• Michael McDevitt
    MAY 22, 2024

    Resolution for removal of CTA president to be introduced at City Council, alderpeople expected to call for votes on deferred ShotSpotter measure, Chief Information Officer appointment

    The City Council meets on March 20, 2024. [Michael McDevitt/The Daily Line]

    The City Council on Wednesday will consider giving final confirmation votes to a new member of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) board and six members of the civilian police oversight commission. The council will also vote on a measure to restrict noise around a West Loop abortion clinic and create a pilot program to provide financial relief from skyrocketing water bills stemming from underground leaks.

    Alderpeople are also expected to introduce a measure calling for the removal of CTA President Dorval Carter and call votes on some previously deferred items, including an order that would allow individual alderpeople to retain ShotSpotter technology on a ward-by-ward basis and the appointment of a new chief information officer. The council meets at 10 a.m.

    The resolution that calls for Carter’s removal over persistent issues with CTA service, such as ghost buses and trains, public safety concerns, staffing shortages and a failure to return to pre-pandemic rates of service, holds no actual authority. Ald. Andre Vasquez (40), one of the lead sponsors of the measure, has told reporters that it would amount to a vote of no confidence. 

    Ald. Matt Martin (47) is joining Vasquez in introducing the measure, and the two have so far earned 25 co-sponsors. If that support materializes in an actual vote, it would be enough to pass the resolution. 

    The resolution calls on Carter himself to resign his post but states that if he does not, Mayor Brandon Johnson and Gov. JB Pritzker must “name a new CTA President and publicly call upon the CTA Board to appoint them, per the formal process.”

    The mayor has resisted calls to fire Carter and has repeatedly declined reporters’ requests to elaborate, saying it would be inappropriate to discuss personnel matters. 

    Ald. David Moore’s (17) proposed order to keep ShotSpotter on a per-ward basis and essentially undo the impending cancellation of the contract by Johnson, was deferred at the April council meeting. The technology is concentrated in the South and West sides.

    But Moore has signaled he intends to call for a vote on the order (SOr2024-0007759), which passed the Committee on Police and Fire unanimously in April. 

    The ShotSpotter contract will formally end on Nov. 22, which the mayor has said will provide a two-month transition period that will allow law enforcement to prepare for responding to gun violence without the use of the technology. Johnson has also said that there’s no legal basis to carry out Moore’s order to keep the technology on a per-ward basis even if it does pass. 

    The proposal would also require the police department to report performance data for the technology during the remainder of the contract term. 

    Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36) also has signaled his intention to call for a final vote on the confirmation of Chief Information Officer Nick Lucius, who if confirmed would lead the reconstituted Department of Technology and Innovation. 

    Lucius’ appointment was approved by the Committee on Economic, Capital and Technology Development, which Villegas chairs, in April before it was deferred at the council meeting after concerns raised by some in the business community to Moore about Lucius’ experience. Moore said he wanted Lucius to meet with the Aldermanic Black Caucus prior to his confirmation vote. 

    Lucius has served as the city’s chief technology officer since 2022 and before that served as the chief data officer. He also previously worked as an assistant commissioner for the Chicago Department of Transportation, as a chief administrative law judge at the Illinois Department of Human Services and within the city’s law department. 

    Related: Vote on measure to allow ShotSpotter on per-ward basis postponed by progressive alderpeople, Chief Information Officer appointment hits snag with a surprise deferral

    The council will vote on the final confirmation of the appointment of Rev. Ira Acree to the RTA board. Acree’s appointment was approved by the City Council’s transportation committee earlier this month despite a tense hearing during which Acree displayed a lack of knowledge in several key areas, most notably appearing to have no prior knowledge of the looming $730 million budget shortfall facing the RTA in a few years. Just two alderpeople, Ald. Scott Waguespack (32) and Vasquez, voted against Acree. 

    Related: Transportation committee approves appointment of West Side pastor to RTA board after tense hearing 

    Acree is a pastor at Greater St. John Bible Church in Austin and a founding member and co-chair of The Leaders Network. He has no direct transit experience aside from using the train and bus system himself, though he told the committee he used public transit more often as a boy and primarily drives nowadays. 

    The appointment has been criticized for being the latest example of transit board appointees that seem to be political allies and rarely transportation experts. Supporters of Acree’s nomination argue that as a prominent West Side community organizer, Acree is well-suited to advocate for the needs of communities of color that are underserved by the transit system. 

    The council will also hold final confirmation votes for six of Johnson’s seven nominees to serve full terms on the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability. The existing CCPSA board is made up of interim members that were appointed by former Mayor Lori Lightfoot in 2022, since the 22 Police District Councils that help pick nominees weren’t yet elected at the time. 

    The Committee on Police and Fire approved the appointment of six nominees to full four-year terms last week, who include interim CCPSA board President Anthony Driver, interim board member and political action committee chair for the Chicago Westside Branch NAACP Remel Terry; Aaron Gottlieb, a University of Chicago professor; Abierre Minor, chief fiscal officer of the Progressive Minds Show; Kelly Pressley, an associate general counsel for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago; and Sandra Wortham, executive board president of the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation. 

    The police and fire committee held the proposed appointment of Angel Rubi Navarijo, a director of constituent services for Ald. Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth (48), over concerns that his position in the alderwoman’s office could lead to a conflict of interest in his CCPSA work, although Navarijo attempted to dispel that. Alderpeople were also concerned that Navarijo didn’t initially disclose his job in the 48th Ward during opening remarks to the committee. 

    Related: One of Johnson’s picks for civilian police oversight board stalled in committee as nominee’s job in aldermanic office raises conflict-of-interest concerns 

    The committee had been set to meet again Tuesday to reconsider Navarijo’s appointment, but the meeting was canceled. Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29), who chairs the committee, told The Daily Line the city law department asked for more time to review concerns, such as Taliaferro’s concern that since “approximately 90 [percent] of what a Commissioner does require(s) them to work during regular business hours, which includes Zoom conferences, in-person meetings phone calls etc., can a full-time city employee earn a secondary income during the hours in which they are on the clock in their full-time capacity?” 

    “That would cause major implications for the city and unions and would set a precedent to where all city employees should be allowed to do so,” Taliaferro further said. 

    The council will also consider an ordinance (SO2023-0004088) to designate the area around the Family Planning Associates (FPA) abortion clinic at 659 W. Washington Blvd. as a noise-sensitive zone. The measure, approved by the public safety committee a few weeks ago, would mitigate frequent protests around the clinic that interfere with clinic operations.  

    Related: Public safety committee approves noise sensitivity regulations around West Loop abortion clinic 

    Chicago Police logged 10 noise complaints in the area in 2023. City code requires designations to come with consultation by police and the city’s public health department. 

    Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago are already designated as noise-sensitive zones. City code says that noise-sensitive activities include “operations of schools, libraries open to the public, churches, hospitals and nursing homes.” 

    Within a noise-sensitive zone, city code prohibits “the creation of any sound through the use of a bullhorn or loud and raucous electronic amplification, or by use of an object that is struck manually or with a stick or similar item to produce a sharp percussive noise so as to interfere with the functions of any school, library, church, hospital, or nursing home, or other noise sensitive activity.”  

    The council will also consider final approval of an ordinance (O2024-0008889) creating a two-year pilot program that will provide rebates to property owners whose water and sewer bills jumped as a result of a leak in their metered water service line. The ordinance was approved by the finance committee last week. 

    Related: Finance committee approves creation of bill relief program for customers affected by water service line leaks 

    The Leak Relief Program would credit the accounts of affected customers so that their bills for the service periods affected reflect their typical water usage instead of the unreasonably high spike that resulted from an underground leak. 

    The pilot would cost $1.6 million in the first year and $750,000 in the second. The pilot would become effective on Jan. 1, 2025 and automatically sunset at the end of 2026. 

    Eligible property owners would include owners of single-family, two-unit or three-unit residences and commercial property owners with water service lines that are no bigger than an inch in diameter.  

    The program would apply to leaks that have been repaired since Jan. 1, 2023, though some alderpeople have called on the city to look into additional remedies for customers affected further back than that date. 

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