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Alderman, 45th Ward: John Garrido

John Garrido

John Garrido

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Updated: January 20, 2011 4:28PM

Birth date: 11-18-1967

Political affiliation: Non-Partison

Neighborhood: Gladstone Park

Occupation/Firm name: Chicago Police Lieutenant/ Northwest Legal Services- Partner

Marital status: Married

Campaign HQ address: 5953 N. Elston Ave.

Campaign website:

What is your campaign budget?


What are your top priorities for the City of Chicago?

Public Safety- Our police resources are being depleted month after month as the department fails to replace officers who retire. This is dangerous for the citizens of Chicago and the officers who work to protect those citizens. Less officers means slower response times and a diminished presence on the street. I will fight to replenish our police manpower by hiring more officers and ensuring our officers are deployed properly throughout the city.

Our city government needs to be reigned in; I will support more aggressive crackdowns on political corruption. We should start by giving the City's inspector general the power to investigate aldermen and their staffs; including subpoena power.

I want to help eliminate the wasteful spending that has created the budget crisis that currently exists; that includes the elimination of useless patronage jobs and the reduction of the number of Aldermen on the City Council.

We also need to create an environment where small businesses can prosper; eliminating the "head tax" is a step in the right direction.

What are your top priorities for your ward?

While public safety and economic development are at the top of the list, our community lacks interaction and input when it comes to our elected officials. Like no other Alderman in the city, I will keep our Ward informed and involved. We will work together to bring in small businesses that will generate revenue and create jobs; we will work together to increase public safety and reduce over crowding in our schools. Citizens will know and have input as to how we spend money allocated to the Ward; residents will know exactly how our money is spent within 48hrs online. Transparency will be more than a buzz word for our office. I will not be an alderman who is only seen by the ward residents at election time!

The city is in serious financial trouble and can't afford the level of service it currently provides. For 2011, Mayor Daley, with City Council backing, balanced the budget without raising taxes or fees, relying instead on some cost-saving measures and one-time fixes, including using proceeds from leasing the city's parking meters. Do you support this approach? What should be done differently going forward?

Please be specific about your plans to reshape government: what services and departments would you scale back or cut? Can you identify new revenue sources? How can the City reduce personnel costs? What kind of concessions should the City seek from the unions?

A step in the right direction toward managing our budget is to eliminate wasteful spending and merge some of our duplicative offices and retire our TIF program until it is properly reformed. The city should NOT raise taxes; that must always be an absolute last resort. Once our elected officials can honestly say they have cut and slashed spending to the bare minimum and eliminated useless patronage jobs, then and only then can we even remotely consider a tax increase; and that has not happened yet.

One example of wasteful spending is the Chicago Police position of District Manager, since 1993 the city created and has been paying individuals to basically order paper and office supplies; they get $82,000 per year and there are 25 of them. I've raised this issue several times over the past year. Finally, that position has been eliminated from the 2011 budget.

There are dozens of useless upper management positions on the Chicago Police Department that can be eliminated and I'm sure a review of our budget would reveal hundreds in all departments; we need to eliminate the fat at the top first. We need to go line by line and identify the job description; the necessity of the job and then determine if the person doing the job is even qualified to be doing it.

Our elected officials have been irresponsible and now we have to deal with their mess. Only if all wasteful spending and patronage hiring is eliminated and there is still a chance of insolvency, should we look at further employee (union) sacrifices. The landscape of Chicago's city government will change and this is our chance to usher in a new era of transparency and fiscal responsibility. When starting from scratch, everything is new and requires hands-on attention to detail. This is a time for fresh ideas and a clean, honest approach to representing our residents. I will start by listening to our residents and the ideas that will come from our new mayor and aldermen. I will form coalitions and begin the process of growing a reform team that can work together to bring about real change. It is my hope that by working with like-minded alderman, we can end the culture of corruption and patronage that has plagued Chicago government for well over a century.

We should also consider merging the Chicago offices of Comptroller (department of finance) and Treasurer; similar to the idea proposed by Dan Rutherford and Judy Baar-Topinka at the State level.

The city's four employee pension funds have been called a "ticking time bomb," with Mayor Daley's pension commission predicting that the four funds will run out of money in 20 years. "There is no low- or no-cost solution to this problem," the commission wrote in a report earlier this year. "Deferring action is not a viable option." What is your plan for bringing the pension funds to solvency?

One of the main reasons the pensions are underfunded is because the City stopped paying their share. The Chicago Police Fund was actually in decent shape as recently as ten years ago. Once again, the city needs to clean house before going to the front line employees and asking them to make sacrifices. That may be a necessity down the road, but not until the City, County and State eliminates wasteful spending. There may be no need to require higher contributions, higher retirement ages or reduced benefits for employees.

Does Chicago need 50 aldermen? If not, what's a better number? What City Council committees could be combined? What other ways can the City Council save money?

I believe we should not do more with less when it comes to public safety, but I strongly believe we can do more with less Aldermen. Now is the perfect opportunity to institute real change in our city government. At one time you needed to call your alderman to get a garbage can; now you just call 311.

With the census complete, our elected officials will set out to draw new Ward boundaries. Now is a great time to strongly consider and have hearings on reducing the number of Wards to 25 instead of 50. The city of Chicago is currently divided into 25 police districts. If a single police commander can be responsible for the safety of all the residents within a police district, I think one alderman per police district can manage accordingly.

Chicago was designed as a weak mayor, strong council form of government yet Mayor Daley wields considerable power over the City Council. What measures would you recommend to strengthen the council? On which issues should the mayor lead? On which should the council lead?

The best way to strengthen the City Council is to vote out the incumbents; those who have been nothing more than a rubber stamp for the mayor; those who stood by and allowed us to slide into the financial mess we now have to deal with; those who voted for the sale of our most valuable city assets (like the parking meters); those who ignored corruption and allowed the depletion of our police and fire departments.

I don't think the Mayor of Chicago needs to be weak, however, he cannot be allowed to wield absolute power as Mayor Daley has in the past. The Mayor should represent the very best of Chicago, the City's number one fan, champion, ambassador and promoter. The buck ultimately stops with the Mayor. He should be the "first among equals" with the City Council. The Alderman must represent their constituents in their Wards. A strong City Council should know how and where the money is being spent. Aldermen must proactively engage the Mayor to retain a system of checks and balances and to keep Chicago moving forward and thriving.

The city's tax-increment financing program has been criticized on several fronts, including the proliferation of districts, how money is diverted from schools and other basic city services, how TIF funding decisions are made and for an overall lack of transparency. How would you improve the TIF program? Does the TIF law need to be changed in any way?

TIFs are a good idea in theory, but not in reality under the control of Chicago politicians. Our TIF program should be suspended until we are able to institute real reform. All the money currently sitting in TIF accounts should be returned to the taxing agencies they were diverted from. ie over half a billion dollars back to Chicago Public Schools and over $200 million to the city's general fund to help hire more police officers.

Mayor Daley has focused on privatizing city assets. Are there any other assets the City Council should consider privatizing? If so, would you make any changes to the way privatization deals are negotiated and passed through the City Council?

I am opposed to the privatization of anymore of our city assets; like Midway airport. The parking meter fiasco is a perfect example of why it's a bad idea. The city was earning about $25 million a year when it controlled the parking meters; now a private company is earning $73 million. We gave it way cheap when we could have properly managed it ourselves to our own benefit.

The Chicago Police Department is understaffed, with no lasting budget solution in sight. Given the current staffing levels, what changes would you recommend to use resources more efficiently? Do you support realigning beats in a way that moves police from lower crime areas to higher crime neighborhoods? What should happen to the diminished CAPS program?

Once again, we cannot do more with less when it comes to public safety. An audit of TIF funds city-wide at the end of 2009 revealed more than $1.2 billion dollars sitting idly in these funds. 20% of that money was diverted away from the city's general fund; that's over $200 million dollars that could have been used to hire more officers.

We need to hire at least 1,000 officers and get them on the street as soon as possible. Under the current process, new hires spend 6 months in the academy before they go out to the districts to work with Field Training Officers; it may be fall of 2011 before we see any new officers hit the street. In order to expedite the hiring process and bring experienced officers into the Chicago Police Department, I propose we begin hiring experienced officers from other municipal police departments who just recently applied and took the Chicago Police test. These are officers who have already been trained in a police academy; many of them in our own Chicago Police Academy.

Under this "lateral transfer" plan, municipal officers who just took the CPD test; with at least two (2) years as sworn law enforcement experience who pass a review process (ie complimentary and disciplinary histories from their department) would immediately be hired as probationary police officers.

They would then be placed into an accelerated academy class to familiarize them with Chicago specific ordinances and police procedures. Thus, by reducing the redundant training of a certified Illinois Peace Officer, we could have experienced officers on the street in 1/6 the time it takes to train a new officer and at a substantial savings to taxpayers.

I would also extend the military age exception to these law enforcement candidates. It makes no sense that a 21 year old from the military can join our department, but an officer with several years of police experience must wait until he/she turns 25.

While CAPS is an important program, any consideration for expansion will have to wait until we replenish our officers on the street.

The next mayor will choose a new CEO for the Chicago Public Schools. Do you think the CEO needs to have education experience? Should the new mayor continue the Renaissance 2010 program of shutting down failing schools and creating new ones? Should the new mayor continue Ron Huberman's "culture of calm" effort, which aims to improve the culture of the toughest schools and provides mentors and extra support for kids at greatest risk of being shot? What should CPS do to improve neighborhood schools that are struggling to educate the large numbers of students left behind, the students that don't make it into test-based, charters or other specialized schools?

The chief executive and board of the Chicago Public Schools should be only recommended by the Mayor and approved by the City Council. It makes sense to me that the CEO has education experience; but all candidates should be considered. Hearings can then determine if the recommended persons are qualified.

In regard to the Renaissance 2010 plan; I need to learn more about it. Initial research appears to reveal there really hasn't been any SIGNIFICANT improvement under the plan. For my ward, I will create an educational committee that includes parents, teachers and administrators to come up with was that I can help improve the schools in my ward; hopefully we can come up with something that can spread throughout the city.

Do you support one or more casinos for Chicago? If so, where would you like to see casinos located?

I believe Chicago should retain its ban on video gambling; I don't believe it's good for our neighborhoods. I do support a land based casino either downtown or at Navy Pier; I think it will bring in much needed revenue, jobs and tourism.

Aldermen have considerable influence over TIF, zoning and other decisions, both large and small, related to development and services in their ward. Do aldermen have too much influence?

The question might be; why do we need an alderman if he doesn't have considerable influence over TIF, zoning and other decisions in the Ward? I think it depends on the individual alderman. If the voters elect an alderman who does the job he is elected to do, there shouldn't be a problem.

If elected alderman, do you plan to maintain an outside job? Would you pledge not to hold any job that represents a conflict of interest, including those that involve spending public dollars?

I will be a full-time alderman and pledge not to hold any job that represents a conflict of interest, including those that involve spending public dollars.

Would you accept campaign contributions or gifts from your employees? Would you pledge not to hire relatives on your staff?

I will not accept campaign contributions or gifts from my employees and I have no problem pledging not to hire relatives on my staff.

Does the City need to change the way it hands out contracts? Should aldermen reclaim oversight of City contracts? If so, contracts above what dollar amount?

Yes the City does need to change the way it hands out contracts.

I like the idea proposed by Ald. Scott Waguespack; the procurement review ordinance. Although, I think the dollar amount should be lower than $500,000.00; more like $100,000.00.

Do you support an inspector general just for the City Council? Would you support giving the city's existing inspector general power to investigate aldermen and their staffs, including subpoena power?

We already have an inspector general, so I don't see a need for creating another office with additional salaries. That said, the existing inspector should be given the power to investigate aldermen and their staffs; including subpoena power.

Should there be new limits on who can lobby City Hall officials, including aldermen? Should former City Hall employees be prohibited from doing business with the city after their departure? If so, for how long?

Yes there should be limits on who can lobby City Hall officials. It's become a revolving door and sets the stage for corruption. City Hall employees should be prohibited from doing business with the city for at least 4 years after their departure.

What's the best book ever written about Chicago? Why?

I've only read one book specifically about Chicago; The Jungle. I can't say it's the "best" book ever written about Chicago, but it is a good one. Now that you've brought it up, I'm asking for two books for Christmas; The Boss and Devil in the White City.

I'll have to get back to you on this one.

Please list your educational background

Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Law from Lewis University in 2001.

Law Degree from The John Marshall Law School in 2006

Please list civic, professional, fraternal or other organizations to which you belong

FOP, PBPA, The Emerald Society, The Italian American Police Association, The Alliance of Hispanic Law Enforcement, The Polish American Police Association, The Portage Park Neighborhood Association, The Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association, Isaac Cutter Lodge, No. 1073, St. Tars Holy Name, P.A.W.S. Chicago,

Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?

Other than being a Chicago Police Lieutenant, no.

Please list jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government


Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed

Family and friends

Please paste a brief biography here

John Garrido was born on November 18th, 1967 in Chicago to Cheryl Bridgette Lynn and John Anthony Garrido. He lived in Chicago until mov￯﾿ᄑing to Hanover Park at the age of 12. John grad￯﾿ᄑu￯﾿ᄑated from Streamwood High School in 1985.

John and his wife of 13 years, Ania Bielicka-??Garrido, have lived in the 45th Ward for over 8 years and they have two dogs; Trixie and Bucheron (Bush).

John joined the Chicago Police Department in 1991. For over 19 years, John has worked hard to serve the cit￯﾿ᄑi￯﾿ᄑzens of Chicago. Working on the Westside of Chicago for most of his career, John has seen first￯﾿ᄑhand the effects of drugs and vio￯﾿ᄑlence on a com￯﾿ᄑmu￯﾿ᄑnity. John has worked as a patrol￯﾿ᄑman; an under￯﾿ᄑcover nar￯﾿ᄑcotic buy offi￯﾿ᄑcer; a vio￯﾿ᄑlent crimes detec￯﾿ᄑtive; a homi￯﾿ᄑcide sergeant and cur￯﾿ᄑrently works as a lieutenant.

After join￯﾿ᄑing the police depart￯﾿ᄑment with only a high school edu￯﾿ᄑca￯﾿ᄑtion, John went back to school part-??time to get his bachelor's degree from Lewis University in 2001 and then his J.D. from The John Marshall Law School in 2006. John was admit￯﾿ᄑted to the Bar later in 2006. In addi￯﾿ᄑtion to his work as a police offi￯﾿ᄑcer, John is a prac￯﾿ᄑtic￯﾿ᄑing attor￯﾿ᄑney with Northwest Legal Service, LLP (5953 N. Elston Ave.) that he and his police depart￯﾿ᄑment part￯﾿ᄑner estab￯﾿ᄑlished in August of 2006.

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