9th Ward candidate for alderman: Paul Collins
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The Sun-Times Editorial Board sent the candidates for 9th Ward alderman a list of questions to find out their views on a range of issues facing the city and their ward. Paul Collins submitted the following responses (the Sun-Times does not edit candidate responses):
Who is Paul Collins?
He’s running for: 9th Ward alderman
His political/civic background: Non-political Background
His occupation: Police Officer
His education: BA in Criminal Justice
Campaign website: Friendsofpaulcollins.com
What are the top three priorities for your ward?
- To revitilize the Michigan Ave and 103rd Street corridors and to address the changing business needs on 95th street.
- Bring the residents of the 9th Ward into the processes of how Chicago city government works by introducing participatory budgeting.
- Address the violence and crime by working with community groups, C.A.P.S., and the Police Department.
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.
Paul Collins: For the last two years I have worked on the Board of Directors for Hope for a Better Tomorrow.
Hope for a Better Tomorrow (H4BT) is a non-profit organization working to eliminate poverty, reduce violence, diminish illiteracy, and challenge social inequalities. Our crowning achievement is ManHood 101 Mentoring Sessions Conference where we encourage young men to explore college and careers while they learn some important life skills.
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.
Paul Collins: What I am being asked is, should we default on a contract that was made in good faith by two parties and one of those parties decided not to do what they agreed to do and now want to drop their responsibility, I say NO.
I am not opposed to renegotiating future benefits for new employees however, those new negotiations MUST include a provision for the city to fulfill it’s obligations yearly without 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.
Paul Collins: I favor a Chicago casino because many Il residents flock over to Indiana to gamble, so why should Chicago lose out on that revenue.
Legalized and taxed recreational marijuana. I think we first must address the issue of how the federal government views marijuana. Under the Controlled Substance Act, cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug, which means that the federal government views cannabis as highly addictive and having no medical value. That needs to be changed in order for businesses to be able to use banks and not worry about robbery. No on the others.
What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose?
Paul Collins: The markets across the globe are changing daily. I would be irresponsible to speak without the benefit of having had detailed studies on any potential source of new revenue. The military taught me better than to engage without having adequate information and statistical data.
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?
Paul Collins: I favor going back to 65 ILCS 5/11-74. 4-2 where the funds are used strickly to relieve the existence of BLIGHTED areas and areas requiring conservation, that has an excessive and disproportionate expenditure of public funds, inadequate public and private investment, unmarketabilty of property, growth in delinquencies and crime, and housing and zoning law violations in such areas together with an abnormal exodus of families and business. In this way the area that set aside the growth of property value actually gets something for that sacrifice.
What will you do to rein in aldermanic prerogative?
Paul Collins: I have a two part answer.
- I would do nothing. Aldermen have been granted the authority for a reason.
- I believe in a Inspector General, it is called checks and balances. In government it is needed from the lowest low to highest high.
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?
Paul Collins: In 2016 according to University of Chicago Crime Lab, Chicago Police Department solved 5% of shootings that did not result in death.
In 2017 the Chicago Police Department murder clearance rate was 17.5 % according to Chicago Suntimes analysis of police data.
In 2018 (only as of August) Chicago tax payers have had to pay out 50 million dollares to victims of police misconduct.
Given those numbers as a measuring stick I am inclined to agree that a overhaul of training and practices is absolutely necessary.
What should Chicago do to reduce the number of illegal guns?
Paul Collins: Work more closely with ATF and DEA to discover the where, the how, and the who are making the guns so readily available to people who are not qualified to have them. Those individuals once discovered need to face not only criminal charges but civil liabilities from anyone or their estate that was injured/killed by those weapons. In this way if they are somehow able to get away criminally they will still be facing heavy penalities from the civil side of the courts.
What is the appropriate role of charter schools within the Chicago Public Schools system?
Paul Collins: I applaud Acero School teachers, they learned that they too face the same trails and tribulations that Chicago Teachers Union often face.
At this time I can only say that I support a moratorium on any new charter schools until such a time that the needs of Chicago Public Schools are addressed. Schools in our communities experience constant disparity in education attainment. Every child should have the opportunity to receive a quality education and attend the school in the community in which they live.
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?
Paul Collins: I would support either a fully elected Board of Education or a hybrid of a Mayor Appointed and an Elected Board, but the Mayor’s appointed slots would have to be one less than the elected slot.
Is there enough affordable housing in your ward? Please explain.
Paul Collins: Currently there is not enough of anything in the 9th Ward. Not enough affordable housing, not enough jobs, not enough access to services, not enough commerce. There are a myriad of issues that have to be addressed and they are all equally important.
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?
Paul Collins: This has to be addressed on a large scale. U.S. Code 1324a – states that it is illegal for a business to employ undocumented immigrants. Yet we are all aware of or suspect some businesses employ undocumented immigrants. A business cannot ignore something illegal in order to benefit themselves and take advantage of these people who are only trying to make a life for themselves. If these companies were held to task, undocumented immigrants would be forced to follow procedures to become documented immigrants with all the rights and protections.
Should the inspector general have the power to audit and review City Council programs, operations and committees? Why or why not?
Paul Collins: YES, YES, YES, and I think YES !!!!!!!!
I believe in a Inspector General, it is called checks and balances. In government it is needed from the lowest low to highest high.
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.
Paul Collins: No I would not because I would not want to give even the slightest perception of impropriety.
Is there a past or current alderman whom you model yourself after, or would model yourself after, or take inspiration from? Please explain.
Paul Collins: No not relly but I do admire Joseph Moore (49th Ward) because of his trailblazing in introducing/inclusion of Participatory Budgeting.
Also running for 9th Ward alderman: