AFSCME Council 31 2011 Aldermanic Candidate Questionnaire

Completed questionnaires are due no later than close of business on December 6, 2010. You may fax your responses to 312-861-1672, ATTN: Jason Kay.

Candidate Name

Valerie F. Leonard
4111 West 21st Place Chicago, IL 60623

Campaign Office Address

Phone Website


Fax Email


Campaign Manager

Fred Mitchell

Phone 773-638-2620

Campaign Committee Name Office Seeking/Ward

Citizens to Elect Valerie F. Leonard Alderman, 24th Ward

1. BACKGROUND Are you a member of a union? Which one(s) are/have you been affiliated with? No Have you ever held public office? If yes, during what time period (and for which office)? No What is your employment background? I am currently an independent consultant, with a focus on community and organizational development. I have served as the founding executive director of the North Lawndale Small Grants Human Development Corporation, a development coordinator with A. Epstein and Sons, a Financial Analyst with Mount Sinai


Hospital, and Assistant to the Director of Public Finance in the City of New York Office of the Deputy Mayor for Finance and Economic Development.

2. PRIORITIES Briefly describe your key priorities and issue(s) on which you will focus if elected or re-elected. Public Safety-Reduce crime, advocate for more police and enhancements to CAPS program; encourage restorative justice and community-based alternatives to incarceration Economic Development and Job Creation-Provide incentives for employers to relocate or stay in the 24th Ward; redevelop blighted commercial strips; provide comprehensive workforce development programs; enter into redevelopment agreements and community benefit agreements with employers to hire qualified 24th Ward residents. School Improvement-Work with CPS, local schools, parents and other stakeholders to develop 24th Ward Educational Facilities Task Force that is in alignment with the Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force, that provides advice into school boundaries, school openings, closings, school climate, curriculum, academic performance and attendance; develop comprehensive education plan that aligns curriculum of feeder schools with the requirements of local high schools and aligns high school curriculum with requirements of employers and colleges and universities. Citizen Engagement-Development of TIF advisory councils comprised of local stakeholders to provide advice into development within local TIF boundaries; creation of participatory budgeting process in which citizens provide input into prioritizing the 24th Ward menu; re-activating the Lawndale Community Conservation Council to coordinate comprehensive community development within the Lawndale community.

3. RIGHT TO ORGANIZE Do you support the right of workers to organize unions (including public employees and other workers not covered by federal law) entirely independent of the employer and free from management interference, and to bargain collectively for wages, benefits, and working conditions? Yes Would you be willing to provide public support for employees seeking to organize and meeting employer resistance by (check as many as applicable):

   

Speaking at a rally? Asking an employer to remain neutral in an organizing campaign? Holding a hearing to draw attention to employer abuses of worker rights? Sending a letter to employees in support of organizing a union?



4. REVENUE Balancing the city's budget will require a mix of expenditure reductions and new revenue. Would you be willing to support generating revenues through higher taxes and fees if necessary to maintain or improve vital public services? Only as a last resort, after exhausting other alternatives. If so, which revenue enhancements would you consider supporting?

  

Reforming TIFs (Tax Incremental Financing) and restoring the revenues they divert to the city and school district? Raising the city’s portion of the property tax levy? (Only as a last resort) Instituting a city income tax? Instituting a sales tax on large-scale financial transactions, such as that in New York City? Other? (please describe)

Would you oppose changes that drain revenue from the city, such as a reduction in the existing head tax on employers? I would carefully consider each funding proposal that comes before me, and oppose those proposals that could ultimately have a negative impact on the City’s ability to generate revenue. Clearly there must be a balancing act between creating an environment that spurs economic development and job creation while preserving resources for adequate staffing with which to effectively deliver City services. The State of Illinois is also facing a huge budget deficit which impacts many programs operated by the City of Chicago and other public and private agencies. Would you support a revenue and tax reform package such as House Bill 174 which raises the income tax and broadens the sales tax base to include some luxury services, while providing property tax relief, funding for schools, hundreds of millions for the Chicago budget and a solution to the structural deficit? Yes

5. PENSIONS The Mayor’s Commission to Strengthen Chicago Pension Funds issued a report in March documenting the fact that all four of the city’s pension systems are significantly underfunded. Together they will require an increased annual contribution of $710 million next year and each year afterwards for the next 50 years (adjusted for inflation) to reach secure funding levels (90% of actuarial liability). This will require additional revenue sources. Do you favor enacting new revenue sufficient to fund the city’s pension funds according to this schedule? Yes, but only after exhausting other alternatives that will not result in draconian reduction of the City’s ability to deliver services.


Do you agree with the legal experts who believe it is unconstitutional to reduce the pension benefits of current employees going forward? Yes

6. SERVICE QUALITY In recent city budgets, the city has responded to revenue shortfalls by reducing front-line staff through attrition and slow-hiring, mandatory furlough days, and lay-offs. The results have meant fewer police officers on the streets, fewer services in the neighborhoods, and long delays for city administrative functions for local businesses. Would you support adequate staffing levels to maintain or improve service delivery in the city’s budget, including hiring more civilian police staff, library aides, and other front-line workers? Yes In 2008, the city attempted to close four Chicago Department of Health mental health clinics and staffing was significantly reduced, which directly impacted the number of clients served. Consequently, there are now 2000 fewer people getting services. Would you support efforts to restore staff and services to 2008 levels? Time does not permit me to do a thorough analysis of 2008 staff levels vs. 2009 or 2010, and the relative impact to deliver service per person. I will support restoring staff levels to a point where services delivered can be impactful. This will obviously mean shifting resources from other areas of the City’s budget, and identifying alternative sources of revenue.

7. PRIVATIZATION In recent years, Chicago has become known as the “privatization capitol” of American cities. Major public assets like the Chicago Skyway and city parking meters have been sold or leased out for upfront cash, even though the result is long-term revenue losses to the city. At the same time services now being performed by City employees are being contracted out to private firms, even when there are no significant savings realized. and no improvement in services. Would you support an ordinance which sets accountability standards for private firms seeking city contracts to ensure that privatization would result in quantifiable savings, that any such savings would not be based upon paying lower wages or benefits, that privatization would not be used to undermining unionization, and would not result in a diminution of services? Yes Would you sponsor or cosponsor such an ordinance? Yes (I believe such an ordinance may be in the works, and I would be happy to cosponsor)



The city awards “No Bid Contracts” which lack transparency and do not ensure that contracts are awarded to the lowest cost, high quality vendor. Would you support measures to reduce the ability of the city to award contracts outside the competitive bidding process? Yes

Would you oppose further privatization of public assets like the water department that reduce city revenues and have the effect of substituting lower wage, lower-benefit jobs, often for nonresidents, while laying off current city employees? Yes

8. HOSPITAL CHARITY CARE Most hospital systems in Chicago are organized as non-profit organizations and are exempt from property taxes and municipal fees. In return, they are required to provide charity care to those who cannot afford their services. Recently, the Illinois Attorney General found that very few such hospitals are providing adequate amounts of charity care. Resurrection Health Care, a Chicago-based network of eight hospitals, has one of the worst charity care records. Would you support efforts to require hospital systems to provide adequate levels of charity care or lose their tax and fee exemptions? Yes

10. CAMPAIGN QUESTIONS How many petition signatures did you file with to obtain your place on the ballot? Approximately 1,432 (169 were required for the 24th Ward) Please list the names of your paid staff and consultants with their job duties. I do not have paid staff. I have volunteer staff who will be paid when funds allow. 1. Campaign Manager (Fred Mitchell) -Responsible for day to day coordination of campaign activities 2. Director of Field Operations (Edgar Berry)-Responsible for developing precinct organization and mobilizing volunteers for canvassing, phone banking 3. Policy Analyst (Gatanya Arnic)-Responsible for issues research 4. Secretary(Margaret Jean Guyton)-Provides administrative support 5. Director of Communications (Willie Cole)-Responsible for media relations and special events 6. Director of Finance (Daniel Gunn)-Maintains back office and financial management systems



How much money have you raised to date? $10,000 since August, 2010 Who are your most notable supporters – elected officials, businessmen, unions? My most notable supporters are friends and family. I do not have any high profile supporters at this time. It should be noted that to date, there are 23 people in this race and elected officials are not likely to choose sides at this juncture.

SIGNATURE I attest that these answers represent my actions and beliefs, are now part of my public record, and may be used by AFSCME Council 31 to keep union members informed about important issues. ___________________________________________ Signature
12/6/10 _____________________



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