Patrick Daley Thompson’s long rise and hard fall

Sneed: Former alderman, now imprisoned, for his whole life stuck to his ward, his roots and — most of all — his family.

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Patrick Daley Thompson arrives at the Laborers International Union Hall, 3841 S. Halsted St., on April 7, 2015.

Patrick Daley Thompson arrives at the Laborers International Union Hall, 3841 S. Halsted St., on April 7, 2015.

Brian Jackson / Sun-Times file

Former Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson, 53, a new resident of the low-security federal prison in Oxford, Wis., once told me a story about power.

Power vs. perceived power. Real power vs. “reel power” that’s just for the cameras.

It now feels personal and, perhaps, a bit prophetic in re-reading his first exclusive interview with Sneed as a newly elected alderman.

Now serving a four-month sentence for filing false tax returns and lying to bank regulators, Thompson told the judge before his sentencing last week: “I’ve made mistakes. Those mistakes have cost me dearly.”

In the interview in 2015, Thompson was on top of the world. He was newly in charge of his legendary family’s Bridgeport bungalow; a seemingly low-key, unassuming, easygoing Irish fireplug of a guy; the kind you’d want to share a pint of Guinness with.

Thus, Sneed wrote:

Thompson was a little boy when he was handed a big-city job.

The blue-eyed fireplug was given a “clicker” to trigger the lights of the city’s gigantic Christmas tree jutting from the old Civic Center plaza.

“We were led to believe we were lighting the tree,” he said.

“But, you see, the clicker wasn’t real,” he chuckled. ...

The fifth-oldest of 23 first cousins comprising the latest incarnation of the Daley dynasty — set in place by his grandfather, Mayor Richard J. Daley — Thompson is the first member of his family to become alderman of the Daley bastion: The 11th Ward.

Surprisingly, Thompson also chose to live in the legendary Bridgeport bungalow where Mayor Richard J. Daley and his wife, “Sis,” raised his mother, Pat — and her siblings Mary Carol, Ellie, Rich, Mike, John and Bill.

“No one in the family ever wanted to be alderman of the 11th Ward before,” said Patrick’s uncle, Cook County Board Commissioner John Daley.

“I’ve never ventured far from this house,” said Thompson, a real estate lawyer and former commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.

“I grew up next door to my grandparents and spent a lot of time with my Gram,” he said, referring to Sis.

“I’d flip over the fence and Gram always had coffee and cake ready because she had a sweet tooth. I spent a lot of time in the family den in the basement playing with my sister, Courtney, and my brother, Peter.

... Thompson went to school in the ward, played baseball and football and hockey at Donovan Park, sat at the counter of the now non-existent North Star ice cream parlor, and hung out at the Valentine Boys Club, playing basketball. ... [Thompson] is also the nephew of Mayor Richard M. Daley and former Secretary of Commerce/White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley.

“I am very proud of my family,” said Thompson. “But I am my own person and am not relying on my family name to get things done,” said Daley.

“But I am reminded of my grandfather’s legacy in the ward,” he said.

“When I ran in the ward, a number of people remembered what my grandfather had done for them. What an influence he had been in their lives. ... It was proof of how special a person he had become.”

“When we first moved into the house, we talked about adding a second floor,” said Thompson, who lives there with wife and three children.

“Then I thought, well, 11 people lived in this house before us ... So I figured we’d probably never see each other if we added another floor. So we only redid the bathroom and the kitchen and repainted.

“I had all the original blueprints of the house framed. And I found a hidden door up in the attic which was imprinted with family signatures.”

Thompson is now hoping to be out in time for Christmas and return to the family home.

Looking back, I wondered why Thompson led off his first aldermanic interview with the “power” and “lack of power” he first felt he had in his hands as a child during what was obviously a staged media event for the television cameras. The story of the impotent “clicker.”

And why I never asked how that first impact felt.

The story of power he never really had … which, sadly, became the power he used unwisely.

The Rahmster roadster ...


Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanel and his daughter, Leah, are wrapped in an American flag atop Mt Fuji.


Former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, our U.S. ambassador to Japan, sends word he just climbed 12,467 foot Mt. Fuji, and did it in record time with wife, Amy, and daughter, Leah. They slept in a hut to capture evening and sunrise shots above the clouds. Then he wrapped himself and daughter, Leah, in an American flag. Now Isn’t that what ambassadors do?

Sneedlings …

A calendar date: Acclaimed journalist, Pulitzer prize winner and bestselling author David Maraniss hits Winnetka’s stellar Book Stall at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 12 to discuss his new biography of Native American sports superstar Jim Thorpe titled: “Path Lit by Lightning.” It’s ticketed, natch. … Condolences to the family of Michael and Kathy Hirsley on the death of their beloved son, Nolan, who died this week … and best wishes to the family of Diane (Cederberg) Tollens — her sons, David and Dale Cederberg, and her sister, Marilyn Mack — on Tollens’ death last Wednesday at the age of 91 … Saturday birthdays: singer Mario Barrett, 36; actor Aaron Paul, 43, and actor Paul Reubens, 69. Sunday birthdays: … singer LeAnn Rimes, 40; actor Luis Guzman, 66; and actress Barbara Bach, 76.

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