Before Mayor Lori Lightfoot, aldermen enjoyed unchecked power to veto developments and make decisions about construction in their ward. It shaped Chicago and bred corruption.
On her first day in office, Lightfoot diminished aldermanic privilege and this week’s ethics reform package passing unanimously in city council shows she’s inching forward on a more transparent and accountable government.
A new online tool from City Bureau will give residents more agency in learning about their alderman. And if they’ve dealt in any shady business. Just type in your address at hasmyaldermanbeenindicted.com and you’ll be able to find out what an alderman does, what an indictment means, and which aldermen have pleaded guilty.
Both longtime alderpersons Ed Burke (14th) and Carrie Austin (34th) have had their offices raided by the feds. Burke also faces an indictment detailing cases of racketeering, extortion, and attempted bribery (which he denies) and a call from Lightfoot to step down from public service. Plus, former 25th Ward Alderman, Danny Solis, skipped town after news broke that he wore a wire and faced his own criminal allegations.
So, it makes sense that people would want to know more about how the city runs. And, how that affects neighborhood development, infrastructure, and construction (all areas where aldermen have influence).
Even with all the corruption, aldermen serve as the gateway between city services and residents. Not happy with access to green spaces in your neighborhood or see a need for affordable housing? The first step to change is talking to your alderperson.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the new administration will reach the first 100 days deadline on August 28. While many will be evaluating the mayor’s ambitious agenda, what about the aldermen?
City Bureau will host workshops (in Spanish, too) where attendees will unpacking their alderperson’s progress and discuss ways to hold them accountable.
- Alderperson Accountability in the 20th Ward on Thursday, August 1 at Build Coffee
- Concejales—su responsabilidad pública on Thursday, August 8 at 4076 W. 26th Street
- Alderperson Accountability in Austin on Thursday, August 15 at Austin Community Academy High School
- Aldermanic Accountability in the 25th Ward on Thursday, August 22 (location TBD)
- Aldermanic Accountability citywide on Thursday, August 29 at Harold Washington Library 4th Floor
Here’s the complete schedule and further details.