Candidate for City Council, 25th Ward
Education: BA Physics, 2001 MA Physical Science, 2003 University of Chicago
Occupation: High School Science Teacher
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.
Tax the corporations and the wealthy. Large corporations, particularly those like Caterpillar, which pay no taxes, must be made to pay their share to ensure our society runs. Large incomes ought to be taxed. The LaSalle street trading firms ought to pay to support the city and public services – a city which allows them to reap handsome profits. The banks also use bond scams, like the one the Tribune reported on last month, to suck public money out of the city. Those bond agreements should be terminated immediately. All excess payments made by the school district or city must be paid back by the banks.
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 workers devoted their lives to their service. Their pension benefits are compensation they have already earned, and as such must be paid in full. Those who should pay are those that have it – the wealthy and rich corporations, surplus funds in the TIF accounts, or money that was defrauded from the public schools by the banks in the "toxic swaps" bond mess.
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.
I am 100% opposed to handing school money over to Marriott or other large corporations like Target. Private entities should not take our schools' money! All excess TIF funds must be immediately returned to our schools and other public services, which have dealt with austerity and cuts while corporations continue to get handouts.
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.
Real change will only come when the working class decides to fight for it -- to fight for money for public services, to fight for higher pay, to fight for more jobs, to fight for a just society.
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.
The inspector should be elected. Workers themselves should monitor how public money is spent.
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?
Chicago schools do not perform as well as they ought to because our schools are systematically starved for resources. This is particularly true of the neighborhood schools in the working class areas of the city. Emanuel had the Board paper over the district's financial crisis for the election year – and in so doing, he exacerbated the crisis for next year. The school closings have served to push working class black people out of the city, including a number of areas that have already gentrified or are rapidly gentrifying. The school closings have not saved the district money. The school board ought to be elected, that would provide a measure of democracy in a school district that is currently ruled as a dictatorship by the mayor. However, we should not be under the illusion that an elected school board would solve our problems – our schools need money, and electing board members would not automatically generate additional money. The longer school day and school year as it was implemented has been terrible for teachers and students. The school day was extended without providing the funding nor the staffing to fill that day out. That means teachers and other staff members are much more stressed out, and that stress radiates out to the students. CPS should not expand charter schools. CPS should fold all existing charter schools into the public school system, all charter school teachers should be folded into the CPS/CTU contract agreement, and all schools ought to have a Local School Council with full powers over the budget and principal hiring. CPS should close its funding gap by having the wealthy pay for the schools that Chicago students deserve. There are excellent schools in the Chicago area, including many CPS schools. Every student should have access to the kind of education available at the Lab School or New Trier – where much more money is spent per student.
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?
Working people need to fight for higher wages. I will join in and help those fights in any way possible. Higher wages would translate into workers having more money to spend, which would encourage small businesses, like restaurants and stores. I want the city to end privatization and to hire back city workers, teachers, custodians. The additional spending of these workers would again encourage spending and provide jobs within the ward and the city.
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 do not think it goes nearly far enough. It is only $10 next summer. And even $13 an hour is not nearly enough to support a family in Chicago – it is still a poverty wage. It is also not simply a question of a higher minimum wage. The working class needs to fight to get higher wages and benefits – a higher standard of living. The Democrats here will not lead such a fight – it will only come from the working class itself.
Q: Should the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art be built at the proposed location on Chicago's lakefront? Please explain.
No. I don't think the museum should get lakefront space – sharing space with serious educational institutions like the Aquarium, the Planetarium and the Field Museum. I am fine with it being in the City.
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?
We need to take on the problem of entrenched poverty within the city. We will only begin to address these issues in a real way when good-paying jobs are available to our youth.
Q: Do you support Chicago's traffic light camera program? Please explain.
I am against the way the City has played with the timing of the lights in order to generate revenue. I am also opposed to the way the contract was handed out to politically connected vendors. I am not against a traffic light program in principle, but I am against the way it was implemented here.
Q: Should Chicago reduce the number of aldermen in the City Council?
No. More aldermen could mean better representation for people in the neighborhoods.
Q: What is your highest priority for improving your ward? What is the greatest concern you hear from residents of your ward?
Residents of the 25th ward want higher pay, more jobs, better schools, better city services, and an environment that is not polluted.
Q: Please tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.
I play trombone.