City Council Speaks Out About Reforms, New Leadership Following Burke Stepping Down

Craig Dellimore
January 08, 2019 - 11:41 am

WBBM Newsradio/Craig Dellimore

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Now that Alderman Edward Burke has stepped aside as chairman of the powerful City Council Finance Committee, some of his colleagues are again raising their voices about Council reforms and new leadership.

Mayoral hopeful Bill Daley suggests the Chicago City Council should be reduced from 50 aldermen to 15. South Side Alderman David Moore said that would be a mistake.

"We have to make sure we are getting that equity of resources and everything in our community. If we cut these aldermen down, trust me we will not be getting those equitable resources, so people need to look at the big picture," Moore said. 

Moore is part of the Council’s Progressive Caucus, led by Alderman Scott Waguespack, who said real reforms like more oversight of the Council and workers' compensation need to be the focus.

"It's unfortunate that the Mayor sat on his hands for so long and did not push through some of the reforms that we have called for over the years," Waguespack said. 

Some progressive aldermen want to see Waguespack as the eventual Financial Council Committee Chair if they can muster the votes. 

Right now, Alderman Pat O’Connor, vice-chair of the Finance Committee, is replacing Ed Burke, who is fighting federal corruption charges. And Mayor Emanuel seems comfortable with his floor leader keeping that job.

But North Side Alderman John Arena suggests there’s too much at stake and the chairman should be an independent voice.

WBBM Newsradio/Craig Dellimore

"We have elections coming up. We'll have a new mayor. We'll have a new City Council that should be in charge of making these important decisions and looking at them with fresh eyes. So as we go forward these next three months, the person that would be the easiest vote for me to take would be my colleague Alderman Scott Waguespack," Ald. Arena said.

A spokesman for Mayor Emanuel, Matt McGrath, said the aldermen, at some point, will be able to make whatever decision they want.

"This isn't complicated. The City Council’s own rules state that 'in the event of a vacancy in the chairmanship of a committee, caused by death, resignation or otherwise, the Vice-Chairman shall act as Chairman of the committee.' In this case the Vice Chair is Alderman Pat O’Connor, who was unanimously approved by City Council to serve in that position -- and reaffirmed as recently as last June.

"Our view is it is up to the next administration and City Council to determine the next Chairman of the Committee on Finance." - Matt McGrath, MPO spokesman