Public Safety Committee Moves Lightfoot Forward
by Claudia Morell – email@example.com
The Committee on Public Safety advanced Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s appointment of former federal prosecutor and Chicago Police investigator Lori Lightfoot as President of the Chicago Police Board, an independent body that decides disciplinary action against police accused of misconduct. But that support didn’t come without some concern from three new aldermen on the committee who asked Lightfoot to detail her plans to make the Police Board more transparent and the relationship between police and residents more amicable.
Committee Members Present: Chairman Ariel Reboyras (30), Gregory Mitchell (7), Patrick Daley Thompson (11), Ed Burke (14), David Moore (17), Matt O’Shea (19), Ald. Walter Burnett, Jr. (27), Chris Taliaferro (29), Ald. Carrie Austin (34), Nick Sposato (38), Anthony Napolitano (41)
“I ask of you of this one request: treat each and every case with an open mind. Do not view or investigate anybody with a preconceived notion of guilt,” newly elected alderman and former police officer Anthony Napolitano (41) told Lightfoot. Speaking from a prepared statement, Ald. Napolitano told Lightfoot that, “We are now living in a society where the almighty lawsuit rules the country” and numerous “fraudulent cases” filed against police officers around the county have caused police to be “more reactive and less proactive.”
During her testimony, Lightfoot noted her nomination comes at such a “pivotal national and local time” when cases of police misconduct regularly make national headlines.
“I am committed to doing my part to make sure there is constructive dialogue. Many of our communities are hurting,” Lightfoot told the committee, noting that while the Police Board plays an “important but limited role” as an impartial decision maker, she’ll do what she can to improve fairness, transparency and efficiency. She emphasized and repeated those goals throughout the nearly 40 minute committee meeting. She also highlighted the importance of the Board’s monthly public meetings because she believes those interactions provide accountability and they help board members “learn how its decisions impact the public.”
Another former police officer on the committee, Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29), said after attending several of those meetings over the last nine years, he’s seen room for improvement. He asked Lightfoot if she considered moving the meetings from the public safety building to a more “neutral zone” as a way to improve dialogue with the public. Lightfoot said she couldn’t think of another venue.
Ald. Taliaferro, who campaigned on a promise to improve community policing in his ward, which includes the Austin neighborhood, also lamented that the disconnect between the city’s police department and his community is at the worst level he has seen during his 21 years as a police officer. He blamed past decisions made by the Police Board as one of the root causes.
But no alderman on the committee had more questions for Lightfoot than Ald. David Moore (17), who grilled Lightfoot on everything from her thoughts on increasing diversity within the CPD to how the board would handle a police officer caught lying under oath.
Lightfoot told Moore if there is evidence an officer has lied, they should be terminated. “There is a lie, you die rule across the country,” Lightfoot said.
When Ald. Moore asked Lightfoot if she believed the Police Board was representative of the city, she responded that was a “tough question,” adding that the board “isn’t just a bunch of lay people.” Moore pressed her, asking how the board could remain impartial if everyone is appointed by the Mayor. Lightfoot said there is a significant amount of transparency in how the board makes its decisions and reminded him that everything the board does is disseminated to the public.
If the full City Council approves her nomination at the end of the month, it won’t be Lightfoot’s first job with the City of Chicago. Former Chicago Police Superintendent Terry Hillard recruited Lightfoot from the US Attorney’s Chicago office in 2002 to head the Chicago Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards (OPS), where she investigated cases of police misconduct. The City replaced OPS in 2007 with what is currently the investigative arm of the police department, the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA). After two years as Chief Administrator for OPS, Lightfoot worked in the City’s Office of Emergency Management and Communication (OEMC), and eventually migrated over to the Office of Procurement Services. Following her tenure with the City, Lightfoot went back to private practice and has since worked with the law firm Mayer Brown.
The Police Board is made up of nine members appointed by the Mayor and approved by the City Council. In addition to Lightfoot’s appointment, Mayor Emanuel has also asked the council to approve two new appointments, John Simpson and Claudia Valenzuela, and to re-appoint William Conlon.
Simpson is a partner at Broadhaven Capital Partners and spent $77,800 to get Mayor Emanuel re-elected in 2015.
Valenzuela is an Associate Director of Litigation at the Heartland Alliance National Immigration Justice Center, an organization that provides legal services to immigrants, and Conlon is a partner at Sidley Austin, LLP.
Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards Preview
by Claudia Morell and A.D. Quig – firstname.lastname@example.org
The Committee on Zoning meets in the City Council Chambers at 10:00 a.m. to discuss the appointment of Judy Frydland as the new commissioner for the the Department of Buildings and the creation of the Pullman National Monument Advisory Commission, among other routine zoning requests. We also preview major projects like a new Streeterville high-rise and a senior center in the Moody Bible Institute’s planned development.
Mayoral Appointment of Judy Frydland to Department of Buildings
(Doc # A2015-46)
Judy Frydland currently serves as the Deputy Corporation Counsel for the Chicago Department of Law’s Building & License Enforcement Division. If approved by the City Council, Frydland would replace Commissioner Felicia Davis, who was appointed by the Mayor as the Executive Director of the Public Building Commission (PBC), which oversees new construction and renovation projects for the city and sister agencies including the Park District and Chicago Public Schools. Frydland will be responsible for enforcing the building code and modernizing the department, according the to press release the mayor’s office disseminated when the appointment was first announced in May.
Pullman National Monument Advisory Commission
The ordinance would create a seven member body to oversee and promote tourism to the Pullman National Monument, which received official designation by President Obama in February. Mayor Emanuel introduced the ordinance at the last City Council meeting on behalf of the Department of Planning and Development and in conjunction with Ald. Anthony Beale (9), whose ward encompasses the historic Pullman neighborhood.
The seven member body would include a chairman and six members appointed by the Mayor, “with input from Pullman community leaders, business owners, and residents”, according to the ordinance. The board would be responsible for coordinating projects to promote tourism and raise community awareness, maintaining the national monument, and reporting new developments with the City Council and Mayor’s Office. The board could also solicit and accept public and private contributions, but would have to coordinate how they spend that money with the National Park Service.
The terms for the initial six Board members would be equally divided in three groups: two members will serve a one year term; two members will serve a two year term; and two members will serve a three year term. The chair serves for two years. After the initial terms expire, all board members will serve three year terms.
New residential building near site of Carmichael’s Steakhouse
Applicant GLPE LLC, represented by attorney Thomas S. Moore, is asking for the committee to re-zone a chunk of West Loop to build a four story, 70-unit residential building. The property is next to the site of the former Carmichael’s Steakhouse, which announced it was closing its doors earlier this spring. The building’s owners, Michigan Avenue Real Estate Group, had originally planned to build 131 residential units at the site. But last fall, DNA Info reported Chairman Danny Solis (25) effectively blocked those, or any new apartments from popping up on the 1000 block of West Monroe unless developers had approval from neighbors.
Proposed senior living building in Moody Bible Institute PD
The Moody Bible Institute is asking for an amendment to its Institutional Planned Development (No. 477) to allow for construction of a senior residence building. The Institute’s PD has been in place since 1989, and currently allows for public ministry, publication, broadcasting, worship, assembly, academic, office, residential and recreational and special uses primarily to support physical education and recreation. The proposed subarea of the PD along the train tracks parallel to Orleans between Walton and Oak would be designated for no more than 100 senior living units for people 55 years and older. Renderings provided in the proposed ordinance say the 7-story building would be called Wisdom Village Oak Street Senior Living. The Plan Commission approved the application at its March meeting.
Half Acre plans new brewery on Balmoral in Bowmanville
Bastion of Balmoral LLC is asking for a zoning change from a manufacturing zoned district (M1-2) to a commercial district (C3-3) to establish a brewery with a tasting room and beer garden at 2050 W. Balmoral Ave in the Bowmanville neighborhood just south of Rosehill Cemetery. Gabriel Magliaro, owner of Chicago’s Half Acre Brewery, is managing member of GMB Partners LLC, which manages Bastion of Balmoral. In a blog post from March 2014 on Half Acre’s website, the company said it bought the property to serve as an extension to their Lincoln Avenue tap room 5 minutes away. “The additional space will allow us to expand our distribution footprint to the entire Chicagoland area, add more onsite enjoyment at both locations and explore our interests as brewers and beyond.” The space would include a 35,000 sq. ft. brewery, a 16,000 sq. ft. tasting room and full service kitchen and an outdoor terrace.
New Streeterville high rise proposed near Loews Hotel and North Water Apartments
465 N Park Dr. LLC c/o Jupiter Reality Company LLC is looking for a zoning change in Planned Development No. 368 downtown to build a 45 story, 513 foot tall residential building with 444 residential units near the new Loews Hotel and North Water Apartments. Ald. Brendan Reilly (42) and the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents (SOAR) got a look at development plans in mid-June (slideshow here). Developers took down an initial proposal by four floors and 139 parking spaces, while adding 171 units. They also committed to renovating and upgrading nearby Ogden Park. According to Curbed Chicago, “The lot itself was previously approved by the zoning board as a Planned Development for a 57-story residential tower to be developed by a different developer, who backed out of the project years ago. Jupiter was able to develop this new tower with a whole new design under the existing PD, except for the change from condos to apartments necessitating an increase in the number of units as rentals tend to be smaller.”