Johnson urged to fire CTA and CHA chiefs

Ald. Jeanette Taylor argued that CHA CEO Tracey Scott deserves to be ousted because the agency has failed to deliver on its fundamental mission — and the same goes for CTA President Dorval Carter Jr.

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Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th) speaks during the debate over accepting $20 million in state funding to help asylum seekers at the City Council meeting on Wednesday, March 15, 2023.

Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th) addresses her fellow City Council members at a meeting in March.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

One of Mayor Brandon Johnson’s closest City Council allies urged the new mayor on Thursday to fire the CEOs of the CTA and the Chicago Housing Authority.

Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th), Johnson’s hand-picked Education Committee chair, argued that CHA CEO Tracey Scott deserves to be ousted because she presides over an agency that has failed to deliver on its fundamental mission.

Taylor speaks from experience. She sat on the CHA’s waiting list for 29 years. When the agency finally got around to offering the single mother of three a Section 8 voucher, it was too late. She no longer needed the help.

That gives her a unique perspective on the CHA’s performance, including during the three-plus years since Scott was chosen in March 2020 to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of her predecessor, Eugene Jones Jr.

“It’s horrible. It sucks. It needs to change. It’s called public housing. It’s because they’re too busy swapping land,” Taylor said.

Pressed on whether Scott should be shown the door, Taylor said: “Absolutely. What would we keep her for? What did she do? She didn’t even put out a plan. … And if he keeps her — we’ll get to that road when we get to it. … We’ll continue to have the same people in these seats who do nothing.”

Neither Scott nor CHA spokesperson Matt Aguilar could be reached for comment.

The CHA chief is not alone on Taylor’s hit list.

She also wants CTA President Dorval Carter Jr. out.

Carter ghosted the Council for months before showing up to take his lumps from alderpersons concerned about crime, filth, hiring shortages and scheduling discrepancies that strand and infuriate the riders they represent.

“They need to fire the CTA president on his day off. Definitely they need to. Because he’s not being honest. He wasn’t being transparent. And then it wasn’t until we talked about pulling funds that he decided that he was gonna even come to a meeting,” Taylor said.

“And so, if you don’t want to face the public or work with the public to make our public transportation better — because it’s worse than it ever was under his leadership — then there is another person who can get a pink slip.”

CTA spokesperson Brian Steele would not comment on Taylor’s assessment of Carter’s performance.

Carter may want to dust off his resume, judging from what Johnson said about the CTA during his inaugural address.

“Our public transit is unreliable and unsafe — so much so that many parents refuse to let their children ride, even when the CTA could be the pathway to opportunity and enrichment,” Johnson said that day.

Scott has been under fire most recently for allowing the Chicago Fire soccer club to build a new $80 million training facility on 23.3 acres at Roosevelt Road and Kostner Avenue once occupied by the CHA’s ABLA Homes.

The land swap is now the subject of a federal lawsuit.

Last week, Taylor was reduced to tears as she explained how torn she was supporting $51 million in emergency funding for Chicago’s burgeoning migrant crisis while the needs of African Americans continue to be ignored.

Her tears of anger only intensified when a handful of protesters in the City Council chambers branded her a “traitor” and “sell-out” for that vote.

On Thursday, Taylor told the Sun-Times that, as she put it, “Black Chicago needs to organize” to answer the question, “What about us?”

“We need to figure out collectively what we want and what we want to see…We need to organize and get out of our own way and have some conversations, then we can go to this administration and say, `This is what we need,” Taylor said.

“What has to be on that list is housing in our communities. Money for grocery stores. We’re tired of big-box [stores] leaving. Money to create our own grocery stores. Money to organizations that actually do work to help young people and help families. Money to make sure that our schools are fully funded like everybody else’s schools. … Reparations is probably at the top of the list. Juneteenth is a nice day to celebrate and I appreciate the day off. But that does not pay the debt that this country owes to people of African American descent.”

How can a city with so many financial challenges afford reparations?

“We find money when we want to. ... It’s a matter of what we give people. It ain’t a matter of we don’t got it, because we do,” she said. “Think about the money we waste on flowers. Think about the money we waste everywhere.”

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