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21st Ward candidate for alderman: Marvin McNeil

21st Ward aldermanic candidate Marvin McNeil 2019 mayoral election Rich Hein

21st Ward aldermanic candidate Marvin McNeil at the Sun-Times Jan. 25. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

The Sun-Times Editorial Board sent the candidates running for 21st Ward alderman a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the city and their ward. Marvin McNeil submitted the following responses (the Sun-Times does not edit candidate responses):

Who is Marvin McNeil?

He’s running for: 21st Ward alderman

His political/civic background: Was the 6th Ward Democratic Committeeman from 1998 – 2002. I resigned after I was remapped out of the ward instead of moving my family back into the ward.

His occupation: Retired City of Chicago Zoning Code Enforcer

His education: Bachelor of Science Degree Illinois State University

Campaign website: MarvinMcNeil.Biz

Twitter: @Marvinmcneil211

Facebook: MarvinMcNeil21

Top priorities

What are the top three priorities for your ward? Marvin McNeil: 1) Infrastructure. The residents are demanding that I do something about the broken streets and sidewalks in the ward. My Facebook page has a photo of my crack sidewalks on the home page.

2) Crime and Community Policing. I will work with the Chicago Police Department to improve the relationships between CPD and the residents. I will also propose the contracting of License Private Investigators to help solve some of these murders and gun crimes.

3) Employment. I will trade unions to provide apprenticeship opportunities on public work projects and secondary school courses. I will work with non profits to re purpose the soon-to-be-closed Calumet High School into a multi-purpose recreational and incubator facility for the Auburn community.

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. 

Marvin McNeil: The past four years I have personally delivered surplus fruits and vegetables to the six Senior Citizens buildings in the 21st Ward. This is left over fresh produce from the Rho Gamma Gamma Food Pantry in conjunction with the Greater Chicago Food Depository. I am the head coach of the Brainerd Park Bengals Little League. The previous year I was assistant coach to the team. In 2017, I worked as a summer mentor for adolescent boys for LePenseur Youth and Family Services and I participated with Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Adopt A Pod Mentoring Program. This is an annual event we do to talk to incarcerated teens at the Cook County Temporary Juvenile Detention Center.

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.

Marvin McNeil: Alter a contractual agreement after the fact? Absolutely not. Not only is this unconstitutional is unfair. This was the agreement that was made and it must be honored. Pension payments were not paid into the fund by the City. This is of no fault of the city workers. Reducing pension benefits of new employees is not unreasonable. They have the opportunity to accept or reject the offer.


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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.

Marvin McNeil: As far as I am concern property tax and municipal sales tax increases are non starters. We have to get our hands out of the pockets of city homeowners. A LaSalle Street transaction tax is long over due. LaSalle St. exchanges benefit from the city and yet continue to ride free. Suburban and out of state residents add to public congestion, require emergency services and require sanitation services. It is not unreasonable for them to pay a nominal cost for using city services. Casino and video gambling can keep the money in the city. City residents send money to northwest suburbs and Indiana every day. I can’t think of another reason that I go to Indiana besides. filling my gas tank. Legalizing and taxing marijuana is long overdue. This is one tax that could turn around the pension crisis and benefit public schools.

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

Marvin McNeil: I could support a burger tax. Fast food burgers are cheap garbage and promotes obesity to the underprivileged.

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?

Marvin McNeil: I favor TIFs as a mean of bringing the infrastructure (sidewalks, streets, curbs and alleys) current. TIFs have been misused and gerrymandered to used in high income areas. One of the principle components visible when referring to Chicago as “A tale of two cities” are the broken sidewalks and other infrastructure degradation. For the most part, infrastructure is are one one time long time improvements.

Aldermanic power

What will you do to rein in aldermanic prerogative?

Marvin McNeil: Rescind the Aldermanic Menu. Put city maintenance back in the hands of the professionals. Most alderman like the power that comes with the use and misuse of this money.

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?

Marvin McNeil: The trial of the three officers accused of lying and falsifying reports will have a greater impact than the McDonnell shooting itself. Between body cams and the thought that you may go to jail for lying will force older police to retire earlier than expected. New officers not experiencing how it use to be without the body cams and the blue code will adjust accordingly for the better. Officer training is not the problem. Being held accountable for officer actions is the answer.

Guns

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

Marvin McNeil: This problem is bigger than Chicago. Illinois needs to require gun registration for all purchases. Chicago could establish stake outs of gun shops outside the city to monitor large guns sales and follow them as they enter the city.

Schools

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

Marvin McNeil: Charter schools have become known as specialty schools. Their best roles are to nurture students who choose to attend these specialty schools to be successful and progress to the next level of their educational journey. Charters must not be so quick to dismiss a child merely because they can’t meet the standards and expectations.

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? Marvin McNeil: I definitely support an elected school board. I could support an ex-officio member appointed by the mayor but with no voting power. An elected school board can do worse than what is and has happened with public education.

Affordable housing

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

Marvin McNeil: Yes it is. Home values have dropped in recent years and vacant housing is rampant. Banks and developers who sit on housing stock must be motivated to sell or have the housing inventory occupied.

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?

Marvin McNeil: I believe that Chicago is doing the right things and the ordinance does as much as possible to protect the safety and well being of those trying to stay in this country.

Ethics

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

Marvin McNeil: Yes. A third party review or overseer of public operations is not a bad thing. I would go to the extent of giving enforcement powers over public operations and programs that overstep their intended scopes.

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. 

Marvin McNeil: That depends. Staff with non profit social service programs that benefit the residents of my community could serve as a great asset. Staff seeking for profit contracts will be prohibited. In short, personal gain no.

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.

Marvin McNeil: Yes. Retired Judge John Steele. I helped him in his first campaign when he ran for alderman of the 6th Ward. He a mentor for me, appointed me as 6th Ward Committeeman when he went to the bench and I always admired how he related to his residents. He was always fair and agreeable even when he disagreed with the situation. I intend to continue in his path.


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