Candidate questionnaires

Portrait of Olga Bautista

Olga Bautista

Candidate for City Council, 10th Ward

Olga Bautista

Candidate for City Council, 10th Ward

Portrait of Olga Bautista

Education: Bowen High School, Olive Harvey College

Occupation: Community Organizer

Home: Chicago

Age: Not answered

Past Political/Civic Experience: Not answered

Website: http://www.olgabautista.com


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 debt crisis arises from the de-industrialization of Chicago and the resulting destruction of the former manufacturing based economy. The dramatic transformation of Chicago from a city that once employed hundreds of thousands of production and production related workers to an increasingly high-tech, information based and speculative finance capital dominated economy which has decimated the tax base and led to massive public debt. With it has come widespread deepening poverty and endangerment of unfunded public obligations of all kinds. "Scoop and toss" is about deepening that debt, enriching wealthy bondholders and "justifying" the kind of massive cuts to education, mental health, and the like. The City of Chicago needs to stop looting the public treasury to favor wealthy developers and banks. At all levels, corporate tax loopholes should be closed, TIF funding should be ended. As 10th Ward Alderman, I will press for the cancellation of public debt and compel the banks and developers who have for 20 years been the primary profit-making beneficiaries of the city's massive publicly-funded to pay down existing debt. Not only should there be NO FURTHER CUTS to education, pensions, public health or other necessary public services, but these services should be fully restored ad expanded. Massive development projects like Lakeside at the old U.S.Steel South Works site should not be publicly funded as its developers have so far refused to even discuss a Community Benefits Agreement. Lakeside, like so many other massive private developments, will not and cannot do anything but destroy the surrounding communities, build luxury housing that working class people cannot afford and will add no permanent, well-paid union scale jobs for people in my ward. The poverty rate, unemployment and environmental destruction in the 10th Ward and throughout Chicago's poorest neighborhoods: these will be my priorities as alderman, not the further enrichment of Chicago's "1%".


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.

Public employees have worked hard for their pensions and should not have to worry about losing them. The pension crisis arose from the same circumstances as the city's overall debt crisis and should be resolved in the same manner that the city's overall indebtedness should be resolved. The pension and overall debt crisis arises from the de-industrialization of Chicago and the resulting destruction of the former manufacturing based economy. The dramatic transformation of Chicago from a city that once employed hundreds of thousands of production and production related workers to an increasingly high-tech, information based and speculative finance capital dominated economy which has decimated the tax base and led to massive public debt. With it has come widespread deepening poverty and endangerment of unfunded public obligations of all kinds. "Scoop and toss" is about deepening that debt, enriching wealthy bondholders and "justifying" the kind of massive cuts to education, mental health, and the like. The City of Chicago needs to stop looting the public treasury to favor wealthy developers and banks. At all levels, corporate tax loopholes should be closed, TIF funding should be ended. As 10th Ward Alderman, I will press for the cancellation of public debt and compel the banks and developers who have for 20 years been the primary profit-making beneficiaries of the city's massive publicly-funded to pay down existing debt. Not only should there be NO FURTHER CUTS to education, pensions, public health or other necessary public services, but these services should be fully restored ad expanded. No pensions should be cut or lost.


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.

TIF should be eliminated altogether. Let these wealthy developers seek funding from the traditional sources rather than loot the public treasury. The banks have plenty of money to loan for these projects, very few of which will bring any permanent, well paying jobs to poor areas such as the 10th Ward. I oppose the $55 million allotment of TIF funds to Marriott or DePaul basketball. Thousands of people in Chicago don't have food to eat or money to pay rent.


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.

Most of the suggested ways to "heal" the city leave the basic underlying economic inequities in place and cannot do more than afford temporary band-aids at best. I am for the kind of systemic change and commitment to the immediate elimination of poverty NOW that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. advocated. He knew in 1968 --when 40 million people lived in poverty--that America had the resources to immediately eradicate hunger, substandard housing and unequal education. Now, 46 years later, we have 47 million in poverty and the nation's commitment to ending it is nonexistent.


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.

Keep the office of legislative inspector general. Elected officials should be held accountable.


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 and fully funded as discussed above.We need equal, quality education for all, not corporate dominated charter schools.


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?

Get rid of petcoke and petcoke pollution from Koch Brothers-owned KCBX..Who wants to build next to an industrial waste site? Develop the human resources in the 10th Ward --including thousands of unemployed but skilled tradespersons formerly employed in the shut down mills. Teach real skills to our youth and unemployed. The city should allocate funds to the community to attract business--it should not simply hand money over to Lakeside and other developers who won't even meet to discuss a Community Benefits Agreement.


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 would increase the minimum wage to $15 immediately.


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

Only if we take care of the necessities first.. We need hospitals, mental health centers, , , low cost affordable housing and schools first before fantasy museums.


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?

Public safety comes with jobs, economic opportunity, youth recreation and jobs, not from increased police presence. Public safety also comes from getting life and health-threatening pollution such as petcoke out of Chicago. What I've done in the 10th Ward is to help lead the fight to ban petcoke and join the community in an effort to get a Community Benefits Agreement from Lakeside.


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

No. It is ineffective and waste of money as the most recent figures have shown.


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

Only if it results in better representation for Chicagoans.


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

Banning petcoke; bringing in jobs and youth opportunities; eliminating poverty.


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

I spoke before 400,000 people in New York at the People's Climate March--but I'm actually a shy person!