CN January 10 2019


Our guest this week is mayoral candidate Bill Daley.

Below are some highlights from our wide-ranging conversation about his vision for the future of Chicago. (a Chicago of which, of course, he’s the Mayor.)

On his proposal to eliminate the almost 500 Local School Councils and replace them with 50 “Neighborhood School Councils”

What I proposed today was instead of having each school have a local council we have a neighborhood council that would represent somewhere between 8 to 12 at most schools and probably  have 50 to 60 neighborhood councils, so that the council would have the same power as they have now about budget and picking a principal and being intimately involved…. Kids could still go where they want to go. But I think if the neighborhood council and the people who are active in that neighborhood think of themselves more than just their individual school, that community will be better served. We’ve got to get communities with more than one, even some communities don’t have that, the tier level 1 schools.

On the creation of a hybrid school board

what I proposed is somewhat of a hybrid and that would be that the mayor would have four appointments, that the local school council process or the neighborhood school council if we go to that from the bottom up would select three people that would be delivered to the mayor to be put on the board. Not to decide which one. Those three would be put on the board and you would have seven members. Four mayoral, three…but you would have to have five votes in order to pass the major things like a budget so that there would have to be some compromise. And a couple of the reasons why I think that process works, one as I mentioned there’s no real evidence that the elected versus appointed makes a difference in the actual outcomes for the kids and that’s what this is all about.

On why Daley doesn’t favor direct election to the school board

So then on the one side you’ve got the Union and then you’ve got the charter people or whoever and lots of money being thrown in and more politicians running around I don’t think that’s healthy for the kids. And the last reason to my concern is non-citizens of which there are a lot of kids in the school system whose parents are non-citizens could not participate in that election process, and I think we have to be sensitive to them. They can participate in the local school council process and I think that’s a fairness issue for those kids and their parents who are active in the school system. They want to have a voice in something about the direction of the school system. So those are the reasons why I’ve come up with appointed members and a bottoms up sort of process that would put three board members on the committee that the mayor didn’t find and put on.

On merging CPS and the City Colleges:  a “14-year” approach to education

What we have right now is, and we celebrate the fact that more kids, graduates of CPS are going to college and that’s great, but only 18% of the kids who graduated from CPS finish a four-year college within six years. So many of them fall off at some period with enormous debt from trying to do that. And they are not ready for a job. They are not ready for life in many ways but it really is stepping back and not looking at our obligation to educate and train kids from K to 8 and then 9 to 12, but look at it as a 14-year period when at the end of that 14 years that kid may go on to finish two more years of a four-year program, that’s great, or he or she and they go on to graduate school or law school or be a brain surgeon and that’s great. But the vast majority of them will be ready for those jobs many of which all you need is that associate degree at that point.

On the need to drastically reduce the size of the City Council

Most industries, most companies if they are what they primarily were 90 years ago they are not in existence. The world has changed – technology, the way people do whatever. And government generally is small change and slow. Business and other entities today if you are not big and fast you don’t survive. So I think it’s time we take a look, we have a system of 50 aldermen that was basically created at the beginning of the 20thCentury when the alderman was the mini mayor of that ward. All services basically went through the alderman. That was the system and it worked I guess at that time. The world has changed. What people expect of their government and their engagement with the government as their engagement with other parts of life, is very different than it was in the last century.

On the need to end so-called “aldermanic prerogative” with a 15-person council

I think you take that ability of the alderman to just unilaterally say thumbs up or thumbs down on a project off the table. Again, does it mean that he or she is cut out? If I was mayor and I had a council of 15 and an alderman represented that ward and he or she strongly felt on an issue on something I’m going to listen to that alderman. I’m not going to say I’m going to agree with everything and it isn’t going to be some bureaucrat sitting in the Planning Department that is going to roll over that alderman and his or her community who are strongly standing behind it, it may mean that the alderman has to build also a consensus in his ward on an issue one way or the other and really show that it reflects the community when he stands up for this project or against this project. And he or she is going to have to build the support in that community for his position more than he has to now maybe where he could just thumbs up or thumbs down.

On the need for a property tax freeze

I have stated I am not going to raise the property taxes and if I have to after my first year I would have a dollar of cut for every dollar of property taxes. We cannot keep putting this on the backs of the homeowners in this city…Right now in the city your entire property tax bill, your city’s portion goes to pensions and debt. The rest of the city is funded by everything else.

On the need to revise the pension clause in the Illinois Constitution

I’m probably the only mayoral candidate who is saying we have to open up this constitution and make a change so that we can honestly sit down and negotiate some of these things…We have in the city right now there’s 50,000 retirees and there’s 50,000 existing employees, about 100,000 people total give and take a few. That’s less than 5% of the population in the city. That amounts to a $28-billion anchor around the neck of everybody else. So we’ve got to address this thing, okay. We have got to find a way and the only way, and I said this to the Federation of Labor, the only way out of this box to do honest negotiations to affect both sides of this equation in my opinion is to change the constitution so we can sit down.

On the compounded 3 % annual “cost living” pension increases

Okay, you can retire as a police officer at 50, live to 90, get a 3% compounded for 40 years. Now if somebody came to you and said, “Give me whatever amount you’ve got, I’ll guarantee you 3% compounded a year for 40 years,” I think you would take it.

But I’m not saying take that 3% to zero. We’ve got to be able to negotiate somewhere in the middle. That ends up bending that curve this way that we’re on right now which is this. But right now a labor leader couldn’t do that because his members would say, “Well wait a minute, we’re protected by the Constitution, so just hang on because all I care about is myself.”

On the public perception that he’d be “just another Daley.”

But I’m not saying take that 3% to zero. We’ve got to be able to negotiate somewhere in the middle. That ends up bending that curve this way that we’re on right now which is this. But right now a labor leader couldn’t do that because his members would say, “Well wait a minute, we’re protected by the Constitution, so just hang on because all I care about is myself.”

On the need for additional police officers

I don’t think it’s about more police. We have about the same per capita as New York so it’s not that…No, I don’t think we have to hire 5,000 more police officers. I think we can use technologies. I think we’ve got to do smarter policing, which the police department is doing a better job of…Training is the most important thing and I committed to move the consent decree that has proposed 40 hours I think after three or four years of training. I’m saying we have to front-end load that. We have to give the men and women of the police department more support on training and make them better police officers so they can do a better job for us. Every other profession out there trains their people in a way through their entire career that is much better than the Chicago Police Department does and other police agencies do around the country. And that’s to help the policemen. That’s not to stymie them or make their job more difficult.

On whether it would be possible to reopen the parking-meter deal

No, I don’t think so. Would I have done it the same way? No. Do I understand why it was done? That there was an enormous need for money during the biggest economic crisis that the city has ever had with more foreclosures, and the city was faced with one or two options. Enormous property tax or 5,000 people including police laid off. I get the urgency to avoid those two things at the time. I think it was mishandled in many ways the way it was obviously rolled out, but I get the pressure to do that. And that gets back to, to be honest with you that’s why we have to begin to solve or at least begin to solve some of these enormous long-term financial problems of the city. Without that everyone is running around with a Band-Aid.

You can watch the show by tapping the image above.

You can listen to the audio of this show here.

You can read full transcript of the hoo here: transcript jan 10 2019


About Ken

Ken's the host of Chicago Newsroom. A former news director, reporter and radio program host, he's also a past Vice President of the Chicago Headline Club.
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