Alex Nitkin is The Daily Line’s reporter covering Cook County and Chicago land use policy. He came to TDL from The Real Deal Chicago, where he covered Chicago real estate news. He previously worked at DNAinfo, first as a breaking news reporter, and then as a neighborhood reporter covering the city's Northwest Side. Nitkin graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism with a bachelor’s degree.
Aldermen during the June 23 City Council meeting [Don Vincent/The Daily Line]
A modified plan to expedite business permits, approval of a $4 billion mega-development on the Near South Side and a years-in-the-making civilian police oversight plan are among dozens of items set for consideration by the City Council on Wednesday during its last meeting before the council’s August recess.
Hacked emails offer a rare glimpse at the grinding process by which civilian police oversight went from a lofty campaign promise to an ordinance on the brink of passage to a political dead end, leaving the issue open for more than a year. [Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago]
Aldermen over the weekend appeared within striking distance of a deal with Mayor Lori Lightfoot on a blueprint to establish civilian oversight of the Chicago Police Department, an agreement that has eluded the parties for more than a year.
Lightfoot’s campaign promise on police oversight comes tantalizingly close, 16 months after the last deal fell apart
Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough is ready to start calculating property tax rates after initially refusing to do so, her office announced. And City Council committees are set to take up ordinances on a range of issues, from remote administrative hearings to car impoundments.
News in brief: Yarbrough backs off threat to hold up property taxes; rules on administrative hearings, car impoundments set for committee consideration
Chicago Police Department Supt. David Brown during an August 2020 news conference [Chicago Police Department]
Updated Wednesday 12:54 p.m.: Nearly half the City Council used a legal maneuver on Wednesday to trigger a special meeting designed to probe Chicago Police Department leaders about their plans to head off summer violence ahead of the July 4 weekend.
The virtual council meeting, now scheduled for 11 a.m. on Friday, follows through on a letter signed on Tuesday by 25 aldermen threatening to convene the special meeting if a powerful committee chair did not act this week to schedule a wide-ranging meeting to review police policies.
Aldermen agreed to spring two-dozen measures out of the City Council Committee on Committees and Rules, putting them back on track. And Cook County commissioners signaled they’re moving full-steam on a plan to ask county voters to raise their own property taxes to fund the Cook County Forest Preserve District.
News in brief: Ride-share ordinance, other measures sprung from rules committee; county commissioners unanimously endorse Forest Preserve District tax hike
Aldermen during an April 2021 City Council meeting. [Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times/pool]
This article was published in collaboration with Block Club Chicago.
CHICAGO — Chicago no longer has aldermen — at least according to a bill signed by Gov. JB Pritzker Thursday.
The bill, which was primarily introduced to expand voting options and move the state’s 2022 primary from March 15 to June 28, also called for the elimination of the term used to describe Chicago City Council members for 184 years. Now, the gender neutral “alderperson” will be used to describe city elected officials in state legislative materials.
State Adopts ‘Alderperson’ To Describe Chicago City Council Members — But Some Alderpeople Aren’t Thrilled
From left: Rosa Escareño, Michael Jacobson and Ald. Raymond Lopez (15) speak during Tuesday’s workforce development committee meeting.
Aldermen on Tuesday unanimously approved two sweeping ordinances meant to help Chicago workers, particularly domestic workers and those in the hotel industry, now that the city has fully reopened.
Members of the City Council Committee on Workforce Development asked few question about the proposal (O2021-2182) from Mayor Lori Lightfoot designed to protect workers as part of her “Chi Biz Strong Initiative” and offered congratulatory remarks on Ald. Ed Burke’s (14) and Ald. Raymond Lopez’s (15) “Hotel Worker Right to Return to Work" ordinance (O2020-5778).
Wednesday’s scheduled vote to rename Lake Shore Drive after Jean Baptiste Pointe Du Sable is the culmination of a more than 18-month effort.
The outer portion of Lake Shore Drive would be renamed after Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable if aldermen approve a long-stalled name change Wednesday. And another proposal up for a vote in the City Council would empower the city to shut down “rogue” towing companies operating in the city.
An aerial view of the 12-acre "North Union" development planned on the Moody Bible Institute campus [Department of Planning and Development]
A decade-long plan to build more than 4,000 new homes along multiple blocks of the Near North Side (O2021-1024) will headline Thursday’s 10 a.m. meeting of the Chicago Plan Commission.
Members of the Chicago Aldermanic Black Caucus during an October 2019 news conference [Alex Nitkin/The Daily Line]
The City Council’s Aldermanic Black Caucus voted to endorse the Empowering Communities for Public Safety Ordinance, adding a powerful tailwind to the civilian police oversight plan as Mayor Lori Lightfoot prepares to release her long-awaited counterproposal.
Ald. Scott Waguespack (32) used a committee meeting Thursday to ask whether Chicago Board of Ethics members think the city should be involved in the Chicago Park District’s probe into sexual abuse among its lifeguards. Aldermen advanced an update to the city’s excavation rules. A group of aldermen sent a letter to city health officials asking them to impose a requirement for proof of vaccination in indoor spaces. And the City Council Committee on Contract Oversight and Equity is set to advance an extension of the city’s minority hiring program, weeks before the program is set to expire.
News in brief: Ethics board pressed on Park District scandal; minority contracting rules set for extension
An ordinance that would allow sports betting at the city’s ballparks and stadiums is set to escape a City Council procedural snafu on Friday. [Heather Maguire via Unsplash]
A proposal to legalize sports betting at Chicago’s ballparks and arenas is set to get back on track Friday, setting it up for potential passage later this year after it was knocked off course.
Will Shih, a senior policy adviser to Mayor Lori Lightfoot, shows a map of the smaller downtown cannabis “exclusion area” proposed by a new ordinance
A divided City Council committee voted on Wednesday to advance a proposal from Mayor Lori Lightfoot to ease the path for new cannabis dispensaries to open in the city, sweeping aside critics who said city leaders should wait to see how the state’s chaotic licensing rollout shakes out before giving new operators a boost.
Attorney James Franczek (left) and Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22) during a virtual committee hearing on Tuesday
Aldermen voted unanimously on Tuesday to advance an eight-year, $600 million contract with Chicago’s rank-and-file police union, acknowledging the exchange of retroactive pay hikes for a laundry list of new accountability guardrails represented the best bargain the city was likely to reach.
An ordinance lowering barriers for new cannabis dispensaries to open in Chicago is set for consideration by the City Council zoning committee on Wednesday. [Unsplash]
Updated 9:25 a.m. Monday, Sept. 8: A freshly tweaked proposal to cut red tape for new cannabis dispensaries is set to come before aldermen on Wednesday, potentially easing the path for dozens of new pot entrepreneurs to set up shop in Chicago following this summer’s state-run license lotteries.
A $600 million, eight-year contract with the city’s rank-and-file police union is set for consideration by aldermen on Tuesday. [Kelly Bauer/Block Club]
A years-overdue, $600 million contract with the Chicago Police Department’s rank-and-file union is set for its first public audience with aldermen on Tuesday, setting off a balancing act for city budget officials looking for ways to foot the bill for officer pay raises.
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Director Marc Smith (left) and Danielle Gomez, a staff attorney for the Cook County Public Guardian’s office, testifying during a House hearing on Thursday
The head of the state’s embattled foster care agency on Thursday defended what he called the department’s “comfortable and safe” network of makeshift intake spaces being stood up in offices and private facilities around the state, directly contradicting critics who said state officials are leaving vulnerable children “in limbo” for weeks with sometimes devastating consequences.
Gov. JB Pritzker held an event Thursday to promote a bill he signed last month that he said will make the state a “national leader” on digital access for students with disabilities. And the governor expressed cautious optimism that the states’ latest COVID-19 surge could be cresting.
Travelers make their way through O'Hare International Airport on May 30, 2021. [Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago]
A multi-part concession agreement would pave the way for a private vendor to set up no-contact “micro marts” at O’Hare Airport under an agreement set for consideration by a City Council committee on Thursday.
The Chicago Treasurer and Department of Finance aren’t fully taking advantage of city rules meant to crack down on inequitable lending, Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson found in a report. [Heather Cherone/The Daily Line]
City finance officials don’t take banks’ lending patterns into account when investigating whether they’re worthy of holding the city’s assets, ignoring one of the city’s only tools to fight endemic racism in the banking industry, a city watchdog found in a report published Tuesday.
City has ‘no process’ to stop investing public dollars in banks with racist lending patterns, watchdog says
A pilot program underway this week will send mental health professionals to accompany police on answering some 911 calls. [Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago]
Chicago health officials are set to roll out more details Wednesday on their long-awaited “co-responder” pilot program, which on Monday began dispatching mental health professionals to answer some 911 calls.
Chicago Budget Director Susie Park briefed aldermen on the city’s 2021 year-end balance sheet on Monday.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s top financial officials stood firm on Monday amid prodding from aldermen over their plan to use hundreds of millions in federal rescue dollars to unwind a risky pandemic-era financial maneuver instead of plowing it all into social and economic programs.
Chicago Budget Director Susie Park speaking during a budget engagement forum on Aug. 12
The City Council’s 2022 budget season is set to kick into a new gear on Monday, when city finance officials brief aldermen on this year’s balance sheet and kick off a discussion on how to fund the Chicago Police Department during the next year.
Workers prepare to install a water main in West Englewood. [Jamie Nesbitt Golden/Block Club Chicago]
Chicago would codify a ban on residential water shutoffs, expand its affordable water bill payment program and head off any future privatization of its water system under a proposal set for preliminary consideration by a City Council committee on Friday.
A rendering of Glenstar’s proposal to build a 297-unit apartment complex near the Cumberland CTA Blue Line station [Department of Planning and Development]
A long-brewing plan to build nearly 300 new apartments near the Cumblerland CTA Blue Line station is set to face a key vote on Thursday, setting up a test of whether city planning officials, developers, interest groups and affordable housing organizers can overcome the opposition of the neighborhood’s alderman.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a vaccine mandate for city workers, but some of the city's largest labor unions are resisting. And the city's mental health emergency response system is set to launch Monday.
News in brief: Lightfoot imposes vaccine mandate as ‘starting point;’ city to launch mental health emergency response system
Ald. David Moore (17) (left) and attorney Colette Holt. As vice chair of the Committee on Contracting Oversight and Equity, Moore became acting chair upon Ald. Carrie Austin’s (34) resignation from the role.
Ald. David Moore (17) presided on Tuesday over an informational meeting of the City Council Committee on Contracting Oversight and Equity, saying he was leading in his capacity as committee vice chair because chair Ald. Carrie Austin (34) was “not available at this time” to lead the discussion of the city’s construction contracting rules.
But by the end of the meeting, Moore was promoted to the committee’s acting chair.
City officials may not directly raise money to pay off legal fees or else risk crossing the city’s ethics ordinance, a city board ruled Tuesday. [Stock]
City officials and employees are not allowed to directly raise money to pay off legal expenses unless the help is coming from “relatives or personal friends,” a city board ruled in an advisory opinion issued Tuesday.