The Sun-Times Editorial Board sent the candidates running for 41st Ward alderman a list of questions to find out their views on a range of issues facing the city and their ward. Tim Heneghan submitted the following responses (the Sun-Times does not edit candidate responses):
Who is Tim Heneghan?
He’s running for: 41st Ward alderman His political/civic background: Current Democratic Committeeman of the 41st Ward, Chicago His occupation: Retired Firefighter His education: 2 years of College Campaign website: timheneghan41stward.com Twitter: @TimothyHeneghan Facebook: facebook.com/41stwardforheneghan/
What are the top three priorities for your ward?
- Expand the Residential Sound Insulation Program
- Deliver our fair share of City Services to Residents
- Bring much needed transparency to the office.
Recent civic work
Please tell us what you have done in the last two years to serve the city, your neighborhood or a civic organization. Please be specific.
Tim Heneghan: I have provided and taught free CPR classes to hundreds of people in the 41st Ward. I have hosted blood drives. Provided free smoke detectors to residents. Provided free “Back to school” back packs filled with school supplies to needy kids. Hosted multiple document shredding events for Seniors. Coach Elementary School Basketball. Coach High School Football. Community Rep on the Local School Council at Ebinger School. Hosted Candidate forums with Candidates from all different campaigns, so voters can be informed.Democratic Committeeman of the 41st Ward. Chaired and sponsored a committeeman to raise money for a family that had a tragic accident.
Chicago is on the hook for $42 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, which works out to $35,000 for every household. Those pensions, in the language of the Illinois Constitution, “shall not be diminished or impaired.” Should the state Constitution be amended to allow a reduction in pension benefits for current city employees or retirees? How about reducing pension benefits for new employees? Please explain.
Tim Heneghan: Constitutional Law should be upheld, promises made need to be kept. I do not believe in a reduction for new employees. Better fund management and new sources of revenue should be solely locked in to pension funding.
Of the following often proposed sources of new revenue for Chicago, which of the following do you favor, and why? A Chicago casino, legalized and taxed recreational marijuana, a LaSalle Street tax, a commuter tax, a property tax increase, a municipal sales tax increase, a real estate transfer tax increase, video gambling.
Tim Heneghan: I favor not only a Chicago based Casino but I also am in favor of legalized sports wagering. I am in favor of legalized and taxed recreational Cannabis. I believe that legalizing this would bring a great revenue stream to the city to help alleviate pension debt. I would require this to be solely locked into funding municipal pensions.
I oppose a LaSalle street tax due to the fact that it would cause the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to look to other jurisdictions to conduct business. This tax on top of the current State and Federal taxes that is already being paid, could end up increasing prices on food, travel, and gasoline etc.
I do not agree with the “commuter tax” it has been found to be illegal in other States (New York, year 2000). Also this implementation of a tax could dissuade businesses from committing to Chicago as a home. Also with the 41st Ward being a boarder Ward to many different suburban communities, I would not want my constituents to face retaliation from neighboring suburbs.
Recent property tax increases have not brought us any closer to solving the onslaught of pension debt that keeps mounting. I only see a property tax increase being an option if we have a State Constitution mandated deadline that is due for payment, like the tax increase in 2015 for the CPD and CFD pension payment deadline.
A sales tax increase would only cause our Chicago consumers to make purchases elsewhere. I believe that an increase in the real estate transfer tax would make it harder for people to purchase homes in the city. I believe that they would look to buy in the suburbs where the transfer taxes are typically much cheaper. This would hurt prospective and current city employees who are mandated to live in Chicago.
I am in favor of video gambling for our airports and if we have a Casino. I do not want video gambling available in neighborhoods.
What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose?
Tim Heneghan: I oppose any more City of Chicago privatizations of Municipal properties or entities for short term cash infusions. We can never let another parking meter or Skyway type of sale off happen again.
Tax-increment financing districts are a primary economic development tool for Chicago. In a TIF district, taxes from the growth of property values are set aside for 23 years to be used to support public projects and private development. What changes do you favor, if any, in Chicago’s TIF program?
Tim Heneghan: TIF funded projects once they are completed, that TIF fund should be retired and any and all remaining funds from said TIF should be channeled to funding municipal pensions and CPS.
What will you do to rein in aldermanic prerogative?
Tim Heneghan: Aldermanic prerogative is an unwritten, understanding between members of the City Council. I do believe that this prerogative has been abused recently by the current Alderman of the 41st Ward. This abuse has the City of Chicago in a multi-million dollar lawsuit. I believe that the people of the City of Chicago should have a say on the issue of development in their Wards. I think that a more transparent process that involves qualified community representation is needed.
The City of Chicago has entered into a federally monitored consent decree to overhaul the training and practices of the Chicago Police Department. Civil libertarians say it is long overdue, but others say it is unnecessary and could make it tougher for the police to do their job. What’s your view?
Tim Heneghan: The City of Chicago is approaching a billion dollars in recent payouts for lawsuits dealing with officer misconduct. Better training is essential. As a former 27 year first responder, I was trained in a continuing education class every month of my career. This provided me with the necessities to continue to serve with an update in the current situations of our time. I believe that better communication and trust between the CPD and communities can have a big impact on the future of relationships with CPD. Respect is earned. The CPD need to reach out to these communities and gain trust through good interactions. I would like to see more CPD sponsored activities within these neighborhoods. Mentoring the youth and coaching in activities can have a positive impact on the lives of the youth in the communities which in turn can lead to better futures for all.
What should Chicago do to reduce the number of illegal guns?
Tim Heneghan: Chicago needs to work with Federal agencies on a grander scale to ascertain the origin of where the illegal confiscated guns have come from. Getting to the root source could lead to an immediate impact on the amount of guns on the streets.
What is the appropriate role of charter schools within the Chicago Public Schools system?
Tim Heneghan: I do not agree with the Charter school concept. I believe that Charter Schools have not delivered on the promise that they were intended to provide when introduced. I believe that Charter schools are a drain on valuable resources for our current CPS schools and school communities. Charter schools in my opinion where created to bust unions.
Should the Chicago Board of Education be solely appointed by the mayor, as is now the case? Or should Chicago switch to an elected school board or some hybrid?
Tim Heneghan: I am in favor of a fully elected school board. In my opinion, I believe that an elected board would be more dedicated and more accountable than an appointed board.
Is there enough affordable housing in your ward? Please explain.
Tim Heneghan: There is not enough affordable housing in the 41st Ward. The prices of homes and the taxes on homes in my Ward have risen such that it may be inconceivable for my children to purchase a home or even rent in the area where they have grown up. Seniors and veterans have little options to live or stay in there homes.
Chicago, by ordinance, is an official “welcoming city.” This means the Chicago police are generally prohibited from detaining undocumented immigrants on behalf of federal immigration authorities. What’s your position on this policy? What more — or less — should be done with respect to undocumented immigrants who live in Chicago?
Tim Heneghan: I believe that the Chicago City Key Card is a good start in being able to integrate undocumented immigrants to the City, hopefully leading them to citizenship.
Data from Crains Chicago Business states the following: Chicago’s nearly 40,000 immigrant-owned businesses generated $659 million in income in 2016. Of the $16.9 billion earned by immigrant households, $4.4 billion went to federal taxes and $1.6 billion went to state and local taxes. I believe that these totals have only risen in recent years. These are incredibly significant dollars to the city of Chicago.
Should the inspector general have the power to audit and review City Council programs, operations and committees? Why or why not?
Tim Heneghan: Absolutely, Transparency is paramount to the public trust. City Council, their programs, operations, and committees should be held to the same standards as the general public.
Would you employ, or have you employed, staff in your office who have outside jobs or contracts with entities that do business with the city? If so, please explain.
Tim Heneghan: Absolutely not!
Is there a past or current alderman whom you model yourself after, or would model yourself after, or take inspiration from? Please explain.
Tim Heneghan: My role models have been the people closest to me in my life. I take inspiration from my parents and mentors that I had growing up.
Also running for 41st Ward alderman: