Part II: Candidates Sound Off at RVJ 32nd Ward Forum

By Samantha Abernethy | Friday, January 28, 2011

The audience listens to challenger Brian Gorman at last Thursday's 32nd Ward candidates' forum. Credit: Brad Bretz.

This is the second part of our coverage of the 32nd Ward Candidates Forum on January 27. Click here to read the first part.

Question: All of you have come out against the reallocation of police officers in the 19th district. Short of hiring new police officers, which would cost more money that Chicago does not have, how would Chicago solve this growing crime problem?

Lynch said the reorganization of police beats is not the way to take care of crime issues.

“Crime is not something that I think we can look at in shades of grey,” said Lynch, “and say ‘a rape is more serious than a mugging.’”

Lynch has been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police.

Gorman wants to see those 2,000 officers hired because it can be a higher gap when officers are on vacation.

“I fundamentally reject the premise of the question that this needs to be solved in the absence of 2,000 officers short,” said Gorman.

Waguespack said the aldermen’s offices should do their part to fill gaps where the police are unable to by attending CAPS meetings and sending community alerts.

“That’s the way that you fill the gap when you’re 2,000 officers short,” he said. “You have to look at the big picture items, you cannot ignore them.”

Pavlik also wants to employ more officers through reorganization of the budget. He pointed again to the reorganization of 911 call centers for smarter deployment of officers.

Pavlik also said he’d like to see retired officers help organize neighborhood watch and CAPS meetings. He pointed to a program, where retired firefighters donate their time to do some of the stuff that isn’t directly involved with the fire, like being on-hand to pass out blankets and coffee.

Question: Would you consider privatization of our water supply or Midway airport or any other part of the city, considering how things went with the parking meter deal?

“If you have an open process, if you have somebody else looking at it, privatization might not be a bad thing,” said Waguespack.

Waguespack voted against the parking meter deal.

“Obviously, the parking meter deal, I think we universally accept was a terrible deal for the City of Chicago,” said Gorman.

Waguespack’s three opponents all asked why Waguespack and other aldermen didn’t use “defer and publish,” a parliamentary procedure, where a number of aldermen could request the vote be tabled until the next meeting.

“Defer and publish would’ve done it,” said Pavlik. “It would’ve taken two people.”

Pavlik also said the city needed to manage its assets better and “dropped the ball” by not raising the parking meter rates themselves before selling the meters.

Five people voted against the parking meter lease deal, and Lynch said voting against it was good, but the “defer and publish” option would’ve been better.

“If we had two people, we had another six weeks for sunlight to shine all over this,” said Lynch.

Question: The 32nd Ward experienced a great deal of residential upzoning in the past. Will you pledge to oppose residential upzoning and protect policies and protect policies like Roscoe Village Neighbors R3 zoning policy?

Pavlik said a blanket prohibition against upzoning is irresponsible and proposals should be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Gorman agreed and said a pledge against residential upzoning is “hokey”.

“Obviously, zoning issues are by their very nature to be taken on a case-by-case basis,” said Gorman.

Lynch said he lives in a historic neighborhood and wants to preserve the landscape of the community. But he added that prohibiting upzoning would be “myopic”.

Waguespack defended the ban on upzoning.

“Well, it’s not hokey, it’s not extreme, it’s what the residents want,” he said.

Waguespack said it was Roscoe Village and West Lakeview residents that were part of the process in 2007, deciding that the neighborhood was “not for sale.”

“We’ve stayed on that course for the last four years, and we’re going to stick with it as long as it’s the community groups and the residents who come together and said ‘Alderman, this is really what we want to see happen.’”

Question for three challengers: Comparatively, the 32nd Ward is one of the most attractive and wealthy parts of the city. Can you give specific examples of problems with constituent services in the 32nd ward that other parts of the city receive that we do not? What do they get in the rest of the city that we’re not getting here in the 32nd ward?

All three challengers took the opportunity to find flaws in the execution of services by Waguespack’s office.

“It’s day-in, day-out attention to the not-so-sexy details of being alderman that we’re not receiving,” said Pavlik.

Pavlik said every alderman has complaints of rats and pot holes, but said they don’t have them as bad as the 32nd Ward. He pointed to the comparatively high rat population and compared Western Avenue to a “cobblestone street”.

Gorman said there is trouble with how the alderman’s office dispenses services and said people were being told to call 311 instead of the alderman’s office managing the situation

Lynch compared 32nd Ward services to those offered by the 1st Ward. He pointed to a crime that happened at a school on the border between the two wards. He said the 1st Ward was more accommodating.

Lynch accused Waguespack of not attending CAPS meetings. He said he has been told they’ve never seen Waguespack attend a meeting.

“These aren’t abstract things that are out of context,” said Lynch. “They are specific examples that I know.”

Question for the Alderman: As an alderman who is completing his first term, how would you advise somebody else that is beginning a term to address constituent services?

“Well it shouldn’t be a surprise that I’ve been a punching bag for the last few weeks at these debates,” said Waguespack. “It gets frustrating, it gets offensive, when people sit up here and say things that just don’t hold water.”

Waguespack said his office doesn’t refer residents to call 311 to request services.

Waguespack admitted that sometimes it is difficult to get services and said his staff tries to “improvise” and said he has volunteers and others help out with things like cleaning up graffiti when the city doesn’t respond quickly enough.

Waguespack said SSA’s also give his office money to do more in the community, when the city isn’t doing enough.

“You know who I didn’t get a phone call from in the last four years? The guys at this table,” said Waguespeck. “These guys never once came up and said, ‘how can I help in your office?’”

In Conclusion: Each candidate gave a 2-minute closing statement. Here is an excerpt from each.

Ald. Scott Waguespack:

“My door has always been open to take more of that advice and to work on issues that are important to you, whether it’s a park … or the Western Avenue overpass … whatever it might be that would make this neighborhood better. These are things that I’m going to continue to work on, and we’re going to roll up our sleeves together. I’m asking you for your support again on February 22 so that we can … move this city forward,” said Waguespack.

David Pavlik:

“We’ve had 80 minutes of discourse with you here, and the current alderman during those entire 80 minutes did not offer a single proposal for the next four years of how he could make things better, or how he could make specific improvements, or how he could make a specific cut to the budget, that would make this all a little bit easier for us.”

Bryan Lynch:

“For the first time in 50 years we won’t have an incumbent mayor running for reelection, and … there will be approximately 10 current sitting aldermen that won’t be running for reelection. Hopefully it will be a decidedly different makeup of the city council. This is an enormous, tremendous opportunity for us to have a spirited and independent debate about the issues that loom ahead.”

Brian Gorman:

“Ladies and gentlemen, being an alderman is not rocket science. It is simple. It’s hard work, but it’s a simple process. Understanding what your role is: 1. Provide for the service needs of those that live here, which means providing an office that’s accessible, responsive and engaging. 2. Fight for and deliver the resources back to the community. We cannot afford to have an alderman leave $711,000** of menu money on the table …”

**Gorman cited a Chicago Sun-Times article in finding this number, but Waguespack’s office said the information was incomplete when the story was written. Waguespack spokesman Tom Fendley sent numbers to show the alderman spent 99 percent of the menu money available to him. The original article could not be found in the Sun-Times archives.

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