Are your concerns and issues being addressed?

Are city officials taking responsibility for their decisions?

Are the majority of the people benefiting from these decisions?

Are these decisions made openly and with your input?

Thursday, January 27, 2011


1. Aldermanic office being sought: Alderman of the 2nd Ward

2. Name: Enrique G Perez

3. Address: 600 South Dearborn Street

4. Age: 43

5. Profession: Stay-at-home dad and community activist

6. Current or previous elected office(s) you have run for:

I served on two Local School Councils from 2006 to 2008

7. Primary reason for running:

As Chicago taxpayers, we are not getting our money’s worth out of City Hall. As citizens, we are not getting the responsive, accountable, and transparent government that we deserve. As parents, our children do not have the educational options that they should. As stakeholders in Chicago, the priorities that our leadership has pursued do not benefit the majority of residents. Things can and should be done much better than the current leadership is willing or able to do. The fact is that the 2nd Ward remains a Tale of Two Wards. This must change. There Is A Better Way!

8. Three things you’d like to see happen in your district if elected:

a) More local jobs for local residents

b) Schools for ALL of our children that are good, safe, and within walk distance

c) Substantially reduced crime

9. What do you feel is the proper way to use TIF dollars?

I believe that TIFs can be important tools for economic development, depending on where and how they are used. The problem with TIFs is the lack of transparency surrounding them, the fact that the benefits from them do not accrue equally to all residents living in the TIF district, and the fact that they give rise to "rent seeking", if not outright corruption. I believe that going forward, new TIFs should only be created in truly blighted areas, while exiting TIFs, and the money already in them, MUST be spent in a transparent manner that benefits the majority of the residents who paid into same (e.g. new schools, parks, and other public infrastructure or amenities). Greater effort must be made to notify residents living in TIF districts about things involving the TIF, including the amount of money in the TIF, how the money is proposed to be spent, and what the priorities will be for the TIF going forward. The city must also press Cook County to more clearly write on individual property tax bills what money is being diverted from the schools, parks and other taxing districts and going into the TIF.

10. How, specifically will you aid the city out of the economic recession?

By promoting job growth and encouraging more businesses to come into the 2nd Ward.

To encourage more businesses to come into the 2nd Ward, I will promote regulatory, zoning, operating and financial stability in Chicago’s government. For example, incoming businesses need to know how long it will take for their permits and licenses to be issued and what specific steps they will need to take to open up shop. The same applies to any zoning changes that are needed. The process of opening up shop must be streamlined so that it is well-defined as to time, effort and cost. Businesses need to know that the city will have in place the necessary infrastructure to service them, and to allow both customers and employees to easily access the business. Businesses need to also know that a local well-educated workforce is available in the surrounding area. Tax incentives are important as well because if they can reduce a business's start-up or operating costs, that would serve as a powerful incentive to relocate to Chicago. Finally, too much emphasis cannot be placed on the City of Chicago's overall financial stability. If we had a budget that was consistently in balance and that allowed for city services to be provided in a very effective and efficient manner, incoming businesses could be assured that Chicago will be in a position to be an effective partner to their ongoing success.

In addition, there are other things that I will do as alderman to help 2nd Ward residents find jobs and to promote job growth. They include the following:

1) Hold job fairs - This goes after the “low hanging fruit” by bringing job seekers to jobs that are currently available.

2) Turn part of my office into an information exchange/employment center - Because of the nature of the office, an alderman is uniquely positioned to know about job opportunities that are available in the ward and beyond.

3) Work with specific businesses to locate/expand/hire in the ward - By working through existing channels, such as chambers of commerce, City departments, and businesses inquiring about locating/expanding in the ward, an alderman can help to bring more jobs that are local.

4) Refer residents in need of work to available services - Both the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago have offices/departments that are in a position to lend assistance to job seekers.

5) Advocate for financial and regulatory stability at City Hall - The City’s finances are a mess, and its regulatory climate is not the most business friendly. This discourages job creation by discouraging businesses from locating or expanding in Chicago. This point is a “tall order” and beyond the control of a single alderman, but nevertheless, as an alderman I would push strongly for greater financial and regulatory stability at City Hall.

6) Improve the public transportation system in Chicago - This item is also not something that a single alderman can accomplish, but it is something that I can advocate for and bring attention to. For example, with a well-funded and operated public transportation system, residents who currently live in undeserved neighborhoods would have an easier time getting to jobs that might already be available but very inconvenient to get to.

7) Promote and expand the use of trade schools - For whatever reason, not everyone is going to go to college. A trade school is an alternate choice to consider. While this might mean a formalized program that a student gets into after high school or at some point later in life as a career change, more thought needs to be given to having a trade school component available at the high school level. As alderman, I would work directly with the administrations of all the high schools in the 2nd Ward to see where/how a “trades” program could be implemented.

8) Partner specific schools with specific businesses to implement a cooperative education or internship program - I would look at doing this at the high school level. Also, I would explore a modified “work study” program at the high school level similar in principle to what is used at the college level. Both this point and the point above would go a long way towards beginning to address the high unemployment rate among teenagers and young adults.

9) Develop a long-term plan for developing those areas of the ward (and the City) that are currently undeveloped vacant lots - This brings into consideration the zoning process, community plans, potential businesses that can open shop therein, and a need for more transparency around this process. As for “potential businesses,” I would like to see commercial and light manufacturing businesses open shop in the 2nd Ward as well as retail. There are over 800 city-owned lots in the 2nd Ward, so many job and development opportunities already exist. What is needed is the political leadership to make this happen.

10) Expand the use of “Enterprise Zones” in the ward

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I went to the community meeting last night at Jones College Prep, where officials from the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the Public Building Commission discussed the coming expansion of Jones. The meeting was well attended, and the presentation of the new facility (opening in the Fall of 2013 according to the officials) was impressive.

What did not impress me at all was the fact that none of the officials could answer my three questions:

1. Why has CPS neglected the facade maintenance of the main Jones Building (e.g. broken/chipped concrete at various points, exposed/rusted metal, and clear signs of water infiltration, all clearly visible from Harrison and State Streets)?

2. Is CPS exempt from complying with the City of Chicago's Facade Ordinance that every condo building in Chicago must follow, often to great expense to its unit owners?

3. Will CPS commit to not selling or disposing of the existing facility to another party once the new Jones facility is built (context: Think overcrowding/lack of school space in the South Loop)?

More to follow.....