1. TRANSGENDER HEALTH CARE

In December, the CTA updated its insurance policy to cover transition related surgeries for transgender employees, as required by law.

Would you ensure that every City agency and private city-contractor has a policy that covers transition related healthcare and prohibits discrimination against employees who are transgender? If yes, please explain how you would implement this legal requirement in your first year in office.

FORD:

Mayoral Questionnaire
As a full supporter of transgender rights and abiding by the law, I do believe transition related healthcare should be covered across our city government and by private entities that hope to benefit from city contracts. It is right for our employees, and the policy should cover all employees who wish to benefit from it.

2. LGBTQ & POLICE

Members of the LGBTQ community, especially individuals who are transgender, intersex, and gender-nonconforming, and who come from communities of color, report experiencing high incidents of violence and harassment from law enforcement, which erodes trust, and leads to a fear of law enforcement.

Will you pledge to work with the LGBTQ community to update CPD policies that would reduce violence and harassment, and increase trust between the transgender, intersex and gender-nonconforming community and the CPD? If yes, please describe the elements of an updated policy that would reduce the violence and harassment faced by the LGBTQ community.

FORD:
Mayoral Questionnaire

Yes, I believe a true sanctuary city not only protects Chicago residents from unjust outside government forces but against discrimination inside the city itself. Whether we are talking about undocumented residents, other people of color, those with disabilities, members of our LGBTQ community and every intersectional identity, we need to build greater interaction and respect between these community members and CPD whose mission should be to serve and protect.


3. RELIGIOUSLY AFFILIATED HEALTH CARE

Religiously-mandated restrictions – such as the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (ERDs) – tie the hands of health care providers at religiously-affiliated institutions by prohibiting a wide range of services, including contraception and other types of essential reproductive health care.  Patients are harmed when religious restrictions require that their health care providers deny them basic health care services or withhold full information from them.

Will you oppose the extension of TIF and other taxpayer-funded resources to expand and advance health care institutions that deny comprehensive reproductive health care services and information on the bases of religiously-mandated restrictions? 

FORD:
Mayoral Questionnaire
First, I am extraordinarily concerned about the many misuses of TIF resources and the ways they have been used. I would immediately put a moratorium on this mechanism. Second, the City of Chicago and its funding needs a clear separation of church and state, and the elimination of all forms of discrimination.

4. BREASTFEEDING IN CHICAGO

A breastfeeding parent who is not able to regularly nurse or express breast milk through pumping is likely to experience pain, discomfort, and engorgement, and may be at risk for possible infection and/or a reduction in the amount of breast milk produced.

Will your administration insure that every municipal building and office is accessible for breastfeeding parents, including a private, non-restroom space for parents who need to pump breast milk and provide staff training on the rights of breast-feeding parents?

FORD:
Mayoral Questionnaire
Yes, this is not a controversial issue, it just needs the will of the leadership. Like many of the questions here, this should have happened in our city long ago.

5. POLICE REFORM

In September, the City committed to reform the CPD by signing an agreement with the State of Illinois.                                              

Do you support the consent decree between the City and the Illinois Attorney General designed to reform the CPD?  What three steps would you take immediately upon taking office to ensure that the decree is effectively implemented? 

FORD: 
Mayoral Questionnaire

I not only support the consent decree, I fully support the ACLU and other civil liberties/rights groups’ critiques that the consent decree does not go far enough. I am fully interested in working with the ACLU on pushing these issues, including police visually recording their interactions whenever the police pull out their guns.


6. CHANGES TO CPD

Are there any elements of the consent decree that you would want to change? If so, what changes would you make? 

FORD: 
Mayoral Questionnaire

I believe that city residents need a sense of safety in every home, every street, and at all times. To achieve this, I believe we need to stem the gun trade through Federal collaboration that will pressure surrounding states to enact more protective gun laws. But ultimately, to reduce overall violence, I believe we need to create more trust and partnerships throughout our city. We need our communities to have a stronger sense of trust in the city itself and in all city employees.

On multiple levels, we need to think much more broadly in the city about our approaches to justice. We cannot see the solution to the problem as simply more enforcement or more legislation. That results in more people being jailed, more families disrupted, and more people who return to the community with a criminal record.

Like the War on Drugs, simply making harsher penalties for gun-related offenses will only result in more poor residents being placed behind bars without addressing any of the root causes of why people are carrying a gun in the first place. Many young people in our neighborhoods carry a gun because they fear and don’t trust that the police will protect them. They feel they need to take matters into their own hands by carrying a gun.

We need to do everything we can to better understand who would benefit from diversion programs, and do our best to divert those who commit a weapons offense into these programs. We need to connect offenders with resources that will place them on a better path. Addressing our violence issues will not be easily fixed by any one approach. Building trust of residents in city employees will require a lot of work.

We need transformative relations between the police and the community, unlike any other city in the country. We need to untangle the history of oppression and find restorative solutions. All stakeholders need to be part of the conversation, and in restorative ways, including the Fraternal Order of the Police and those community members who have committed crimes or otherwise who are likely to get caught up in the criminal justice system. There must be consensus across stakeholders, and a recognition that the current path is bad for both the Chicago police and the communities they serve.

In other words, we have long been faced with severe tensions. We need our police to act more like partners, like real community members. There needs to be new forms of accountability for those police officers get caught up on the wrong side of brutal and ineffective culture. I believe I have realistic optimism and connections with diverse groups and the faith that different groups can get together for some hard and serious conversations and negotiations to make everyone feel safer, build a collective trust, and reduce all forms of crime. The consent decree will help, particularly if strengthened. We will need many more restorative steps beyond those currently specified.


7. POLICE CONTRACTS

If new contracts have not been negotiated by the time you enter office, what changes would you demand in a new FOP contract in order to advance the police reform process? Do you support the 14 recommendations promoted by the Coalition for Police Contracts Accountability?  

FORD: 
Mayoral Questionnaire

This set of recommendations is an excellent strategy to help bring about greater accountability and transparency. The devil is sometimes in the details. Some of these recommendations are written in wide open ways. For instance, “Remove constraints on how interrogators can ask questions.” I am assuming this is in the context of interrogation of a police officer after a complaint. More details and context would be helpful. As a starting points, I am in complete support of the recommendations, and would love to work more with the ACLU on these issues.


8. LICENSE SUSPENSION

Suspension of a person’s drivers license for unpaid tickets is currently being used as a debt collection tool. Tickets often go unpaid simply because people lack the financial resources to pay tickets on time. For these individuals, license suspensions only make matters worse.  Many Chicagoans need to drive for their jobs, and even many non-driving jobs still require employees to have a valid driver’s license.

Will you support ending the use of driver’s license suspension as a penalty for non-moving violations, including unpaid parking and compliance tickets? What concrete policy changes will you initiate or support?

FORD: 
Mayoral Questionnaire

My mayoral campaign is simultaneously an anti-poverty campaign. Residents without resources are consistently, in a wide variety of categories, penalized. City policies seem to be focused on disempowerment rather than building appropriate empowerment processes. The punitive suspending of drivers licenses is one more example of the spiraling loss of resources that people experience that only accelerates downward. Without a license, one cannot drive, oftentimes this prevents a person from going to work or looking for employment. These are the exact problems I will attack as mayor.


9. PARKING TICKET DEBT

Implementing “ability to pay” hearings and affordable payment plan terms would benefit low-income Chicago residents by allowing them to keep driving legally and avoid having their cars towed or booted.

Will you support creating a citywide process to determine a person’s ability to pay fines and fees, and adopting standards to ensure that payment plans for people who owe ticket debt must be affordable and accessible?

FORD: 
Mayoral Questionnaire

Yes, if Chicago is to become the most equitable city in the country, we cannot continue to penalize people at equal rates and pretend that those penalties impact everyone equally.


10. WELCOMING IMMIGRANTS

Chicago prides itself on being a welcoming city for immigrants, newcomers and asylum-seekers.  The current policy that the City is defending against a challenge by the Trump Administration is considered inadequate by many, since the policy allows someone to be reported to ICE if they have a prior felony conviction, a criminal warrant, a pending felony prosecution, or they are on the City’s gang database – a database that is notoriously inaccurate.

Will your administration support closing the loopholes listed above, in the Chicago Welcoming City Ordinance?

FORD: 
Mayoral Questionnaire

I am currently working on state legislation related to the disparities and radiating negative influences of Chicago’s gang database.

And at the state level, I have always supported our sanctuary state model: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocTypeID=SB&DocNum=35&GAID=14&SessionID=91&LegID=98878

Although I am proud of the current and previous City administrations’ work to make Chicago a sanctuary city, the Chicago Welcoming City Ordinance has its loopholes. A true sanctuary city goes beyond protection from ICE. It provides a sense of freedom for all residents to get the services they need, and when humanly possible, in the languages in which they need those services. Our schools need to be sanctuary schools. We can work toward the purest sanctuary city model in the country, designing it "with" and not "for" those without documentation and their allies. A real sanctuary city will be inclusive in every meaning of the term, at new and more protective levels.


11. TRANSPARENCY IN GOVERNMENT

Open, transparent government is a critical value in our system of government. Over the past several years, the City has refused to release material about important public policy matters, even when requested through the Freedom of Information Act process.  Such denials have led to litigation and delays in releasing information to the public. 

Will your administration commit to ensuring that city, and all of its agencies, promptly and completely respond to FOIA requests?   How will you act to implement your commitment? 

FORD:
Mayoral Questionnaire

There are no excuses to delay FOIA requests. An open, transparent, and participatory city government should respect the media, civil rights groups, and civilians by allowing them to see what is happening behind the scenes. This is at the core of any democracy. We also need a truly independent Office of Inspector General.


12. SURVEILLANCE CAMERAS

As one of the most surveilled cities in the world, Chicago collects vast amounts of sensitive information about its residents every day.  The city employs an extensive, unchecked, surveillance camera system that is utilized by an unknown number of agencies, including CPD.

What specific steps would your administration take to limit and regulate the use, and how will you ensure that the public knows how these systems work, and what technology is being utilized? 

FORD:
Mayoral Questionnaire
Surveillance and other advances in technology that harm the privacy of individual residents is a serious problem. If not kept in check, this will become an ever increasing problem with advancements in technology. These technologies, including artificial intelligence, have been shown to amplify existing biases against people of color, the poor, and those who have been previously incarcerated. I will approach this issue very seriously and am always open to working with the ACLU on it.

13. FACIAL RECOGNITION

The use of facial recognition technologies by law enforcement has been criticized because those systems have been shown to be susceptible to discrimination and bias.

What steps would your administration take to limit and regulate the use of facial recognition technologies by law enforcement and private businesses?  How would your administration generally support or oppose the use of facial recognition technology in Chicago?  

FORD:
Mayoral Questionnaire

My response is the same as Question 12 above. We have seen privacy rights diminish across this country. A true sanctuary city requires that we not only protect residents from entities outside our city, but we also need to protect our residents from our own city government, its employees, and others who are not respectful to the rights of others.


14. SURVEILLANCE DATABASES

Do you believe in using civilian oversight to ensure transparency and accountability for police practices, including the use of automated and surveillance technologies for law enforcement decision-making? How would you incorporate civilian oversight and ensure transparency in CPD’s use of automated and surveillance technology?

FORD:
Mayoral Questionnaire
I support an elected or otherwise civilian board to oversee the use of this technology. Given that we already have an excessive surveillance system, we should not expand that surveillance by making the data public because entities other than CPD have access. Doing so could violate citizens’ privacy. 

 

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