Among my highest priorities will be to change the focus of city government
from beautification and infrastructure improvement to Economic
One goal is to use Capital Improvement Funds to provide Chicago businesses
the wherewithal to compete in the National and Global Economy and bring
new revenue, jobs, and Industry back to Chicago, Illinois. A related goal is
to utilize TIF funds to develop grocery stores in those communities which
are classified as “Food Deserts.” Each of these initiatives has the potential
to create sustainable private sector jobs. (Both are explained in greater
detail below). Consistent with the theme of jobs creation, through public
initiatives, private initiatives and comprehensive tax reform we will stimulate
the City’s economy to foster Full Employment. Additionally, we will program
the Mayor’s office of Employment and Training to train and re-train adults,
Another of my highest priorities is to provide a superior, free education for
each and every individual child. That effort begins with my commitment
to the development and maintenance of neighborhood schools with
comprehensive curriculums and extra-curricular activities. That includes a
healthy mix of CPS schools and Charter schools. As mayor, I will reopen
the 50 schools Rahm recklessly closed. Those buildings will be “education
first facilities” with a “mixed use” component. Those sound structures will
be refurbished and restored to their primary use as neighborhood schools.
However, to make this economically feasible, and reduce the burden on
taxpayers, we will modify each building to also accommodate, a Police Sub
Station; A Regional or Local CPS office; A WIC office; A Neighborhood DHS
office, and a student therapy facility. Given the proper design, these several
essential community service providers can safely and efficiently co-exist in
the same structure.
The last of my three priorities is to implement several cost saving initiatives
and measures designed to increase cost effectiveness and energy efficiency
without negatively impacting safety or service.
Pursuant to that, I will cut the Procurement Department red tape,
unbundle government contracts, allow bidders to lease equipment subject
to transparency requirements, provide wrap up bonding and insurance,
and establish a City Start-up Capital loan for equipment and payroll, to
enable more contractors, vendors and suppliers to respond to Requests For
Proposals and offer competitive bids. This is likely to reduce costs by as
much as ten percent (10%).
I will cut City of Chicago’s government utility costs by using modern
efficiencies and technology to heat, cool, light and regulate lobbies, offices,
and conference rooms throughout all City of Chicago facilities. This may
reduce costs by as much as four million dollars ($4,000,000).
I will cut the flow of administrative paperwork by fifty percent (50%). This
will reduce purchasing, handling and storage costs by twenty percent (20%).
Also, we will reduce the City of Chicago debt service. I will transition Chicago
from the current “Debt to Fund Services” revenue and expenditure system
into a “Pay As You Go” revenue and expenditure system. This debt to fund
Services system, which is like using your credit card to pay rent, is too
reliant upon Municipal Bonds, General Obligation Bonds and Revenue Bonds
that result in an obligation to pay interest. Over a period of six-years (6
year) we will utilize unused TIF funds, savings from increased competition
in bidding, and savings from delaying low priority infrastructure repairs.
When this thoughtful transition is complete, the city of Chicago will save
more than nine hundred million dollars ($900,000,000) in interest, annually.
Additionally, this will result in the city of Chicago having a constant reserve
fund and ultimately encourage the bond rating agencies to increase the City’s
weakening Bond Rating.
Additionally, as Mayor, I will offer city employees the option of a ten hour a
day, four day a week, forty hour work week. This would reduce daily start-up
costs as well as reduce personal and public energy consumption.
My main focus will be reducing gang and gun violence through improved police-community relations and by putting 1,000 additional appropriately trained police on the street. I will strengthen our local public schools and make them the center of neighborhood life and activity. I will work equally hard to create new jobs and opportunities for our fellow Chicagoans who want to work. I explain how I will make changes in those three areas in my responses to your questions below.
I believe in economic empowerment and stimulating the growth of communities through strong, new business opportunities. I propose to take city owned empty lots, vacant buildings and potentially other, larger buildings and sell them to members of communities and people who want to start new business for one dollar, as we have done before. I have also detailed my ideas to reform the TIF process.
This will give those who have skills to make those properties productive again. This program will be linked to other economic development initiatives that I believe will include area banks, and other sources of loans, along with a city regulated mentoring program to assist and supervise those who want to start local business. The rehab of a single property can be the start of a business as well as an opportunity for new housing for another.
The re-opening of closed schools can only be properly accomplished by a committee of community residents, teachers and administrators. The specific decisions as to how many can be re-opened or combined, must be a communal effort by such a group. I plan, if elected, to form such working groups with representative from the communities affected to work alongside the others mentioned to form a new plan.
On the subject of financing these changes, we will look to all areas of the existing budget, the contract purchases specifically, as well as the property tax base, and an independent the use of the lottery funds. Finally, in other development plans, we intend to follow through, with the new governor, to release the license for a Chicago casino to partially fund these education initiatives. Our plan for the casino are detailed and in another topic.
My education plan also includes the re-establishment of a vigorous trade school and alternative school program. Utilizing some of the 50 schools closed, again relying on a committee of community residents, teachers and administrators, we will begin opening schools that teach Para-medical, mechanical, culinary and other trades while allowing review and study for the GED for any student without a high school diploma. This will allow young people and perhaps even adults, who have not completed high, school as well as those that have and need to learn a new trade, to find what they need to succeed in their communities.
We need to get our officers back on the streets and into our neighborhoods. We need to incorporate them into the communities and reengage them. Hiring more officers is not the only answer—we need to work on management of the officers we already have on the payroll.
Safer streets: By putting more police on our streets and taking a holistic approach to crime – addressing root causes like poverty, lack of opportunities in our neighborhoods and caring for Chicago's most vulnerable people along with strengthening relationships between neighborhoods and the police with robust community policing efforts – we can make our streets safer.
Stronger Schools: Good, well resourced public schools are the backbone of our communities. By giving our teachers the resources they need and giving a voice to those whose opinion matters most – parents, students and teachers – we can truly make our education system world class.
Economic Opportunities: By creating a robust local economy – one that's not just limited to the loop but includes every neighborhood – our neighborhoods will naturally become stronger. Promoting development and growth by using money from a TIF surplus, tax free zones, worker owned cooperatives can make every neighborhood thrive.
My three priorities remain the strength of our neighborhood schools, safety of our streets, and ensuring every neighborhood shares in economic prosperity by creating jobs and supporting vital infrastructure, parks and cultural institutions.
1. Strengthening our neighborhood schools
While the Chicago Public Schools have never been stronger, there remains much work to do. Graduation rates, attendance and test scores are all at record highs, but we should not feel satisfied until every student from every neighborhood is guaranteed the same high-quality education. There is a lot to be proud of: after four years of investments and reform, Chicago provides students with a full school day that will provide a student entering kindergarten nearly 2.5 additional years of instructional time by the time they graduate high school. For the first time, all 30,000 CPS kindergarten students receive a full day of kindergarten and 75% of 3 and 4-year olds below the poverty line have access to quality pre-school options. In addition, students and families have more high-quality school options including strong neighborhood schools strengthened by investments in International Baccalaureate and STEM programs, magnet, gifted, charter, and military schools. Finally, we have begun the transformation of our City Colleges by tying the curriculum to the strongest industries and providing greater supports for students. The graduation rates have doubled and our new STAR scholarship program will further open the doors of opportunity to more CPS students.
But we still have more to do to ensure that every child has access to a world-class learning experience from birth. If I’m fortunate enough to be re-elected, my administration will continue to pursue an education agenda built around five themes – expanding diverse and rigorous high-quality public education options for all Chicago families, empowering principals and teachers with greater autonomy and holding them accountable for performance, investing in student supports, engaging and empowering parents, and challenging the district to innovate to make Chicago a city of learning. I will lay out those plans in more detail over the coming weeks.
Though we have come a far way since Education Secretary Bill Bennett said Chicago's schools were the worst in the nation, we have not come close to realizing our true potential. If we keep making critical investments and making the tough choices to put our kids ahead of politics, we will continue seeing record gains and achieve our goal of ensuring every child from every community has access to an excellent public education.
2. Ensuring safety in every neighborhood
I describe our holistic public safety strategy in question 6 below.
3. Expanding economic opportunity
In addition to our small business and economic development strategy outlined in question 5 below, we have implemented an aggressive infrastructure campaign to ensure every community is connected to each other and to jobs downtown. Building A New Chicago is a $7 billion infrastructure program and one of the largest investments in infrastructure in the City’s history. The three-year program has touched nearly every aspect of the city’s infrastructure network and by the end of next year will have created and supported more than 30,000 jobs. Already, more than 1,000 total miles of streets have been resurfaced, water and sewer mains rebuilt, and street lights replaced. We have also completed or begun transit improvements that amount to one of the largest infrastructure investments in the history of the CTA. This includes rebuilding the Red Line South, overhauling the Blue Line O’Hare branch, and refurbishing more than 100 CTA Stations across the City. Finally, we have invested in bicycling infrastructure and promoted education, awareness and advocacy. Chicago now has more than 200 miles of on street bikeways, 89 miles of which are protected, buffered and shared bike lanes, many miles of off-street paths, more than 14,500 bike racks, and sheltered, high-capacity, bike parking areas at many CTA rail stations. Taken together, these investments have significantly expanded affordable transportation options to all parts of the city.