At City Hall on Wednesday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s ethics reform package passed unanimously during the council meeting. The measure is one of the last items she’ll pass at city council before her first 100 days are up.
The ethics reform allows the Office of Inspector General more authority to investigate council members, bans outside employment for aldermen that interferes with public service, raises fines for violations, and broadens the definition of lobbyist to include non-profits.
Even 14th Ward Alderman Ed Burke, who has been asked to resign by the mayor after a federal indictment, voted yes. The indictment detailed multiple scandals where Burke used his power and position to profit, including forcing developers to use his law firm’s services.
When asked about Burke, Lightfoot said the rules are clear. “You may not have an economic relationship that is in conflict with your first priority which is to serve the people,” she said at a presser after the city council meeting. “The chips are going to fall where they may.”
She also introduced measures that address the “broken system” of ticketing, fines, and fees for drivers. The proposal, which will be voted on at the next council meeting, will include ending license suspension for unpaid debt, introduce extensions or payment plans, and reinstate a 15-day grace period for city sticker renewal.
In addition to this, the landmark designation of the Boystown Rainbow Pylons and Legacy Walk was made official. Alderman Tom Tunney (44th) spoke about the moment, proudly saying that it is one of very few sites in the world to be declared a landmark simply because of its importance to LGBTQ people.
Several alderman introduced proposals for referendum questions concerning the increase of the real estate transfer tax that will head to the committees. Some proposed using the funds for city pensions, homelessness and affordable housing resources, and replacing lead service lines. The tax question probably won’t spur any changes until a few years down the road as it wouldn’t be on the ballot until next year.
Illinois legalized recreational marijuana in May, and Chicago still has a lot of implementation work ahead. Alderman Matt O’Shea (19th) introduced a proposal to tax sales at 3 percent and use the revenue for to fund the city’s pension fund.
This is the last council meeting before Lightfoot’s first 100 days conclude. Reflecting on what she’s accomplished so far, she said her administration is on track.
“I feel good about the way we are proceeding. These are big changes for everyone and we need to make sure we’re getting it right and having conversations about the path forward,” Lightfoot said.