Contentious moments highlight Wednesday City Council meeting

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CHICAGO – For the most part, aldermen have played nice during the first few months of Mayor Lightfoot’s term.

Despite being able to pass what she wanted, Wednesday’s meeting was filled with vocal critics as they went through the agenda.

Ald. Ray Lopez (15th Ward) introduced an ordinance to that bans the sale of e-cigarettes along with all vaping related products.

“The matter is not the agenda for today’s meeting and taking final action on this item would violate the state Open Meetings Act which requires items to be published in an agenda at least 48 hours before the meeting,” Mayor Lightfoot said before sending it to a committee.

Another contentious topic was whether or not marijuana dispensaries will be allowed downtown after the mayor announced her zoning proposal Tuesday.

Several alderman disagreed with the mayor’s proposal.

“There’s no question that we would generate the most revenue if we have dispensaries in the downtown area,” Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd Ward) said.

Alderman Anthony Beale (9th Ward), a Lightfoot foe, successfully delayed approval of the mayor’s appointee to the zoning board.

“During the committee hearing, Mr. James Rudick stated that his opinion is that the aldermen were not the voice of their community,” he said.

After the meeting, the mayor fired back.

“Obviously Alderman Lopez and Alderman Beale have been vociferous in their objection to banning and ending aldermanic prerogative. They clearly decided that what they’re going to do is try to resurrect that by making appointee swear an oath to them as aldermen,” Mayor Lightfoot said.

Despite the political sideshow, action was taken on various measures.

The city will stop the practice of suspending driver’s licenses for unpaid parking tickets after the overhaul ordinance passed. Additionally, it requires the city to stop doubling fines for drivers who fail to buy the required vehicle sticker.

“The city sticker debt is crazy. Only one out of three city tickets are being paid a year. This is debt on our books we are never going to see. If we keep this debt on the backs of our community, they can’t get jobs, the can’t get childcare, they can’t drive to work,” City Clerk Anna Valencia said.

The ticket and debt program is expected to cost $15 million in lost revenue next year.

Aldermen also approved the release of the Laquan McDonald Inspector General report. The mayor said it will be made public “soon.”

The release is opposed by the Fraternal Order of Police.

With the deficit hanging over city hall, the aldermen will try to pass a budget at their next meeting.


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