Monday, December 22, 2014

IVI-IPO candidate questionnaire: Planning, Zoning & Economic Development

Planning, Zoning & Economic Development

39. How will you involve ward residents in planning?
Possible answer:

If this were an easy question, there would already be a bunch of people doing it well, right?

I think participatory budgeting needs to be part of the answer. Bringing people together in a forum where their voices and votes count is a key first step to getting people to trust that they will be included; it's not just some effort to sell them on a decision that's already been made.

But what people want has to be integrated into a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities & threats) analysis. The experts have a role to play in informing the alderman what's possible.

There's also salesmanship. Rich Martinez wants to put a university on the vacant US Steel site. That's a cool idea. But if Rich Martinez convinces Oprah, Sam Zell, the Pritzkers, Ken Griffin, Bruce Rauner, Joe Mansueto or some other billionaire the idea has merit, then it becomes a little more realistic.

I also want to mention Mark Thomas who is running for alderman in Ward 44. Over a year ago, he invested in creating software that would allow the alderman to get prompt feedback online from residents throughout the ward. I really hope he gets elected so he can implement his vision.

I want to see how Mark Thomas' experiment works. But if it shows promise, I want to bring this to my ward.

40. What is your long-range plan for development of the ward?

Possible answer:
I'm going to do what I can to have a positive effect locally, but in the long-term, the US economy and Western society has problems and weaknesses that can't be overcome at the local level.

Banks, the financial sector and the 1% are sucking money out of the poor, the middle class and out of government. This is not sustainable.

Government needs to tax (capture) some of this money that is pooling with the Elites and recirculate it into the middle-class economy.

Aldermen have a role to hold members of Congress accountable. The problems that are driving debt & pension problems for state & local government... these are created by banks, hedge funds, bad federal policies and trade agreements that are stacked in favor of capital and against labor and local government.

 41. What criteria do you or will you use in determining whether or not to grant a zoning change or variance? 
Possible answer:
Does any current alderman have a written policy to answer this question?

If I think it fits with the neighborhood I'll grant it. If it doesn't, I'll ask that it be modified.

Do you want to see art I did in grade school to see if my visual composition meets your standards?

42. How will you involve residents in planning, approval, and oversight of TIF districts?   
Possible answer:
I think the first step for addressing TIF abuses is to make TIF districts and their funds as transparent as anything else the government does, maybe even more so.

All TIF spending should be online. The current balance should be online. The amount deposited into the TIF fund every year should be online. Money moved in and out of the TIF fund should be online, including where it came from and where it went. TIF funds should be linked online to other TIF funds that they either sent money to or received money from. Contractors who receive TIF spending should also have disclosure requirements, so their subcontractors and consultants are known.

Plans for TIF spending should be announced in advance. It should be explicitly stated how the TIF spending will improve the tax base. People should have a reasonable opportunity to make suggestions or object before the projects begin.  

43. Will you vote to terminate a TIF if the objectives of the TIF plan have been accomplished before the 23 year period is ended? 
Possible answer:
Yes. Money sitting around leads to mischief.

44. Will you vote to return unspent and uncommitted TIF funds on an annual basis to the various taxing bodies?
Possible answer:
Chicago has unfunded pension debt and it has a large pool of uncommitted TIF money sitting around.

That pension debt has got to be paid.

I would favor the Illinois General Assembly passing a law that allowed for excess TIF money to be used to pay down pension debt for this specific instance.

45. How do you propose to replace property tax revenue for CPS and other taxing bodies that is lost to TIF development?  
Possible answer: 
Chicago should reduce the number of TIF districts.

I propose that the Illinois General Assembly should set a maximum percentage of a municipalities taxable real estate that can be put in TIF districts and over about a decade Chicago be brought into compliance with this new law that would force Chicago to prioritize.

Over time this would increase the property tax revenue going to the schools and other taxing bodies.

Remember, if TIFs are use properly, the amount of taxable real estate should increase significantly after TIF money is spent.

It's a little awkward for IVI-IPO to ask aldermen to be advocates for CPS & Cook County government. Aldermen are legally the board of directors of City of Chicago. CPS and Cook County have their own boards. If their boards aren't fighting against having their pockets picked, it's not exactly City Council's job to send them money and directions on how to do their jobs.

46. Will you support a moratorium on creation of any new TIF districts until new funding sources are identified to replace the revenue diverted to the TIF?
Possible answer:
Yes. As I explained my vision for good TIF management is to limit the total amount of taxable real estate in TIF districts and to force Chicago to prioritize.

47. Will you vote for an ordinance requiring that large corporate entities receiving $250,000 or more in public subsidies, and their tenants, must pay their workers a living wage (currently $11/hour)? 
Possible answer:
Hasn't this question be "overtaken by events"?

I do find the argument that large employers should increase wages before medium and small employers persuasive.

48. Will you vote to invest substantially more in job-training and the creation of transitional job programs in disadvantaged communities, including the formerly incarcerated, homeless, youth, and non-English speakers? 
Possible answer:
I will actively oppose job training for jobs that don't exist.

I would rather use the money to subsidize start-ups and worker-owned cooperatives than have people waste their time learning skills when less than half of them will find jobs in the field they are training in. 

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