Alderman, 10th Ward: John A. Pope
February 7, 2011 12:56PM
Updated: September 6, 2011 6:11PM
Birth date: 03-03-1968
Political affiliation: Democrat
Occupation/Firm name: 10th Ward Alderman
Marital status: Single
Spouse’s name: No response
Campaign HQ address: 3524 E. 106th St. Chicago IL 60617
Campaign website: www.10thwardchicago.com
Campaign manager: Mark Rosenfeld
What is your campaign budget?
I do not wish to disclose that at this time.
What are your top priorities for the City of Chicago?
The three most important issues for the City of Chicago are Creating Jobs/Economic Development, Improving our Public Schools, and Enhancing Public Safety/Reducing Crime. In addition to these I believe it a is a top priority that we transition the City over to a new mayor. I will work with the new Mayor to ensure that the 10th ward is receiving its fair share of City funding.
What are your top priorities for your ward?
The most important issues for my ward are the same as for the City of Chicago. The top priorities for the 10th Ward are Creating Jobs/Economic Development, Improving our Public Schools, and Enhancing Public Safety/Reducing Crime. In addition to these I believe it a is a top priority that we transition the City over to a new mayor. I will work with the new Mayor to ensure that the 10th Ward is receiving its fair share of City funding. The 10th ward is an old industrial ward and I have been actively working to bring jobs back to this ward. We have a new asphalt plant that will be built with union labor. I am also working to bring a new Chicago Public school to the East Side neighborhood to help ease the overcrowding at our existing Chicago Public Schools. I have worked to install police cameras on high traffic streets and worked closely with the 4th Police District and the CAPS program to increase public safety.
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?
I think that we have to take a hard look at what services are essential. I think that we should try to combine/eliminate departments in order to stop the duplication of services. A good example of this duplication is health clinics provided by the City and those by the County. I think the City has to figure out ways to raise revenues without raising taxes. Another new revenue source would be building new casinos and allowing video gaming within the City. I think we should also look at privatization of Midway Airport to see if that is a viable economic solution. With City personnel we have to examine the pay rates of new employees and the defined benefit plans. The City will have to discuss moving from a defined benefit to a defined contribution program for City workers.
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 believe we should create a commission or hire an outside auditor to examine the city pension fund and suggest a sustainable course of action to the City Council. We need to have an honest discussion about where the City Pension fund currently stands and what the future of that fund will be.
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 the City needs 50 aldermen. I am a full time alderman representing a ward of approximately 56,000 residents. The ward is approximately 5 miles north to south by 3 miles east to west. As the alderman, and local elected official, 10th Warders look to me the for any and all services whether they be local, Sate, or Federal. As far as combining committees, opportunities may exist to combine the following: Housing and Real Estate with Historical Landmark Preservation Transportation and Public Way with Traffic control and Safety Economic, Capital and Technology Development with Energy, Environmental Protection and Public Utilities.
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 believe the council has and will continue to be more independent (stronger). This is likely to be the case with the new mayor. Ward specific projects should tend to be issues best handled by the local alderman who is more familiar with the subject. Issues affecting the entire City could be led by the Mayor but with significant input from the aldermen. Greater transparency, time to review matters, public input, and legislation requiring this is necessary to ensure all proposals are fully understood and not rushed for a vote.
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 have been very beneficial in the 10th Ward. By offering grants to homeowners and small business owners we have been able to improve our neighborhoods. We have used our TIF dollars to help businesses renovate and improve their buildings, improve our ward’s infrastructure, and create new schools in the ward. I have 4 TIF advisory groups that ensure the public is informed and involved with the use of these monies. However, more education is necessary to inform the public about how the TIF program works and where information can be found. Many still do not realize the great deal of information avaiable about TIFs online via the City’s (Department of Community Development) website. I have also been an advocate for conducting public meetings within the community to ensure that and and all interested parties are familiar with the TIFs. Most recently I had a community meeting regarding the Ewing Avenue TIF at a local school which is loated within the TIF. A large number of people attended to learn generally about the TIF program as well as how the Ewing Avenue TIF would benefit them.
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?
The Midway Airport privatization appears to have potential. I believe that privatization should provide a savings over the long-term, not just the short-term. I believe that we have to have all options on the table when we examine the City’s budget. I believe there should be Public meetings and ample time for the public to weigh in on the process. Any employees potentially subjected to losing their jobs should be placed in positions with other departments with the City. They should also have the first opportunity to be hired with the new private company and their experience and years of service should be considered when negotiating their new salary.
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 would like to see sworn desk personnel reassigned to street patrols, so that we could have more officers on the street where their training and skills are most needed. The work currently being done by the desk officers could be completed through the hiring of civiian staff at much lower rates of pay. I would also like to examine reducing or elimianting some of the specialized units (i.e. - TRU) which draws police personnel away from Patrol. I have been and continue to be a supporter of realigning police officers to areas with higher incidents of crimes, especially violent crimes. I have been very active in the CAPS program in the 10th Ward and have seen the benefits provided by this program. However, the recent actions to reallocate police personnel away from CAPS appears to be a good move in order to more fully staff the beats. This will necessitate the very structured and effective management of CAPS to remain beneficial.
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?
Yes, I believe having an educational background and high level of management experience will help the new CEO in most effectively managing the CPS. The Renaissance 2010 program needs to be fully reviewed to determine its effectiveness and whether or not it should continue. Yes I believe the culture of calm should continue. The program targets the most needy schools and students and does not appear to be draining resources from other schools. Those students “left behind” need to have options available to them like technical training. Where not available, additional resources should be directed to shore up those schools.
Do you support one or more casinos for Chicago? If so, where would you like to see casinos located?
I am in favor of building one or more casinos in the City. Chicago is losing thousands if not millions of tax dollars to the suburbs and surrounding communities. Those tax dollars could help hire more police officers, repair city infrastructure, fund education, and help create more jobs here in the City. I believe that a portion of the revenue generated from the casinos should be used to help treat gambling and substance abuse addictions. I believe the casino should be located in/near downtown to take advantage of the large market and existing infrastructure. I also believe there is an opportunity to located one on the far southside, possibly at the former US Steel site. This is an almost 600 acre parcel that could accommodate this building. This site in particular would allow for the City to capture the countless dollars that are leaving the City and State to nearby Indiana where there are several casinos minutes from from the Illinois-Indiana border.
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?
I don’t beleive so. I have been very adamant about informing my constituents about the various TIFs, zoning, and other issues in question. Working with the chambers of commerce, development commisisons, and countless other individuals and groups, my office has done a good job at sharing information and taking input into those mattters which affect residnets and busineess of the ward. We regularly attend and conduct countless meetings in the neighborhoods at times where the public can attend to ensure their involvement with and knowledge of these matters. We also use variuous other mediums to commuicate with the public including our website, email, Facebook, faxes, local community newspapers, flyers, and ward night meetings.
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 do not plan to have an outside job as Alderman and have not had one during my tenure as Alderman of the 10th Ward. I do not plan on seeking outside employment if re-elected. As Alderman I am constantly at events and it would be difficult to have outside employment and do this job properly. Please also refer to my response to the previous question regarding whether 50 alderman are needed or not.
Would you accept campaign contributions or gifts from your employees? Would you pledge not to hire relatives on your staff?
I have never asked any of my staff for a campaign contributions. I have recevied small Christmas and birthday gifts from my employees. Yes I would pledge not to hire relatives on my staff. I have made a concsious decision not to hire relatives on my staff and will continue to do so.
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, I believe the City Council should have oversight over contracts. I believe the Council needs to be more informed. However, I do not want to delay the contractual process by having the Council approval become a bureaucratic or political problem. Certainly smaller contracts below a certain dollar amount should be excluded.
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?
Yes. I have supported the efforts to create an Inspector General for the City Council. No.
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 City has done an effective job with respect to lobbying efforts, including aldermen. The Board of Ethics, in particular, has made great progress and is a valuable resource in educating City employees, especially alderman and their staff, in terms of what is and is not legal. Mandatory meetings/testing and the use of the internet is especailly good. City employees should be prohibited from doing business for a minimum of one year after departing from the city.
What’s the best book ever written about Chicago? Why?
Devil in the White City. It gave a unique and somewhat mysterious perspective of the City and its development.
Please list your educational background
I followed two of my brothers to Chicago’s Mount Carmel High School where I participated in extra-curricular activities and various sports. While at Mount Carmel, I was on the National Honors Society, played football, and served as the team captain in my senior year. Upon graduation, I attended Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana where I was a member of the Student Council, played football (4 year letterman and senior captain), and obtained a degree in economics.
Please list civic, professional, fraternal or other organizations to which you belong
Neighborhood CAPS programs, Hegewisch, East Side and South Chicago Chambers of Commerce, YMCA Board, Hegewisch Community Committee, South Chicago Parents, Southeast Environmental Task Force, Calumet Ecological Park Association (CEPA), and the Calumet Area Industrial Commission (CAIC).
Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?
I worked in the City of Chicago’s Office of Budget and Management for 3 years as an Analyst where I worked closely with various City departments to create responsible budgets to allow for the effective and efficient use of City resources. I later served in the Building Department as Director of Demolition where I was responsible for eliminating dangerous and hazardous buildings that often times attract negative and criminal activity which can lead to the demise of a community. I also was the Director of Conservation where I managed more than 100 staff responsible for inspecting buildings and structures throughout the city. With the Mayor’s Office, I served as an assistant to Mayor Richard M. Daley and was involved with neighborhood improvement and infrastructure programs. I was directly responsible for helping neighborhoods improve the quality of life for the residents, businesses, and visitors. This was accomplished by maximizing the use of various City economic development tools, City services, and leveraging private sector investments. I also worked with countless private and public sector entities to bring much needed services to various and challenged communities. Given my deep ties in the community and the valuable knowledge gained while serving the City, I decided to run for office and make a difference in the neighborhood which he I have called home my entire life. I became alderman of the 10th Ward on May 3, 1999 when I was sworn in at the City of Chicago’s City Council meeting. I have served as the 10th ward Alderman ever since.
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
I have received contributions from a large variety of individuals and businesses. I am proud of this variety and the support that I have received. Specific information will be available on my required campaign disclosure reports.
Please paste a brief biography here
I am a lifelong resident of Chicago’s 10th Ward located on the far southeast side of the City. Both my parents and grandparents resided in the 10th Ward. Bill Pope, my father, like so many southeast siders, made his living in the steel mills of the south side. He proudly served as an Ironworker with Local 1 for 42 years.I attend Mt. Carmel High School and after graduation I attended Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana. I then returned to Chicago and started working in the City of Chicago’s Office of Budget and Management for 3 years as an Analyst where I worked closely with various City departments to create responsible budgets to allow for the effective and efficient use of City resources. I later served in the Building Department as Director of Demolition where I was responsible for eliminating dangerous and hazardous buildings that often times attract negative and criminal activity which can lead to the demise of a community. I also was the Director of Conservation where I managed more than 100 staff responsible for inspecting buildings and structures throughout the city. With the Mayor’s Office, I served as an assistant to Mayor Richard M. Daley and was involved with neighborhood improvement and infrastructure programs. I was directly responsible for helping neighborhoods improve the quality of life for the residents, businesses, and visitors. This was accomplished by maximizing the use of various City economic development tools, City services, and leveraging private sector investments. I also worked with countless private and public sector entities to bring much needed services to various and challenged communities. Given my deep ties in the community and the valuable knowledge gained while serving the City, I decided to run for office and make a difference in the neighborhood which he I have called home my entire life. I became alderman of the 10th Ward on May 3, 1999 when I was sworn in at the City of Chicago’s City Council meeting. I was re-elected in 2003 with no opposition. I was also victorious in February of 2007. In this race, I captured more than 70% of the vote on the ballot. This was a testament to my commitment and ongoing efforts including my campaign platform which included working with all people of the ward. Since elected Alderman, I have been committed to improving the quality of life in the 10th Ward. I continue to focus on those three items that are necessary to accomplishing this - creating more economic development opportunities (jobs), improving education, and reducing crime. Additionally, I realize the importance of seniors, am a strong supporter of seniors, and regularly attend senior events throughout the ward. I am fortunate to help review, craft, and pass legislation by sitting on various City Council committees including: Finance, Budget, and Economic &Capital Development, Buildings where I serve as the Vice Chairman, Housing &Real Estate, Energy, Environmental Protection &Public Utilities, and Police &Fire. During recent years I have supported very controversial yet important items that affect the ward including the Big Box Ordinance, Immigration Rights, Affordable Housing initiatives, and the extension of the Landfill Moratorium. I have also brought much needed change to the community including the opening of two new schools (Sullivan and Marsh), the Chicago Manufacturing Campus and its more than 1,000 jobs, affordable housing (New Homes for Chicago, Senior Suites of Hegewisch, and Pathway Senior development (2008)). Additionally, various projects have brought jobs to the community including the rehabilitation of the Trumbull Park Homes, various water, sewer, and other infrastructure projects, and various new businesses including Braz and Vacarro Trucking, Aldi, and Walgreen’s. The community has realized the benefits from these projects including short and long term jobs, physically improving property, and enhancing the tax base. I reside in Hegewisch and have two children, Madelyn Rose and James William.