Mayor: Carol Moseley Braun
Jan 11, 2011
Updated: February 7, 2011 6:58AM
Birth date: 08-16-1947
Political affiliation: Democratic
Occupation/Firm name: Businesswoman, Good Food Organics
Marital status: No response
Campaign HQ address: 408 East 35th Street
Campaign website: http://www.CarolForChicago.com
What is your campaign budget?
What are your top priorities for the City of Chicago?
Job creation Public safety Quality public education Ensuring open government Protecting retirement security
The city is in serious financial trouble and can't afford the level of service it currently provides. For 2011, Mayor Daley 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. What would you do differently as mayor?
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 would you reduce personnel costs? What kind of concessions might you seek from city unions?
I support balanced budgets and was a Senate sponsor of the Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment. Chicago's budget deficit is estimated to be more than $600 million. A mix of cost savings and efficiencies, along with improved growth should allow the City to live within its means without raising taxes or cutting essential city services, as follows;
a) With the ending of the recession, some city revenues can organically increase. Projected economic growth for 2011-2012 at 3%: $200M revenue;
b) Technology implementation across departments to increase efficiencies such as enterprise content management: $100M savings;
c) Redeployment of sworn police personnel from administrative to law enforcement activities,: $2M savings;
d) Discontinuing the condo rebate program: $6M savings;
e) Review service subsidies (such as water, sewer and filing fee exemptions) for not-for-profit entities and commercial area development contracts $20.5M savings;
f) Consolidate the TB clinic with other public health programs: $1.5M savings;
g) Reform workforce development to more efficiently provide job training programs:
h) Rationalize the property tax relief program; $2.1M savings;
i) Greater transparency and vigilance against fraud: $50M savings;
j) Enforcement of charges for abandoned / neglected property: $10M revenue;
k) If Illinois raises the income tax by 1% the city receives its local share of 10%: $140M revenue;
l) A moratorium on TIF impact to the operating budget: $100M revenue;
m) Implementing the same worker-management ratio of workers of 14:1 as is standard in the private sector: $80M savings;
n) Utilize green technology for housing preservation: priceless
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?
On a related note, Mayor Daley railed against a bill that passed in Springfield that created a two-tier pension system for police and fire, saying a provision that requires a steep ramp up in what Chicago contributes to the pension funds will force a massive property tax increase. What do you think of this legislation? Should it be amended?
These questions go to the heart of the problem and will be the subject of negotiations among the city and various stakeholders. Unfunded pension liabilities are not yet a reason for pension panic, but there are serious issues that must be addressed in a timely fashion. Pension plans represent promises made to employees which should not only be kept but by law must be. I do not embrace giving the next generation of city workers less than the current compact with our workers. As we address present day budget obligations, we should be mindful of the need to increase contributions by the city and to seek better returns on our pension fund investments. At present the $1.1 billion fire pension fund, the $1.3 billion labor fund, the $5.2 billion municipal fund and the $3.3 billion police fund earn returns of between 6-7% while the S&P average for managed funds is between 8-10%. In any event, the demographic "bubble" of retiring baby boomers will soon be replaced by a "bust" of Gen-X'ers, and that will provide some relief from the pressure of the funds' unfunded liabilities. Finally, a collaboration between the City Council and the city's unions to address instances of abuse of the plans will effect some savings; instances of double and triple pension payments must not be allowed.
I think Mayor Daley is correct that the ramp-up provision in the state bill puts enormous financial pressure on the city.The State should look to its own unfunded pension liabilities before mandating the city in this field. We should voluntarily increase contributions as feasible, but not under state legislative dictates.
What is your plan for bringing more jobs to the City of Chicago? The unemployment rate is particularly high among people with limited education. What can be done to stimulate job creation for that group?
Out of the rubble of the current recession, Chicago will have to collaborate with the state and national government, as well as the private sector to leverage the capacity of the assets we already have: human capital, infrastructure, innovation, and the quality of life here. Sustainable 21st Century economic development requires that government promote and encourage high growth businesses which will create more high value jobs. As Mayor, I will pursue economic development efforts targeted on innovation, entrepreneurship, workforce development and globalization. We need to provide entrepreneurs with the resources needed to create new companies and expand their existing businesses. We can do this by linking our extraordinary academic resources with those businesses, linking existing companies and manufacturers with new technology, facilitating new ventures' access to capital, and preparing and educating our workforce to compete in a global economy. We have to have a regulatory environment which recognizes the fast paced world of commerce, and that is transparent, creative and responsive to business development. A "Chicago Connect" model which links new businesses with the panoply of resources needed to grow can dramatically impact innovation entrepreneurship. We should "cut the red tape and roll out the red carpet" to inspire job creation that reaches into the neighborhoods.
As an example, our restrictions on street vendors often end up in practice as a prohibition. Our restrictions on home-based businesses have the same chilling effect. These initiatives in particular would benefit people with limited education. The best source of future jobs in Chicago is current employers who might be able to expand their businesses. Building a top-quality infrastructure, with a world-class, educated workforce, a top-tier transportation network, improved public safety, inviting neighborhoods and a cultural and artistic community will provide the fertile soil for employers and jobs to grow. Further, we must work with our public high schools and the city colleges to ensure adequate investment in trade programs. These programs will help individuals become more competitive in the job market.
The next mayor will choose a new CEO for the Chicago Public Schools. Do you think the CEO needs to have education experience? What areas do you want the new CEO to focus on? Would you expect the CEO to execute your vision or should the CEO define his or her own vision in consultation with the Schools' chief education officer?
Would you continue the Renaissance 2010 program of shutting down failing schools and creating new ones? Would you 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? How would you 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?
I believe the leader of the Chicago Public Schools should be a Superintendent, not a CEO. Thus, I believe the leader of CPS should have education experience and be, in fact, an educator. My Superintendent will collaborate with me as well as all other stakeholders to implement a vision of education built around high-quality, safe, neighborhood schools. I would reevaluate the Renaissance 2010 program and the "culture of calm" effort as part of an overall focus on improving neighborhood schools.
We should cut out administrative excess and emphasize on uplifting the neighborhood schools. To the extent that we can put our young people on the path to social integration and success, we will reduce crime and prevent the horrendous loss of talent among Chicago youth. I was proud to sponsor the midnight basketball program as a United States Senator, and believe the lack of opportunity for young people to be engaged in constructive, structured activities is a major contributing factor to the rise of gangs in 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?
My first priority is increasing the number of officers to an adequate level. To dramatically expand the manpower of Chicago's law enforcement, I propose creating an Auxiliary Police Program. It will be comprised of retired police officers already drawing a pension who possess the skills, training and experience to help keep our streets safer. They can be hired at a much lower salary than new police officers. Similarly, I would launch a supplemental unit comprised of trained volunteers, modeled after New York City's successful Auxiliary unit, to provide hundreds of new eyes and ears to law enforcement officers. These Auxiliary volunteers would supplement, and not replace, the sworn officers the City needs.
We need both top-down and bottom-up law enforcement, with rigorous community policing and coordinated federal, state and local law enforcement. I'll regularly convene all parties together to ensure our resources and efforts complement each other, with a particular focus on interdiction of drugs and guns.
The CAPS program would be more closely integrated into the Local School Councils to ensure that we are not duplicating efforts (either of public employees or of civic leaders).
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?
I support putting all TIF money into the normal budgeting process with robust oversight by the City Council and the public. Further, I support a moratorium on TIFs until an audit can be preformed and transparency rules can be developed in collaboration with the City Council. The abuses have been so extensive that public confidence in the program has eroded.
Mayor Daley has focused on privatizing city assets. Are there any other assets you could consider privatizing? If so, would you make any changes to the way privatization deals are negotiated and passed through the city council?
Day-to-day operations of city assets, with proper management, should be retained by the public entity. I would consider privatizing only non-essential functions of local government. I support a far more robust method of debating and implementing any changes in ownership in the future, consistent with the recommendations of the Inspector General.
Do you support one or more casinos for Chicago? If so, where do you want the casinos located?
I am open to the conversation of a Chicago-based casino.
The Chicago Housing Authority's massive plan to transform public housing has stalled. How would you jumpstart that effort?
I would put a particular focus on using green technology to retrofit existing buildings, as these green collar jobs are ideal for building a middle class based on trades. The Chicago Housing Authority must focus on the needs of the low-income and middle-income people that depend on the CHA.
Other U.S. cities have managed to create successful curbside recycling programs. How would you make it work here?
Curbside recycling is an essential component of a green economy. I would work with my Commissioner of Streets and Sanitation to prioritize recycling. I would not privatize the collection of refuse and recyclable materials.
Chicago was designed as a weak mayor, strong council form of government. Is there a power imbalance between Mayor Daley and the City Council? On which issues should the mayor lead? On which should the council lead?
If elected Mayor, I intend to collaborate with the City Council on all matters of municipal governance. I don't believe certain issues inherently lend themselves to leadership from the Mayor or the City Council.
Would you accept campaign contributions from companies that contract with the City of Chicago? Would you accept campaign contributions or gifts from city employees?
If elected Mayor, I would continue Mayor Daley's policy of not accepting contributions from companies that contract with the City of Chicago nor would I accept campaign contributions or gifts from city employees.
Does the city need to change the way it hands out contracts? How will you ensure that contracting decisions are based solely on merit and free of patronage? Should Chicago aldermen reclaim oversight of city contracts? If so, contracts above what dollar amount?
I agree that the City Council should have oversight over city contracts as public disclosure with legislative oversight is the best way to ensure that all contracts are disbursed in the best way possible. I lean against the $25,000 level used for Cook County contracts, as that seems a bit too low for administrative efficiency, but I would find the appropriate balance with the City Council. I would ensure that all contracts be let with the fairest opportunity for minority-owned and women-owned businesses to compete, as the city's numbers on minority participation in procurement have been far too low for far too long.
The Shakman decree was supposed to end political hiring and firing at City Hall. As mayor, what would you do to bring the city into Shakman compliance? Be specific.
My goal as Mayor would be to reach an overall settlement with the Shakman monitor and the Shakman plaintiffs with absolutely transparent and patronage-free hiring and firing at the City and all sister agencies. I would work with the City Council to ensure that their hiring and firing policies fall into line with the mandates of the Shakman decree and avoid further violations.
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?
I believe the federal rules that largely contain a one-year prohibition of former employees doing business or lobbying the government are appropriate.
Do you support an inspector general just for the city council? Would you support giving the city's existing inspector general the power to investigate aldermen and their staffs, including subpoena power? What should be done with the weak Chicago Board of Ethics?
I would collaborate with the Chicago City Council on creating an appropriate authority to investigate and adjudicate ethics- and corruption-related transgressions. Clearly there is an overlap in function with the Chicago Board of Ethics, the Office of the Inspector General, the Office of the Legislative Inspector General, not to mention the state Auditor General, and county, state and federal law enforcement. In the interest of government efficiency, combining these offices in some manner makes sense.
What's the best book ever written about Chicago? Why?
Chicago: Growth of a Metropolis by Harold M. Mayer and Richard C. Wade. It's a wonderful historical, pictorial and sociological description of our great city.
Please list your educational background
Graduate of the Chicago Public Schools
Bachelor's Degree from the University of Illinois
J.D. from the University of Chicago
Post-graduate work at Harvard
Please list civic, professional, fraternal or other organizations to which you belong
Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?
Ambassador to New Zealand and Somoa (1999-2001)
United States Senator (1993-1999)
Cook County Recorder of Deeds (1989-1993)
Illinois State Representative (1979-1989)
Assistant United States Attorney (1973-1976)
Please list jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government
I have held several elected and appointed offices, noted above. My brother is a Chicago Police officer and my sister is a state's attorney
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed
My campaign contributions will be listed in the campaign disclosure report to be filed with the State Board of Elections in January.
Please paste a brief biography here
I am a third generation Chicagoan. My father worked in law enforcement, both with the Chicago Police Department and the Sheriff's office. My mother was a medical technician. My uncle, Charles Hayes, was a congressman and Vice-president of the FCWU. I was educated in Chicago Public Schools and completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I then completed my law degree at the University of Chicago and my post-degree education at Harvard. I then became an Assistant United States Attorney. Later, I was elected as an Illinois State Representative and served as an Assistant Majority Leader. I served as the Recorder of Deeds for Cook County. I then became the only African-American woman ever elected to the United States Senate. Later, I served as the Ambassador to New Zealand. In 2005, I founded Ambassador Organics, a premium, Certified USDA Organic and Biodynamic products company. The brand is part of my Good Food Organics holding company, which follows the triple-bottom-line business approach of financial profitability, environmental sustainability and social ethics.