The Chicago Sun-Times reported on Friday that Mayor Rahm Emanuel is organizing a private meeting of the City Council leadership, and yesterday aldermen and a mayoral staffer pulled back from that report to tell Aldertrack he is actually holding a “social gathering” with the chairmen of the Council’s 16 committees and their spouses. A private meeting with the committee chairs, depending on the agenda for the gathering, could have violated the state’s Open Meetings Act.
“I think it’s a good idea,” said Ald. Danny Solis (25), Chairman of the Council’s Zoning Committee, adding that it wasn’t too unusual, considering similar gatherings are held during the holidays.
Asked if they were going to the meeting with an agenda of their own, aldermen we spoke to said “no”, explaining that it was not that kind of meeting.
Ald. Joe Moore (49), Chairman of the Council’s Housing and Real Estate Committee, said that if he had an agenda he wanted to bring up, he’d meet with the Mayor or his staff on his own.
Ald. Solis and Ald. Howard Brookins, Jr. (21), Chairman of the Council’s Education Committee, responded in kind. It’s a “get to know you” type of meeting, Ald. Brookins explained. It’s “inappropriate” to bring up business at a social gathering, Ald. Solis added. And reached for comment, the Mayor’s Office confirmed that today’s meeting is in fact a social gathering with spouses.
Nevertheless, there has been some changes to the Council leadership following former 4th Ward Ald. Will Burns’ exit. Ald. Brookins took over Burns’ spot as chair of the Education Committee, which rarely meets despite Chicago Public Schools’ financial and contract issues. Brookins had served a brief stint overseeing the Committee on Economic, Capital and Technological Development, which meets regularly, mostly to approve tax breaks for companies that commit to rehabbing old, vacant industrial properties. Ald. Joe Moreno (1), who received a chairmanship after the election, will take over that committee. He was originally the chair of the Council’s Human Relations Committee, another body that rarely meets. Ald. Pat Dowell (3) inherited that seat.