July 25, 2016
City of Chicago Finances: Are We on the Brink? – Moderated by Laurence Msall – Featuring John Kass, Naomi Richman, and Fran Spielman
John Kass, the son of a Greek immigrant grocer, was born June 23, 1956, on Chicago’s South Side. He grew up there and in Oak Lawn. Growing up he held a number of jobs — merchant marine sailor, ditch digger, waiter — before becoming a film student at Columbia College in Chicago, where he worked at the student newspaper. He obtained an internship at the Daily Calumet in 1980, and ended up working there as a reporter until he left for the Chicago Tribune in 1983. He has won honors including the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi national award for general column writing, the Scripps Howard Foundation’s National Journalism Award for commentary, the Chicago Headline Club’s Lisagor Award for best daily newspaper columnist and the Chicago Tribune’s Beck Award for writing. He lives in the western suburbs with his wife and twin sons.
Laurence Msall is President of the Civic Federation, a nonpartisan government research organization established in 1894 that promotes independent and evidence-based efforts to improve the effectiveness, financial sustainability, and transparency of State and local governments in Illinois. Before joining the Federation in 2002, Msall was Senior Advisor for Economic Development and Infrastructure for Governor George H. Ryan from 1998 to 2002. He previously served as Vice President of the Commercial Club of Chicago, Secretary to the Commercial Club Foundation, and Vice President of the Civic Committee. From 1984 to1988, Msall represented Governor Jim Thompson’s office on economic development and business-related issues before the General Assembly. Msall is a graduate of Loyola University School of Law and Knox College. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Woods Fund of Chicago, the Chicago Civic Consulting Alliance, the Cook County Health and Hospitals System Nominating Committee, and the Kennedy Forum of Illinois. Msall also serves on the Advisory Board of the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs and NPR Illinois Issues. He is an active volunteer with PADS Homeless Shelter and L’arche Chicago.
Naomi Richman is a Managing Director in Moody’s Public Finance Group and a co-manager of Local Government ratings nationally. Naomi manages Moody’s Chicago and Dallas Local Governments Ratings teams, as well as the Local Government Support and Annual Issuer Comment Report teams based in New York. She is a member and former Chair of Moody’s Public Sector Credit Committee, which approves methodologies and policies for global public sector ratings. Naomi has over 25 years of experience in public sector credit analysis at Moody’s. Prior to joining Moody’s, Naomi spent four years with the New York City Department of Finance. Naomi holds an MPP from Harvard University and an AB from Bryn Mawr College.
Fran Spielman has been covering and analyzing Chicago mayors and city government since Richard J. Daley. Her City Hall beats have included Mayors Michael Bilandic, Jane Byrne, Harold Washington, Eugene Sawyer, Richard M. Daley, and Rahm Emanuel. Spielman joined the Sun-Times in 1985 after ten years at Chicago radio station WIND. When owner Westinghouse Broadcasting sold the station, she saw the opportunity to pursue her primary journalistic goal to work for a major newspaper. She had started at WIND right out of Northwestern University—as a sports reporter, morning news producer, then full-time reporter—after covering football, basketball, and tennis for the Daily Northwestern. During her decade in radio, Spielman freelanced for the Chicago Daily News, at Crain’s Chicago Business, for “The Chicago Bear Report”, and as a principle anchor and reporter of Channel 11’s Emmy Award winning sports show, “Time Out”. Spielman is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame. In 2009, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Chicago Headline Club. A decade earlier, Spielman received the Dante Award from the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans.