LOGAN SQUARE — Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) is catching heat from challenger Amanda Yu Dieterich for breaking a campaign promise he made last election cycle.
It’s one of many criticisms Yu Dieterich is hurling at the alderman on her new website, carlosrealrecord.com, which she said she launched with the goal of “telling the truth and being transparent.”
Ramirez-Rosa also recently launched his own new website, factsfor35.org, which he said he created in response to “one of the nastiest misinformation campaigns in the history of our community.”
In 2015 election questionnaires, Ramirez-Rosa promised to take a $35,000 pay cut and put that money back into the community if elected. But that didn’t happen — at least not formally. Records show Ramirez-Rosa earns about $117,000 per year as alderman.
Asked about Yu Dieterich’s charge, Ramirez-Rosa acknowledged that while he failed to formally fulfill the promise for bureaucratic reasons, he’s put thousands of dollars back into the ward each year.
Ramirez-Rosa told Block Club he approached the City Hall human resources department when he was first elected and asked to transfer a portion of his salary into his 35th Ward account, but a staffer told him that he could only transfer money into the general city fund.
A city spokesman wasn’t able to confirm the alderman’s account Wednesday.
Unsettled by the thought of putting money into an account that could be used for any city-related expense, Ramirez-Rosa said he opted to pay for ward services and supplies out of pocket instead. He estimated he’s spent $9,000 per year on those types of expenses since 2015, but admitted he hasn’t kept all of his receipts over the last couple of years.
“I’m not perfect. I’m a human being. In retrospect, I probably would not have made that commitment,” Ramirez-Rosa said.
The alderman went on, saying, “But overall, the commitment I have made to be a leader for working families, standing up to big developers, and making sure we have a model of transparency on zoning changes in the community — that’s the record voters should think about it, and think of it in totality.”
Yu Dieterich isn’t satisfied by Ramirez-Rosa’s explanation, however.
“First, Alderman Rosa should not be making promises that he cannot keep, and if he found out later that he wasn’t able to follow through with that promise then he should have leveled with the community before now,” the candidate said in a written statement.
“Second, if he was serious about following through on this promise, he could have donated the $35,000 from his yearly salary to his political organization and used the money for ward services in a transparent, accountable way.”
Yu Dieterich has also taken issue with Ramirez-Rosa’s City Council attendance record, saying the 94 percent figure he touts is misleading because records show he missed committee meetings 58 percent of the time.
“If you skipped work that often, would you keep getting paid more than $117,000 each year?” Yu Dieterich wrote on her website.
Like some of his colleagues whose attendance records are also under a microscope right now, Ramirez-Rosa said committee meetings don’t hold the same weight as council meetings.
“I requested to be on committees that took up substantive matters. Instead I was placed on committees that vote on disability parking spots. They last 5-10 minutes. Literally they’re gaveled in and gaveled out. …I missed a meeting because I showed up just as they were gaveling in,” Ramirez-Rosa said.
The alderman added: “There’s no real work happening in those committees.”
Also on Yu Dieterich website she attacks Ramirez-Rosa for skipping out on his rent in his Mark Fishman-owned office building and giving Berman Nissan a $5.5 million tax break while accepting thousands in campaign contributions from the dealership.
In interviews with Block Club, Ramirez-Rosa has said Fishman, one of the most well-known property investors in gentrifying Logan Square, manufactured the rent dispute in an effort to have power over him, to “bully and buy him.”
Not long after Ramirez-Rosa’s eviction, Yu Dieterich received a $5,000 campaign donation from a limited liability corporation associated with M. Fishman Co. Fishman told The Daily Line he has no ownership in the LLC.
On Berman Nissan, Ramirez-Rosa has said he supported the deal because it provided good jobs.
With Ramirez-Rosa’s new website, factsfor35.org, he’s specifically addressing accusations in Yu Dieterich’s negative mailers.
“Our opponent is taking tens of thousands of dollars from Rahm donors and big developers displacing families from our ward and using it to fund one of the nastiest misinformation campaigns in the history of our community,” Ramirez-Rosa wrote on Facebook.
“That’s why we launched www.factsfor35.org, because 35th Ward voters deserve the facts to make an informed decision on who they will support this election.”
On the website, Ramirez-Rosa responds to accusations in Yu Dieterich’s mailers — that he “doesn’t do his job,” “brought NO affordable housing to the ward,” and that he’s “another machine politician who supported Joe Berrios,” referring to the disgraced former Cook County Assessor.
The last claim, Ramirez-Rosa’s campaign said, is “perhaps the most absurd.”
“Carlos has been one of the most outspoken critics of Council leadership, the broken property tax system, and the administration. He only won his seat four years ago by running against the establishment,” the website reads. “And while it is true that, once, Joe Berrios gave a $500 contribution to him, Carlos has never supported or endorsed Joe Berrios. Additionally, Carlos was endorsed for reelection by the Chicago Sun-Times for being ‘an independent voice.'”
Last election, Ramirez-Rosa handily beat then-Ald. Rey Colon, becoming the youngest alderman on the City Council.
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