49th Ward candidate for alderman: Joe Moore
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The Sun-Times Editorial Board sent the candidates running for 49th Ward alderman a list of questions to find out their views on a range of issues facing the city and their ward. Joe Moore submitted the following responses (the Sun-Times does not edit candidate responses):
Who is Joe Moore?
He’s running for: 49th Ward alderman
His political/civic background: Alderman and Committeeman, 49th Ward, City of Chicago
His occupation: Alderman, 49th Ward, City of Chicago
His education: BA, Knox College, 1980; JD, DePaul University College of Law, 1984
Campaign website: electjoemoore.com
What are the top three priorities for your ward?
- Preserving our neighborhood’s racial and economic diversity by providing more affordable ownership and rental opportunities for people of low and moderate income.
- Building on the progress we’ve made to reduce crime in the 49th Ward by continuing to enhance community policing and bring to our community a Strategic Deployment Center.
- Continuing my practice of open and inclusive democratic decision making in the ward.
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.
Joe Moore: As Alderman of the 49th Ward, I oversee a hardworking staff who provide high-quality efficient City services to the people of my community and provide a range of programs, such as job fairs, expungement seminars and my “Follow Me on Friday” business promotions.
As Chairman of the City Council Committee on Housing and Real Estate, I have worked with the Mayor and my City Council colleagues to expand the Affordable Requirements Ordinance and used my position as chairman to create and preserve 178 units of affordable housing in the 49th Ward in just the last two years. This includes 65 units of affordable housing in the 111-unit Concord on Sheridan development, a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership with the CHA and a private developer, that also is bringing to the 49th Ward a Target store. It also includes the development of 54 units of affordable housing at Clark and Estes, turning a neighborhood eyesore at the corner of Clark and Estes into quality affordable housing for low income and working class families.
Finally, I was able to prevail upon the CHA to save the affordable homes of 56 senior citizens by purchasing the Levy House thereby preventing the sale of the building to a market-rate developer.
Our schools also are the beneficiary of my experience and relationships. Most recently, I helped the Gale School community raise the money they needed to construct a health and wellness clinic. I persuaded Loyola University to provide Gale School with a $25,000 grant to construct a health and wellness clinic in that school. This grant represented the largest one-time cash donation the University has ever provided to any organization or cause. When Chicago Public Schools failed to commit to much-needed roof and facade repairs for Kilmer School, I enlisted the Mayor’s help in getting CPS to make a firm commitment to begin the work this summer.
I continue to preside over the most successful participatory budgeting process in the nation. Under my leadership, the 49th Ward was the first jurisdiction in the nation to adopt participatory budgeting in which the people of my ward decide directly how to spend the ward’s aldermanic menu money. Nearly 3,000 residents of the 49th Ward each year vote in the process, which represents the largest turnout per capita of any participatory budgeting process in the nation.
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.
Joe Moore: As a future retiree (hopefully, in the distant future) whose City pension will be my primary source of retirement income, I have a vested interest in this issue. I believe every possible solution to saving our public employee pensions should be considered, including a constitutional amendment, but any such solution must be done in collaboration with organized labor. An approach that does not have the support of organizations representing Chicago’s workers is doomed to fail.
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.
Joe Moore: Chicago casino: Yes. My position on this issue has evolved. I once was adamantly opposed to casino gaming, but given that legalized gambling has become ever more present in our state and region, I would be open to a proposal for a casino in Chicago. As one observer has noted, Chicago already has a casino. It’s in Hammond, Indiana. Chicago should receive the job and revenue benefits and not export them to other areas of our state and other states. However, before I sign onto a casino in Chicago, I would like to know the details of the specific proposal.
Legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana: Yes. I think this is a long overdue policy change.
LaSalle Street Tax: I would be open to considering it, but it’s largely an academic question, as both federal and state laws preempt municipalities from enacting financial transaction taxes.
Commuter tax: No. Such a tax is likely unconstitutional. Even if it could withstand a constitutional challenge, it likely would invite retaliation by suburban communities, who could enact their own non-resident tax, thus affecting the many Chicago residents who work in the suburbs.
Property tax increase: Only as a last resort.
Municipal sales tax increase: Our state, county and city sales taxes combined make Chicago’s sales tax one of the highest in the country. Rather than increasing the sales tax, I support expanding the sales tax to include services
Real estate transfer tax increase: I would be open to considering a modest increase in the real estate transfer tax.
Video gambling: Most downstate and suburban communities allow video gambling, putting Chicago’s restaurants and bars at a competitive disadvantage. Accordingly, I would support the legalization of video gambling in Chicago.
What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose?
Joe Moore: As I indicate above, I support expanding the sales tax base to include services in addition to the sale of commodities. Our system for raising revenue is based on a manufacturing economy in which the sales of goods, such as books and computers are taxed, but services escape taxation. This omission is not the result of a conscious policy choice, but a historical accident. When Illinois enacted its sales tax, services were a relatively small part of consumer spending. However, our economy is increasingly becoming a service-based economy. Services now represent nearly 70 percent of individual spending and are the fastest-growing area of consumption. Unfortunately, Illinois system of taxation has not adjusted this changed economy, which is one of the principal reasons that state and local governments are increasingly strapped, forcing drastic reductions in services, especially for those who are most the vulnerable in our society.
Expanding the tax base to include more services helps to address the inequities posed by our sales tax system. In short, it is a much more fair way to raise revenue because services tend to be consumed disproportionately by wealthier people.
I am also open to the implementation of a progressive city income tax. Like the expansion of the sales tax, a city income tax requires state authorization.
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?
As I note above, I have supported and continue to support returning unneeded TIF surpluses to the coffers of the taxing bodies. I have supported and co-sponsored various measures that provide for more TIF transparency. As a result, ordinary citizens can now go online and determine exactly how much revenue exists in each TIF and measure their performance.
What will you do to rein in aldermanic prerogative?
Joe Moore: As a general principle, I strongly support the use of aldermanic prerogative. Aldermen are the elected officials closest to the people and hence know what is best for their respective communities. Unfortunately, some of my colleagues have used aldermanic prerogative to thwart the development of affordable housing in their communities. If our city is to end the concentration of poverty in certain neighborhoods, each neighborhood in the city must be affordable to low and moderate income people. Accordingly, I support the efforts of Alderman Pawar and the Metropolitan Planning Council to put into place measures limiting the use of aldermanic prerogative in the case of affordable residential development proposals.
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?
Joe Moore: I agree with the civil libertarians. I support the consent decree. In cities where consent decrees have been implemented, police-community relations have improved markedly and crime has been reduced.
What should Chicago do to reduce the number of illegal guns?
Joe Moore: I have supported and will continue to support strong gun safety ordinances, including limitations on gun stores. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court in a series of decisions that have misconstrued the Second Amendment have inhibited the ability of Chicago from enacting such ordinances. Chicago police already confiscate more illegal guns than any other City, but until states, such as Indiana and Wisconsin, enact reasonable gun safety measures, it will be extremely difficult to stem the flow of guns into our city.
What is the appropriate role of charter schools within the Chicago Public Schools system?
Unfortunately, the discussion surrounding charter schools on both the local and national levels has devolved into a debate over a false choice – charter schools vs. public schools. Those of us who keep an open mind on charter schools are unfairly accused of being for charter schools and against traditional neighborhood schools. I am not pro-charter and I am certainly not against neighborhood schools. Rather, I am pro-good schools. The more good schools we have in our city, in whatever form they take, and the more quality educational choices we can offer the parents and guardians of our children, the better off our community will be. I want people to choose to live in Chicago because of our schools, not in spite of them. The more quality educational choices our city offers, the more likely we can keep families in Chicago and draw new people into the city.
To me, the issue of charter schools comes down to a simple matter of justice. Low and middle income families should enjoy the same kind of educational options that those of us who are more economically privileged enjoy. Good charter schools help to close that gap, and so long as a charter school is giving students opportunities they would not otherwise have, I believe they have a positive role to play in our education system.
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?
Joe Moore: The key to improving public education is accountability. Principals need to be accountable to their parents and the community, including LSC members and citywide the voters need to be able to hold CPS accountable. This is why I am very skeptical of a proposal for an elected school board. It diffuses accountability. Under a mayoral appointed school board, one person is accountable for the direction of our schools—the mayor. If the schools are not performing to the satisfaction of the electorate, the voters can replace him or her with a new mayor. Indeed, one of the reasons Mayor Emanuel opted not to run for re-election was due to voter dissatisfaction with his handling of education-related issues, including the school teachers strike and the closing of 50 schools.
Governing a large urban school district is far different than governing a suburban school district. The challenges of urban school districts are far greater and the political atmosphere is frequently far more toxic. I fear that Chicago, with its highly charged political atmosphere, would face enormous challenges if it were to move to an elected school board model. The ultimate measure of whether an elected school board should be implemented is the quality of education our children receive. I have yet to see a single study that demonstrates a correlation between an elected school board in large urban districts and an improved quality of education for the children.
Finally, regardless of the size of a school district, an elected school board does not guarantee thoughtful and progressive education policy. Policy decisions in other school districts to ban books, prohibit the teaching of evolution and prevent LGBT people from teaching were made by elected school boards.
Is there enough affordable housing in your ward? Please explain.
Joe Moore: Rogers Park is one of the most economically diverse communities in the nation largely because of our affordable housing stock, but market forces threatens our supply of affordable housing. This is why I am doing everything I can to preserve and increase the number of affordable housing units in the 49th Ward. As I note in my answer to Question 1 above, in just the past year alone, I have preserved and created 178 units of affordable housing.
I also will work state and county officials to identify measures that would provide tax relief to building owners who agree to improve their properties but keep their rents affordable.
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?
Joe Moore: I strongly support the welcoming city policy. Effective policing requires gaining the trust of Chicago’s many diverse communities. Turning the Chicago police into deputy immigration agents would greatly undermine that trust and result in an increase in crime. In my ward, I have facilitated a series of “Know your Rights” workshops to help educate those immigrant communities that could be the target of ICE and other federal agency raids. I would like to see similar programs implemented citywide.
Should the inspector general have the power to audit and review City Council programs, operations and committees? Why or why not?
Joe Moore: Yes. It increases transparency and accountability.
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.
Joe Moore: No.
Is there a past or current alderman whom you model yourself after, or would model yourself after, or take inspiration from? Please explain.
Joe Moore: I have always greatly admired Leon Despres. He was a man of immense courage who staked his positions on issues based on what he believed was right, not on what was politically popular or expedient.
Also running for 49th Ward alderman: