By Charlsie Dewey
Alderman Joe Moore believes in the need for a community based process in the 49th Ward and has spent his time in office doing his best to employ this leadership strategy. One result is the zoning map created by volunteers who studied the current ward zoning and then made suggestions for zoning changes that could help improve ward development. Moore is proud of his achievements within the community and sees a bright future ahead for the 49th Ward.
Windy City Times: What are a couple accomplishments from the past year that you are particularly proud of?
Joe Moore: In the last year, my proudest achievement is probably the completion of a three-year planning process where we examined the zoning map in our ward and made changes to that zoning map to try to respond to some of the concerns about over development that were taking place. ... That's emblematic of the community-based process that I try to employ.
WCT: What are some of your plans for retail development for the 49th Ward?
JM: Well, we hope to build upon the success that we have been witnessing over the last several years. We have a number of new retail amenities that have come into the ward. We're going to build on that. DevCorp, which is the area's local economic development corporation, just completed [ its ] own two-year planning process, and I'm going to be working very closely to implement that. They call for a number of different steps; some of them we're already undertaking.
WCT: How are you planning on dealing with the dwindling units of affordable housing?
JM: That's the other major challenge that I want to work on over the next four years. Since I've been alderman, we've created or preserved over 1,000 units of affordable housing, but clearly much more needs to be done. We will be redoubling our efforts to provide affordable housing to people of low and moderate income, both ownership and rental opportunities. There are a number of things we've already put into place. We have a neighborhood improvement fund [ to ] provide low-interest loans and grants to building owners to rehabilitate their building. In return for that money, those building owners must agree to keep a certain percentage of their rental units affordable. ... Also, we're going to be sponsoring, with the Organization of the Northeast ( ONE ) , a forum in the spring for developers and building owners to let them know the various affordable housing programs that are available.
WCT: Why do you continue to run for office?
JM: Because every day I wake up and look forward to my day and my job. It's a challenging but rewarding career that I have selected. Representing a neighborhood like the 49th Ward, with all of the amazing diversity, is really rewarding.
WCT: How do you respond to your opponents and members of the 49th Ward who have said that you aren't doing enough and that you have even lost interest in your job?
JM: I would invite them to follow me on a daily basis and watch what I do. There's rarely a week that goes by that I don't work at least 70 hours a week on behalf of the ward and, perhaps, they feel that I've lost interest because I've worked on some issues that aren't necessarily traditional for a Chicago alderman, such as my efforts for a living wage. ... Nothing would lower the crime rate more and improve the quality of life in not only my neighborhood but neighborhoods throughout the city [ than ] if people were paid a living wage.
My fight against the war in Iraq—I think I was right about that one. According to the national committee on budget priorities, Chicago taxpayers alone have spent $4 billion on the war in Iraq. If you divide that by the 50 wards, the 49th Ward taxpayers spend $80 million. You can imagine what you can do with $80 million, especially for the affordable housing we just talked about. These have a very direct relation.
[ However, ] that doesn't mean that I am not fully committed to this job and not fully committed to representing the ward, but I recognize that you can't solve these problems just as an alderman. There are other forces at work that have influence as well.
WCT: What do you consider to be the key issues, and what are some ways to effectively and efficiently address these issues?
JM: Obviously, affordable housing is number one. Public safety is and has always been an issue. Fortunately, it's less of an issue than it's been in the past, [ but it's ] still it's an important one. We're going to continue to improve CAPS and make it even better. One of the things I want to do is work on ways to encourage more broad-based participation in CAPS. ... We need to reach out more, [ and ] undertake steps to protect our lakefront. We'll be working closely with our local schools, too, to make sure they have the resources they need.
WCT: Are there any specific LGBT issues that need to be addressed in the 49th Ward?
JM: One thing that I was working on very closely [ during ] the last city council budget season was to restore and increase the funding for AIDS prevention, which is important not only to the LGBT community but to communities across the nation. There's also the extension of the protections of the city's human rights ordinance to transgender and transsexual individuals, extending bereavement leave to domestic partners and extending benefits to domestic partners. Those were all issues I was very proud to work on and I treasure the close working relationship I've had with members of the community.
WCT: Do you have plans to work on getting closer access to healthcare and healthcare resources within the 49th Ward?
JM: Yes. I've been working with the Heartland Alliance, which has been working to locate a health clinic within Rogers Park. We have identified a location in our ward and that enabled them to apply for funding. They are hopeful, as am I, that they'll be able to obtain the federal funding necessary to open a new healthcare clinic within the community.
WCT: Can the LGBT community count on you to equally and fairly represent and protect their issues?
JM: Unequivocally, yes—and you don't just have to believe my rhetoric. Just look at my track record of support to the LGBT community