Updated: January 20, 2011 4:28PM
Birth date: 06-23-1970
Political affiliation: Democrat
Occupation/Firm name: Alderman
Marital status: MArried
Campaign HQ address: 2160 N. AShland Ave 60647
Campaign website: www.scottforchicago.com
What is your campaign budget?
What are your top priorities for the City of Chicago?
Fixing the city budget, including TIF reform, in order to then fix the lack of police and crime issue, city services and infrastructure and education issues. Until we get our finances in order, we cannot adequately address many of our other issues.
What are your top priorities for your ward?
Working with my schools and communities to regenerate our schools. Continuing to work with four police district officers to maintain safe neighborhoods. Building on our infrastructure and city services.
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?
Very few people listened to pleas to stop the parking meter deal before it became a 75 year nightmare. Using one time assets as a stop gap measure for horrid budgeting was doomed to failure.
So no, I do not support the Mayor Daley method of budgeting.
There must be cuts at managerial levels in many departments, including aviation and water. More front line workers to do the infrastructure work we need done should be better supervised. Cuts on non-essentials throughout the city can be made. Festivals could be scaled back and either partial waivers or a means tested waiver program for all festivals should be implemented, and that may include charging a small fee for major festivals.
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?
I would like to hear an actual plan from the administration, but short of that ever happening, we need to direct a revenue stream today to the pension funds, reform and tighten the methods by which anyone can be allowed to dip into pension funds, including removing those who have committed lapses of fiduciary duty from the boards. We are also going to be forced to raise property taxes, despite the sham claim that taxes have never been raised (I believe that TIFs merely redirect the tax levies and taxes have risen) in order to pay for the bulk of the unfunded liabilities. Hiding our heads in the sand is no longer an option.
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?
Until the city council operates as a legislative body free from the need to direct snowplow and sweeping traffic, clean sewers, and handle many of the day to day operations of government, we can use fifty. The city council could do without its own legislative IG, as I voted against. Perhaps combine Health with Human Relations or with Special Events and Transportation with Traffic Control. It also depends on the needs of the day. There are times when special subcommittees are necessary, i.e. times of disaster. Also, we do need to spend money on a separate independent budget office (off the city council books but on the city dime).
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?
I have introduced oversight and transparency measures for the past few years that open the door for strong minded council members to become more of a balanced body with the executive. I think being free (even for a fleeting moment) of the bonds of a machine mayor will be helpful, at times you can see the want to be free. I think the Mayor can be a strong voice for regional and global economic trade and cooperation, and on building the city infrastructure evenly. Also as a strong voice for education and anti-crime, but that has been diminished as of late so a stronger council voice must be heard.
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?
Yes, for the past three years I have been learning more about TIFS and how they affect the entire city tax base, especially schools. I have advocated for reform of TIFS from the state level down through the local level. My TIF Transparency Ordinance which passed unanimously on the heels of the Republic Windows fiasco, was the first opportunity for the taxpaying public to get more complete TIF information available online. We have a long way to go to return the TIFs to the main tax levies. I support a winding down of many TIFS and a stricter set of guidelines needs to be implemented immediately. My ward32.org website has a list of TIF reform measures we could take to help on this issue.
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?
My Asset Lease taxpayer Protection Ordinance is about the only thing on the table at the moment that would slow down the push to privatize more of the city's assets. Until there is a reliable, semi-trustworthy, transparent process in place, I would not trust any deal on the table. Anything else is just the parking meters. At the moment, festivals are on the table and a last minute 82 question addendum was made to the RFP ten days before the final decision. This is a ridiculous way to run the third largest city in the U.S. The push to privatize Midway has also been less than forthcoming unless you are constantly watching the FAA website for letters from Chicago.
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?
I support moving officers out of admin positions, cutting back on non-essential equipment and redirecting it to new cars/trucks, reducing CAPS where it's not needed and restaffing officers to beat duty. Realign the beats this year and try it, if it doesn't work try it a different way until it does.
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?
We need a CEO who has an education background of some sort. I think REN 2010 has had successes and many failures. It needs to be shelved and a new set of goals to rebuild the education system is required. If there is funding for the few students in the culture of calm program it might be ok to keep for another year to see what the results are. I am working with all 32nd ward schools and borderline ones to improve their ability to help kids. We meet with all principals regularly to talk about best practices and we meet with parents and families to discuss all sorts of issues from their environment in and out of school to infrastructure needs, to curriculum needs. I am also working with neighboring aldermen on rebuilding Lakeview High School to provide more opportunities for kids not making it to the test-based or other schools.
Do you support one or more casinos for Chicago? If so, where would you like to see casinos located?
I'm not thrilled about a casino and no one has provided solid financials on a casino concept. The numbers just won't save the city from its own ineptness at budgeting. However, I will look at any proposal that is offered and consider reasonable ideas.
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?
My first election in 2007 was largely about the role the former alderman played, along with many others, in the hyper development of the ward and subsequent over saturation of the housing market. I immediately put in place simple but strict guidelines on zoning and development and we brought sanity to a process that was corrupt and out of control. Since then, ward residents see open and transparent processes, and the playing field is even for all builders and residents. If we represent them correctly, then the influence is helpful.
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?
The position has to be your singular focus, so no to the outside job that requires one to set competing day time hours. If someone does work that does not entail draining hours from aldermanic duties, i.e. editing or working late hours, then I think it is fine. I have not had any conflict of interest position and will not.
Would you accept campaign contributions or gifts from your employees? Would you pledge not to hire relatives on your staff?
No to any staff contributions. Yes, no relatives hires.
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?
I submitted the ordinance to have council oversight. Until an administration can prove that it can operate the city without committing so many mistakes in contract administration and loss of millions of taxpayers dollars then we need oversight.
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?
NO to the city Council IG. Yes, already signed an ordinance. I am comfortable with oversight by the US Attorney.
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?
With the type of lobbying and consultancy we've seen, I would suggest a short term ban for aldermen and city officials.
What's the best book ever written about Chicago? Why?
Please list your educational background
Colorado State University, BA 1993
Chicago Kent College of Law, IIT 2000
Please list civic, professional, fraternal or other organizations to which you belong
CAPCA- Chicago Area Peace Corps Association, CAPCA.org
St. Hedwig Church in Bucktown
Chicago Council on Global Affairs
Building America's Future
Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?
None other than Alderman
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
Craig W. Norris -14000
SEIU Illinois Council PAC Fund 3000
Sydney T. Wright Jr. -16000
Henry Perritt 3000
Robert Kotecki 4550
Please paste a brief biography here