Mayor Lori Lightfoot is set to notch victories on two of her biggest priorities Wednesday, allowing her to point to high-profile legislative wins during her first 100 days in office.
The City Council is poised to take its annual August recess after Wednesday’s meeting, and will not meet again until Sept. 18 — after Lightfoot will have passed the largely symbolic 100-day mark.
Before aldermen head on vacation, Lightfoot will ask the council to back her effort to make good on her signature campaign promise and root out corruption at City Hall by approving a package (O2019-5305) of ethics reforms.
The change, unanimously endorsed by the Committee on Ethics and Government Oversight last week, that would ban aldermen from working as property tax attorneys or in any capacity “that poses a potential liability or a conflict of interest with City of Chicago business.
The package is squarely targeted at Ald. Ed Burke (14), who faces a 14-count indictment that he repeatedly — and brazenly — used his powerful position at City Hall to force those doing business with the city to hire his private law firm in mind. Burke has pled not guilty.
The proposal also expands the powers of Inspector General Joseph Ferguson to investigate aldermen and “audit council administrative procedures.”
A similar proposal was defeated by aldermen in February 2016 after being thwarted by Burke.
The proposal would also hike the fine for violating the ethics ordinance from $500 to $1,000 for low-level violations and from $2,000 to $5,000 for high-level violations.
In addition, Lightfoot proposed expanding the definition of lobbyists to include non-profits.
Aldermen will also consider a revised ordinance approved Tuesday that would force Chicago employers to give their workers two weeks notice of their schedules in an effort to reduce the stress caused by unpredictable shift work.
Business groups dropped their opposition after Lightfoot made several changes, including an agreement to exclude workers who earn more than $26 per hour. Salaried workers who earn more than $50,000 are also excluded.
Business groups also convinced city officials to remove a provision that would have restricted employers’ ability to limit hours worked by employees on the cusp of moving from part-time to full-time status.
In addition, the proposal no longer prohibits a firm from hiring a new employee unless its owners determine that they consistently have shifts available that their workers do not want to fill.
However, the proposed law would require employers to offer additional shifts to existing workers before offering the shifts to temporary or seasonal workers and before hiring new employees.
The meeting on Wednesday will also feature changes crafted by Rules Committee Chair Ald. Michelle Harris (8) to the 30-minute public comment period.
Instead of allowing people to speak for three minutes at a time on a first-come, first-served basis, everyone who signs up to speak between 9 and 9:35 a.m. will be entered into a drawing, Harris said.
That random draw will determine the order of speakers — and if more people sign up than can be heard within 30 minutes, the order will determine who gets to speak, Harris said.
Since the City Council began allowing public comment at its meetings in June 2017 to settle a lawsuit filed by activists alleging the city had been violating the Open Meetings Act, many of the slots have been taken by the same people voicing the same concerns week after week.
“This is an effort to get diversity in our speakers,” Harris said, noting that some people line up as early as 6 a.m. “It evens the playing field.”
A number of high-profile ordinances are also set to be introduced Wednesday in advance of the summer break.
Aldermen will resurrect a measure to raise the city’s real estate taxes to expand efforts to end homelessness in Chicago by putting a measure on the November 2020 ballot.
Facing opposition from former Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the measure that stalled in March would have kept the current tax rate of $3.75 for every $500 of the purchase price up to $1 million. The rate would increase to $9.75 for every $500 of homes sold for more than $1 million.
Raising the transfer tax on homes sold for more than $1 million would help the more than 86,000 Chicagoans afflicted by homelessness, according to backers of the Bring Chicago Home effort.
During the campaign, Lightfoot backed the effort but was noncommittal Tuesday, telling reporters she was first working to bridge the city’s 2020 budget gap, which is expected to be more than $700 million.
In addition, Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35) plans to re-introduce a measure that was stymied during the Emanuel administration that would close what he calls “loopholes” in the city’s Welcoming Ordinance.
During the campaign, Lightfoot endorsed that move but has clashed with Ramirez-Rosa and immigration rights activists after she declined to issue an executive order to ban city officials from working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Alds. Leslie Hairston (5) and Jeanette Taylor (20) will also introduce a measure designed to protect affordable housing and prevention displacement near the planned Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park.
The ordinance would impose a community benefits agreement on the area within 2 miles of the center that calls for 30 percent of new housing to be set aside as affordable; earmark all city-owned vacant land for affordable housing and local homeownership; establish a right of first refusal for tenants in the area; and setup a fund to support property tax relief, other affordable housing strategies and job training, according to a release from the aldermen.
In February, Woodlawn and Washington Park voters overwhelmingly urged officials to impose such an agreement.
Former President Barack Obama and the Obama Foundation have resisted calls to sign a community benefits agreement that would include independent monitoring and local hiring, support for neighborhood schools and a community trust fund to support the initiatives.
During the campaign, Lightfoot supported a community benefits agreement but on Tuesday declined to endorse the aldermen’s proposal.
Other items set to be considered by the City Council:
- O2019-3944 — A measure to ban drifting and allow city officials to hit drag racers with fines starting at $5,000 and rising to $10,000. [Our coverage]
- O2019-3923 — A measure to ban peddling in parts of the 4th Ward.
- O2019-3860; O2019-3858 — Two measures that would allow booze to be served at a 35th Ward esports gaming bar and a 2nd Ward yoga studio. [Our coverage]
- R2019-423 — A measure to endorse a property tax break worth $1.2 million for Greyhound, which plans to spend $28 million to build a new bus maintenance facility on eight acres of land at 3900-46 S. Normal Ave. in the 11th Ward that have been vacant for decades, city officials said. [Our coverage]
- O2019-4143; O2019-4155; O2019-4233 — Three proposals as part of the city’s Resilient Corridors project, which is designed to reduce stormwater runoff. [Our coverage]
- O2019-2834; O2019-4240; O2019-4164; O2019-4159; O2019-4179; O2019-4250 — Six sales of city land. [Our coverage]
- O2019-4100; O2019-4102; O2019-4212; O2019-4214 — Four development agreements funded by Tax-Increment Financing districts. [Our coverage]
- Two lawsuit settlements totaling $4.65 million. [Our coverage]
- The creation of a Special Legislative Committee on the Census to be chaired by Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30) and have an annual budget of $111,500.
Developments set to be considered by the City Council:
- O2018-7770 — A nine-story glassy tower in the Fulton Market District that will wrap around two sides of an historic three-story brick building near Washington Street and Willard Court known as the Prairie Farmer building, which once housed the WLS Studios. [Our coverage]
- O2019-1373 — A five-story building Fulton Market office tower at Ogden Avenue and Fulton Street that will include 12,600 square feet of retail space and 30,200 square feet of office space.
- O2019-3406 — A 72-unit development and 60 parking spaces at 3111-19 N. Broadway in the 44th Ward.
- O2019-331; O2019-332 — A proposal from Tucker Development to transform the Sears store at North and Harlem avenues into a mixed-use development featuring 311 homes, a grocery store and fitness center.
- O2019-3170 — A four-story, 12-unit building at 1445 N. Ashland Ave. in the 2nd Ward with 10 parking spaces.
- O2017-143 — A proposal to build three, three-story buildings with nine units and no parking would be built at 3201 W. Belmont Ave. in the 35th Ward. The complex is set to be built near the Belmont station on the CTA Blue Line.
- O2019-4023 — A proposal from Sterling Bay to build 46-story glass tower designed by bKL architects at 300 N. Michigan Ave. that will feature a 280-room hotel and 289 residential units on what is now a vacant four-story building.
- O2019-2728 — A proposal to build a 12-story hotel and a six-story office building at 1043 W. Fulton Market with shops on the ground floor and 15 parking spaces.
- O2019-4213 — A proposal from Yeti — a Texas-based high-end cooler and camping gear company — to open a new store at 1572 N. Milwaukee Ave., the former home of the Double Door club.