Open Government & Ethics Reform
No one has fought the Chicago machine longer or more consistently than I, and I’ve got the scars to prove that. I’ve been consistent, fighting against corruption, against racism, and sexism, the exclusion of women within Democratic Party politics in Chicago, and in government. Now we are experiencing a renaissance of progressive politics and the election of a host of young people, women and men, to City Council, to the county board, to county wide seats as well like Metropolitan Water rec district, Springfield, and in Congress.
Moving forward, we must clearly identify and improve the way our government works and for whom it works by eliminating inside dealing, increasing transparency, and ensuring accountability in our processes. I will not lead with slogans but with specific programs to hold me and my administration accountable.
As Mayor, I commit to moving forward with:
Fair Elections – Establishing a Publicly Financed Elections Pilot for those who seek to run for office and commit to not accepting donations from developers and special interests. This could start with the upcoming school board elections.
Political Contributions Reform – I propose the following limits on political contributions.
- $1,600 per campaign if no business dealings with city at time of contribution.
- $250 per campaign if business dealing with city at time of contribution.
- No contributions allowed from corporations, LLCs or partnerships.
- Expand campaign finance limits to include limits on contributions from persons doing business with city or sister agencies, including city contractors and their subcontractors on contracts worth $10,000 or more.
Rank Choice Voting – We will explore and advocate for Rank Choice Voting at the State Level so that we can increase engagement and democracy as it pertains to city elections.
Transparency and Ethics
OIG Partnership – Our office will partner with the Office of the Inspector General to ensure that the office’s reports will lead to legislation and policy changes that improve how our government works. I will support and work to pass the ordinance that authorizes the Inspector General to release official reports at their discretion rather than at the discretion of the mayor’s office corporation counsel.
Pass Amendment to Regulate Mayor’s Action on Future Reports: Passage of 02022-2928 Amendment of Municipal Code Chapter 2-56 “to further regulate duties of Office of Inspector General” introduced by Rodriguez (22) and Hadden (49) which takes discretion away from Corporation Counsel in the Mayor’s office, on which IG reports they may release, and places this discretion into the hands of the Inspector General. This is similar to the process employed by the State of Illinois.
Conflicts of Interest Review Board – As Mayor, I will establish a Conflicts of Interest Review Board that will identify potential conflicts based on political contributions in advance of votes that are taken by the City Council, rather than rely on an Alderperson to self-declare such a conflict as is current practice. Members of the public will be included as members of the Board.
Conflicts of Interest Recusals – Alders recusing themselves from a vote will not be permitted to discuss the matter in public debate or directly with other members of the City Council, the Mayor, or members of the administration. Also, I will support efforts to limit alders and state or county lawmakers from lobbying other branches of government.
Revolving Door Reform – Support State Ethics reform to expand the amount of time before elected officials can lobby the government to which they were previously elected.
Greater Disclosure of Sources of Income – Require all elected officials to publicly release copies of their income tax returns for the current year and for every year they are in office. This information will be posted on the City website or data portal. All candidates for public office will be required to release their last two years of income tax returns upon becoming candidates.
This information will be posted on the City website or data portal.
Budget and Finance
TIF Transparency and Reform – As Mayor, I will bring the TIF program back to its original purpose and subject decision-making to public review.
- I will require that the information on the City’s TIF Portal shows completely and accurately what funds have been committed to each project, the purposes and uses for which funds are requested, the parties requesting funds, the expected returns of TIF investments, and the effectiveness of these investments.
- I will prioritize TIF spending on infrastructure projects, affordable housing, and other projects of City-wide importance that meet City priorities such as summer and year- round youth jobs and services, and school improvements and staffing to ensure schools can function as community anchors.
Independent Auditor General – The State of Illinois has been well served by the Office of Auditor General which comes under the purview of the General Assembly. I will introduce an ordinance that establishes the Chicago Office of Auditor General who will come under the Chicago City Council. As in the case of the State, the Auditor General will be elected and serve a term of 10 years. In the meantime, I will move forward with a full independent performance and financial audit of the Chicago Police Department to ensure that the department is effective and efficient. Currently the Department’s true costs are close to $3Billion when one includes the Office of Public Safety Administration. Clearly, public safety has not improved. We need to know how our tax dollars are being spent, so that we can make sure they are not being wasted.
Year-Round Budget Working Group – As Mayor, I will convene a year-round working group of the City Council to work on budget recommendations, so that together we can develop budget ideas that will help us better utilize the tax dollars and find efficiencies in our City Departments. This will also help in lessening the conflicts that occur every year during budget season.
Transparency in Budgeting – Under my administration, the city’s spending will be more transparent and user-friendly to ensure accountability ARPA funding allocated for investments in community violence prevention have not been spent. We do not have an accurate accounting of costs for compliance with the Consent Decree.
Mandatory Community Engagement for Long-Term Contracts – Under my administration, input from residents will be included in negotiations, including a mechanism to provide and incorporate feedback. Deals like NASCAR and most recently COMEd exhibit the hallmarks and problems of the Lightfoot administration. Rushed, short term decision-making, Lack of transparency, and poor implementation. That is no way to run a city.
Investment in tracking, transparency, and data management – I will focus heavily on making sure we are using the best CRM, Auditing, and Interdepartmental software to ensure that results can be tracked and shared publicly as we work to improve processes and deliver for Chicagoans. City departments need to be brought into the 21st Century as it relates to data collection and sharing. Far too often, city departments do not share information as quickly as is necessary and results are affected, whether it’s something as simple as tracking how long requests take or as complex as a city budget.
Committee Chairs – Under my Administration, Committee Chairs will be decided and elected by the City Council. Committee budgets will be commensurate with their workloads and scope. No longer will chairpersonships be used by the Mayor to centralize power in our city government.
City Council Parliamentarian and Counsel – As Mayor, the City Council will elect the parliamentarian and legislative counsel to assure the Council’s independence from the Executive branch and a fair, open Council.
Independent Financial Analysis – I will also include in the budget increased funding and staffing for an independent Council Office of Financial Analysis which would report to both the Budget and Finance Committees. It will have independent contract authority to secure outside expertise from established fiscal and economic entities.