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Aldermen Waguespack and Conway Proposal for Oversight of Migrant Spending

In late December, Aldermen were briefed on moves by Mayor Johnson to spend $95 Million on the migrant situation without a city council action or vote, removing any possibility of oversight on the expenditure by the Administration of the $95 Million.



Just because you have the authority doesn't mean you should ignore what has been a concerted effort over many years for a lot of us to make sure that spending is out in the open.


In response, I worked with Alderman Conway to bring forward an ordinance stronger than, but similar to, the Covid era emergency assistance ordinance allowing expenditures but requiring oversight reporting to Council, per our fiduciary duties. Alderman Conway and I explained the ordinance before submitting to the Council this Wednesday.


 “The Mayor’s announcement of $95 million in 2023 spending on December 29th when the money had already been spent was preposterous,” said 34th Ward Alderman Bill Conway. “City Council members were elected to be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars, and as Vice Chair of the Finance Committee, it’s particularly frustrating when we’re not given the opportunity to fulfill that duty. Time and time again, Mayor Johnson has left City Council in the dark. After discussion with many of my colleagues, I’m introducing this ordinance to prevent the Mayor’s Office from using a $400 million piggy bank in the future without oversight.”


“In the last mayoral administration, City Council voted on everything that used these funds, but we have less transparency now unfortunately,” said 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack. “Almost a month after we learned about $95 million in spending, we still don’t have clarity on how these funds are being used. If the Mayor’s Office isn’t going to be forthright and collaborative when it comes to taxpayer dollars on their own, I’m proud to support an ordinance that will require it.”


Article: Following briefings held on December 29, 2023 by Mayor Brandon Johnson to notify aldermen that his administration had already spent over $95 million of 2023 federal emergency COVID funds without any council discussion, Alderman Bill Conway introduced an ordinance that will require City Council to approve future expenditures of American Rescue Plan funds.


Article: The Mayor’s Office held the year-end briefings in small groups to avoid Open Meetings Act requirements and told aldermen that they had chosen to “bypass a divisive vote” before City Council that would invite public debate and scrutiny.


Oversight Ordinance language: SECTION 1. Notwithstanding any provision of the Municipal Code of Chicago or any provision of any ordinance to the contrary, no expenditure of any funds in excess of $1,000,000, in the aggregate, received by the City under the American Rescue Plan shall be made without the prior approval of the City Council. Notwithstanding any provision of the Municipal Code of Chicago or any provision of any ordinance to the contrary, including ordinance O2021-4240 adopted by City Council on October 27, 2021, and published in the Journal of Proceedings of the City Council for that date at pages 39601 through 39607, no appropriation or allocation, or reappropriation or reallocation, of any funds in excess of $1,000,000, in the aggregate, received by the City under the American Rescue Plan shall be made without the prior approval of the City Council.


SECTION 2. The Budget Director, in consultation with the Department of Finance, shall revise and reissue the current City-wide policies and procedures established and administered by the Office of Budget and Management governing grant applications, expenditures of grant funds, and all other aspects of the grant process as necessary to implement this ordinance.


SECTION 3. To the extent that any ordinance, resolution, rule, order or provision of the Municipal Code or state law, or part thereof, is in conflict with the provisions of this ordinance, the provisions of this ordinance shall be controlling. If any section, paragraph, clause or provision of this ordinance shall be held invalid, the invalidity of such section, paragraph, clause, or provision shall not affect any of the other provisions of this ordinance.


SECTION 4. This ordinance shall take effect upon full passage and approval.

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