• In one of the biggest upsets this election year, former Telemundo and Univision reporter Milagros “Milly” Santiago (31) not only defeated the City Council’s longest serving Hispanic alderman and current Vice Mayor, Ray Suarez, she also managed to weaken 31st Ward Democratic Committeeman Joe Berrios’ longheld control over the Northwest Side ward.


    Suarez’s defeat was the latest blow to Cook County’s leading democrat; his daughter, Toni Berrios, lost her 2014 reelection bid for the state legislature and his hand-picked candidate for the 36th Ward, Omar Aquino, lost to Gilbert Villegas.


    Santiago’s win also puts Berrios in a vulnerable position of potentially losing his party chairmanship. First appointed as the Ward’s Democratic committeeman in 1987, Berrios subsequently lost the seat, after the Harold Washington-backed candidate, Raymond Figueroa, beat his candidate for alderman, and then ran against and beat Berrios in the Committeeman elections the following year. Berrios regained control over the seat in 1991, the same year Suarez joined the Council, and has held on to his Committeeman seat ever since.


    Santiago hasn’t said whether she will run against Berrios for committeeman next year, but she hopes to avoid any animosity. “I hope [Berrios] reaches out to me and congratulates me because in the future we will have to work together,” Santiago told Aldertrack. “This is how politics is [...] We ran a very aggressive but very good campaign and this is a new day. We just have to learn how to flip the page and start a new era with better services.”


    Santiago first declared victory on Election Night after all of the ward’s precincts reported her with a 131 vote lead over the 24-year incumbent. But Suarez refused to concede the race until all absentee and provisional ballots were counted and Berrios, who was by his side that night, reportedly vowed to take legal action to ensure an accurate ballot count. However, Suarez never filed a recount and his campaign was absent from the Board of Elections’ final two absentee counts.


    Although the Board of Elections certified the results last Thursday, declaring a Santiago win by 79 votes, Suarez has yet to call Santiago to concede. Instead he admitted defeat on his Facebook page the following night:




    From the bottom of my heart I want to thank the voters of the 31st ward who have allowed me to serve as Alderman since 1991. Serving as your Alderman has been the greatest honor of my life. This is afterall my home, my community, and I take pride in the progress we have made over the years.


    Once again, thank you for your trust and support over the last 24 years. You have been more than just voters; you are my neighbors, my friends, my family. My wife and I will continue to live in the neighborhood and we look forward to watching the ward continue to grow and flourish under the new Alderman.



    As with all new aldermen, Aldertrack interviewed Milly Santiago to get a sense of her goals and objectives. The following is a summary of our interview with her last week.


    Legislative Platform: Much of Santiago’s platform will focus on making her office more transparent to residents and businesses, something she says Ald. Suarez failed to do during his long tenure in office. “People felt disrespected. They didn’t feel like they had a voice,” Santiago said people were frustrated with Ald. Suarez for expediting public projects and zoning changes with little input from the community. Santiago plans to implment participatory budgeting in the 31st Ward, which lets residents decide how aldermen should spend their allotted menu money. Santiago says she also wants to improve public safety and spur economic development in the ward.


    Potential Caucus Alignment: Although she ran as a progressive candidate and shortly after pushing Ald. Suarez into a runoff, Santiago received the endorsement of mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, whom she featured on her Election Day palm cards. But Santiago told Aldertrack that she is not making any formal commitments to join the Council’s Progressive Caucus.“I want to come to the City Council very open minded. There are a lot of great ideas from these caucuses,” Santiago explained that she would need to see how the progressive agenda and that of the Latino Caucus align with the needs of her constituents.


    Biggest Obstacles: Santiago says the biggest obstacle she’ll likely face as alderman is how to deal with the city’s budget. “The city is going through a fiscal crisis and there is going to be tough decisions ahead,” Santiago said. “We need to find new forms of revenue.” She said property taxes would be a “last resort” because the city can’t “punish homeowners on fixed incomes.”


    Ward Office/Logistics: Santiago says she is in the process of collecting resumes and has not yet decided on a chief of staff.

  • With only 52% of the vote, David Moore (17) defeated a field of candidates including Glenda Franklin, the proxy of retiring Ald. Latasha Thomas and influential neighborhood activist, Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Catholic Church. Franklin, who had also worked as a secretary at St. Sabina, had received Rev. Pfleger’s full-throated support and endorsement.


    When Aldertrack asked Moore about his current relationship with Pfleger, he demurred, saying that they have a “great relationship” and that the pastor reached out to him less than a week after he won the election.


    Moore was the only aldermanic candidate to win an open seat in the general election. In 2011, the former accountant forced Ald. Thomas into a runoff but ended up 321 votes short of victory.


    Caucus Alignment: Shortly after winning the election, Moore announced that he would join the City Council’s Progressive Caucus. But that doesn’t mean the Caucus will have his unwavering support on every legislative item on their agenda, Moore explained.


    “I’m independent. I don’t like to be pigeonholed and put in a box,” Moore said that the same goes for the Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s legislative priorities, too. When asked about what he thinks are the biggest obstacles he’ll likely face as an alderman, Moore said political retribution.


    “I’ve been told that if I didn’t support the Mayor, I wouldn’t get the resources I need [for my residents,” Moore said that while it’s a piece of advice he’s heard from several people, he doesn’t believe it to be true.


    “There’s no correlation to this, because the incumbent [Ald. Thomas] voted 100% with the mayor and it didn’t positively impact the area,” Moore said, restating his commitment to being an independent voice on the City Council.


    Top Citywide Legislative Priorities: Moore says the importance of establishing an elected school board is especially “prevalent now” given the federal probe of the Chicago Public Schools. Moore says he also wants to address anomalies with the city’s red light and speed cameras. “There should be a countdown clock,” Moore said, highlighting his support for Ald. Anthony Beale’s (9) proposal to do just that. “[The cameras] should be unplugged until then.”


    Local issues: The 17th Ward would benefit from more economic development, jobs, and an appropriate allocation of TIF funds, says Moore. He is not a fan of using TIF dollars for downtown projects and believes those resources would be better spent in neighborhoods, like the ones in his South Side ward, where growth has been stagnant. Public safety is also a top issue for Moore. He says he has been meeting with police commanders to discuss how to get more police officers on the street.


    Ward Office/Logistics: Moore is still looking for a permanent space. He says redistricting, “really messed up the ward,” and made it difficult to find an ideal, central location.

  • Yesterday's four hour Zoning Committee meeting included approvals to extend the planned development for the Chicago Spire site, the “Twin Towers” complex in Logan Square, a transit-oriented development in Ravenswood, Montrose Green and removal of certain restrictions on drag shows.


    Get the complete agenda here.

    Only seven committee members attended the final Zoning Committee of the current Council, several of whom trickled in and out of the Council chambers during the extended meeting. The required quorum for the committee meeting is 10 out of 18 members, but there were never more than five sitting alderman in attendance at one time. Other than the Chairman of the committee, Danny Solis, retiring Ald. Tim Cullerton was the only committee member to remain in chamber for the entire meeting. At the end of the meeting, the entire room gave Ald. Cullerton a round of applause.


    Members Present: Chairman Danny Solis (25), Bob Fioretti (2), Tim Cullerton (38), Marge Laurino (39), Tom Tunney (44), James Cappleman (46) and Ameya Pawar (47).


    Non-members Present: Joe Moreno (1) Willie Cochran (20), Walter Burnett (27), John Arena (45)


    Following are highlights from the meeting. Unless otherwise noted, the following items all passed from committee by acclimation.



    No. Ma-192 (Mayoral Application) Ordinance Referred (3-18-15)
    400 N. Lake Shore Drive – The former Chicago Spire site.


    While the future of the Chicago Spire site is unclear, plans for the accompanying DuSable Park remain intact. Yesterday, with an ordinance penned by the Emanuel Administration, the Zoning Committee extending the life of the site’s Planned Development agreement until January 21, 2018 to ensure the park plans remain intact while the future of the rest of the site is determined. The future developer of 400 N. Lake Shore Drive is responsible for funding DuSable Park, which will then be turned over to the Chicago Park District.


    Originally set to expire this July, the ordinance would also extend the community review process from two years to three. A spokeswoman from the Department of Planning told the committee the new owner of the Spire site has been in talks with Ald. Brendan Reilly over the future project and the mayor’s office wants to ensure, “DuSable is in the mix."



    No. 18166 (1st Ward) Ordinance Referred (9-10-14)
    2255-93 N. Milwaukee Ave. /2208-26 N. Washtenaw Ave./2715-35 W. Belden – The “Twin Towers” project in Logan Square.


    Rolando Acosta, the attorney representing the site’s developers, MaxMil LLC, requested that the five-year-old vacant lot be rezoned for an 11-15 story mixed-use building. This would include two residential buildings, a total of 220 units. The buildings would be connected at the base, creating 9,000 sq. ft. of retail space and 67 parking spaces. (On the agenda, the reported numbers were 6,000 sq. ft. of ground floor retail and 253 residential units.) Acosta said that at the request of Ald. Moreno, there will be affordable housing on site and the developers would not buy out of their obligation. A city ordinance requires that residential projects must set aside a certain number of affordable housing units on site or in close proximity. Developers could opt out of this requirement by paying a fine.


    “I am really concerned about this project,” testified neighbor Sally Hammann, one of the six people who testified against the project. “The height is totally inappropriate for the neighborhood.” Hammann added that there were already three other developments going up nearby on Milwaukee Ave. and all of the planned apartments were, “very expensive and very small.”


    Margaret Herman, a 13-year-resident, also spoke in opposition because the rents in her neighborhood have going up “51%” over the past three years.“The cost of living in this particular development, even with the affordable units, only accentuate my neighbors and soon my own displacement in the neighborhood.” Herman also accused the developer of having poorly coordinated community meetings where it was “hard to hear” and “packed to the gills”.


    Herman went on to further lament about the increased cost of living in Logan Square. “My landlord just raised our rent for the first time in 6 years, starting in June. So, it’s happening. It’s real.” Herman then accused Ald. Joe Moreno of not, “listening to residents when it came to planned development.”


    Jaime Zopart, another Logan Square resident, called the building plans, “completely out of character,” and said the height of the building seems to get taller after every community meeting. “[The building] is not serving our community,” she said, adding that the proposed affordable housing units, required under a new city ordinance, “aren’t actually affordable”.


    “If somebody could afford $2,700 for a two bedroom aparment, God bless them,” she quipped. “A majority of Logan Square [residents] cannot afford that.”


    The others testifying against the project had similar concerns before Ald. Moreno got a chance to defend the development, calling it “unique and fantastic”. Moreno highlighted a number of affordable housing developers who are interested in building on the site and the extensive and thorough community vetting process the project went through.


    “I’m so passionate about affordable housing that I am not going to let goldilocks ideas get in the way of providing true, affordable housing to Logan Square, which is what we need,” Moreno testified. “And we need density [...] low density and affordable housing actually work against each other,” Moreno used Lincoln Park as an example. “It’s losing population. Losing! Because the housing stock there is so expensive now.” Moreno added that this project will not use any TIF funds, part of the developer’s original request.


     

    No. TAD-533 (44th Ward) Ordinance Referred (3-18-15)
    Amendment of Municipal Code 16-16-030 concerning adult entertainment cabaret. – Ordinance text


    This housekeeping measure cleans up rules for drag clubs originally introduced by by Ald. Tom Tunney and former Ald. Burt Natarus and approved by Council in 2006. The original measure changed zoning rules to remove female and male impersonator performances from the definition of "adult entertainment, " while the new measure changes license rules for the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.


     

    No.18324 (47th Ward) Ordinance Referred (3-18-15)
    1819 West Montrose Avenue – The Montrose Green project.


    A transit oriented development  at 1819 W. Montrose, known as Montrose Green, encountered some community pushback at Thursday’s zoning meeting with five people testifying against the project. Montrose Green developers proposed developing a former CTA staging site next to the Montrose Brown Line stop with a 5,300 sq. ft. of ground floor retail space, 3,000 square feet of office space and 24 residential units with just 10 off-street parking spaces. Because the mixed-use space is adjacent to an L stop, believe it would discourage car use, requiring fewer parking spaces. The proposed zoning change would increase the height of the building to 55 feet.


    Ald. Ameya Pawar (47) and Kathleen Abbott, a representative from the Northcenter Neighborhood Association, spoke in favor of the development. But while others spoke in favor of transit-oriented development in general and the need for the development at the site, a group of neighbors present testified about traffic concerns and access to the back and sides of the next-door apartment buildings. Read additional comments about the development from neighbors.


     

    No. 18310 (44th Ward) Ordinance Referred (3-18-15)
    1045-1047 West Cornelia Ave. – New construction of 4-story, 20 unit residential building.


    Four people appeared to testify against the new 4-story building in the 44th Ward, calling the building a “monstrosity” that would “have all charm of 1960s dorm.” The contractor, Contemporary Concepts, plans to replace a two-flat townhouse with a 20-unit residential building with 16 parking spaces.


    Ald. Tom Tunney called the development a “welcome addition” and said the developers made concessions on parking, reduced the number of units from 20 to 16, and set the top floor back from the street.


     

    No.18236 (1st Ward) Ordinance Referred (12-10-14)
    2412 W. Lyndale St. – Demolish existing building and build a new 3-story residential unit with parking.


    Sally Hammann, a representative from a neighborhood zoning and planning committee, asked that the project be deferred because, “the project has only come up to [their] committee one time [..] last year 2014.”  Hammann asked that the developers speak with the residents one more time before moving forward with the project. “It’s a single family property right now,” Hammann testified, “We are concerned there is no room in the plans for this [new] building.”


    Ald. Joe Moreno responded that this property would be on a “substandard lot”. “We’re talking about two units on each site, therefore the relief, I believe, is acceptable.” Ald. Moreno said while he does agree with a need for low density in the area and the design does need some work, he requested that the Zoning Committee pass the ordinance, so that he could work with the community and developers on the design at a later date.


     

    No. 18130 (39th Ward) Ordinance Referred (7-30-14)
    4514-20 N. Elston Ave. – Taxi repair and storage.


    The applicant, Azurite LLC on behalf of Dispatch Taxi, requested a zoning change so that they could locate and establish a vehicle repair and storage facility for taxis. Ald. Tim Cullerton asked if the taxis would be stored on the property or on the surrounding streets. The attorney for the project reported they would be stored on site.


     

    No. 17935 (35th Ward) Ordinance Referred (2-5-2014)
    2736-50 N. Kedzie Ave. – Request to turn a vacant auto shop into an office building without parking.


    The last item of the meeting. The ordinance had technically passed committee and the meeting adjourned as neighbor Emil Metterhausen called out to Chairman Solis just as the gavel struck the podium to signify the meeting was over. Metterhousen, who was not signed up to testify but owns a property across the street at 2735 N. Kedzie Ave, was invited by Solis to speak anyway.


    “This building has been standing with scaffolding in front of it for over ten years. It has been through a world of shit,” Metterhausen said of owner and applicant 2736 Kedzie LLC. “Basically it has been standing there looking like crap [...] it’s a pigsty.”


    Metterhausen went on to say that he didn’t even understand what the zoning change would even do for the property. He showed one letter from the property’s attorney that said they wanted retail offices and services, and another letter that said the applicant would use the zoning change to build, “a collaborative workspace centered on rock climbing and no parking”. “I got different stories, I don’t know what’s going on here,” Metterhausen said to Chairman Solis, who then asked the objector if he brought it up with Ald. Rey Colon (35). Colon, who lost his seat in February, wasn’t at the meeting but did submit a letter of support of the project.


    “Ugh, I’ve talked to Colon a number of times, but I haven’t talk to him recently because talking to him just aggravated me,” Metterhausen responded.


    Ald. Solis then suggested that the zoning change would “clean up the site”, but Metterhausen spoke over the Chairman to lament that the new zoning won’t change the ownership of the property.

  • After a hard fought race for an open seat in the the 15th Ward, Alderman-elect 15th Ward Democratic Committeeman Raymond Lopez is taking little for granted and working to carve his own path. For instance, although Lopez is openly gay and married to his campaign manager, Hugo Orojel, he’s not necessarily a natural to join the Progressive Caucus after avowed progressive Rafel Yañez worked so hard to defeat him for alderman.


    To get sense of the priorities of new City Council members, Aldertrack is interviewing each one. Ald.-elect Lopez is our first.


    This was Lopez second try for the 15th Ward on the Southwest side of Chicago. The ward’s current alderman, Toni Foulkes, beat Lopez in a runoff in 2011, but then moved next door this cycle to win the neighboring 16th Ward seat, while endorsing Lopez’s opponent in 2015. Lopez, in turn, got support from several incumbent aldermen, including Ald. Tom Tunney (44), Ald. Brendan Reilly (42) and neighboring Ald. Ed Burke (14).


    Top legislative priorities citywide: Lopez says dealing with the budget and public pensions will be, “the biggest priority, obstacle and area for progress,” for the new Council. “Anything that we propose in terms of social services and housing is definitely going to be impacted on the city’s ability to pay for it,” Lopez said.


    Top local issues in the 15th Ward: Lopez told Aldertrack a lot of his time will be focused on housing issues. “We have a lot of vacant land and housing foreclosures that we need to work on throughout the entire ward.” Lopez said that he already has a team canvassing the ward and logging all of the vacant properties to see what is salvageable and could potentially be refurbished into affordable housing, among other uses.


    Lopez said he has already started working with the Chicago Department of Transportation to address the numerous potholes in the ward and working on addressing city service requests that are “languishing” in the 311 system. Throughout the campaign Lopez highlighted the fact that as Committeeman he has provided city services to residents and is familiar with the various city department heads. Now that he is officially the alderman, he hopes to have an easier time providing those services.


    Potential Caucus Alignment: “Let’s see what these various caucuses have to offer in terms of their relationship with the 15th Ward. Obviously the 15th Ward has very unique dynamics at play [...] and if there is a caucus that has the interests of my residents in mind, I will definitely consider it,” but Lopez said his major focus will be on his constituents. Lopez did however say that he would be open to possibly joining the Latino Caucus and any future LGBT Caucus–with the addition of Lopez and Ald.-elect Carlos Ramirez-Rosa in the 35th Ward, there will now be 5 openly gay members on the City Council. Lopez said he would even be open to joining the Black Caucus, “if the offer was extended,” since he won a majority of the Black vote in his ward.


    Ward Office/Logistics: Lopez plans to have two offices, like he did during the campaign. One will be in West Englewood. The other will be between Back of the Yards and Brighton Park. He has also picked his chief of staff, an African American woman, but would not release further details by publication.

  • Challengers Susan Sadlowski-Garza (10) and Milagros “Milly” Santiago (31) maintained their leads over incumbents Ald. John Pope (10) and Ald. Ray Suarez (31), according to the final, unofficial vote count released by the Board of Elections Tuesday.


    After counting all the additional absentees and provisional ballots for the two undecided wards, Sadlowski-Garza’s lead over Ald. Pope dropped from 33 to 20 votes, while Santiago maintained a healthier 79-vote lead over Ald. Suarez.


    And while the BOE won’t certify the results until Thursday, it is unlikely the totals will change, says Jim Allen, spokesperson for the Board of Elections.


    Volunteers at the Board of Election’s downtown office spent more than three hours counting all remaining absentee ballots for all 50 wards Tuesday, while election judges and attorneys for Ald. Pope, Sadlowski-Garza, and Santiago closely monitored the activity. Milly Santiago was the only aldermanic candidate in attendance. No one from Ald. Suarez’s team attended the count.


    10th Ward: Ald. Pope v. Susan Sadlowski Garza
    Final unofficial totals: Sadlowski Garza (5,825) - Pope (5,805)


    The Board did not receive additional absentee ballots for the 10th Ward race since their last count on Saturday, April 11. However 42 rejected 10th Ward absentee ballots had been appealed and 37 of those ballots were validated and counted toward the totals: 24 for Ald. Pope and 13 for Sadlowski-Garza. Aldertrack was also told, by several sources from both campaigns, that between 34 and 37 provisional ballots would be included in the final counts, but only 32 of those were added in the BOE’s unofficial totals released at the end of the day.


    Since both candidates in the contentious Southeast Side race filed petitions to contest the election results in Cook County Court last week, it is unlikely the 10th Ward race will be finished for Sadlowski Garza when the BOE certifies the results.


    Minutes after unofficial totals were released to representatives for both 10th Ward candidates, Aldertrack was told that Sadlowski-Garza would withdraw her petition from the Cook County Circuit Court. The Pope campaign says they are still weighing their options.


    “Both campaigns filed legal briefs so that the ballots are legally counted and the [system is] transparent,” Jake Breymaier, campaign manager for Ald. Pope, told Aldertrack when asked about the status of his candidate's suit.


    31st Ward: Ald. Ray Suarez & Milagros “Milly” Santiago
    Final unofficial totals: Santiago (4,218) - Suarez (4,139)


    Of the 10 new and appealed absentee ballots that were counted and added to the totals for the 31st Ward, Ald. Ray Suarez received the majority, 8 votes, but that was not enough to break Santiago’s comfortable lead over the incumbent alderman. She finished Tuesday’s count 79 votes ahead of Ald. Suarez. Since there are no new ballots left to be counted and neither candidate filed a petition to contest the results, Santiago is the unofficial winner of the 31st Ward race.

  • The clearest political winner of this past election season was the City Council’s Progressive Caucus. Every member running for reelection won their seats for another term, and when the new Council convenes on May 18, there could be as many as fourteen members of the Caucus, depending how negotiations go with new members and the results of a still unsettled 10th Ward race.

    [Ed Note: The final counts for that race will be conducted today.]


    With the Caucus’ ascending influence, Joanna Klonsky, the Caucus’ Communications Director, is also finding herself busier and more prominent. Besides fielding regular calls from Chicago’s political press looking for an alternative to the Mayor’s view, as the Caucus’ sole staffer, Klonsky is working hard to organize a policy framework for a group many accuse of being merely the “Anti-Rahm” Caucus.


    Originally from Galewood and Oak Park, Klonsky matriculated through the hyper-liberal Bard College, worked briefly as a reporter in New York City before coming back to Chicago to work for Marilyn Katz and receive a “crash course in PR and public affairs.” From there Klonsky went to work on political campaigns, eventually becoming communications director for Miguel del Valle’s 2011 unsuccessful mayoral campaign.


    The del Valle campaign wrapped Klonsky in with Ald. Rick Munoz (22) who invited her in early 2011 to help put together a structure for a more permanent Progressive Caucus. “There was always some group of aldermen that called themselves a Progressive Caucus,” says Klonsky. “But they really wanted to get organized in a new political environment in a new administration, to have a structure, a single voice and to meet together.”


    Klonsky then helped a group of eight Aldermen, Munoz, Bob Fioretti (2), Leslie Hairston (5), Roderick Sawyer (6), Toni Foulkes (15), Scott Waguespack (32), Nick Sposato (36) and John Arena (45) write the bylaws, form a PAC and to create, “a statement of principles that serve as our north star for how we operate.”


    The Caucus members then spent much of the next four years being shunned by the Emanuel administration and opposing  many of the Mayor’s proposals. Progressive Caucus members vocally supported the 2012 Chicago teacher’s strike, opposed closure of the mayor’s schools, were usually the sole votes against the Mayor’s budgets and were vocal opponents of speed and red light cameras.


    The Caucus’ unspoken mission, to create a loyal opposition to the Mayor’s policies, was sometimes Quixotic against a Mayor who could summon unlimited sums to defeat opponents in the next campaign cycle. And that seemed to come true when the Emanuel-allied Chicago Forward PAC was announced in late 2014 with millions of dollars to spend on, “supporting candidates who demonstrate a shared commitment.” Then, after Aldermen Fioretti, Foulkes, and Sposato, being mapped out of their own wards, the die seemed cast: the Progressive Caucus would be pared down and made irrelevant in 2015.


    And indeed, soon after Aldermen Fioretti, Foulkes, and Sposato were mapped out of their Wards, the Emanuel-allied Chicago Forward PAC was announced in late 2014 with millions of dollars to spend on “supporting candidates who demonstrate a shared commitment”. The die seemed cast: the Progressive Caucus would be pared down and made irrelevant in 2015.


    But voters returned seven Progressive Caucus members to Council (except Fioretti), three newly elected members (David Moore-17, Chris Taliaferro-29, Carlos Rosa-35) have announced plans to join the Caucus, one undecided candidate has announced plans (Susan Sadlowski Garza-10) and three other newly elected members (Milly Santiago-31, Gilbert Villegas-36, Anthony Napolitano-41) are openly mulling over plans to join. Rather than be put out of business, the Caucus could actually double in size.


    As the Progressive Caucus’ influence grows, so does Klonsky’s, as the person tasked with building a cohesive organization and maybe even whipping votes outside the Caucus on big issues. “There’s a lot of opportunity for people to break out the silos and boxes they’ve been put in during term one of this past administration,” she says.


    To get a better handle on Klonsky’s and the Progressive Caucus’ goals, Aldertrack met with her in a coffee shop in River North. What follows is a condensed version of our interview.


    Aldertrack: What exactly does the Progressive Caucus stand for?


    Klonsky: The Progressive Reform Caucus of the Chicago City Council is dedicated to creating a more just and equal Chicago, combating all forms of discrimination, and advancing public policies that offer genuine opportunity to all Chicagoans, especially those who have been left out of our society’s prosperity.


    So, it’s about equality and justice. It’s about passing policies that support working families and the needs of working families. And it’s about good government. We’ve pushed a lot of legislation that’s been about strengthening the watchdog mechanisms of government.


    Everyone should be a member of the Progressive Caucus based on that. I don’t think any member of City Council would oppose those things. So why are some people in the Paul Douglas Alliance, and some not in anything?


    In the first term of the Progressive Caucus, this group served as a pole, everyone knows this. We were pushing stuff in a certain direction, trying to ask harder questions, trying to create an environment where there was some pushback to the policies that were harmful to neighborhoods, harmful to working families. The Progressive Caucus members stood up against the school closings and were very vocal, about their concerns about what the impacts on the neighborhoods would be, that stood up strongly with the teachers when they went out on strike for their new contract.


    They have been very consistently outspoken, raising concerns about the abundance of fees, fines and penalties that put an unfair burden on working Chicagoans. So they’ve been that voice over and over again for folks who don’t always have a voice in city council. And then there’s stuff that Progressive Caucus champions, like the Minimum Wage Ordinance.


    If the Progressive Caucus hadn’t introduced the $15 Minimum Wage Ordinance and created the pressure for it, I don’t believe we would have seen that $13 ordinance passed last year.


    Is it accurate to say you’re the left wing of the Democratic Party in City Council?


    Sure. These are not ultra-left wing policies. These are pretty mainstream, right? I don’t think it’s left wing to say you support raising the minimum wage, that’s the mainstream Democratic Party position. I don’t think it’s left wing to say you oppose closing 50 neighborhood schools. There’s nothing wrong with being left wing, it’s just these should be positions people of all ideological persuasions could get on board with.


    But everybody wants to build more schools. When have a choice between building more schools and cutting taxes, then that’s where the rubber hits the road.


    I think that’s right. It’s where the rubber hits the road. What I’m interested in in this new term is finding out how we can get more folks on board with taking votes on things that are consistently in the best interest of their constituents. That’s really what this comes down to. It’s not an ideological question. It comes down to, “Are you voting in a manner that’s consistent with what your constituents need and want.” And I think that’s what the Progressive Caucus has been pushing.


    Let’s say you end up with 14 members on the Progressive Caucus, almost 30% of the City Council. What’s different? What should we begin to see?


    I think you’ll see a lot more room for collaboration. I think there will be room for the Progressive Caucus to work with other groups and caucuses, to put forth legislation.


    Will we see a Progressive Caucus ordinance? Will we see a Mayor’s version and a Progressive Caucus version?


    Yes, I think sometimes that happens, like with the minimum wage. There was a Progressive Caucus ordinance for $15 and there was the one that ended up passing that was influenced by the Progressive Caucus version. I think that could happen, but there are also instances where it could all be one bill, where we sit down and hash it out and figure out what’s best for most Chicagoans and work to build a big majority.


    I don’t see any reason that can’t happen now, in this environment. There’s always going to be stuff that the Progressive Caucus is doing. This is a new day, and we can work together.


    Because you’re larger, should we expect some of the Paul Douglas Alliance to go your direction? Should we see people joining you, now that you’re a cohesive body?


    I think there’s a lot of opportunity for aldermen to stand with the Caucus. Some of the stuff, like we said, it’s not complicated. It’s no-brainer stuff that everyone should be able to get on board with. There are times when various people have worked with the Progressive Caucus and raised red flags, stood in press conferences together and even introduced legislation together. I think you’ll see more of that in this environment.


    Should we expect the Paul Douglas Alliance makeup change now that you’ve demonstrated some teeth at the ballot box?


    It’s hard for me to speak for what the Paul Douglas thing does. Can the Progressive Caucus work with them? Yes.


    Do you have an agenda for the next year?


    That stuff is being hashed out right now. We’re in conversation. This group is getting to know each other.


    Have you met yet?


    We’ve had a few meetings. We’re going to have a few more in the next couple of weeks. I think we’ll lay out an agenda that folks can look forward to seeing.


    A written document that you’ll distribute.


    Yeah. I think you can expect to see that.


    When should we expect to see that that? Before May 18?


    I don’t know. Early in the new term you’ll see at least a framework on what the Caucus will be pushing.


    How is it that you guys are different on schools and education from the Mayor?


    The number one arena where there’s a very clear difference is on an elected school board. The progressive caucus stood up for an elected school board, tried to get it on the ballot, I think three different times, each time it was foiled. And then got it on with a massive petition drive and the item won by a big margin citywide. It’s quite clear where Chicagoans stand on the school board.


    But that has to be passed by the state legislature, right?


    Correct. So there have been numerous resolutions put forth by the Caucus expressing support signaling to Springfield this is how we stand. Chicagoans want an elected school board. Let’s get it done. I think the Progressive Caucus is hopeful it will be reintroduced in Springfield and pushed through the legislature. If that opportunity comes up, I would venture to say you’d seen progressive caucus members head down to Springfield to talk to their legislators.


    This is of critical importance. What you’re seeing with the scandal at CPS right now is even more evidence of that.


    CPS right now is in serious financial dire straits. Is this something that needs to be done before CPS straightens out its finances?


    I think we needed an elected school board yesterday. This is an emergency. The current system does not work. 90% of Chicagoans know it. This is a mainstream, popular position. That’s ground zero. Subject number one.


    Are you going to make a move for any committee chairmanships?


    I don’t know the answer to that. But certainly I would say: Alderman Munoz has been in office for 22 years and Alderman Hairston has been in office for 16, who I think would be fabulous committee chairs. Definitely something to consider.

  • The announcement last week of the federal investigation into Chicago Public Schools and its CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s leave of absence has alarmed many aldermen, who only two weeks ago were fielding reelection campaign questions from constituents concerned about the state of CPS.


    Complicating matters for aldermen is that many voters believe City Council has some oversight authority over CPS. However, since 1995 aldermen have had no legal authority over CPS, despite the fact that its $5.76 billion budget is more than half the size of the city’s budget and half of every constituents’ property tax bill.


    Aldertrack spoke to a broad array of aldermen this weekend to get a sense of the Council on the public school’s growing financial and leadership problems. While some aldermen are content for the schools to be entirely the Mayor’s problem, most expect the issue of an elected school board to become more prominent–not less–as the CPS crisis continues.


    Aldermen know they will have to live with the results of whatever schools solution is found, but for now they are giving newly appointed CPS Acting CEO Jesse Ruiz an opportunity to get to work.


    In our conversations with aldermen, Ruiz was universally spoken of well. A “gentleman” with “integrity,” “Jesse Ruiz is exceptional and has only the highest standards,” we were told. Many alderman have worked with him as a CPS Board member and those with Springfield experience had good things to say about interacting with him downstate.


    While the tendency among aldermen is usually to be positive about a new mayoral appointment, we heard few reservations about him. But, everyone Aldertrack spoke to expects Ruiz to be a temporary appointment, and it is unclear exactly how temporary that it will be.


    The Chicago Public Schools system has big financial problems, including a hundreds of millions of dollars budget shortfall for 2016a multi-billion dollars pension liabilityand many hundreds of millions of dollars of risky financial engineering penalties still to be resolved.


    Throughout his hard-fought reelection campaign Mayor Rahm Emanuel emphasized that he had the competence to guide the city through its beleaguered financial state to solvency.


    Yet state law requires approval from the State legislature and Governor Bruce Rauner for almost all the possible solutions for fixing CPS: pension reform, altering the property tax levy, changing the state aid formula and especially changing the governance structure of Chicago’s schools.


    In addition, the 1995 School Reform Amendatory Act stripped City Council of any oversight of CPS, giving Chicago’s mayor total authority to appoint the school board and to oversee the school budget, while creating elected Local School Councils to approve individual schools’ discretionary budgets and hire principals. Before the 1995 reforms City Council approved board members and approved bond issues, but today Council is almost totally sidelined.


    “Since 1995, our City Council members have have zilch, nada when it comes to education accountability,” Ald. Rick Munoz (22) told Aldertrack.


    Yet, of the aldermen we spoke to, there was little talk of increasing aldermanic oversight.


    “The use of power is seldom found in law. It’s about influence, being a voice for your community,” said Ald. Will Burns (4).


    But many aldermen expect there to be some fight over elected school boards in the coming year.


    “I’m sure some people will see this as an opportunity,” said Ald. Ameya Pawar (47). “Having politics in running our schools is not a bad thing, it goes to taxpayer oversight.”


    “At the heart of the debate is who should be the Board of Education,” said Ald. Munoz. “I think [the Progressive Caucus’] advocacy efforts are going to continue to ensure this Board of Education has an elected school board. With or without the crisis.”


    But others point out the cold reality of the Mayor’s and Gov. Bruce Rauner’s opposition to an elected school board make change to the system unlikely.


    “Whether or not there will ever actually be an elected school board, would obviously take a change in the state statutes,” said Ald. Pat O’Connor (40), Mayor Emanuel’s City Council floor leader. “I think the Governor is already on record that he would not support it and would therefore probably veto it. So, if you are looking for an answer, in the short term there will not be too much change…unless he were likely to change his mind.”


    CPS’ current problems, “[are] not relevant,” to creation of an elected school board, said Ald. Joe Moore (49). “Getting elected to something does not mean honest and clean government,”


    “I don’t think you could have an elected school board without a transition,” said Ald. Emma Mitts (37). “It would hamper what is already going on with the finances,”


    Ald. Burns, who believes the school board has acted in good faith with aldermen, suggested moving more power to the grassroots. “We need to open up the 1988 school reform and give more power to Local School Councils,” he said. They have had their power diminished by the central office.”


    Since Ald. Latasha Thomas (17) is retiring and the Council’s education committee chair will be vacant, Ald. Joe Moreno (1) would like to see hearings. “Whoever will be the new chair of education should start with hearings on the record, on what kind of school board we should have and aldermanic oversight,” he said. “I’d argue they should bring in the charter schools, education experts. Have some thorough hearings on this. Let the people testify.”

  • Wednesday, April 15 was not only Tax Day, but also Illinois Campaign Finance Reports Day, requiring the hundreds of Chicago political campaigns to report how they spent their campaign money during the 2015 election cycle between January 1 and March 31, 2015. While there’s still a great deal more digging to do, Aldertrack took a close look at how sitting alderman assisted newly-elected aldermen's campaigns.


    2nd Ward Alderman-elect Brian Hopkins received big support from Ald. Brendan Reilly (43), including $5,000 in direct campaign contributions and $46,713.02 dollars worth of phone banking and mailers to win the general election and subsequent runoff. Meanwhile, only one alderman, Ald. Harry Osterman (48) supported his runoff challenger, Alyx Pattison, with a contribution of $500. Both 2nd Ward runoff candidates spent well over $300,000, making the 2nd Ward runoff one of the most expensive aldermanic races of 2015.


    7th Ward Alderman-elect Gregory Mitchell didn’t get any financial support from Council members, unions or PACs, but he managed to make a $20,000 personal loan from September and $3,890 in contributions last through the runoff where he beat incumbent Ald. Natashia Holmes. Between January and March, Mitchell reported spending only $28,174.45, mostly on mailers and rent. To compare, Holmes reported receiving close to $50,000 in cash contributions and services, including $2,500 from Ald. Ed Burke’s (14) Burnham Committee. Ald. Holmes spent $31,779.85 in the last quarter. Her biggest expenses were legal fees, hall rentals and mailers.


    11th Ward Alderman-elect Patrick Daley Thompson reported receiving $2,500 from Ald. Danny Solis (25), $1,500 from Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30), $1,000 from Ald. Harry Osterman (48), and $1,000 from Ald. Ed Burke's Burnham Committee. Thompson’s opponent, John Kozlar, did not receive any contributions from sitting Council members. Thompson reported spending $358,781.75 in the first quarter. Kozlar spent $18,645.77 in the same period.


    15th Ward Alderman-elect Raymond Lopez did not get help from any of the 50 sitting aldermen until he was forced into a runoff against Rafael Yañez, a close ally of mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. Lopez, who is also the 15th Ward Democratic Committeeman, reported donations from Ald. Brendan Reilly ($2,500), Ald. Tom Tunney ($5,000), Ald. James Cappleman ($500), Ald. Ed Burke($3,000), Ald. Mike Zalewski ($500) and the late Ald. JoAnn Thompson ($1,000). Yañez received $4,000 from one Progressive Caucus alderman, Rick Munoz (22) and over $10,000 from various unions.


    17th Ward Alderman-elect David Moore still has not filed his quarterly report, according to state records.


    18th Ward Alderman-elect Derrick Curtis, who is also the 18th Ward Democratic Committeeman, did not get any financial help from sitting aldermen. His opponent, incumbent Ald. Lona Lane, received $1,500 from Ald. Tom Tunney and $500 from Ald. Walter Burnett (27).


    24th Ward Alderman-elect Michael Scott, Jr. reported receiving $2,500 from Ald. Tom Tunney, $1,000 from Ald. Michelle Harris (8), and $1,500 from Ald. Ed Burke’s Burnham CommitteeAld. Jason Ervin’s wife, Melissa Conyears, acted as Scott's campaign manager, but her services are not listed as compensated for in Scott’s expense report. Scott’s opponent, Vetress Boyce, did not receive any financial support from sitting aldermen.


    29th Ward Alderman-elect Chris Taliaferro received an even $999 of contributions from Ald. Nicholas Sposato (36/38). Taliaferro also reported reimbursing $333.60 for postage and food to former 29th Ward Ald. Isaac Carothers, who was indicted on federal corruption charges in 2009. Meanwhile, incumbent and losing Ald. Deborah Graham received thousands of dollars in cash contributions from fellow aldermen Carrie Austin ($1,000), Tom Tunney ($1,000), Pat Dowell ($1,000) and Michelle Harris ($1,500).


    35th Ward Alderman-elect Carlos Ramirez-Rosa was the only challenger to beat an incumbent aldermen in the general election. Ramirez-Rosa did not receive financial assistance from Council members but he reported receiving close to $44,000 in direct contributions from unions. His most frequent expense was transportation, with over three pages worth of Uber charges. Ousted Ald. Rey Colonreported $5,000 from Ald. Danny Solis and $1,000 from Ald. Ariel Reboyras.


    36th Ward Alderman-elect Gilbert Villegas got $5,000 dollars worth of telephone polling from Ald. Joe “Proco” Moreno (1). While Ald. Nick Sposato (38) also endorsed Villegas, he did not report any in-kind or cash contributions in the quarterly reports. In contrast, Ald. Ray Suarez (31) put $20,000 into Villegas' opponent Omar Aquino’s campaign two days after the general election. Suarez and Aquino shared a campaign manager and were both backed by Cook County Democratic Party Chairman Joe Berrios.


    41st Ward Alderman-elect Anthony Napolitano did not report assistance from sitting aldermen, but he did report a $1,000 contribution from the 43rd Ward Republicans. The losing incumbent, Ald. Mary O’Connor, received $2,500 from Ald. Brendan Reilly, $5,000 from Ald. Tom Tunney, and $999 from Ald. Walter Burnett. Reilly also reported providing $2,525.70 worth of phone banking services to O’Connor ahead of the runoff.


    Some other interesting contributions:





    • The political committee for the late Ald. JoAnn Thompson (16) reported two transfers at the end of March: $1,000 to Ald.-elect Raymond Lopez and $1,000 to Stephanie Coleman, who has not conceded the 16th Ward race to Ald. Toni Foulkes.




    • Ald. Deborah Mell did not make the same mistake twice. Mell (33) reported receiving $9,838 of  “in kind” contributions for rent, postage and mailers from the 33rd Democratic Ward Organization, which her father, former Ald. Richard Mell, oversees. Last quarter Ald. Mell reported receiving similar contributions, but listed her father, a registered lobbyist with the city, as the donor. This time she reported the contributions from the Ward Democrats, instead of her father. Mell’s former opponent, Tim Meegan and labor-backed group, United Working Families, filed an ethics complaint and made it a major campaign issue for weeks. Mell eventually resolved the issue by saying it was a clerical error: the donation was from the Ward organization.



    • Michael Alvarez, City Hall lobbyist and Metropolitan Water Reclamation Commissionerdonated $44,500 to 22 incumbent aldermen and one alderman-elect from his campaign committee this past quarter. In 2013, Mayor Rahm Emanuel took some heat for accepting campaign contributions from Alvarez right after enacting new ethics rules on campaign contributions. He eventually returned the money. Alvarez is up for re-election in 2016.

  • The last City Council meeting of the session began after 10:30 a.m. yesterday with over an hour of memorials to the late-Ald. Berny Stone (50), a discussion of the importance of chess in Chicago Public Schools and a lengthy tribute to local high school sports teams. But then the Council swiftly voted without objection on over a hundred pieces of legislation, including an ordinance to approve millions in legal settlements drawing attention to the Chicago Police Department. A complete break down the meeting is at the bottom of this report.


    For several retiring and ousted aldermen, it was their last vote, since the May 6 Council meeting will be dedicated to goodbyes to leaving alderman; two of those aldermen, Natashia Holmes (7) and Lona Lane (18), were no shows yesterday.


    Several aldermen-elect, Raymond Lopez (15), David Moore (17), Michael Scott Jr. (24), Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35) and Gilbert Villegas (36) watched the three-hour long proceedings from the packed Council gallery. Cook County Finance Committee Chairman, Comm. John Daley also attended part of the session.


    Missing from the packed agenda was Ald. Ed Burke’s (14) proposed ordinance that would let strippers dance topless in strip clubs that serve alcohol. At the close of the meeting, Burke told reporters he didn’t bring the vote to the floor because he didn’t think he had the votes. [More on this from the Tribune]


    Emanuel discusses Burge Reparations, Rauner, CPS Probe, & Chiraq  


    Mayor Rahm Emanuel held his usual, quick post-Council briefing where he made sure to highlight his resolution in opposition to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s plan to create right-to-work zones across the state. Emanuel said, “As long as I’m mayor, Chicago will not be a right to work city.” Emanuel added that Chicago is not on par or in competition with Southern right-to-work states like Kentucky, Mississippi, and Alabama. “Our competition is other world class cities,” Emanuel said listing New York, London, and Shanghai as examples.


    Emanuel also touted his re-vamped and much scaled-down reparations package to Police Capt. Jon Burge’s alleged torture victims (reported in yesterday's Aldertrack Update), which was formally introduced in Council today and sent to the Finance Committee. The original settlement ordinance called for allocating $20 million dollars to the alleged victims and their families and sat without a hearing for over two years. When later asked how the city managed to find the money to pay for the proposed $5.5 million fund, especially at a time when the city’s finances are of major concern, Emanuel said, “This is going to be paid out over a set of years as we go through the set of cases [...] it’s not one lump sum at one time.”


    Regarding the federal probe into Chicago Public Schools, Emanuel said he was not privy to the details of the investigation. “It’s an ongoing active investigation at this time [...] CPS is fully cooperating,” Emanuel said, adding that he has, “very little information,” because Federal investigators do not share information during an investigation. Emanuel closed the matter, after being pressed numerous times to divulge details, that it is, “a CPS matter.” [probe details from Catalyst Chicago]


    Mayor Emanuel also responded to Gov. Rauner's suggestion that CPS consider bankruptcy to deal with its projected $1.1 billion budget deficit. “Regardless of friendship,” the mayor said about his relationship with Rauner, “I think it’s wrong […] The idea that you’d go to bankruptcy and you’d leave in place a tax code that has dual taxation on Chicago citizens is wrong.” The mayor was referring to the fact that Chicago residents pay a local property tax, which contributes to Chicago teacher pensions, and also a state income tax, which helps pay for education across Illinois.


    Emanuel also said he’s not a fan of Hollywood director Spike Lee’s new project, Chiraq, a movie about gun violence in Englewood. “I was clear with him that I am not happy with the title,” Emanuel said, adding that he told Lee there are “very good people” and a lot of “positive things” happening in the South Side neighborhood.


    Communications highlights submitted by the Mayor and various city departments:





    • Mayor’s Office: Resolution stating opposition to a recent proposal by Governor Bruce Rauner to create right-to-work zones–referred to Committee on Workforce Development & Audit.




    • Mayor’s Office/Department of TransportationOrdinance to create more public space by creating a “People Plaza Program.” The public-private partnership will be launched in ten locations this summer and will be expanded by ten additional locations each year under the ordinance introduced to the City Council.




    • Commissioner of Cultural Affairs and Special Events: An ordinance authorizing the execution of concession agreement with Goose Island regarding the Pritzker Pavilion. It was referred to Committee on Cultural Affairs and Special Events




    • Mayor’s OfficeThe Amended Jon Burge Reparations Package, originally announced and discussed during Tuesday's Finance Committee meeting, was officially introduced and re-sent to the Finance Committee. The package includes a $5.5 million fund for alleged victims, a formal City Council apology, the creation of a permanent memorial recognizing the victims of torture and curricula about the Burge case and its legacy for CPS eighth and tenth grade history classes.




    • Mayor’s Office & Department of Public Health: Ordinance to expand a Chicago Public Schools-run dental program to all CPS Schools. According to the release, more than half of Chicago’s third-graders have had a cavity and 30% have tooth decay. Medicaid would pay for the expansion.




    Filed in Clerk’s Office:


    Application by Comcast of Chicago, Inc. for state-issued authorization to use construction facilities in the public way for delivery of cable service in Chicago Area 1.


    Introduced by Aldermen (Highlights):





    • Ald. Joe Moreno (1) obtained a suspension of the rules to have the Clerk read a resolution about the importance of chess and the need to expand chess programs at Chicago Public Schools. “It teaches us so many other life skills other than just winning a chess game,” Moreno said. Ald. Latasha Thomas (17) and Ald. Ed Burke (14) spoke in favor of it, saying he'd never learned the game. Mayor Emanuel then joked that Burke, “plays another form of chess.”




    • Ald. Danny Solis (25) obtained a suspension of the rules to read a resolution “honoring children.” He would make April 30th Dia Del Nino, or Day of the Child, in the City of Chicago. Clerk Susana Mendoza and Mayor Emanuel are co-sponsors. “Like Mother’s Day, like Father’s Day, we would like to see this,” Ald. Solis said. Ald. Tim Cullerton (38) also spoke in favor.




    • An ordinance to expand mortgage interest tax benefits to middle class and lower income homeowners, referred to Committee on Housing and Real Estate. Ald. Will Burns (4), Ald. Latasha Thomas (17), Ald. Pat Dowell (3), Ald. Deb Mell (33), Ald. Walter Burnett (27), Ald. Ameya Pawar (47), Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26), Ald. Joe Moore (49) are sponsors.




    • Ald. Ed Burke and Ald. Joe Moore introduced a resolution calling for the council to, “officially go on record opposing,” State Rep. Joe Sosnowski’s (R-Rockford) plan to reduce the number of free days at Chicago museums. State law mandates that museums in the city must be open a minimum of 52 days for all Illinois residents. Sosnowski wants to cut that number in half.




    • Ald. Brendan Reilly (42) introduced an ordinance that asks that the Commissioner of Transportation remove a portion of the protected bike lanes on Kinzie Ave. Clerk Mendoza first sent Reilly’s proposal to the Committee on Transportation and Public Way. Someone then yelled, off mic, “and Traffic!” Since two committees were called, Mendoza referred the ordinance to Rules. [Read this Sun-Times article for background]




    Committee Reports:


    All reports of the City Council committees passed in a 47-0 vote, following the first roll call vote of a proposal from Finance Committee to donate an ambulance to Honduras. Ald. Scott Waguespack (32) and Ald. Rick Munoz (22), however, requested to be put on record in their request to “defer and publish” Zoning item #18279.

    Notable pieces of legislation that passed:





    • Dr. Julie Morita was confirmed as the new City Health Commissioner. She has been CDPH’s Acting Health Commissioner since January 15. Following passage, Mayor Emanuel praised her for her work in leading the city’s Ebola preparedness plan.




    • A Keep Chicago Renting ordinance introduced by Ald. Ray Suarez (31) that will provide tenants and landlords with clear timelines and processes for ensuring tenants aren’t dislocated if their building goes into foreclosure. Banks that legally take over the properties would have to notify tenants within 21 days. It will take effect in 90 days.




    • An ordinance to lease 15 vacant parcels of land in the South Shore community. [The parcels are located at 6927-67 South Kenwood directly adjacent to the former ComEd building]. Theaster Gates’ Rebuild Foundation owns the property and plans to turn it into a performing arts space.




    • An ordinance proposed by Ald. Carrie Austin (34) that incentivizes contractors to hire their subcontractors locally. It expands the Local Business Preference Ordinance.




    • An ordinance that extends the amount of time and reduces red tape for outdoor food vendors who can get a permit for special events like street festivals and concerts.




    Unfinished Business:


    Ald. Ed Burke said there was one more item from the Committee on Transportation and Public Way, but when he turned to Ald. Anthony Beale (9), the chair of the committee, to explain the matter, which was an amendment to the municipal code to allow review and sunset provisions for traffic violations, Ald. Beale responded, “I have no idea, Mr. Chairman.”


    Burke then questioned, partially off mic, why it was even on the agenda. It was likely this amendment, originally introduced by Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6), that has been sitting in committee since October. Members of the Progressive Caucus tried but failed to force a floor vote on it during the March meeting.

  • 10th Ward: Ald. John Pope v. Susan Sadlowski-Garza
    Garza Leads By 33 Votes
    When asked if they had plans to file, neither Ald. John Pope nor Susan Sadlowski-Garza’s campaign staff would make a statement on the record.

    “We have not determined if we are going to file,” Jake Breymaier, campaign manager for Ald. John Pope, told Aldertrack late Sunday afternoon. Breymaier said that Ald. Pope’s lawyers are still weighing their options.