Aldermen Avoid Real Reform

The City Council voted yesterday to limit the ability of the Legislative Inspector General to fully investigate the aldermen and their staffs. Enough alderman decided to keep the IG and the taxpayers out of things like where the menu money really goes and how worker’s compensation issues are determined.  The keep-it-like-it-is ordinance passed by a slim margin (25-23), but it was enough to clearly signal that, once again, Chicago ain’t ready for reform.

Ald. Silverstein voted against the weakened ordinance. Don’t think she’s interested in reform. By the time the roll call got around to her, it was clear that the anti-reform block had carried the day. It was a win-win for her: She could look for a moment like a good-government type, and then safely return to the 50th Ward, where she and her husband wield absolute political control.

It’s worth noting that the real alderman–the one we’ve watched in (in)action for the past five years–pulled a fast one earlier this week.  On Monday a City Council zoning committee was asked to approve a zoning change for a site on which a businessman hoped to build an MMD; the alderman asked that the site be zoned residential. She referred this matter to the Council committee last October 14, while an appeal was pending before the City’s Zoning Board, an appeal that was not finally denied until December 18.

Reform is a sometime thing, I guess.

We’ll see how she spins this vote–if she discusses it at all–in her weekly newsletter. Lately she’s had a tendency to claim co-sponsorship of reform measures; the truth is she’s always late to the table (so many people to check with before she acts, and Ira’s out of town a lot blocking reform in Springfield) and is therefore just another name on the list rather than the mover and shaker her prose suggests.

Two aldermen weren’t present for the vote: Roberto Maldonado (26) and Carrie Austin (34). Austin’s absence is interesting because she, along with Ald. Ed Burke (14) fought the hardest to block the IG from auditing City programs. I wonder if one of them would have popped up had the vote been tied.

Joe Ferguson, the Legislative Inspector General, sent this letter to taxpayers. It’s well worth reading–and remembering when 2019 rolls around.


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