1st Ward candidate for alderman: Proco ‘Joe’ Moreno
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The Sun-Times Editorial Board sent the candidates running for 1st Ward alderman a list of questions to find out their views on a range of issues facing the city and their ward. Proco “Joe” Moreno submitted the following responses (the Sun-Times does not edit candidate responses):
Who is Proco “Joe” Moreno?
He’s running for: 1st Ward alderman
His political/civic background: I have been Alderman of the 1st Ward since 2010, and Democratic Committeeman since 2012. Formerly, I was elected to the Local School Council at Jose De Diego elementary school. I was also a delegate for Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean in 2004.
Prior to this, I was a volunteer, local organizer for the Campaign to End the Death Penalty and served on its national Board. I was a Board Member of Humboldt Park Social Services, and a member of a very prominent, local, community organization- the Wicker Park Committee. I was also a volunteer with Chicago Cares.
His occupation: Alderman, 1st Ward
His education: BA, Augustana College, MBA, Depaul University
Campaign website: aldermanmoreno.com
What are the top three priorities for your ward?
Proco “Joe” Moreno:
- Continuing our trend in decreasing crime throughout the ward
- Continuing to financially, and otherwise, support the gains in our public schools (9 of the 14 elementary schools in the ward are now ranked level 1 or 1+)
- Continue leading the city in providing affordable housing units and expanding the tax base through development, rather than raising property taxes.
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.
Proco “Joe: Moreno:
- One of the leading Wards to provide affordable housing units in the last 4 years
- One of two wards to expand and raise the affordable housing requirements for new developments in my ward through or ARO pilot program
- Allocating millions of dollars to support our local, public schools
- Authored, introduced, and passed the Earned Sick Time Ordinance (before my ordinance passed, nearly 40% of Chicagoans could not EARN a sick day off)
- Authored and introduced the $15 minimum wage ordinance. The Administration introduced a $10 ordinance and snickered at me and said “You know Alderman, we are never going above $10”. We compromised on $13 and I reintroduced $15/ hr and hope to have a hearing next month.
- Authored, and passed, a property tax relief ordinance that provide refunds for families making less than $100,000 when we raised property taxes.
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.
Proco “Joe” Moreno: No on current employees. That was a promise that was made to them and I believe a promise made is a promise kept. My father is a retired Illinois school counselor. He never made a lot of money in life, but helped so many families. So I think he, and people like him, deserve to have their promise kept.
I would be open to discussions on a different deal with new employees. This is something that would have to be negotiated with the unions.
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.
Proco “Joe” Moreno: I favor all of these except a property tax increase and a municipal sales tax increase. We rely too much on property taxes and we just raised property taxes, which I supported (with exceptions that I detailed above). We should tax services (with exceptions) rather than raise the sales tax.
All of the other taxes mentioned are pretty much “opt in taxes”. With the commuter tax being a sort of exception. This is the most complicated option, in my opinion. However, I would be open to ideas and offer my own ideas on this form of revenue.
What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose?
Proco “Joe” Moreno:
- Tax on Smokeless Tobacco: I passed an ordinance codifying this, but Big Tobacco sued and won, because state law currently prohibits it. I got a bill passed out of the State Senate, but it stalled in the House. I plan to go back at it in my next term.
- As stated above, tax on services.
Oppose: Reinstating the employee head tax
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?
Proco “Joe” Moreno: I made a pledge when I became Alderman to only use TIF money in the two districts in my ward to support our schools and affordable housing. Despite tremendous efforts from developers lobbying me to use it for their private developments, I never caved and the developments were still built. We have built playgrounds at schools and supported a 100% Affordable Housing Development that is LGBTQ friendly (2nd one in the City, largest one in the City). However, I have supported ending the TIF’s in areas of the City where they are no longer needed. Alderman Pawar and myself were the only Alderman that publicly stated specific projects that we were willing to give up in order to get rid of our TIFS (documented by the Sun Times).
I also demanded that the new TIF for Lathrop Homes sunset at the time of the dollar amount the TIF stated to raise, and that the TIF money could only be used for affordable housing, infrastructure, and/ or green space. This was the first of its kind, in the City and perhaps the nation, that had these conditions.
What will you do to rein in aldermanic prerogative?
Proco “Joe” Moreno: Local control is a good thing, but it gets abused. I tell my community groups that oversee zoning changes for me, that they should be careful about loosing Aldermanic say in these decisions. It will consolidate power in the Executive Branch and they will have to try and lobby an unelected bureaucracy of the City.
As one of the leading Alderman to bring affordable units to my ward, I do support taking away this prerogative when it comes to affordable housing— with reservation. I believe it shields Alderman from their duty and responsibility.
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?
Proco “Joe” Moreno: 100% for it
What should Chicago do to reduce the number of illegal guns?
Proco “Joe” Moreno: We have done pretty much all we can, legally and through practice, as a city. We need to lobby and support efforts in Washington D.C and Springfield to have mandatory background checks, smart technology on using a gun, enforcing our current gun laws, limiting the number of guns purchased, closing the gun show loop hole,etc.
What is the appropriate role of charter schools within the Chicago Public Schools system?
Proco “Joe” Moreno: I have signed and supported, a moratorium on charter schools. I do believe charter schools have their place, but I believe we have gone “too far” and need to keep the “pause button” on.
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?
Proco “Joe” Moreno: I wrote an op-ed a few years ago in the Sun Times supporting a hybrid elected school board as a start.
Is there enough affordable housing in your ward? Please explain.
Proco “Joe” Moreno: Please see above. We are one of the two wards that lead the city (by far, see graph that I will bring to the interview) and there are 100’s of units (already approved and being built right now) to come next year and the following year. We will be #1 in the city (out of the 50 wards) when these are delivered next year.
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?
Proco “Joe” Moreno: 100% support it and voted for it. My Grandfather and namesake is an immigrant from Mexico. He jumped on D-Day as a paratrooper. His Honorable Discharge paper is marked “non-citizen”. Like many others, this is very personal to me.
We need to do everything we can to welcome immigrants to our city. They are, and have been, the lifeblood of our city and our country.
Should the inspector general have the power to audit and review City Council programs, operations and committees? Why or why not?
Proco “Joe” Moreno: Yes. I voted in favor of this. Unfortunately, the administration and other powers were able to peel enough votes off, at the last minute, so we could not get it passed.
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.
Proco “Joe” Moreno: Never
Is there a past or current alderman whom you model yourself after, or would model yourself after, or take inspiration from? Please explain.
Proco “Joe” Moreno: Alderman Dick Mell, Paul Douglas, Ameya Pawar, Helen Shiller
Also running for 1st Ward alderman: