• Erin Hegarty
    APR 20, 2023

    City Council heaps praise on outgoing aldermen, Lightfoot during final meeting of this term

    Wednesday marked Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s final City Council meeting as mayor. [Don Vincent/The Daily Line] 

    Aldermen spent two hours Wednesday heaping praise on their retiring colleagues and outgoing Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who presided over her final City Council meeting before Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson is sworn in May 15. 

    Despite rising tensions in recent months between the City Council and Lightfoot, aldermen were largely complimentary of the outgoing mayor and thanked her for various initiatives she led over the past four years. 

    "You've done a fantastic job,” Ald. Walter Burnett (27), who next term will be the most senior member of the City Council, said. “A lot of people may not recognize all of the things that you’ve done." 

    Burnett thanked Lightfoot for her work on her Invest South/West program, for expanding the city’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance, for the accessory dwelling unit pilot program and for bringing a casino to the city. "You pushed for the casino, you made it happen,” Burnett said. 

    Ald. David Moore (17) said Lightfoot has “done more than any other mayor in this city...including Harold Washington," who Moore said, "did not get the chance to do everything he wanted to do." 

    Moore also acknowledged that “it’s easy to campaign, but it’s hard to keep those promises.” 

    Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35), who chairs the Chicago Democratic Socialist Caucus and has disagreed with Lightfoot on numerous occasions, told Lightfoot that while they didn’t always agree, “you always did what you thought was right.”  

    Ramirez-Rosa applauded Lightfoot for her work on the Lucy Gonzalez Parsons affordable apartment building in Logan Square, civilian oversight of the Chicago Police Department and working alongside him and Ald. Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez (33) on the bodily autonomy ordinance.  

    Wednesday also marked the final City Council meeting for the following aldermen: Ald. Sophia King (4), Ald. Leslie Hairston (5), Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6), Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10), Ald. Anabel Abarca (12), Ald. Ed Burke (14), Ald. Howard Brookins (21), Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26), Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30), Ald. Tom Tunney (44), Ald. James Cappleman (46) and Ald. Harry Osterman (48).  The City Council also honored former 34th Ward Ald. Carrie Austin, who retired in March. 

    Brookins was absent from Wednesday’s meeting. 

    Multiple aldermen spoke about Garza’s work as chair of the council’ Committee on Workforce Development.  

    Ramirez-Rosa asked if "anyone [has] accomplished more for workers' rights and the American labor movement in just one term as Workforce Committee chair?"  

    "The Sadlowski legacy continues with all you have accomplished,” Ramirez-Rosa said. 

    And despite facing corruption charges, multiple aldermen applauded Burke for his five decades of work on the City Council. 

    Burke called his last meeting “bittersweet” and said, “as the scripture says, there’s a time for everything.” 

    After Wednesday’s meeting, Burke commented on the incoming Johnson administration saying, “I think that they have a big challenge, but as I said in my remarks, Chicago is the most American of American cities and it’s always met challenges with dedication and with talent, and that will be the case again.” 

    Burke called the praise from his colleagues “nice” and repeated a common refrain that “politics are no permanent enemies, no permanent friends, only permanent interests, and I also apologized for any opportunities or any occasions when I failed to fulfill that wise advice.” 

    Ald. Pat Dowell (3), who chairs the council’s Committee on Budget and Government Operations, recognized retiring Ald. Leslie Hairston (5) for her ability to be "outspoken" and for her "frankness in this body...you never bite your tongue and that is appreciated."  

    Dowell also complimented Hairston for coming prepared with questions during the city’s budget season. 

    Wednesday’s City Council meeting was also packed with resolutions honoring not only the more than one dozen outgoing aldermen, but also celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Chicago Public Library, the retirement of Coach Robert Smith of Simeon Career Academy and congratulating the DePaul College Prep High School basketball team for winning the state championship. 

    AFSCME contract, salary schedule for senior staff  

    The City Council unanimously approved a new collective bargaining agreement with AFSCME Council 31, which represents thousands of city employees.   

    Lightfoot issued a news release announcing the city had reached a tentative agreement with the labor union just before the Feb. 28 election.  

    “Terms of the agreement will be released after union members have the opportunity to review and vote on its ratification,” Lightfoot and AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said in a joint news release in February.    

    The council’s Committee on Workforce Development approved the measure earlier this month when aldermen also approved a new salary schedule for non-union senior management staff.  

    Related: Workforce development committee approves collective bargaining agreement, new salary schedule for senior staff  

    The new salary schedule, which was also approved Wednesday, was proposed because the annual cost-of-living adjustments for non-union staff have not kept pace with that of union employees, which has left some management positions with salaries that match or are below the employees they oversee.  

    The measure up for consideration Wednesday would only impact deputy and assistant commissioner roles, though the disparities affect non-union employees at all levels. 

    Urban farm produce stand 

    Ald. Raymond Lopez (15) and Ald. Anthony Beale (9) teamed up to delay a vote on an ordinance (O2022-3989) proposed by Lightfoot that would allow permanent produce stands to be located on the same lot as an urban farm or community garden.  

    The stands would be allowed to sell produce directly to people, though the measure would not allow for the sale of processed or prepared food, according to Ruby Ferguson, food equity policy lead.  

    Under the ordinance, the produce stands would be allowed to remain overnight and would not be allowed to exceed 150 square feet or stretch more than 15 feet above ground. 

    Aldermen also approved the following legislation: 

    O2023-1333 — An ordinance that finalizes the terms of the city’s Water Supply Agreement with the city of Joliet including building of new water supply infrastructure at Chicago’s Southwest Pumping station and at Durkin Park. Under the agreement, a portion of the new infrastructure will be owned and operated by Joliet. The cost of Chicago’s infrastructure will be repaid to the city by Joliet’s water rates, according to the ordinance. The city of Chicago is set to acquire a two-acre portion of Durkin Park from the Chicago Park District by July 31. In addition to the water infrastructure, the city of Joliet will contribute $1.75 million for improvements to parks surrounding Durkin Park while the water infrastructure work is ongoing. Waguespack during Wednesday’s City Council meeting said the agreement benefits city finances and parks in the area and paves the way for the city to gain more regional water customers. The 100-year, $1 billion agreement that was approved in 2021. 

    Related: Joliet water agreement, $575M in police settlements lined up for committee approval 

    O2023-1011 — An ordinance that calls for annual reports on housing and efforts to address homelessness.   

    O2023-1324 — An ordinance that would codify a gender-based violence task force that would “build a whole-of-government approach to address the pervasiveness of gender-based violence and human trafficking.” The task force would advise the mayor on improving the city’s law enforcement response to gender-based violence and human trafficking. The measure also proposes coordination between city departments and outside groups to analyze data to address gender-based violence and human trafficking.   

    O2022-1836 — A proposal to allow for the conversion of 100,000 square feet of office space at 426-448 E. Ontario St. in the 42nd Ward into 101 hotel rooms.    

    O2022-3835 — A proposal for a five-story, 132-unit building at 1523-1547 N. Fremont St. in the 2nd Ward on the Near North Side. The proposed building would also include retail on the ground floor, 29 accessory vehicle parking spaces and 132 bike parking spaces. The Plan Commission approved the proposal in March. 

    O2022-2740 — A development from Veteran Roasters to bring a coffee roastery and brewery to 756 E. 111th St. in Pullman in the 9th Ward. The development will also include retail, restaurant and tavern uses, according to the development application. If approved, the development would include 54 on-site parking spaces and one loading space. The company's mission is to hire, train and work with homeless and at-risk veterans. 

    O2022-2738 to build a 42-story, 395-unit residential building at 1200-1234 W. Randolph St. in the 27th Ward. In addition to the nearly 400 residential units, the building would also include ground floor commercial space, 113 vehicle parking spaces and 290 bicycle parking spaces. The development was approved by the Chicago Plan Commission in March.   

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