Candidate questionnaires

Portrait of La Coulton J. Walls

La Coulton J. Walls

Candidate for City Council, 29th Ward

La Coulton J. Walls

Candidate for City Council, 29th Ward

Portrait of La Coulton J. Walls

Education: Bachelor's Degree Juris Doctor

Occupation: Attorney

Home: Chicago

Age: Not answered

Past Political/Civic Experience: Not answered

Candidates running for City Council, 29th Ward


Responses to the Chicago Tribune's questionnaire

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.

The borrowing was not justified because the reported poor spending choices and because of the interest being paid on the massive debt. I will push for new sources of revenue. From exploring gambling casinos to attracting more businesses to the city which will increase the tax base. Property transfer taxes can be increased.


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.

I will push for new sources of revenue. From exploring gambling casinos to attracting more businesses to the city which will increase the tax base. Property transfer taxes can be increased.


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.

Tiff funds should be used for the low income areas increasing the development of commercial districts. This is critical in the 29th Ward because revitalized commercial areas can attract suburban consumers from the western suburbs to Chicago to spend their money in shops and restaurants. I don't agree with using TIF funds for building of businesses and schools in the South loop. Those funds are better spent in the depressed areas of the city for development and improvement of commercial districts and residential areas.


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.

I would seek to champion all of these ideas in the 29th Ward and through out in the city of Chicago. I would increase foot patrols to allow city residents to know the police officers in a non confrontational situations. This would help crime prevention.


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.

there should be strict standards forbidding Alderman, appointed board members, government employee from doing business with city or collecting benefits directly or indirectly from companies doing business with the city. The inspector general should be a non political independent investigator to investigate all public officials and employees with the appropriate standards and protocol in place so that it does not promote witch hunts and political bullying.


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?

The school board should be elected. The class sizes should be reduced. To that end, we should evaluate which schools can be reopened. There should be no new charter schools. I do not support a longer school day but I do support empty schools being converted to community centers. New sources of revenue must be generated to close budget gap and adequately fund pensions. Increase city's transfer tax. Explore land based or lakefront casino. Use TIF Funds to revitalize depressed commercial areas which will increase business revenue.


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?

I would offer TIF funds for employers to come into the ward and require them to hire qualified local residents. I have assisted local businesses and churches with their incorporations and have made referrals to accountants. I have helped residents develop property in the ward. I would work with watch commanders to enhance community orientated policing strategies to make the all areas safe. Businesses are attracted to safe communities. I would attract developers to rehabilitate abandoned buildings and require them to hire local residents to rehabilitate the properties in the area.


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.

I support the minimum wage increase and I am in favor of minimum wage being higher.


Q: Should the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art be built at the proposed location on Chicago's lakefront? Please explain.

I don't mind the economic development and the increased tourism. I believe there must be a balance between economic development and the preservation of natural resources too. We should have the Lucas Museum but perhaps it can be relocated to a better area.


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?

The police and the community must develop trust. The police must work hard to build relationships with the community they serve. I got to know the neighbors living on the block so that we can pool our efforts to prevent crime. Keeping an eye out in the neighborhood. Informing each other of whether a garage or a gate is left open to prevent burglaries. I personally met the Watch Commander and detectives in the 15th District where I live.


Q: Do you support Chicago's traffic light camera program? Please explain.

I do not support red light cameras and would fight to abolish them Red light cameras do not make community safe they drain community of its money. Keep red light cameras in the downtown area and remove them from neighborhoods.


Q: Should Chicago reduce the number of aldermen in the City Council?

No.


Q: What is your highest priority for improving your ward? What is the greatest concern you hear from residents of your ward?

Economic development which leads to crime reduction and jobs. I want to work with the youth to provide youth centers and places where they can have productive outlets in their neighborhoods. This can be a simples a creating a roller skating rink in the Austin Area.


Q: Please tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.

I help low income clients and provide bro bono legal services. I seek to help the residents of the 29th ward and want to take on the problems we face. I strongly believe in extra curricular activities for kids and I also believe that kids should be introduced to the arts at early development through high school. I will establish mentoring programs for youth so that they can learn about careers.