1. 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?
Is any excessive spending ever justified? My reply would be simply this, Chicago historically has been known for some of its more questionable deals, my favorite was a parking meter contract that extended long beyond the life span of anyone elected, and by the time the contract matured everyone who signed it would be old and gray.
**Without detailed reports, my most intellectual response would be yes. Maintaining operations, even if it means pulling from one account, transferring monies into another to cover a shortfall is a great idea, if it can balance out in the long term, otherwise it just creates debt on top of debt, the goal is to reduce debt, not recycle debt.
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.
** Reply: I am not a big fan of taxation, I feel there or other options or means to generate income without having to pass cost in the form of a tax. At the same time I know it is critical to maintain proper and critical public services, at first glance I would look to cutting cost in other manners before taxing, however if after all options are exhausted, if the only feasible means to generate revenues comes in the form of a tax I would ask that it would be applied and implemented in stages gradually to avoid causing stress and burden on the voters.
I support TIF’s;
I do not support property tax levy;
I do not support broadening sales taxes;
I do not support instituting a city income tax;
I do support sales tax on large scale financial institutions;
- 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?
*** Reply: Yes, if increasing or creating new streams of revenue are needed to fund the pension program I am in favor. I think it is appalling for a person to work their entire life to secure a cushion for their retirement to find that it is not in risk after laboring a career to secure a cushioned retirement. I have several family and friend who have had their pensions reduced drastically and the impact it had overall was devastating. YES! I am in support of creating new revenues to fund the pension. One of the methods would be to attract more business and small business development to the city, while seeking alternative revenue generating sources with investors and economic development.
Please be specific about pension changes, spending cuts or revenue increases you would support.
**A clear pension funding policy is important because it would, outlines a plan to fund pensions; offers guidance in making annual budget decisions; exercises strict financial management practices; Reaffirms bond rating agencies; and shows employees and the public how pensions will be funded.
As your elected Alderman I would look at cutting spending in areas that can share cost, rolling funds from one program to another where it can be accommodated, in addition to that I would look to maintain proper operations of much needed services, without compromising public services.
- What changes should be made in the city’s use of tax increment financing?
** To help local companies expand and create employment opportunities for Chicago residents. I would like to see more improvements in the under developing areas. I would like to see more or the industrial and manufacturing sites that once used to house thousands of employees rebuilding and recreating jobs in the communities that need the upgrades the most, invest more into building jobs and employment opportunities.
Would you support expansion or extension of TIF districts in your ward?
**Yes, in the 7th Ward we have ample areas and zones that are under developed and in need of improvement, capitalizing on the space we have for expansion and growth.
How should excess TIF funds be spent?
** Excessive funds should go into the specially designated areas that are upgrading, building up or developing for the purpose of creating jobs, better housing and economic development.
Do you support the $55 million allotment of TIF funds to buy land for a Marriott Hotel and DePaul basketball arena? Please explain.
**From what I have studied, a great deal of the funding came from private sources, initially I assumed the funding was passed on from the tax payers, however I have learned that 75% or better of the funding came from private investors and such, seeking to build up and improve Chicago. When the funding is private you cannot really argue on the use of the funds, as long as the cost is not passed on to the residents for special interest groups.
- 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.
AGENDA: REBUILDING THE 7TH WARD BRICK BY BRICK
* Employment opportunities for “high risk” constituents who need job placement services.
* Educational programs and mentoring services to deter our youth from street violence, offering after school programs, tutoring services, sports and job training.
* Economic development and growth for the 7th Ward, seeking retail and manufacturing contracts, that wish to build and develop in the 7th Ward.
* Improved community services management, by extending services for our seniors, disabled including and not limited to access to food pantries, and transportation.
* Restoration much needed programs for the mentally ill, severely challenged, and displaced residents of the 7th Ward.
* Working in conjunction with local police and authorities to manage crime and violence.
- Should the City Council keep or abolish the office of legislative inspector general?
**The city should keep the office of inspector general, as long as that office operates with integrity and honesty, there should always be a reporting agency or entity where a complaint can be filed about the conduct, activity and/or integrity of any official holding an elected office.
Should the city inspector general be given the authority to investigate aldermen and their staff members?
** Yes, given the history of activity, the track record of Alderman who have been caught in questionable activity and misuse or abuse of power and authority, this office deserves the respect of their role in policing elected City Officials. If you are performing your task with honesty, integrity and resect then you should not fear an inquiry into the details of your operations and or the integrity of the elected official and/or their staff.
Do you have other ideas to improve government ethics in Chicago? An open door review and grievance procedure for those who have filed an inquiry that may have been ignored and/or forgotten.
- 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.
** The majority of the schools that were closed were poor and underperforming schools, where they were building to house children who were in need of safe havens versus educational facilities. I have seen reports where reading, writing and math stats are coming back at a 32% improvement over in 2012 when Rahm took office. I am not a real Rahm fan, but I can understand his rationality when it came to closing those schools. Many of them had high drop out and failure rates and most of them had a higher dropout rate, the attendance rate. I am impressed with the current progress.
What is the key to improving public education in the city?
**Skilled, certified, experienced, trained and professional instructors who are not only qualified for the task, but enjoy what they do. Highlighting skilled and certified, not a teachers aid who got promoted because he/she was the only one willing to stand in that day.
Should members of the Board of Education be elected by the public or continue to be appointed by the mayor?
**Yes, it helps govern properly with accountability falling on the shoulders of the leader vs the people who are generally not qualified to make sound decisions without prejudice.
Do you support the longer school day and year?
**Yes offering more after school, mentoring, tutoring and alternative programs, if the children are in a safe place, violence decreases and fewer children are involved in mischief. As a child I was in basketball, sports, dance, ROTC (Drill Team) and other social activities, by the time I got home I did not want to watch TV I wanted to eat dinner and go to bed, we need more educational and social skills developing activities.
Should CPS expand or reduce the number of charter schools?
**Charter schools offer restrictions, however I support voucher programs where parents can sent their children to schools. My daughter attended a Charter School here in Chicago, and honestly I could not see the difference. Maybe it was isolated to that one institution for learning.
How should CPS close its significant budget gap?
**The start was closing the under developing schools I would avoid cutting services; at the same time we are suggesting extending the school day which would in turn increase cost. I would start with cutting cost and spending, offering alternatives to staffing, such as job sharing, reducing the full time to part time employees, and possibly recycling cost when possible.
- How would you attract more employers to your ward?
**Glad you asked! I would first advertise and highlight the reopening of Hwy 41, the 7th Ward is a gateway to Indiana. As Alderman, I would highlight all of the industrial and unimproved lots in my Ward. I would focus on the location and opportunity for growth along the only Ward that offers our beautiful views leading to the downtown area. Focusing on the prime real estate potential and opportunities commercial and residential.
How would you encourage employers to hire local residents?
**As Alderman I would highlight the resourcefulness of having local employment, offering the areas brightest and best trained professionals from the 7th Ward. My plan is to attract small businesses who look for fresh and prime real estate in an area that is greatly in need of rebuilding, and development. My personal desire is to attract more college students, young professionals and college students.
What have you done to promote economic development in your ward?
**Recruitment or seeking of investors and developers who wish to build in the 7th Ward. Contacting investors who are seeking commercial and residential properties to invest in. Going outside the 7th Ward seeking investors who look to open remote locations in the 7th Ward.
- Do you support or oppose the City Council vote to increase the minimum wage in several steps to $13 an hour by 2019?
** I support the increase in minimum wage, in one of the most expensive cities to live in, it was time for a wage increase. Cost of living has increased, so should the wages to reflect a fair living wage. It was long overdue. Many of the workers are college students, single parents trying to pay their way thru school, or those who do not have the resources to seek opportunities that would pay a better wage, this increase will restore integrity to the work force in Illinois.
- Should the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art be built at the proposed location on Chicago’s lakefront? Please explain.
** Yes, and I am so excited. I think it will be a great global attraction. Having an Asian developer who designed it, I can only imagine what will be revealed. A new tourist attraction that will generate millions upon billions of dollars for the city. It will also offer a compliment to out Museum Park making it more attractive to our tourist who travel here from around the world. Pizza and the Lucas Museum.
- How can the city improve public safety?
**Local camera monitoring in high crime areas, with remote cameras that actually work, the problem with most of these areas is the criminals know they are not being monitored, thus making them ineffective. Reducing minor offense arrest, issuing tickets vs arrest for petty crimes. Rotation of officers between patrols and duties, not being so predictable, once a officer gets comfortable in an area he/she tends to slack off from their relegating duties, and offering point positions for high crime areas, targeting specially on the trouble makers. I also want to push for mandatory cameras on every officer on duty, on the vehicle and on the person of every officer, not to be turned on until the start of a beat and not to be turned off until the end of said beat.
Please address the role and performance of the Chicago Police Department and the role of neighborhood residents in crime prevention.
**We have to rebuild trust in the community. Right now the community and the force(s) are all on edge, there is not much the officers can so as there is a serious distrust with police nationwide. Stay active and visible when needed, however I must say in the 7th Ward and I am bragging I have one of the best forces working with me, we work together as a unit to raise our kids.
What have you done to improve public safety in your community?
**I personally offer mentoring programs, out of the community activities, I provide resources and information regarding employment and educational opportunities. For example right now my campaign blog list over 60+ jobs and resources to help direct a person who may be lost or in need of guidance and direction.
- Do you support Chicago’s traffic light camera program?
**Yes, they are positioned in areas with high crash statics, accidents, a d such, they are placed here to make aware those who are speeding that they are doing such, and the only people who get mad are those who get caught. That was the purpose of placing them there, this is also a great way to generate income and revenues. Monies collected should be allocated to the Ward it was collected for, to be applied to local improvements and schools.
- Should Chicago reduce the number of aldermen in the City Council?
**No, this is a big city! Hey wait is this a trick question? Seriously, no I think it has just the number we need, now can we elect and place in these seats people who have a passion for people not politics as usual.
- What is your highest priority for improving your ward?
**Reduction of Crime
**Jobs and reduction of unemployed
**Programs for our youth, proper intervention and alternative programs.
What is the greatest concern you hear from residents of your ward?
**Lack of leadership, desire to have someone who cares and hears the people.
- Please tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.
**I miss Derek Lee and wish the CUBS would bring him back, oh yes and Brian C. took some great photos of me during the Jackie Robinson games in State Street. It even pulled in a great article in the Trib, and that is not an attempt to gather support and or favor! And if you see Michael Jordan tell him he is buying dinner we used to be buddies.