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Tuesday, February 9, 2016
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Council Meetings & Agendas

10:00a - Committee on Finance, Council Chambers - Agenda
Noon - Committee on Special Events, Cultural Affairs, and Recreation, Room 201A - Agenda 

10:00a - Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards, Room 201A - Deferred Agenda
10:00a - Committee on Budget and Government Operations, Council Chambers - Agenda
11:00a - Committee on License and Consumer Protection, Room 201A - Agenda

9:15a - Committee on Finance, Council Chambers - Recessed Agenda
10:00a - City Council, Council Chambers

Wednesday, February 17
10:00a - Committee on Housing and Real Estate, Subject Matter Hearing, Keeping the Promise Ordinance, Council Chambers - No Agenda Online

IG Working Group Releases Analysis of Substitute Ordinance
by Mike Fourcher –

Yesterday evening, after working hours, Ald. Pat O’Connor (40), chair of a working group to tweak an ordinance that would merge the Office of the Legislative Inspector General with the City's Office of the Inspector General, released an analysis of draft legislation detailing how the changes would work and what proposed new jurisdictions the IG would have. The analysis, mailed to aldermen’s private email addresses, was forwarded to Aldertrack.

[IG Working Group Ordinance Analysis]

The original merger ordinance, sponsored by Ald. Ameya Pawar (47) and Ald. Michele Smith (42) was deferred and published at the January Council meeting. Following the meeting, O’Connor announced he was chairing a working group to “clean up” the ordinance in preparation for the February full City Council meeting, when it would be forced to a simple up or down vote. The chief changes, according to the worksheet are:

  • IG’s authority does not extend to reviewing, auditing or investigating waste and inefficiency in the City Council’s legislative processes and operations.

  • The IG receives complaints against CC employees.

  • Investigation against an alderman can be initiated only by a complaint that (1) names the alderman; (2) states the facts underlying the complaint; and (3) is signed by the person making the complaint. Any city officer or employee may sign such a complaint.

  • The deferred and published IG ordinance is amended by inserting “whereas” clauses.

  • The deferred and published IG ordinance is amended by removing a code section amending the OIG’s minimum budget. The minimum budget language is legislated and already included in the code.

  • The deferred and published IG ordinance is amended by specifying that the IG can investigate alleged violations of Chicago Municipal Code Chapter 2-156 (the Ethics Ordinance), or any other law, order or regulation applicable to aldermen/CC employees’ performance of duties or discharge of responsibilities.

  • The deferred and published IG ordinance is amended by correcting outdated effective date language.


Budget Committee to Consider Toxic Swaps, CPS TIF Surplus, Divvy Expansion
by A.D. Quig –

The City Council Budget Committee meets today at 10:00 a.m. to hear resolutions and ordinances that would direct the Law Department to fight against early termination penalties, possibly hike fees for building inspections done by the fire department, and encourage the city to re-route TIF surplus funds to help plug CPS’ budget gap. Specifically:

  • An ordinance directing the Department of Law to explore legal action concerning early termination penalties, recovering past losses and repayment on all interest rate swap agreements: This Progressive Caucus ordinance argues the City and CPS have paid more than $1.1 billion in payments for interest rate swap deals and the city should work to recoup them. “Other public and private entities in the United States have taken legal action... and avoided or lowered termination penalties for interest rate swap agreements and were repaid payments previously made to financial institutions.” Progressive Caucus opposition to swap termination fees within a $200 million water revenue bond deal last month delayed the sale (for the time being).

  • TIF Surplus for CPS Resolution: More than half the City Council has signed on to the CPS-TIF Surplus resolution that Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35) introduced last month. The resolution states the City Council would be in favor of “immediate new TIF surplus action, in addition to the surplus declared in August 2015, be utilized to mitigate any program cuts, layoffs of staff, and reductions in services in the Chicago Public Schools.” Diverting TIF surplus to schools, though it would fall short of CPS’ initial $480 million budget gap for this year, would “offset drastic cuts”, keep “essential programs”, and alleviate “potential mass layoffs. Legislation introduced in Springfield by Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie would divert all TIF surplus to CPS in this emergency situation instead of to other local taxing bodies. Aldermen will hold a press conference an hour before the meeting on the second floor of City Hall to highlight this item, which more than half of the city council has signed up to co-sponsor.

  • An intergovernmental agreement to expand Divvy to Evanston and Oak Park: Chicago has so far received $28 million from the federal government for the bike sharing program, with the city chipping in roughly $6.5 million. According to the IGA, the City will pass through $320,000 to Evanston and $480,000 to Oak Park for an “interoperable”, branded Divvy program. Evanston will pay $80,000 in local matching funds, Oak Park will pay $120,000. Costs and revenues will be shared: Chicago will get annual membership fees for people whose addresses are listed in Chicago and anywhere outside Evanston or Oak Park, and annual memberships purchased by people with Evanston or Oak Park mailing addresses will be distributed to each. Revenue from overage fees and 24-hour passes will also go towards the municipality where the ride originates.

  • An ordinance authorizing the fire commissioner to pick a program for electronic tracking and billing of building inspections: The ordinance authorizes Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago to choose a provider for electronic handling of inspection records and fees for those inspections. The costs will be borne by inspectors, who can pass on charges to building owners.

  • A communication recommending a proposed ordinance amending the municipal code concerning the continuation of the MBE/WBE Construction Procurement Program: Last month, Budget Chair Carrie Austin called for a temporary extension of the city’s Minority and Women-Owned Business (M/WBE) Construction Program that was set to expire at the end of the year. The original ordinance extended it through 2020, but Austin called for temporary stretch through March 31, 2016. Since this is just a communication, the committee won’t hear testimony or debate changes to the M/WBE Construction Procurement Program at this meeting.   

Airbnb Regs Not On This Month’s License Cmte Agenda, But Cabs, Mobile Vendor Restrictions Are
by A.D. Quig –

A new incentive program for cab drivers pitched by the Mayor’s Office is up for discussion in License and Consumer Protection Committee today, as are restrictions for mobile food vendors along certain stretches in Lincoln Park and label changes for grease containers. One item noticeably missing from the agenda today: Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposed changes to regulations for home-sharing companies like Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway.

Council sources say the holdup is not entirely due to Ald. Will Burns’ (4) exit from City Council to lobby for Airbnb. Many stakeholders, including aldermen and lobbyists for condo, realtors, and hospitality interest groups, think the ordinance needs tinkering.

Mayor Emanuel introduced an ordinance at City Council’s January meeting that would, according to a press release, allow the city to track units. Renters will have to “register their units with the city through a free and simple online process. House-sharing companies will also be able to register these units directly with the city.”

The changes would require units to be covered by a minimum of $1 million in liability insurance. There’s also a new 2% surcharge on bookings, tacked on to existing state and county hotel taxes Airbnb says it had already been collecting for the past two years. Despite strong opposition from some of the same hospitality groups opposed to the Mayor’s latest proposal, Cook County’s latest budget raised the hotel accommodations tax 1%.

The city already has an ordinance on the books that regulates homesharing: the Vacation Rental Ordinance, which was passed in 2011. Opponents to the Mayor’s new changes say the rules in the 2011 ordinance aren’t being adequately enforced by the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP).

“That was an ordinance that the condominium community approached the aldermen to pass,” Jeff Dixon of the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association told Aldertrack. “But that particular ordinance, if it were enforced, would be great. It would protect residents and guests, it would be self-funding to provide the funding to the city, but it was never enforced. That’s the problem.”

Brian Bernardoni, Director of Government Affairs for Chicagoland Association of Realtors, said Airbnb isn’t just accountable to the hospitality industry, but to the real estate industry as well. “Their practices are impacting our industry, and we think a more meaningful conversation needs to take place between all of us to make sure that all the procedures work for the entire group of impacted folks that are out there.”

The Mayor’s proposal needs a lot of work, Ald. Brendan Reilly (42) said. He was one of about a dozen aldermen who crafted the vacation rental ordinance in 2011. “We went through more than 30 drafts before we finally arrived at a consensus and passed it,” he told Aldertrack. Reilly says BACP enforcement doesn’t require time-consuming site visits, it can be done almost entirely by some simple Googling to see who is renting out units and whether they’re licensed.

“As of today, there’s only about 200 licensed units in Chicago, but we’re told more than 4,500 are being leased out… I believe that the existing law has plenty of teeth and I think it’s a manageable enforcement model, and it’s just not a priority [for BACP].”

Units that are rented more than 90 nights per year would be required to be licensed as a bed-and-breakfast or vacation rental under the new proposal. Reilly said that would be a tough mark to hit, since most units are rented out exclusively on weekends.

But the Mayor and the ordinance’s co-sponsors, Ald. Ameya Pawar (47) and Ald. Joe Moore (49) say the new rules will make it easier to track problem units and keep tabs on all renters. An estimated $1 million in revenue from the 2% surcharge would go toward affordable housing efforts. 

“This ordinance encourages innovation while injecting accountability into these short-term rental units,” Pawar said in a press statement. “It also generates much-needed funds for affordable housing.”

Other agenda items up in committee today:

  • BACP Top Cabbie Award Ordinance: An ordinance sponsored by Mayor Emanuel would create an incentive program to “find ‘Chicago’s Top Cabbie’ with a top prize of a free taxicab medallion,” according to a release. The contest, administered by the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, is open to all 12,000 drivers licensed by the city. It’s another piece of the Mayor’s cab appeasement moves as ridesharing companies’ reach grows. As part of the 2016 budget, cab drivers got a 15% fare increase, a reduction in the credit card transaction fee, and the ability to get in on revenues from ads placed on the outside of their cabs.

  • Mobile Food Vendor Restrictions in 43rd Ward: Ald. Michele Smith’s (43) ordinance, which was re-referred from the Committee on Transportation and Public Way, would restrict food cart vendors on nine separate stretches of restaurant-heavy sidewalk areas, including roughly quarter-mile spans of Armitage, Lincoln, North Clark, Fullerton, and Halsted.

  • Grease Container Changes: Ald. Reilly introduced an ordinance amending labeling requirements on grease containers. Owners of commercial refuse containers or compactors would have to label their containers with the name of the business and contact information for whoever is providing refuse collection.

Zoning Preview: Blackhawks, Rush Plans For Malcolm X, Plus A Few Controversial Luxury High Rises
by Claudia Morell –

This morning the Zoning Committee will take up the next step in the Blackhawks’ and Rush University Medical Center’s plans for the old Malcolm X College campus on the city’s Near West Side. The Chicago Blackhawks hockey team is looking to build a community ice rink and training facility at the site. Rush University wants to build a new medical campus. The University will take a majority of the 11 acre site to build a 1.4 million square foot “academic village” that’ll include three academic buildings and one dormitory for 300 students.

According to University President Peter Butler, who spoke before the Plan Commission in January, student enrollment has doubled over recent years and their current facilities and technology are nearly half a century old.

While both projects got full support from the Chicago Plan Commission last month, a handful of commissioners said they were concerned that the timetable for Rush’s plans–a six-year first phase and three-to-five years in between the subsequent three phases–is a bit long. Some weren’t thrilled that a provision in the planned development wouldn’t require Rush to go back for public review should they decide to amend their proposal later. Instead, the development team would have the ability to work out any changes through an internal review by the Department of Planning and Development.

Another application, from Clark 800, LLC, seeks to an amend an existing planned development to build a 230-unit residential building at a site directly north of Bush Temple, a Chicago Landmark. That item got Plan Commission approval in January as well.

Fulton Market Rezone

Sterling Bay’s application to rezone a section of Fulton Market where a partially completed office building currently stands will also be reviewed today. The project stalled after the dot-com bust in the late nineties, when developers were unable to finance the full project. The site and the adjacent 170-car parking garage to the north have been vacant ever since.

Calling the project a “catalyst” for the neighborhood at the December Plan Commission meeting, representatives from Sterling Bay sought a rezone to expand the existing skeleton, transforming it into an eight-story building with office and commercial space. The bottom five floors will conform with the height and design of the surrounding brick buildings, while the top three floors will have an extensive setback, with a glass and aluminum facade. The parking garage will be expanded to hold approximately 610 parking spaces to serve the entire Fulton Market community. At the December meeting, Ald. Walter Burnett (27) said the burgeoning Fulton Market is facing a parking shortage.

Bucktown Tower

Also on tap: Vequity’s plan to build a seven-story residential building at a busy intersection on the corner of Milwaukee and Western Avenue next to the Western Avenue blue line stop. According to Kyle Glascott, one of the members on Vequity’s development team, most of the units will be roughly 600-square-foot one-bedroom units. Their target audience is “young professionals” and they’re hoping to lease out the ground floor commercial space to a “transit oriented” retail operator, like a cafe or bike repair shop, he told the Plan Commission last month.

This application got a lot of pushback from commissioners because no affordable units are planned on site. Ald. Joe Moreno (1) was particularly peeved about this project and accused neighboring Ald. Scott Waguespack (32) of failing to do his job in ensuring affordable units. This project did not get unanimous Plan Commission support.

Uptown/Maryville Development

Vequity’s application is not nearly as controversial as the proposed residential development for the former Maryville/Cuneo Hospital site in Uptown. JDL Development is looking to build a massive, 860-unit housing complex with 50,000 square feet of retail and commercial space at an expected price tag of $125 million. At issue: TIF money is being offered for the project and local residents are crying foul. Dozens of local residents testified against the project at the January Plan Commission meeting and it failed to win unanimous support from commissioners.

Industrial Party Liquor License

Zoning Chairman Danny Solis (25) will finally bring up an ordinance he introduced over the summer creating a new liquor license for industrial parties. It’s unclear why Solis has been holding on to the ordinance for so long, but a staff assistant said it will move forward unamended. The ordinance would eliminate Class A and B licenses and create a new license with a fee structure based on the number of attendees, starting at $700 for an event with at least 350 attendees and capped at $4,000 for an event with 4,000 attendees.

With the new license, hosts could serve liquor for up to three days at a maximum of six locations between 4:00 p.m. and midnight on weekdays, 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. on Saturdays, and 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. on Sundays. Events held at places of worship or schools would be exempt. To apply for the license, a vendor must submit certification of insurance of at least $300,000 per incident, a description of the event, a site plan, and other routine information (time, location, place, etc.). A 35 to 90 day review process is required under the ordinance.

Solis' ordinance also provides local control: the city must notify the local alderman and all property owners within 500 feet within 5 days of receiving a license application. All parties have 35 days from when the license fee is paid to file an objection. Violators could face penalties of up to $10,000.

Changes to Financial Settlement Disclosure Up in Cook County Litigation Subcommittee
by A.D. Quig –

An ordinance that would trigger special reporting from the State’s Attorney’s Office on big County financial settlements is up for consideration in the Cook County Finance Subcommittee on Litigation. The ordinance, sponsored by Commissioner Bridget Gainer and co-sponsored by Comm. Larry Suffredin and Comm. Peter Silvestri, includes a provision requiring the State’s Attorney’s office to release photo, video, or other relevant evidence in cases where the County seeks to settle for more than $500,000.

The ordinance was introduced weeks after the release of the Laquan McDonald video, and after Cook County Commissioners John Fritchey and Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia called for State's Attorney Anita Alvarez to testify before the board on her role in the case. Comm. Richard Boykin has also called for a special prosecutor in future police shooting cases in the County, arguing the State's Attorney's relationship with police is too close to prosecute fairly. 

In any settlement above that amount, the SA’s office would have to disclose potential conflicts of interest in the case, the employment status of County stakeholders named in the case, and “significant tangible evidence” like photos or video that are relevant to the settlement recommendation. The SA would also have to submit an annual summary of all cases settled for more than $500,000, and report regularly to the County’s Ethics Officer on county employees involved in settlements.

"As advocates for the best interests of all Cook County stakeholders it is our job as County Commissioners to ensure we are given all information in order to make decisions with millions of dollars of taxpayer dollars. Access to this information will also help serve as an additional safety-net for our critical first-responders: police officers, sheriff’s deputies, doctors, nurses and all Cook County employees,” Gainer said in a statement.


Impact of State Budget Standoff on Cook Co. Finance Agenda
by A.D. Quig –

A special meeting of Cook County’s Finance Committee is scheduled today to hear the impact of the state budget standoff on public safety and health programs. Last month, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and officials from her administration warned of the risk of the County having to lay off dozens of employees without tens of millions of dollars worth of state and federal grants that pass through Springfield.

In January, County CFO Ivan Samstein said “common knowledge has shifted”, and the possibility that a FY2016 budget for Illinois might never pass was becoming more plausible. Budget Director Tanya Anthony told commissioners 46 employees in public safety and public health could be laid off.

Today’s meeting will include presentations from Samstein on, “all state grants and other State of Illinois revenues that impact the 2016 Budget of Cook County,” Budget Director Tanya Anthony on what the County can do to balance the current FY16 budget without grant funds, and Cook County Health and Hospital System officials on all state funds owed to the system and the impact layoffs would have on county clinics and hospitals.

Council’s Finance Committee Holds Mayor’s Tobacco Regs
by Claudia Morell –

For more than three hours, aldermen from a broad spectrum of backgrounds pushed back against Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposed tobacco regulations that would increase the city’s smoking age to 21 and generate $6 million in new revenue from increased taxes on tobacco products. Committee Finance Chairman Ed Burke eventually decided to hold the item for further consideration.

At the end of yesterday's meeting, Burke called a new meeting on Wednesday at 9:15 a.m. to reconsider the item.

Present: Chairman Ed Burke (14), Joe Moreno (1), Pat Dowell (3), Leslie Hairston (5), Roderick Sawyer (6) Greg Mitchell (7), Anthony Beale (9), Sue Sadlowski Garza (10),  Patrick Daley Thompson (11), Marty Quinn (13), Toni Foulkes (16), David Moore (17), Matt O’Shea (19), Willie Cochran (20), Howard Brookins, Jr. (21), Rick Munoz (22), Mike Zalewski (23), Michael Scott, Jr. (24), Danny Solis (25), Walter Burnett, Jr. (27), Jason Ervin (28), Carrie Austin (34), Marge Laurino (38), Scott Waguespack (32), Nick Sposato (38), Pat O’Connor (40), Tom Tunney (44), John Arena (45), James Cappleman (46), Ameya Pawar (47) Harry Osterman (48), Deb Silverstein (50)

Yesterday’s Finance Committee meeting started with a full press gallery, likely in anticipation of a debate on a resolution urging the city to quickly settle the a lawsuit filed by Bettie Ruth Jones, the woman accidentally killed by the Chicago police officer responding to the Quintonio Legrier call, but a section of the gallery emptied out moments after the meeting was called to order when Chairman Burke (14) announced that he and resolution sponsor Ald. Jason Ervin (28) agreed to hold the resolution and submit it to a subcommittee to fix the “verbiage.”

Tobacco Tax Debate

Expressing worry that the increased taxes would kill small businesses, especially those located in border wards, and fuel the underground market of loose cigarette sales, aldermen argued the new regulations would cause more harm than good during three hours of debate.

[Draft Substitute Ordinance Language]

While the revenue generated by the new tax would fund a new orientation program for CPS freshmen smoking cessation programs, some aldermen argued the enforcement mechanism is unclear; a few questioned whether the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) or the city’s police department would take over the reins to enforce the new rules.

Although Chicago’s cigarette tax is already the highest in the nation, Public Health Commissioner Julie Morita, M.D. says raising the tobacco age would to curb youth smoking at a key time when their brains are still developing. Smokers who start at a younger age will have a harder time quitting as they get older, she said. Young consumers are also more price sensitive.

But Ald. Leslie Hairston (5) rejected that premise, pointing to the thousands of young adults who buy expensive concert tickets, cell phones, and designer clothing and shoes. “It seems like we are a city that wants to chase people away,” she said, garnering cheers from the gallery.

South Side Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6) says he knows one man who makes $800 a day selling loose cigarettes. He gave voice to concerns that the new taxes would hurt “communities of color”. Ald. Jason Ervin (28) recalled a constituent who used to sell loose cigarettes out in the “freezing cold” but now sells those cigarettes “from the luxury of a brand new Jeep.”

When Commissioner Morita suggested aldermen were raising “theoretical” concerns about black market sales, Ald. Ervin shot back, “I would implore you to walk down Madison with me, from Hamlin all the way to Kosner, and you will see the real consequences of what we’re talking about. This is not theoretical. This is not something I dreamed up,” he added.

Apologizing and saying she misspoke when dismissing Ervin’s comments, Morita tried to shift the conversation back to the public health benefits of the ordinance.

But few aldermen were interested in talking about health. While they agreed curbing youth smoking is admirable, they said they couldn't understand why the city felt the need to target small business owners who, in some cases, could see up to a 50% reduction in sales.

Several aldermen asked to hear how CPS plans to spend the $6 million in potential new revenue. The Mayor’s office has said it would be earmarked for a new week-long orientation program for students entering their freshman year of high school. Finding it odd that the new taxes are aimed at curbing smoking, which theoretically would lead to a reduction in year-over-year revenue, Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson (11) asked how the summer program could continue when the annual revenue isn’t guaranteed. Morita said she didn’t have an answer.  

Even former Ald. James Balcer (11) showed up to testify against the ordinance. Balcer, who is a veteran, said vets and active military personnel should be exempt from the age restrictions, because, as he put it, if they are old enough to fight for their country and vote, they are old enough to smoke.

As the hearing approached the three hour mark, Ald. Ameya Pawar (47), who is not a member of the committee, but is one of the ordinance's lead sponsors, had had enough and accused his colleagues of backing big tobacco.

“I’m at a loss, we have progressives saying they’re for tobacco. I don’t know what is going on when we have people carrying the water of tobacco companies,” he opined. Taking his comments a step further, Ald. Pawar said yesterday’s focus on the economic impact of tobacco sales was akin to colonial times, when during the British occupation of India, the British used to give out free cigarettes as a way “to get them hooked so they could pay for them later.”

The dividing issue of public health versus business interest carried over into the public portion of the meeting. Representatives from the American Heart Association and area hospitals lined up to support the ordinance for its health benefits.

Representatives from the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, 7-Eleven, Jewel Osco, and two South Side pastors testified against the ordinance, citing the economic burden they’d face and the potential legal issues the city would open itself up to if it approved the changes.

According to Tanya Triche, vice president and general counsel of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA), Chicago has no jurisdiction to impose a new tax because the state legislature ended that authority in the early 1990s. Should the industry take legal action on this package, the recent taxes the City Council approved on vaping products could be folded into the lawsuit. “These are very murky legal waters,” she warned.  

Committee Approves $3M+ In Police-Related Legal Settlements

The handful of aldermen who remained in the Council chambers following the heated debate on tobacco approved about $3.5 million in legal settlements lodged against the city’s police department. All three settlements were approved together by voice vote following testimony on each item from Jane Notz with the City’s Law Department.

The biggest amount, $3.1 million, settles a Department of Justice suit against a hiring practice no longer in effect that required ten-years continuous residency in the U.S. for all police candidates. Ald. Nick Sposato (38), a former firefighter, cast the sole “no” vote, arguing the department’s residency requirement was warranted. “I’m so troubled by this. I don’t think this is something I can support. I think we did everything right… We need a history, we need to know what these people were like.”

The suit alleges that between 2006 and 2011 the police department engaged in “national origin discrimination,” blocking 47 police candidates a spot on the force because they failed the residency requirement, said Notz.

“The requirement was designed to ensure that applicants had sufficient contacts in the United States for the department to conduct an adequate background check,” she explained. However, Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act makes it illegal to discriminate against an employee because of his or her national origin, leading the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to find the police department at fault. The department revised the policy to five years in August 2011. The new policy is not considered discriminatory, since only two candidates were turned down, Notz said.

A number of factors contributed to the $3.1 million figure. Under the settlement, the department has agreed to hire up to eight of the 47 applicants who were denied a spot on the police force. Each of the new hires will be eligible to receive retroactive retirement benefits (about $1 million). The city will also pay approximately $2 million in backpay damages and a $10,000 award to each of the two original plaintiffs, “in recognition of their assistance to the DOJ and EEOC.”

If the case had made it to court, Notz explained, the city could have been forced to pay out additional benefits to the denied police candidates and a court order could have forced the department to hire more than eight candidates.   

The other two legal settlements the committee approved stem from allegations of police misconduct, or more specifically, illegal searches and seizures. Both had a smaller price tag: $200,000 and $220,000.

Municipal Depository Retraction - [Press release and draft ordinance.]

Ald. Jason Ervin (28) and Ald. Michael Scott, Jr. (24) directly introduced an ordinance into committee that would remove JP Morgan from the list of banks that can hold the city’s money in response to the bank closing a branch at 4114 W. Madison St. in East Garfield Park. It’s the only bank or ATM in the community, Ald. Ervin explained. Chairman Burke held the matter to give Ald. Ervin time to work the issue out with the bank and said it could be heard at the next meeting if no movement has been made.

McPier Building Permit Fee Waiver

Once-controversial building permit fee waivers for McPier that Chairman Burke held in committee after aldermen cried foul were brought up at the very end of the meeting, after the miscellaneous portion. Mike Merchant with the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority testified for less than five minutes and it was quickly approved by the handful of aldermen that remained.  

Back in January, after nearly 40 minutes of debate, Chairman Burke held two proposals that would have waived building and permit fees for the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, as well as a proposal that would authorize $7 million in TIF funds to pay for a new public park next to the Marriott Marquis Hotel currently being built. Some aldermen complained the city shouldn't be subsidizing private development.

But those in opposition were long gone by then. Ald. Pat Dowell’s (3) ordinance, if approved Wednesday, will save McPier roughly $2.6 million in construction fees associated with the McCormick Place expansion plan through 2017.

SSA Appointments Approved

The Committee quickly approved SSA appointments for:


Ward Reports
  • Ald. Joe Moreno (1), Ald. Raymond Lopez (15), Ald. Scott Waguespack (32), and Ald. Nicholas Sposato (38) were on Chicago Tonight to discuss the IG ordinance. Moreno tweeted a pic, and his thoughts on all of yesterday's news
  • Ald. Pat Dowell (3) and State Rep. Christian Mitchell toured Chicago Commons' senior care center. Dowell's town hall, scheduled for Feb 25, has been postponed because of a scheduling conflict. 
  • Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6) says the famous blue White House in Chatham has sold
  • Ald. Gregory Mitchell (7) officiated EPIC Academy Charter High School's 2016-2017 blind lottery process. 
  • Ald. Sue Sadlowski Garza (10) is hopping on the print bandwagon, revealing a new quarterly publication, the 10th Ward Times. Ald. Gregory Mitchell (7) also has a ward paper.  
  • Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson (11) wished his ward residents a happy Chinese New Year, alongside Cook Co. Comm. John Daley.
  • Ald. Willie B. Cochran (20) is worried about Zika virus and the Olympics. 
  • Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30) and Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35) posed with State Rep. Jaime Andrade, who thanked them "for standing with me in my fight against Gov. Rauner and his plans to bankrupt Chicago Public Schools." 
  • Ald. Marge Laurino (39) shared this link for City of Chicago internships. 
  • Ald. Brendan Reilly (42) tweeted this compelling yard sign, and endorsed 26th District State Rep. Candidate Jay Travis alongside Ald. Sue Sadlowski Garza (10), and Rep. Danny Davis.  
  • Ald. John Arena (45) is attending a meet and greet with State Rep. Rob Martwick for Judge Eve Marie Reilly & Judge Aleksandra "Alex" Gillespie
  • Ald. Ameya Pawar (47) tweeted responses to progressive opposition during yesterday's tobacco ordinance debate: "Insane" and "So far to the Left we get to the Right." Ald. Scott Waguespack (32) called him out for not staying at the meeting the whole time. 
  • Ald. Harry Osterman (48) is holding a kickoff party for his ward's Year of the Youth Feb 13. 
Campaign Inbox
Got some campaign mail? Scan and send us a PDF at
  • Jacob Kaplan, Executive Director of the Cook County Democratic Party, reminded committeemen: "...our copyrighted "DEM APPROVED" logo is only to be used by countywide slated candidates. We've noticed several subcircuit candidates using this logo. This is not allowed (even if they are slated by the local committeemen), and we respectfully ask that they remove the logo from their literature/websites."
  • Another anti-Ald. George Cardenas mailer in the 12th ward Democratic Committeeman race, saying he and Mayor Emanuel brought more rats, gangs, guns, graffiti, charter schools, and speed cameras (English, Spanish).
  • A list of new Latino endorsements for Jacob Meister, candidate for Clerk of the Circuit Court: Cong. Luis Gutierrez, State Sen. Iris Martinez, State Rep. Luis Arroyo, Cook Co. Comm. Luis Arroyo Jr., Ald. Joe Moreno (1), Ald. Raymond Lopez (15), Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30), Ald. Milly Santiago (31), Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35), and Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36).
  • Harish Patel, candidate for 40th District State Rep. issued a release in response to some recent negative mailers: “Those who use this one contribution to suggest I am in any way tied to the Governor are knowingly and purposefully trying to mislead the voters,” said Patel. 
  • A door hanger supporting Patricia van Pelt for 5th District State Rep. calls former 2nd Ward Ald. Bob Fioretti a "deadbeat employer" who "nobody can trust".

Chicago Political News

Preckwinkle warns of possible county layoffs due to state budget impasse [Tribune]
Preckwinkle: Layoffs loom unless legislators pass state budget [Sun Times]

Emanuel tobacco tax package stalls [Tribune]
Emanuel's plan to raise smoking age, tobacco taxes snuffed out [Sun Times]
New Tobacco Tax Resisted By Aldermen Who Cite Sales of 'Loosies' [DNA Info]
Aldermen Halt Emanuel’s Plan to Raise Smoking Age, Tobacco Taxes [NBC5]
Aldermen Reject Mayor Emanuel’s Tobacco Tax [Chicago Tonight]
Aldermen Push Back On Emanuel’s Tobacco Proposal During City Council Hearing [WBBM]

Aldermen reluctantly OK $3.1M for immigrants denied CPD jobs [Sun Times]
Council Committee OKs $3M Settlement for Police Hiring Discrimination [DNA Info]

Ald. Burke Defers Plan To Pay Bettie Jones' Family For Police Shooting [DNA Info]
Aldermen Urge City To Settle Bettie Jones Shooting Lawsuit [ABC7]
Aldermen urge settlement in Bettie Jones shooting case [WGN9]

City fails to warn Chicagoans about lead risks in tap water [Tribune]

Rahm to propose plan to boost women, minority work on city projects [Sun Times]

Aldermen defend attempt to clip Inspector General's wings [Sun Times]
City Council Prepares to Vote on Extending Inspector General's Powers [Chicago Tonight] - Panel with Ald. Joe Moreno (1), Ald. Nick Sposato (38) and Ald. Raymond Lopez (15) and Ald. Scott Waguespack (32).

Claypool: Expected CPS Classroom Cuts 'Not To Get Concessions' From CTU [DNA Info]

Emanuel: CPS Bankruptcy Could Ruin Educational Gains [WBEZ]

'Foot Police' Ordered Back in Cars To Patrol Hot Spots After Murder Spike [DNA Info]

Five things to know about U of C Medicine's trauma center reversal [Crain's]

Voter Registration Deadline Looms [WBEZ]

Why Anita Alvarez Is Still a Frontrunner [Chicago Mag]

Alvarez Battles Opponents During Editorial Board Endorsement Sessions [NBC5]

Rep. Ken Dunkin’s Primary Opponent Receives High-Profile Democratic Endorsements [NBC5]

Small airlines to O'Hare brass: What about us? [Crain's]

What Chicago can learn from Mexico City's bus rapid transit [Reader]

Chicago State students, faculty protest Springfield budget standoff [Tribune]
Chicago State University students protest state budget impasse [Sun Times]

AG Madigan: Former Peoples Gas execs violated state law [Crain's]

Anonymous donors pledge $450,000 in effort to save Woodlawn church [Tribune]
Landmarks group gets $450K in pledges to save Woodlawn church [Sun Times]
Shrine Gets $450,000 From Anonymous Donors to Stop Archdiocese's Demo Plans [DNA Info]
Landmark church at the brink of restoration [Hyde Park Herald]

Pawar Scuttles TIF Projects To Give Back to CPS, Urges Peers To Do Same [DNA Info]

Olmsted Expert Says Washington Park is Too Focused on Fast Cars [DNA Info]


Brown: Downstate voters get early start on election

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