City Council acts on several fronts, but pressing issues loom

CHICAGO — On Wednesday, City Council acted on several fronts but they’re on deadline to handle many big pressing issues that they didn’t even discuss.

In the meeting, a new era began for the council. For decades, members cast their votes verbally. On Wednesday, the first votes were casted using iPads.

Perhaps the most significant ordinance the council passed concerns the future Chicago casino. Members have decided to form a super committee to decide the location of the casino.

The Council also approved a clean energy ordnance mandating divestment in fossil fuel. City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin shined a spotlight on the issue by excluding 225 coal, oil and gas companies from city investments.

“I have personally taken the stands to divest from all fossil fuel companies within the Chicago Treasurer’s office,” she said.

What the council did not do Wednesday was also of significance. There is still no deal on a ward remap.

Forty-one members of the council must agree on a new map by mid-May or Chicago voters will be asked to choose one during the June 28 primary.

Moving to a voter referendum will be expensive with some estimates $40 million out of the city budget.

Filing the 11th Ward vacancy was also unresolved after Patrick Daley Thompson resigned due to a tax fraud conviction.

Mayor Lightfoot said she’d name a replacement in time for Wednesday’s meeting, but now she said she needs more time.

“The people or Bridgeport, Canaryville, Chinatown, all of them are deserving of a Alderman, deserving of representation in this body,” Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th Ward) said. “And for the mayor to yet again, as she’s done on so many items, move the goal post is a disservice to the people.”

In the spotlight Wednesday was ethics reform.

Ald. Silvana Taberas has introduced an ordinance to prohibit the spouse or immediate family member of an elected officials from lobbying the city. Taberas said the ordinance is in response to word that City Clerk Anna Valencia did not disclose on city ethics statements that her husband works as a lobbyist.

“In the past couple of weeks, there have been news reports about conflicts of interests with her husband lobbying the mayor and the City Council,” Ald. Taberas said.

Valencia is running for Secretary of State in the Democratic primary against Alexi Giannoulis and David Moore. Her campaign accused Giannoulis of raising the issue.

“I do believe this is a political tool that my opponent has tied to use in the middle of the a campaign to district from the questions he’s refused to answer about his dealings on Wall Street, who his clients were,” Valencia said.

In regards to the 11th Ward vacancy, Mayor Lightfoot will likely have to call a special City Council meeting someone in the next two weeks.

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