The 1st Ward is shaped like a fishhook snagging parts of Wicker Park, Bucktown and Logan Square. It also snags two disparate constituencies: younger whites who migrated to Chicago from elsewhere in the Midwest and Latinos who grew up in local schools, churches and the Democratic machine.
Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno, who grew up in Moline, speaks Spanish and listens to Minor Threat, has done an excellent job of bridging both groups. In November, Moreno hosted a “live band punk karaoke” fund-raiser at Quenchers Saloon. The alderman has also proposed or sponsored progressive initiatives like on-street bike parking, banning plastic bags at large stores and decriminalizing marijuana.
The ward’s attractions include the Congress Theater, the Double Door nightclub, the Wicker Park fountain and Myopic, one of the finest used bookstores in Chicago. But, as Moreno notes in one of his answers, parking is hell and Chicago Parking LLC tickets Milwaukee Avenue hard!
1. How would you spend an ideal Saturday afternoon in your ward?
In the summer, visiting all of the wonderful block parties. (Wicker Park Fest is this Saturday and Sunday, on Milwaukee Avenue between North and Paulina.)
2. Why and when did you decide to run for the City Council?
I was appointed by Mayor Daley in 2010 and won election in 2011 with 74% of the vote. My years serving on a Local School Council, as board member of a Social Service Agency, and helping to run a medium sized business helped shaped my views on why we need a progressive, pragmatic government.
3. Do you have a political mentor? Why do you admire this person, and how did he or she influence you?
Martin Luther King, Jr., whose passion matched his pragmatism. I carry the following quote of his on me daily: “The ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand at times of comfort or convenience, but where they stand at times of challenge and controversy."
4. What project is your ward most in need of?
I work everyday with those that need, and want, to work to find it. Also, we are working diligently to increase protected bike lanes and make the ward (and the city) more bike compatible. In the 1st ward, we have the first, in the city, on-street bike corral and are adding more.
5. Has crime increased in your ward this year? What do you think are the causes of, and the solutions, for the citywide increase in violence?
Crime is down in most, if not all categories in my ward. But it isn't enough. Although I am not a police officer, it is my job as alderman to help insure public safety. I routinely go on drive-arounds with my commanders and have, numerous times, knocked on the doors of problem housing to let them know their behavior is not tolerated and they are being watched by me, my staff, and my organization. Partnering with CeaseFire is also essential.
6. Have the installation of parking meters affected traffic or commerce in your ward? What could Chicago Parking LLC do to make things easier for business in your ward?
7. What feature is your ward best known for?
One of the most diverse wards in the city. Diversity is our strength, not a weakness.
8. How do you feel about transferring street sweeping and garbage pickup to a grid system, rather than leaving them under the control of the alderman?
A grid system is much more efficient for our taxpayers. I have been advocating for this since I first took office. I believe we have, now, set up a system were we have enacted a grid system to save millions of dollars, while still allowing the alderman and her/his ward superintendent to have the flexibility to do "special" pickups when necessary.
9. What has been your most significant achievement as an alderman?
Work-Live Ordinance, decriminalizing marijuana, opening the Green Exchange, bringing an International Baccalaureate Program to Roberto Clemente High School, and being the most accessible alderman in the city.
At the end of the day, it is about service. ALL of my constituents, no matter whatever their economic situation, want clean streets, safe neighborhoods and good schools. That is my job.
10. What is your favorite book, television show and meal?
To Kill a Mockingbird. I’m not much of TV watcher but enjoy the McLaughlin Group. The veggie burrito from Picante is incredible.
11. Do you have a tattoo?
Yes. No further comment.
12. What are your thoughts on social media?
It’s essential and the benefits are glaringly obvious. It’s a free way to get your message out and engage with people. I wrote a Huffington Post blog on this topic.
13. How do you feel about food trucks?
We must promote/enable this fantastic opportunity for entrepreneurs at all levels of the economic spectrum to thrive while protecting our brick-and-mortar businesses. I believe the ordinance, which I cosponsored, will do just that and will be a great thing for Chicago. I wrote a debate blog on The Huffington Post to defend why it should be viewed as a palatable compromise.
14. Will you vote for Obama or Romney?
Romney is the worst presidential candidate in my lifetime. The Obama campaign is sharing my political office and I expect to be knocking on doors with my organization in Indiana again this time around.
15. Have you ever bought a Groupon, and what was it?