Vox Populi: Regular Folks Respond To BGA Chicago Mayoral Questionnaire

No more parking meter deals without representation! Or at least a financial audit!

That’s a rallying cry the next mayor of Chicago should heed before attempting to spin off any major public assets, such as Midway Airport or the city’s water system, to private investors, according to members of the general public who responded to the 2011 BGA Chicago Mayoral Questionnaire.

In addition, responses to the questionnaire indicate the public craves a tighter, leaner and more accountable city government. But a slim majority doesn’t want to reduce costs by chopping away at the medical and retirement benefits of current city workers.

A total of 32 people responded to the BGA questionnaire. Their reactions come after all six mayoral hopefuls participated in the questionnaire and their answers were posted Jan. 26 on the BGA website. At that time, the BGA invited the general public to take the questionnaire and have their responses posted online.

Admittedly, this is not a scientific poll but rather a means of gauging the candidates’ views and comparing them to a sampling of a broader public response. Here are some highlights:

Selling city assets

A solid 100 percent of the general audience said public hearings and greater financial accountability should be required before any public assets are spun off to private buyers. That answer coincides with all the mayoral hopefuls, who agreed that such basic measures are necessary before the city enters any new privatization deals such as the controversial parking meter deal.

Free Forum: Feb. 9 @ 8 p.m.

The BGA will explore privatization at the Feb. 9 forum, “Privatizing Chicago: The New Chicago Way?” at Columbia College, 618 S. Michigan Ave. at 8 P.M.
>> CLICK HERE for details.

Expanding the Inspector General’s reach

Of those responding to the questionnaire, 94 percent say the Inspector General should have the right to go beyond city agencies and investigate the legislative branch of city government. All six mayoral candidates said they favor this proposal.

Reducing the size of the City Council

Of those responding to the questionnaire, 75 percent want to cut the size of the City Council. Of the six mayoral candidates, Gery Chico and William Walls III said “yes”; Miguel del Valle, Carol Moseley Braun and Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins said “no”; and Rahm Emanuel did not respond within the questionnaire’s parameters.

Reducing the salary of mayor and aldermen

Of those responding to the questionnaire, 91 percent said go for it. Of the six mayoral candidates, Emanuel, del Valle, Chico and Walls agreed to consider it; Moseley Braun and Van Pelt-Watkins said “no” to that possibility.

Merging, streamlining or eliminating departments

Of those responding to the questionnaire, 94 percent said there are places to cut. All the candidates agreed.

Cutting medical, pension benefits for city workers

Of those responding to the questionnaire, nearly 55 percent said “no.” Five of the candidates also said “no” to such cutbacks and Emanuel did not respond within the questionnaire’s parameters.

Police and public safety

Of those responding to the questionnaire, 78 percent said they favor realigning police beats to improve public safety and cut costs. Del Valle, Moseley Braun, Van Pelt-Watkins and Walls said “yes”; Emanuel and Chico said “no.”

Meanwhile, 65 percent said the next Chicago police chief should come from the ranks of the city’s police department. Four of the candidates—del Valle, Moseley Braun, Chico and Walls agreed and said “yes.” Van Pelt-Watkins said “no” and Emanuel did not respond within the questionnaire’s parameters.

Personal Finances

Finally, the candidates’ personal finances are of interest to a large majority of those responding to the questionnaire; 87 percent think a mayoral aspirant should reveal his or her tax returns before the Feb. 22 election. Five of the six candidates agreed while Walls said “no.”

This blog entry was reported and written by Robert Reed, the BGA’s director of programming. Contact us with tips, suggestions and complaints at (312) 821-9030, or email our investigative team at rherguth@bettergov.org.

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Filed under 2011 Chicago Elections, Streamlining Government, Transparency

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