-02-28.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  9. ^ Cook County Republican Party v. Illinois State Board of Elections, et al., No. 1-05-3407 (Illinois Appellate Court 2007-12-17).
  10. ^ Cook County Republican Party v. Illinois State Board of Elections, et al., 106139 (Illinois Supreme Court 2009-01-23).
  11. ^ Cook County Republican Party v. Illinois State Board of Elections, et al., 1-05-3407, et al., Cons. (Illinois Appellate Court 2009-12-19).
  12. ^ Ospina, Viviana (2008-07-14). "Clout Kids". WFLD. Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  13. ^'Connor%3A+Cardinal+George+should+focus+on+church+problems%2C+not+city+water&id.  Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]
  14. ^ Schroedter, Andrew (2008-11-10). "Top-selling Baird & Warner broker moves to Koenig & Strey". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved 2009-06-04. 
  15. ^ Becker, Robert; Mihalopoulos, Dan (2008-06-01). "He zones. She sells. And it's legal. Tribune investigation: Alderman OKd zoning for developers who retained his wife as sales agent. She sold homes worth $22 million. NEIGHBORHOODS FOR SALE: PART 4". Chicago Tribune. p. 1. Retrieved 2009-02-18. 
  16. ^ Becker, Robert; Mihalopoulos, Dan (2008-05-31). "Ald. Patrick O'Connor case study 1: Project pushed for spouse's client". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009-02-25. 
  17. ^ Becker, Robert; Mihalopoulos, Dan (2008-05-31). "Ald. Patrick O'Connor case study 2: Wife sole agent for Edgewater Square". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009-02-25. 
  18. ^ Hardy, Thomas; Davis, Robert (1990-03-21). "PHELAN EDGES PINCHAM - ROSEWELL, ORR, PARTEE ALSO TRIUMPH". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009-02-18. 
  19. ^ Kass, John (1992-11-04). "O`MALLEY TROUNCES O`CONNOR". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009-02-18. 
  20. ^ "COOK COUNTY OFFICES". Chicago Tribune. 1992-11-05. Retrieved 2009-02-18. 
  21. ^ "COOK COUNTY STATE`S ATTORNEY - BY CHICAGO WARDS". Chicago Tribune. 1992-11-05. Retrieved 2009-02-18. 
  22. ^ Associated Press (2009-03-04). "Illinois - Summary Vote Results". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009-03-04. 
  23. ^ Mihalopoulos, Dan (2008-05-02). "What's your alderman's side job?". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009-02-18. 

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