Chicago News

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    Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Comm. Rosa Escareño [left] and Ald. Brian Hopkins (2) during a committee meeting on Thursday

    A City Council committee voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to advance a sweeping business deregulation package (O2021-2183) designed to speed the city’s pandemic recovery, setting up a major policy win for Mayor Lori Lightfoot over the objections of aldermen who fear one provision will usurp their ward-level authority.

    Aldermen on the council’s Committee on License and Consumer Protection voted 15-3 to advance the 93-page “Chi Biz Strong” business relief package, teeing it up for final approval by the City Council next Wednesday. The ordinance’s 10 sections and dozens of subsections unspool or re-tool city rules around a wide range of businesses, including restaurants, taxis, and hotels. Also attached is a resolution supporting a future $10 million direct aid initiative and debt relief program for businesses.

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    Plan Commissioners were split on a proposal to add a 34-unit residential building to an industrial area near Lincoln Yards.

    Members of the Chicago Plan Commission on Thursday gave unanimous approval to two proposals from LG Development expected to bring more than 1,000 new residential units to Fulton Market. But commissioners were split on a proposal for a new 34-unit residential building proposed across the street from the Lincoln Yards mega-development. 

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    Aldermen are scheduled to vote on a pair of police oversight ordinances Friday. [Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago]

    After months of delay, aldermen are set to vote Friday to pick a plan for civilian oversight of the Chicago Police Department, potentially teeing up a full City Council vote on the issue next week. 

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    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.

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    Aldermen grilled Celia Meza on Wednesday before approving her appointment as Corporation Counsel.

    Wednesday’s meeting of the City Council Committee on Budget and Government Operations opened the door for aldermen to question a wide range of topics, including why aldermen don’t have their own separate legal counsel, the status of replacing lead service lines and why the city should contract out work on its own five-year capital plan. 

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    Ald. Raymond Lopez (15) challenged the city’s timeline for upgrading its technology during a committee hearing on Wednesday.

    Chicago leaders should spend at least $350 million during the next decade to update the city’s outdated apps, retrain and reshuffle its information technology staff and make a host of other tech improvements, a consultant told aldermen Wednesday after conducting a months-long study. The alternative would mean wasting increasing amounts of taxpayer money.

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    A-frame signs like this one in Andersonville would be formally legalized under a sweeping business relief ordinance set for consideration Thursday. [Alex Nitkin/The Daily Line]

    Mayor Lori Lightfoot is hauling her 95-page hodgepodge of business deregulation proposals to a City Council committee on Thursday in a bet that the sweeping business relief package can overcome grumblings from some aldermen over its size and reach.

    Lightfoot is scheduled to introduce an updated version of her “Chi Biz Strong” ordinance (O2021-2183) directly to the City Council Committee on License and Consumer Protection during its 10 a.m. meeting on Thursday. The direct introduction will allow the mayor to bypass Ald. Raymond Lopez’s (15) move to sidetrack the ordinance to the council’s Committee on Committees and Rules last month.

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    A proposed development would add 665 residential units in two buildings on either side of Lake Street to the Near West Side. [Chicago Department of Planning and Development]

    Members of the Chicago Plan Commission on Thursday are set to consider proposals that would together add more than 1,000 new residential units to the Near West Side, among other plans. 

    The Plan Commission is scheduled during its 10 a.m. meeting to weigh approval of a 33-story building with 486 residential units proposed for the south side of 1150 W. Lake St. and a 20-story, 179-unit residential building proposed on the north side of the street (O2021-1495).  

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    From left: Rosa Escaro, 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).

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    Ald. Jason Ervin (28) said during a Tuesday hearing that a new roller rink will “serve as a deterrent” to illegal drug trafficking on a busy West Garfield Park corridor.

    City and state officials are hoping a new roller skating rink can succeed where hundreds of arrests have failed to break up an open-air drug market in one of the West Side’s busiest commercial districts.

    The City Council Committee on Housing and Real Estate voted unanimously during its meeting on Tuesday to let the Chicago Park District build a public roller rink on a 17,500-square-foot city-owned parking lot at 4004-12 W. Madison St., a strip Ald. Jason Ervin (28) called a “very challenged area” of West Garfield Park.

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    Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36) during the April 2021 city Council meeting [Ashlee Rezin-Garcia/Sun-Times/pool]

    City leaders should reverse their 2019 decision to merge the city’s facilities and information technology departments if they want to get serious about upgrading the city’s tech infrastructure, a key alderman said on Tuesday.

    “There needs to be a centralized clearing house for technology,” Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36), who chairs the City Council Committee on Economic, Capital and Technology Development, told The Daily Line on Tuesday. He said he plans to raise the issue as Chicago finance officials prepare the city’s 2022 budget.

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    David Reynolds is the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Assets, Information and Services.

    Aldermen are set on Wednesday to consider allowing the city’s assets department to contract with outside entities to manage city-owned properties, a move officials say will help the city with planned renovations to libraries and police stations.  

    The City Council Committee on Budget and Government Operations is also scheduled during its 10 a.m. meeting Wednesday to appropriate (O2021-2155) more than $100,000 in new and carried over grant funds.  

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    Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks during a news conference on Monday.

    Aldermen are scheduled on Tuesday to take up two proposals aimed at helping workers as the city comes back to life post-pandemic.

    The City Council Committee on Workforce Development is set to meet at 1 p.m. Tuesday to consider a proposal (O2021-2182) from Mayor Lori Lightfoot designed to protect workers as part of the “Chi Biz Strong Initiative.” Also on the agenda is Ald. Ed Burke’s (14) and Ald. Raymond Lopez’s (15) “Hotel Worker Right to Return to Work" ordinance (O2020-5778).

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    City transportation officials plan early next year to rebuild the Division Street bridges over the Chicago River North Branch and North Branch Canal. [danxoneil on Flickr] 

    Aldermen are set on Tuesday to clear the way for a mile-long streetscape makeover on the Near North Side and a new publicly accessible roller rink in West Garfield Park, among other measures. 

    The City Council Committee on Housing and Real Estate is scheduled during its 10 a.m. meeting Tuesday to consider an ordinance (O2021-2179) pushing forward the city’s long-running plan to rebuild both bridges and widen a nearly mile-long stretch of Division Street between Larrabee Street and the Kennedy Expressway. 

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    Aldermen advanced a measure to expedite fire code enforcement at the city’s airports. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she supports making Juneteenth an official city holiday, and she once again called on state lawmakers to pause their push to create an elected Chicago school board. And the Cook County Democratic Party’s semi-annual slating session, usually a summer affair, will take place in August this year.

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