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11th Ward candidate for alderman: Patrick Daley Thompson

11th Ward aldermanic candidate and incumbent Patrick Daley Thompson met with the Sun-Times Editorial Board Friday, January 18, 2019. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

11th Ward aldermanic candidate and incumbent Patrick Daley Thompson meets with the Sun-Times Editorial Board Jan. 18. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

The Sun-Times Editorial Board sent the candidates running for 11th Ward alderman a list of questions to find out their views on a range of issues facing the city and their ward. Patrick Daley Thompson submitted the following responses (the Sun-Times does not edit candidate responses):

Who is Patrick Daley Thompson?

He’s running for: 11th Ward alderman

His political/civic background:

  • Alderman of the 11th Ward- City of Chicago
  • Board Member of Current (Innovations in Advanced Water Research & Technology)
  • Commissioner for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago
  • Board member for the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence
  • Board member for the South Loop Chamber of Commerce
  • Former board member for the Valentine Boys and Girls Club of Chicago
  • Former Board Chair and former tutor, Aquinas Literacy Center

His occupation: Alderman

His education:

  • J.D.,The John Marshall Law School
  • B.A., St. Mary’s University of Minnesota
  • St. Ignatius College Prep High School
  • Nativity of Our Lord Grade School

Campaign website: patrickdthompson.com

Twitter: @aldpatdthompson

Facebook: facebook.com/aldpatdthompson

Top priorities

What are the top three priorities for your ward? 

Patrick Daley Thompson: If the community is not safe, no one will want to live there. If it is safe but there are not quality schools, the young folks will move. Finally, government must communicate with and be responsive to our constituents. Therefore my top three priorities of the 11th Ward are public safety, education and constituent services.

I voted in favor of Mayor Emanuel’s 2016 Budget to increase the amount of police officers we have on our streets and to increase technology for the Chicago Police Department. I also support the new state of the art Police and Fire training facility on the westside. We need to ensure that our First Responders are trained for modern challenges they face on the streets.

We are fortunate here in the 11th Ward that both the 9th and 12th Districts have the Strategic Decision Making centers equipped with real time access to POD cameras and Shot Spotter technology. I’ve used over $500,000 of Aldermanic Menu funds to purchase 19 POD cameras that have been strategically placed throughout the11th Ward. I have also worked to build stronger relationship between our community members and police officers by holding outdoor roll calls and other events to engage Ward residents with their local police officers. We also have a vibrant CAPS program and work with the community.

Education is also a priority for the 11th Ward. I will continue to make sure that our teachers and children have the resources they need to succeed. I have worked with members of my community to come up with a solution for a new option for a quality secondary education. I invested in our local schools by using TIF dollars for McClellan School, Armour School, Tilden High School and working with Mayor Emanuel and the CPS Capital team to add an $8million annex at Mark Sheridan School. We are making significant improvements to Healy School and James Ward School as well. In addition, we have coordinated traffic plans for Holden School, Healy School and Bridgeport Catholic Academy. I am very proud of our principals and teachers. We have (5) Level 1+,( 2) Level 2+ and (2) Level 2 schools as well as great performing private schools.

Constituent Services is another priority of the 11th Ward. Each constituent deserves to have their request addressed in a timely manner. Whether it is a request for a new garbage can or to assist with an issue with Business Affairs, we are responsive and professional. Since I was elected Alderman, I have activated online service requests through my website, email and social media outlets. In addition, I extended the hours to 7:30pm on Monday and open the first Saturday of every month to accommodate working families. We work hard to be responsive and communicate with our constituents.

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. 

Patrick Daley Thompson: In addition to the work I outlined above, over the past two years as Alderman I have worked hard to attract new businesses to the 11th Ward, invest in our parks and make significant investments in our infrastructure.

During my first term, we have secured Greyhound Bus Company, Lakeshore Beverage, an expansion of LakeShore Recycling, Vienna Beef, expansion of South Chicago Packaging, Stanley Steemer and Trane. Greyhound will be putting a state of the art bus maintenance facility on 39th and Normal with corporate office space creating 250 permanent jobs at the facility which are primarily union jobs, as well as construction jobs. Lakeshore Beverage will be expanding in Canaryville along Halsted Street and will move their entire operation to the 11th Ward. Lakeshore Recycling has added on to their facility as did South Chicago Packaging. Not to mention we are home to the first Steak and Shake in the City as well as Marz Brewery and Potsticker house rated in Chicago as the top place for pot stickers, just to name a few.

I have worked with Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Public Schools to open a new $8million annex at Mark Sheridan School. In addition we are making infrastructure improvements at James Ward School and Healy School. I am using TIF funds for an elevator, new classroom space, lunchrooms and outdoor track at McClellan School. I am also using TIF funds for an elevator and new improvements at McGuane Park. I will also be breaking ground of a new Dog Friendly Area on 32nd and Halsted funded by Open Space Impact fees.

I am also proud of my record and support of ordinances that were a win for our entire City. Some of the most notable ordinances include: Bid preference for City–based businesses, Paid Sick Leave, an increase of Chicago Minimum Wage Ordinance, increased age to purchase cigarettes to 21, while also working to stabilize the City’s finances. I am sure you will look at my entire voting record.


SUN-TIMES 2019 CHICAGO VOTING GUIDE


Pensions

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. 

Patrick Daley Thompson: We have a legal and moral obligation to pay our commitment to working people and make our pension payments. I believe all parties involved with changes to pension benefits need to have meaningful discussions in order to solve this growing problem. Since 90% of the City’s total jobs are union members covered by collective bargaining agreements, all stake holders need to work together. In my discussions with current and retired City employees, they understand the predicament we are in and would be open to a compromise if that ensures the solvency of the pension funds. These negotiations did take place and the parties agreed to a shared approach. Therefore, if the parties involved in the collective bargaining agreements agreed to the changes, then a potential amendment to the Constitution is something we can further explore.

I supported the property tax increase in 2015 to add $543 million of annual dedicated revenue for the Police and Fire pension funds. We also increased the Municipal Employee’s pension fund by $240 million annually and $40 million for the Laborer’s pension fund. However, the Police and Fire will need another $276 million in 2020 and the Municipal and Laborers’ will increase by $310 million by 2022. Therefore, we need to be working diligently to either find new revenue, reduce expenses or a combination thereof.

The City already has a two tier system for our employees. Employees that started after 2012 are Tier Two employees. These employees will not receive their full retirement annuity until they reach the age of 67 and the annuity is based on the Consumer Price Index and not a set 3% Cost of Living Adjustment. This will have a significant impact in the coming years.

I do believe that having discussions and certain actions we have taken during the last four years is a positive move toward reaching a solution.

Revenue

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. 

Patrick Daley Thompson: Municipal government is fascinating and challenging. Since we are the last resort for many people, the breath of services continues to expand and is expensive. Unfortunately, our state and federal governments have not been doing much to help our residents. For example, the State of Illinois closed its mental health facilities which resulted in more people coming to Chicago for help. That has increased homeless population. The federal government hasn’t passed a bill providing infrastructure funding in years, thus we had to create our own infrastructure tax on ride sharing to assist the CTA last year. Furthermore, the cost of operating continues to rise.

I believe that we must be open to new ideas for revenue so that the City can provide the necessary services to our constituents.

I believe that taxpayers have been shouldering the load for a long time. The City generates more money for the State of Illinois than we receive in support from the State. Perhaps with changes to a more equitable income tax, we can also obtain property tax relief. I advocated four years ago to change the sales tax to include services. If we do that, we can even reduce the percentage. I do also support gambling as a source of revenue. From sports gambling to a casino to poker machines, everything must be on the table.

I particularly think we should look at poker machines because of the incidental impact. Poker machines are truly a “Neighborhoods Alive” program. I think we should negotiate a higher split for all municipalities. Once people start coming back to our taverns, they will then spend money on drinks and food. This would help a lot of establishments in my Ward and every community.

Every indication from the Governor Pritzker Administration is that they are supporting the legislation of marijuana. Therefore, a tax on this use would also be appropriate.

Finally, I believe we do need to work with Washington D.C. regarding the sales tax on items purchased on the internet. Not only is the City losing revenue, the retail stores are also disappearing which results in less property taxes and employment opportunities.

What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose? 

Patrick Daley Thompson: See response above

TIFs

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? 

Patrick Daley Thompson: TIF has been a very effective economic development tool for Chicago. Our 12 TIF Districts have been critical to redeveloping our industrial park as well as the creation of University Village and Commons communities. I utilize the increment from our TIF’s for public purposes. We spent $3.5 million dollars on renovating Armour School and adding an elevator to make the school handicap accessible. We are currently utilizing approximately $5 million dollars to remodel McClellan School and add an elevator for accessibility, while also creating open outdoor space for the students and the community. I allocated approximately $6 million dollars for needed repairs and renovation of McGuane Park, which includes an expansion of our McGuane Magic space. In addition to these projects, I have also utilized our TIF’s for infrastructure work such as new LED lighting, new “green alley” as well as the modernization of Morgan Street.

I am a firm believer in communication and transparency. This especially true with TIF because so many people misunderstand this program. For example, TIF does not take money away from CPS or the City or any taxing body. I’ve also heard that the City gives money to developers. This is also not correct. In fact, I am not aware of any deal where the City gave any money to any developer. The City issues a promissory note to the property owner that allows the property owner to redeem a portion of their property taxes only after they have paid the property taxes. If the owner does not pay the taxes, the owner does not receive any increment.

I understand that people question certain large redevelopment projects because they don’t believe the developer needs the money. The City does scrutinize each deal and the “but for” test is enforced. I do commend the Department of Planning for their work. The state statute does establish the criteria for creating a TIF district and defines blight. The increment generated in one district typically cannot not be spent outside of the TIF district. There are district that allow you to port money but for the most part the money remains in the district.

The City has, since Mayor Daley in the late 2000’s, declared a surplus in numerous TIF districts. When the City declares a surplus, the amount of surplus is distributed to the taxing bodies at their same percentages as the levy. This surplus is in addition to the taxing bodies levy and therefore a windfall. Since I became Alderman, I have agreed to surplus $56 million dollars from the TIF districts in the 11th Ward. I also agreed to close the Roosevelt Canal TIF District. The City of Chicago 2019 TIF surplus will be $175 million dollars of which $97 million dollars will go to CPS and $42 million dollars will go to the City corporate fund.

I believe we need to continue to be diligent in monitoring our TIF districts and scrutinizing our spending. I also believe that each district is unique and we need to evaluate on a district by district basis.

Aldermanic power

What will you do to rein in aldermanic prerogative? 

Patrick Daley Thompson: I was elected Alderman to represent the constituents of the 11th Ward and the residents of the City of Chicago. Each Alderman has her or his ear to the ground and the best understanding of the communities they represent. I know I work diligently to ensure I engage my communities in all of my zoning decisions. Before any proposed project is filed with the City, I host a community meeting to allow the property owner or developer to present the requested project. Last year I hosted over 30 meetings. My meetings are in the evening and we not only invite those residents within 250 feet of the subject property, but we post the meeting notice and invite all residents.

These meetings have been very productive. Neighbor participation is the best way for me to better understand the concerns of the community. That being said, I don’t take public votes at these meetings and I also reach out to neighbors who may not be able to attend the meeting or choose not to voice their comments in a public forum. The more the communication the better.

Police reform

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? 

Patrick Daley Thompson: As you are well aware, in January 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) published its investigation on the Chicago Police Department. Based on that report the City and the DOJ commenced discussions about entering into a consent decree. With the change of administration in Washington D.C. the new Attorney General made it clear the DOJ would not pursue this matter. As a result, the Mayor and the Illinois Attorney general announce the Consent Decree.

I don’t believe the Consent Decree, which is a response to the DOJ report, is the only solution nor 100% correct. However, I do believe there are aspects of it that will improve the quality of service which also protects our First Responders.

The key provisions are training and oversight. We cannot blame the police for certain actions they may take if that is what we trained them to do. In addition, if the City Council does not allocate the resources so that the police can hire the appropriate number of Field Training Officers and sergeants to supervise, and if the Superintendent does not manage the personnel to ensure the appropriate supervisors, then we cannot just blame the police officers.

The City has not waited to implement certain reforms because the Consent Decree is going through the legal procedures. We owe our residents and our police the utmost attention. Therefore we have increased the number of sworn officers by 1,000 including adding appropriate supervisors. All officers now have body cameras which not only allows a recording of the police officers’ actions, it also records our resident’s actions toward the police. We have provided additional resources so our officers can carry tasers, which is a less lethal deterrent. We have been providing our officers with better training on mental health diagnosis and Crisis Intervention Training (CIT). CIT is critical to protecting our residents and the police. More work needs to be done in this space.

We also created the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA). COPA will better train its investigators and more timely issue reports. We continue to improve our community policing (CAPS). Our CAPS program in the 11th Ward, especially the 9th District CAPS has always been vibrant and active. Our residents participated and worked closely with the police to deter crime and solve problems. There is more work to be done and I do believe we will improve the quality of service while also protecting our officers.

Finally, as I preciously mentioned in the questionnaire, the new Police and Fire Training Facility will allow the City to train our officers to better handle the modern problems and situations they may face. Utilizing technology and virtual scenarios will make for a better police force. In the meantime the best thing we can all do to help our communities is to support the police.

Guns

What should Chicago do to reduce the number of illegal guns? 

Patrick Daley Thompson: As Aldermen, we do not have jurisdiction over laws that directly control gun ownership or usage. However we can advocate for laws in Springfield and Washington D.C. and support educating people on the dangers of guns.

Gun violence has brought our City unwanted publicity. This past year we did have success in Springfield by increasing the penalties for repeat gun offenders. I believe we should push for stricter penalties for those that don’t report lost and stolen firearms. You have a responsibility to maintain your personal property, especially a gun. I also believe that we should license gun dealers. It is crazy the way we treat gun dealers and manufacturers. Gun manufacturers are BIG BUSINESS! They can afford unlimited lobbyist. That is why the gun manufacturers are the only identity with immunity.

We also need to provide funding to gun violence prevention programs, research programs and alternative dispute resolution programs. We are adding 1,000 additional police officers to protect us. In order to be effective, we also need to get into the hearts and minds of our children so they do not resort to gun violence.

Schools

What is the appropriate role of charter schools within the Chicago Public Schools system? 

Patrick Daley Thompson: I believe we need to focus on our current schools and make sure the students and staff have the correct resources they need to succeed. We do not need to expand any schools. There are over 150,000 open seats in CPS. 60,000 open seats in Level 1 schools.

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? 

Patrick Daley Thompson: I think the Chicago Board of Education should represent all of Chicago. The Mayor needs to be held accountable for the Mayor’s appointments. I believe there should be a parent of a current CPS student, a current teacher, as well as an elected Board Member. I support an elected local school council in order to give residents and parents a continued voice on local matters concerning schools. The Local School Councils should then elect a representative to the Board seat.

Affordable housing

Is there enough affordable housing in your ward? Please explain. 

Patrick Daley Thompson: I am very conscious of making sure my neighbors and their children have the right to raise the next generation of families in our communities. We need to make sure our neighborhoods are affordable and not nickel and dime our residents. That is why I voted against the tax on water. I do believe we need long-term homeowner property tax freeze. We also need to protect our middle class families.

We do not have large development projects, but those projects with more than 10 units, we do support the ARO. We have veterans and teachers, policeman and social workers that would love the opportunity to live in a new home or apartment. I do think we need to take a fresh look at the ARO and how we can better serve our workforce.

Immigration

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? 

Patrick Daley Thompson: The City Council passed a “Welcoming City”, ordinance on October 28, 1850, a copy of which is attached. This ordinance prohibited the Chicago Police from detaining any fugitive slaves or white men “owing service” and delivering up the fugitives.

This compassion and civility is part of Chicago’s ethos.

As a descendent of Irish and Italian immigrants, I proudly supported our Welcoming City Ordinance of 2016. As the Ordinance states, this legislation is the right thing to do and it further protects all residents, citizen and undocumented Chicagoans. The ordinance encourages people to call the police when they observe a crime. In fact statistics show on average there are 35.5 fewer crimes committed per 10,000 people in sanctuary counties. The median income is $4,353 higher in sanctuary counties, while unemployment 1.1% lower and the poverty rate is 2.3% lower.

I believe there must be comprehensive immigration reform in Washington D.C. We must have clear rules and a plan to follow. I would suggest that the next Congress do their job and pass meaningful comprehensive immigration legislation.

Ethics

Should the inspector general have the power to audit and review City Council programs, operations and committees? Why or why not? 

Patrick Daley Thompson: I believe the Inspector General (IG) serves a very important role in our own government. We work with the IG to root out waste and inefficiencies. That being said, we need to ensure there is not redundancy with operations. Departments do have internal audits as well as external audit firms review certain operations. We don’t necessarily need to audit their audit.

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. 

Patrick Daley Thompson: Elected Officials are scrutinized and audited by our electorate every four years. I have always operated with openness and transparency. All of my staff complete the requisite disclosure forms. None of my staff has outside employment with any entity doing business with the City.

Role model

Is there a past or current alderman whom you model yourself after, or would model yourself after, or take inspiration from? Please explain. 

Patrick Daley Thompson: I am inspired by all of my colleagues. Each Alderman comes from a different background with different life experiences but a shared love of their communities and the City of Chicago. Different perspectives create lively discussion and debate. We may not pontificate on the floor of the Council, but we all work very hard to represent our City we love. I had the opportunity to work with previous Aldermen in my capacity as a lawyer and I did learn certain techniques that I try to incorporate and emulate.

I do appreciate the friendships that I have made with my colleagues. I also appreciate the kindness many have shown, not only to me but to all. I try and follow the advice my grandmother gave me, “if you keep your mouth shut and ears open, you might learn something.”


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