Candidate for City Council, 20th Ward
Education: Bachelors of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois.
Occupation: Civil Engineer
Age: Not answered
Past Political/Civic Experience: Not answered
Q: Last year, the Chicago Tribune's investigative series "Broken Bonds" reported that, since 2000, Chicago had issued long-term bonds to spend nearly $10 billion, much of it for short-term operating expenses. Hundreds of millions of dollars went to delay bond payments by refinancing old debts, a tactic known as "scoop and toss" that extends payments far into the future. Was this borrowing justified? Going forward, how should City Hall change its finances to pay down existing debts and provide services? Will you argue primarily for cuts in spending or for tax increases? Please be specific.
This is a big issue for Chicago; however, the "scoop and toss" tactic is used Federally as well. You will need to decide on a case by case basis whether you are for spending cuts or tax increases as a strategy for increasing cash.
Q: Chicago will face a substantial increase in contributions to its police and fire pension funds in 2016. Chicago's unfunded pension liability amounts to about $7,000 for each resident of the city. How should the city solve its pension crisis? Please be specific about pension changes, spending cuts or revenue increases you would support.
There needs to be a deeper analysis of the asset allocation of the Pension, specifically the allocation to private investment (real estate and private equity illiquid assets, which require capital to be locked-up for some period). Because of the substantial cash need, we could potentially sell these illiquid assets for potential re-allocation into public securities focused on current income (bonds) and become more diligent with cash hedging. Spending cuts are inevitable in every major metropolitan city, and this is something we need to further analyze in terms of where we can make these cuts.
Q: What changes should be made in the city's use of tax increment financing? Would you support expansion or extension of TIF districts in your ward? How should excess TIF funds be spent? Do you support the $55 million allotment of TIF funds to buy land for a Marriott Hotel and DePaul basketball arena? Please explain.
a) I think there should be more transparency about how and why the decisions are made about how to spend the funds. There should be clear value proposition for the use of these funds. With a major focus on the area from which the TIF derives. If any portion of the TIF is ported into another area, there should be compensation for funds being used. b) Yes but with great involvement/ approval from the community and strict oversight of development of the plan, implementation of idea and allocation of funds. c) excess funds should be reallocated back into the area in which they come from. d) Currently I do not. I would need to be fully convinced that its a strategic economic benefit to the city of Chicago and the 20th ward
Q: The Tribune Editorial Board recently offered "12 ways to heal a city" — the best ideas among more than 1,000 suggestions from readers on how to craft "A new Plan of Chicago." These proposals are available at chicagotribune.com/plan. Please tell us which ideas you would champion. We invite you to offer additional ideas for dealing with Chicago's challenges.
At the time of writing I'm still reviewing the information and will provide a supplemental response.
Q: Should the City Council keep or abolish the office of legislative inspector general? Should the city inspector general be given the authority to investigate aldermen and their staff members? Do you have other ideas to improve government ethics in Chicago? Please explain.
a) Keep the legislative inspector general b) Yes c) Strengthen community involvement and oversight
Q: The Chicago Public Schools system has seen significant improvements in freshmen on track and high school graduation rates. CPS has also closed dozens of schools, used fiscal 2016 revenue to balance its 2015 budget and faces a roughly $700 million pension payment in 2016. Please give us your assessment of the academic and financial performance of the city's public schools. What is the key to improving public education in the city? Should members of the Board of Education be elected by the public or continue to be appointed by the mayor? Do you support the longer school day and year? Should CPS expand or reduce the number of charter schools? How should CPS close its significant budget gap?
a) I think there are some major areas of opportunity to focus on. b) Elected School board, we need to ensure the Board is accountable to the executive office and the citizens c) Yes, additional learning and development to compete in a globalizing economy. d) Reduce charter school e) a. Evaluate and assess the funds that are suppose to come from gambling and the lottery to support the school system. b. It appears that current board members procure multimillion dollar contracts that are seemingly a conflict of interest. c. Review and evaluate construction cost for CPS facilities. d. CPS should re-evaluate the pension fund managers, how they allocate these assets. A new manager or management strategy could significantly increase performance. This could help close the gap without negatively impacting the quality of the education CPS delivers.
Q: How would you attract more employers to your ward? How would you encourage employers to hire local residents? What have you done to promote economic development in your ward?
a/b) I would highlight the wonderful resources in the community including world class museums, recreation, hospitals, a world class university in a community that produces world class employees to take on the globalizing economy. I would demonstrate that the 20th ward is prime real estate with 2 Metra Lines, 2 CTA train lines, access to 3 major expressways minutes from downtown and a short 20 min drive to an international airport. Its an excellent transportation hub ripe for new industries in need of access to a world class railroad. c) I have engaged residents throughout the 20th Ward so that together we (the community) will be in partnership for the economic development of the ward.
Q: Do you support or oppose the City Council vote to increase the minimum wage in several steps to $13 an hour by 2019? Please explain.
Yes, Wages have not kept pace with the cost of living.
Q: Should the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art be built at the proposed location on Chicago's lakefront? Please explain.
I need to review to benefits the museum would provide to the city and the 20th ward.
Q: How can the city improve public safety? Please address the role and performance of the Chicago Police Department and the role of neighborhood residents in crime prevention. What have you done to improve public safety in your community?
a. Civilan Police Accountability Counsel (CPAC), uniform application of the law and redefine the role of police in the community. More/ upgraded visual management (street lines, reflectors, signage delineators.. etc.) , Abolishment of red-light and speed cameras that cause accidents. Invest in youth development programs. b. The role and performance of the police is inconsistent. Some residents feel as though the police are calvary, where as other residents may feel threatened at their very presence. We need much better relations between the community and police force. Neither group can fix the issues alone. The faster we begin to work together the faster we can begin to heal our community. c)I have engaged the youth throughout the community that are either involved with or influence the violence to encourage them seek other methodologies to handle conflict.
Q: Do you support Chicago's traffic light camera program? Please explain.
No, the program was promoted as a tool to reduce the number of crashed but statistics show many are placed in low crash areas and have increased rear end collisions. Therefore the need has not been supported by statistical evidence. In addition, The program has several questionable components: -alleged bribery issues as it relates to the cameras -cameras may have been instituted prior to the law being passed authorizing the installation of the camera -yellow light timing was off, resulting in 7-15 million dollars worth of fines to city drivers -the cameras are not bringing in the money as projected.
Q: Should Chicago reduce the number of aldermen in the City Council?
No we don't need to reduce the number of aldermen. To reduce the number may further take away the voice of a community.
Q: What is your highest priority for improving your ward? What is the greatest concern you hear from residents of your ward?
a) Create a safe wholesome community, where resources are plenty and individuals feel comfortable and proud of where they live. b) Its a toss up but its between a non-responsive government and employment.
Q: Please tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.
I participated in two division one sports while studying civil engineering at the University of Illinois (UIUC) and have been the face of the undergraduate program since 2009 (http://cee.illinois.edu/programs/Undergrad/Default.html)