Two items from freshmen aldermen were tabled by Chairman George Cardenas (12) at yesterday’s Health and Environmental Protection Committee meeting–resolutions calling for the city to participate in a recycled asphalt pilot program and a humane coyote management program–while new rules on tattoos, piercings, and pet waste will move on to the full City Council on Wednesday.

Attendance: Chairman George Cardenas (12), Brian Hopkins (2), Susan Sadlowski Garza (10), Willie Cochran (20), Ariel Reboyras (30), Deb Mell (33), Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35), Gilbert Villegas (36), James Cappleman (46), Harry Osterman (48)

Both Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36) and Ald. Brian Hopkins (2) presented subject matter experts at yesterday’s meeting, but both of their proposals were tabled because city or state officials weren’t on hand to offer their perspective, Chairman Cardenas explained.

Villegas, whose pre-aldermanic career was mostly in the construction industry at the Illinois Capital Development Board and the Illinois Department of Transportation, offered up Brian Lansu, VP and legal counsel of US Recycled Asphalt Shingle, an industry trade group, as a witness. The city could save $5 per ton of asphalt if they participated in a statewide pilot program that used asphalt made with recycled shingles, Lansu testified. He says the Illinois Department of Transportation is already working on several projects using the asphalt, including in the Chicago area. But Cardenas opted to hold the resolution because the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) wasn’t there to testify.

“It was news to me that it was being held,” Ald. Villegas told Aldertrack. He assumed when the issue was called in committee, the Mayor’s office would have made a CDOT official available to testify. “I had a conversation with the Mayor’s office [after the meeting] that if they want to talk about something I’m okay with it, but don’t hold my resolution up without talking to me…I was a little frustrated with that. We can negotiate an ordinance, but I don’t like just arbitrarily saying ‘no’.”

Villegas says he wants a vote on the issue next month. “We’re in the beginning of paving season. I wanted to have the ability for Chicago to do a pilot program to put forth some cost-effective alternatives.” He estimates CDOT could save hundreds of thousands using the “green” asphalt.

Ald. Brian Hopkins (2) presented two subject matter experts to back up his pitch for more humane treatment of coyotes by animal control officials. Stan Gehrt, an associate professor at the Ohio State University who has studied the increasing population of coyotes in Cook County, testified about local coyotes’ eating habits (feral cats, rats, goose eggs, and deer), reaction to humans (they generally stay away), and the risks of having them live nearby (some carry disease, and some have nipped at humans who get close to them).

Chris Anchor with the Cook County Forest Preserve also testified, expressing his “gratitude that Chicago is taking the initiative to use science-based program… and an incredible amount of science has been done right here in the community.”

But Ald. Cardenas held the issue. Hopkins’ office said the hold was to ensure there was no conflict with the state’s Animal Welfare Commission.

“We did not have the respective city and state agencies, we need to have them to make hay of what we’re talking about,” Ald. Cardenas said of both proposals after the meeting adjourned. He said there was a miscommunication with Ald. Hopkins’ office, that he believed the issue wasn’t supposed to be called until June, but Hopkins’ expert was in town today. He says there will be a “more robust” proposal introduced later on.

The committee did move on several other proposals:

  • A proposal from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35) and others would make leaving pet waste on your own private property a fineable offense if it passes full Council Wednesday. Rosa said the ordinance was spurred on because there was no code on the books that allowed residents to complain about pet waste piling up in their neighbor’s yard. Officials with the Department of Streets and Sanitation said similar to rules about overgrown weeds, they would talk to the offender before issuing a fine (which could range between $50 and $500). Neighbors shouldn’t have to deal with “five, ten, fifteen pounds of poop and smells,” when they open their windows or walk to their car, Ald. Willie B. Cochran (20) testified. Rosa said it will also eliminate a popular food source for rats, though Ald. James Cappleman (46) pushed back, citing Steve Dale’s (host of Steve Dale’s Pet World) contention the pests prefer seeds, berries, and trash more than feces. Cappleman ultimately supported the ordinance, though, saying it was a “quality of life issue.”   

  • A proposal from Mayor Emanuel banning those under 18 from using tanning salons, allow anyone 18 and up to get tattoos, and require those under 18 who would like to get a lip or tongue piercing to have a parent sign an official form issued by Public Health Commissioner Julie Morita.

  • Two introductions from the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH): one clarifying city code on low-risk restaurants that issue self-inspections for food safety, the other, part of the city’s Healthy Chicago 2.0 initiative, calls for policymakers to apply a health lens to all law making, and creates a cross-department task force to examine how the city can address short, medium, and long term recommendations for changes to policies, practices, and procedures to improve community health.