A month after appointing Lori Lightfoot as the new president of the Chicago Police Board, the City Council Committee on Public Safety approved two new members to the Board, including a former Los Angeles police officer turned investment banker.
Committee Members Present: (8/19 members) Chairman Ariel Reboyras (30), Vice Chairman Willie Cochran (20), Gregory Mitchell (7), Ed Burke (14), Matt O’Shea (19), Chris Taliaferro (29), Anthony Napolitano (41), Ameya Pawar (47).
John Simpson, a partner at the investment banking firm Broadhaven Capital Partners, who also contributed $77,000 to Mayor Rahm Emanuel reelection, told the Committee that he got a job with the LAPD after graduating from Harvard Law School. He eventually moved to Chicago in 1989 and has worked in the financial services industry for the last 30 years.
If his appointment is approved by the full City Council next month, he will be the only person on the nine-member board with previous law enforcement experience. Former Chicago Police officers Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41) and Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29) had called for more police experience on the Board during the Lightfoot hearing, when they expressed concerns that relationships between police and the communities they serve are at an all-time low. They made similar remarks at yesterday’s hearing, and were joined by two other former police officers on the city council, Ald. Ed Burke (14) and Ald. Willie Cochran (20).
But unlike Lightfoot’s confirmation hearing, which consisted of a lengthy Q&A and a laundry list of concerns about strained community-police relations in Chicago and across the country, yesterday’s nomination meeting was less of an interrogation and more reflective.
Committee Vice Chairman Cochran (20) gave what can only be described as a monologue about community policing following Simpson’s testimony. “We see more bad than good in our communities,” Ald. Cochran said as he went on to describe the difficult positions police face in the line of duty and the responsibility of the Police Board to keep the officers accountable. “We are counting on you to make us better.”
In addition to approving Simpson’s appointment, the committee also approved the appointment of Claudia Venezuela, an immigration lawyer with the Heartland Alliance National Immigrant Justice Center. During her testimony, Venezuela gave a brief synopsis of her resume highlighting her expertise handling policing issues in immigrant communities. The meeting went on somewhat of a tangent after that, as Ald. Burke asked Venezuela if she thought an ordinance he championed back in 2002 allowing Mexican immigrants obtain library cards and bank accounts with their Mexican issued ID was successful.
“I think it benefited many individuals forced to live in the shadows,” Venezuela responded, adding that she worked with people who benefited from the program. The conversation moved from the Matricula Consular cards to a discussion of legislation in Springfield from Rep. Daniel J. Burke, Ed Burke’s brother, related to detention centers. Burke eventually spiraled into an odd, exhaustive history lesson on James Shield, an immigrant who ended up serving in the U.S. Senate for three different states, Illinois, Minnesota and Missouri.
The third nominee, William Conlon, a partner at Sidney, LLP, was absent, but the Committee advanced his re-appointment to the board.