Candidate for City Council, 29th Ward
Education: Village of Broadview Village of Franklin Park
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.
The borrowing was not justified because these bonds were not used for transportation, infrastructure and long term public works projects such as economic development which would be the intended purpose and create an investment return. A even more prudent use of these bonds would have been for specifically building of potential revenue producing projects. Instead, these bonds were issued without referendum because Illinois law does not require this. The bond funds were used for technology that as we all know becomes obsolete on a yearly basis. The bond funds went to legal expenses closing costs on more bonds and to pay interest on existing debt. The money that was spent on capital improvements were done so without proper analysis of the viability of the projects. The spending was not justified and made with poor oversight. My plan to address the debt situation and funding of city services would be a combination of collecting debt owed to the city in conjunction with creative revenue generating methods and cost reductions with minimal impact on residents. a. Our city is not collecting the debts owed. The city needs to improve on collecting the outstanding debts that are owed. City employees for example in December of 2013 owed approximately 2.5 million in unpaid tickets and water bills. There is close to one billion in unpaid tickets and water bills owed the City of Chicago and the system in place, although streamlined in 2011 is not enough. b. The City must employ creative ways to raise money. One step in the right direction would be for a land based casino. We need to eliminate large corporation loopholes such as the sales tax vendor discount and single-sales factor, which allows some multinational companies based in Illinois to significantly reduce their taxable corporate income.Another method would be reduction in spending would involve green retrofitting on buildings. Not only would the city save millions in energy spending and create jobs and further tax revenue in the city. The City needs to consider advocating state legislators for a progressive income tax system
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.
We should strive to fund the pensions based on actuarial requirements not legislative enactment. On of the reasons for the annual growth in pension contributions is the schedule set by the legislator in 1995. I do not favor cutting benefits by raising contributions or the age of retirement for those that have made their payments. This is because the greatest cause of the state's unfunded liability has been borrowing against the pension systems by lawmakers. There are also cost saving measure, Fighter fighters and labors pension funds are paying higher fees to investment managers and these fees take away from the people who worked hard to fund their retirement. all of the parties need to work together, with the stakeholders possibly reaching a compromise of a slightly higher retirement age and moderately agreed upon changes in benefits to newly hired individuals. Last, the city needs to explore creative methods of creating revenue such as a land based casino, collecting the debt owed to the city and reform of loop holes for large corporations.
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.
The city need to make the TIF data available to the public in a form that is understandable.The reform needs to have independent oversight and management by a governing body. As to TIF expenditures, there should be a detailed breakdown of how much of the TIF funding goes to consultants, job training etc. Once a property is developed a policy of releasing it from the TIF should be strongly considered. There also needs to be an evaluation process. TIF districts need to be reviewed to determine if there is an actual development and benefits from the district and if not, then the TIF should be terminated. The TIFs have to have a redevelopment agreement up front, and the types of jobs that are created, and the type of community benefits that are generated all fit within that plan. I support the allotment of the TIF fund for the Mariott and McPier. McPier the project will bring development and jobs. TIF's are an important tool and if I am elected Alderman it is my goal to employ the TIFs in my ward to spur much needed economic development and I am strongly in favor of expanding TIF use in my 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.
I would champion ideas to reinvent the city and address programs for our children. We need to market this City toward a green industry which can create a whole new economy. We need to set an example and be a global leader and have comprehensive plan to green our current buildings and new buildings. This will have a positive job creation effect. I also believe proper deployment of Tiff funds can be used to create new businesses and create job growth. We need to determine what neighborhoods need help and create a comprehensive plan with the TIF funds to build these neighborhoods.
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.
I believe power should be given to the inspector general's office with the proper investigation powers for true oversight. The city inspector general needs to have the power and oversight to investigate the alderman; too many times in our past we have been embarrassed by the actions of certain alderman and if we are serious about ethics and good government service we will give the city inspector general the authority to do his job.
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?
Improvement is needed and this requires that our educators have the resources and tools for the children. Our most important asset is our children and we need to fund their future. Our most important investment is our children. We need smaller class sizes so that students have the best opportunity to learn. I am not in favor of a longer school day instead, we need to expand after care programs so parents can work and children are safe. There should be a nurse in each school. All schools should provide pre-kindergarten programs to make our children competitive. We must improve access to library/media instruction, science laboratories, and computer science resources. Few CPS schools provide world language classes and many schools do not even have libraries. Almost every high school and college requires language in their core. Schools build neighborhoods and a good school system promotes economic growth. Resources that can be used to improve our Public Schools are being diverted to Charter Schools. The BOA should be elected with stakeholders from the community. The budget gap can be addressed with strategic use of TIF funds and creative income solutions.
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?
Strategic use of TIF funds and a concerted proactive effort to market my community will spur economic development. All too often we see new restaurants, grocery stores and retail stores opening in the suburbs next to us instead of the 29th Ward. The suburbs' taxes are not lower, and we do not suffer from a lack of ability to support these establishments. The problem is that the when a business seeks to open, Oak Park, and Elmwood Park come to mind first because of proactive marketing on their part. I will spearhead an effort to market this community. We need to bring our community to the attention of these prospective establishments so they invest in the 29th Ward. Our ward has the economic ability to support new business we just need to get their attention to come here. We especially need grocery stores so people have access to healthy food for their children. I was instrumental in attracting the first Starbucks to my community through a proactive marketing campaign as the former director of our community organization. I also was instrumental in deploying planters and banners in our commercial district to improve the visual quality of our commercial district. Most recently I spearheaded an effort to attract a Mariano's with a concerted effort to show community support. I also represented the community free of charge to stop a fifth pawnshop in our community which creates a negative impact on growth and desirability. I would create marketing pieces for this community as we have done in the past to attract business. We will create a community identity and build around our assets such as Columbus Park and Austin Town Hall as well as our untapped major business streets and boulevards are ripe for development. I will create a job fair for new business and also a create a local community business and service directory.
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 vote. I am hopeful that the State will also move in the same direction so that the City is competitive. People are struggling and we need to infuse this economy.
Q: Should the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art be built at the proposed location on Chicago's lakefront? Please explain.
No our lake front is a precious asset. The goal of lakefront protection is to make each generation of civic and government leaders resist temptation to build on lands and vistas that cannot be replaced.
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 city needs to focus on a bottom up strategy. In order to address the problem we need to understand that cause. The easy answer is to deploy more police and execute on the warrants outstanding. The problem is that there are approximately 12,000 police officers in the city so the manpower is not there. The bottom up strategy requires educating our children and creating programs at a young age to attempt to deter future gang membership and to attack the gang leadership structure. First, we need to address this problem at the grade school level. Instilling hope and core values at an early age is just as important as teaching math and reading. We need to teach children conflict resolution at an early age. We need to have required conflict resolution programs at a young age and teach our children the violence is not the solution to the problem and instill this core value early when the children are most receptive. We need to ensure there are adequate programs and after school activities early in a child's life. We need to create opportunities for children to join boy scouts and girl scouts. Our parks need to implement more organized sports that teach team work and goals. These programs need to continue on to high school and the high schools need to offer more vocational programs. Not every child will go to college because of either income or desire. We need to give alternatives to children for careers early on and teach marketable skills. I would advocate for strict enforcement of truancy to ensure the child is in school. The next prong is to strategically identify and arrest and prosecute the leaders. Our C.A.P.S. program and my proposed network of neighbors can provide the information on where the gang activity is, the major players in this activity and possibly the location of these individuals. All too often, a gang activity is prosecuted and the individual ends up on probation only to return to their gang. We need to ensure that conditions of probation will also be sentenced to gang probation. District commanders will ensure that a list of gang members that are enrolled in the program have mandatory curfew hours, residency requirements, and prohibition against associating with gang members. We need to instill a sense of safety and presence to our neighbors and a deterrent to gang members. The commanders need to make a regular effort to have roll calls on the blocks in the heavy gang areas; this sends a psychological message to the members that the police are in their community and active. I will employ the public nuisance ordinance to bring law breaking landowners and neglectful banks to court to clean up abandoned property and dangerous conditions. I employed this strategy for a village I represented and forced a motel to stop illegal activity.
Q: Do you support Chicago's traffic light camera program? Please explain.
No I do not. There has been evidence of equipment malfunctions, human tinkering or both. It appears these cameras cannot be operated fairly.
Q: Should Chicago reduce the number of aldermen in the City Council?
Yes. First, new technology allows residents to service requests directly to the 311 system we just do not need 50 Alderman for city services so there would be no service impact as argued. Our city has one of the largest legislative bodies by comparison to its population. A smaller city counsel would allow for millions in cost savings, more accountability. We need to get rid of government waste.
Q: What is your highest priority for improving your ward? What is the greatest concern you hear from residents of your ward?
Economic Development and Safety of our families. Residents want a healthy quality of life, they expect quality city services and a community that is viable and safe. We cannot allow food deserts and we need to ensure we have economic development throughout the ward.
Q: Please tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.
I was awarded a Resolution of Bravery for detention of rapist by the City of Chicago. Letter of Recognition: Chicago Police Officer for detention of fleeing narcotics dealer on the Lake Street "L"