The Council’s Finance Committee will take up a $3 million settlement today stemming from a Department of Justice lawsuit filed against the city’s Police Department over a hiring practice it no longer employs. The committee will also take up new tobacco regulations that includes a plan to change the smoking age to 21 and dozens of other routine items involving TIFs.

Police-Related Settlements

The lawsuit filed by Vanita Gupta, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on Friday claims the Chicago Police Department unfairly discriminated against foreign-born police applicants because of a hiring policy requiring ten years of continuous residency in the U.S.

This requirement, according to the lawsuit, “resulted in statistically-significant adverse impact against candidates born outside the United States on the basis of their national origin.”

Of the police candidates whom CPD disqualified through this requirement, 92.2% were foreign-born candidates and only 7.8% were born in the U.S., the lawsuit argues. “CPD has not demonstrated that its use of the ten-year continuous residency requirement is job related for the PPO position and consistent with business necessity.”

The lawsuit cites two police candidates, Masood Khan from India, and Glenford Flowers from Belize, who passed the written test in 2006 but were denied a spot on the force because they didn’t pass the residency requirement.

“When reviewing the PHQs [Personal History Questionnaires] of candidates who passed on of the 2006 written examinations, CPD disqualified from further hiring consideration all candidates who had not continuously resided in the United States of ten years prior to the date of submission of the completed PHQ. CPD enforced this ten-year continuous residency requirement for all PPO applicants who took the 2006 written examination other than those who were abroad as result of military service.”

Soon after being denied a badge, the candidates filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Fund, which forwarded the complaint to the Department of Justice.

The police department eliminated the ten-year continuous residency requirement in 2011, replacing it with a five-year requirement.

The other two legal settlements on the agenda are also police-related. One lawsuit filed by Tiffany Hondras alleges police officers unfairly cuffed her and her boyfriend after pulling her boyfriend’s car over without cause. Hondras filed the lawsuit in 2013. The city seeks to settle the case for $220,000.

A second lawsuit filed by Jonathan and Jesse HadnottKevin Hunt and Brandell Betts would be settled for a $200,000 payout. Jonathan Hadnott alleges Chicago police officers illegally stopped, searched, and detained him one December afternoon in 2006. After police detained Hadnott, the suit claims, police officers drove to Hunt and Betts’ home. “Defendant police officers entered and searched [home] without warrant, without permission, and without legal cause,” the lawsuit claims.

“Plaintiffs were detained against their will at the home and not allowed to leave withle defendant police officers searched the home. Defendants say they were looking for a gun.”

After the police officers failed to recover a gun at the home, they left, the suit claims.

Another police-related item will also be addressed by the committee: A resolution sponsored by four South Side aldermen calling for the city to settle a lawsuit filed by the two daughters of Bettie Jones who was accidently shot by police over the Christmas holiday. The incident occurred on the evening of December 26th, when Jones’ neighbor, Antonio LeGrier, called the police because his son Quintonio LeGrier was threatening him with a baseball bat. When the police showed up, Jones answered the door and was “accidentally struck and tragically killed.”

But Alderman Jason Ervin (28), the main sponsor of the ordinance, claims the police are at fault for failing to provide medical attention and “stopp[ing] Mrs. Jones’ daughter Latisha from administering first aid.” The shooting happened in Ervin’s ward. Aldermen Michael Scott, Jr. (24), Derrick Curtis (18) and Chris Taliaferro (29) are listed as co-sponsors.

Tobacco Tax Changes

In addition to raising the smoking age in Chicago, the Emanuel Administration wants to further regulate the price and quantity by which certain tobacco products are sold. The ordinance would impose new taxes and set a minimum price of $11.50 for a pack of cigarettes, a pack of little cigars (cigarillos), and a pouch of loose tobacco. Cigarillos would have to be sold at a minimum pack size of 20. Bigger cigars would be capped at four per pack. Expensive cigars, generally sold at specialty shops, would be exempt from these rules. The changes are expected to bring in an additional $6 million to be used to fund a universal summer orientation program for all incoming CPS freshman.

Aldermen are expected to hear supporting testimony from Joel Affrick with the Respiratory Health Association, Jameika A. Sampson with Mercy Hospital, and Dr. Timothy Sanborn, a cardiologist at NorthShore Medical Group.

Naturally, the tobacco industry opposes the added taxes and regulations and have been pushing robo-calls to a lot of South and West Side aldermen warning them the changes could lead to an underground market of loose cigarette sales, one source said.

The changes, per the Mayor’s office:

  • Setting a minimum price for the following products:

    • $11.50 for a pack of cigarettes, a pack of little cigars, and a 0.65 ounce pouch of roll-your-own tobacco

    • $4.00 for an ounce of smokeless tobacco

  • Requiring little cigars be sold at a minimum pack size of 20 and four per pack for big cigars (exempting expensive cigars)

  • Ban of free samples and discounts that put the price below the minimum

  • A tax on non-cigarette products:

    • $0.15 per little cigar, raising the price of a 20-pack from $5.79 to $8.79

    • $0.90 per cigar, raising the price of the average two-pack of cigars from $2.25 to $4.05

    • $6.60 per ounce of roll-your-own tobacco, raising the average price of a small pouch from $7.25 to $11.54

    • $1.80 per ounce of smokeless tobacco, raising the price of the standard 1.2 ounce can from $4.19 to $6.35

Routine Items

TIF $ for Belmont-Cragin Elementary School: The ordinance before the committee would transfer $287,000 in Tax Increment Financing, TIF, money for the construction of a new playground with rubber surfacing. “The funds would be applied to planning, design and construction costs. The work would be entirely funded by TIF,” according to a press release from the mayor’s office.

Small Business Improvement Fund Program: This ordinance would renew this program in four Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts. The Small Business Improvement Fund provides financial assistance for building improvement costs. The SBIF grant uses local TIF revenues to reimburse eligible applicants for repairs done to industrial, commercial, or residential properties located within specific TIF districts. The assistance is provided once the project is complete and does not have to be repaid. The proposal the Department of Planning and Development introduced would reallocate $500,000 each for existing SBIF programs in the Austin, Commercial, Belmont/Central, and Portage Park TIF districts and $1 million for the Northwest Industrial Corridor TIF district.