City Council Updates for July
Updated: Jul 26
Racing Ordinance- An ordinance passed this week in Council gives the Chicago police the power to impound cars that drivers raced or drifted by using various types of evidence, and would increase fines for cars owners, many who are driving in from out of the City to race on streets and parking lots. Ald. Reilly and several aldermen were proposing additional measures to combat the dangerous drivers and sponsored one proposed ordinance. Speed Cameras- In my statement during City Council, I focused on the children, the families, and seniors who try to cross our streets each day and the dangers they face from reckless drivers. Those dangers are increased around parks and schools and have been compounded during Covid. Getting a ticket at one of these speed cameras at a park or school is not a tax, it is a fine. It is a fine related to speeding over the limit stated on the signs. In the early days of the speed camera program, signage was not clear and visible enough nor provided far enough ahead of a camera for people to slow down. The City did add more signage and at distances that allow drivers to read them and slow down appropriately. Some of the data also shows that well over 40% of the fines are going to out of city drivers. The speed cameras are also not the same as the red light camera program that some of us diligently fought to clear up inconsistencies and problems years ago. This red light program was fraught with corruption in the state and several people were indicted and went to jail for their corrupt acts. As part of changes to the program, the Council has asked Chicago Dept. of Transportation (CDOT) officials to continue to review areas that need slower speeds around schools and parks, and review the data and need for cameras at all locations on a more frequent basis. We are always working with CDOT to review and improve safety measures throughout the ward, and have long discussed the possibility of reducing the 30 mph speed limit in the ward, and City, to 25 mph as it is in many other cities, towns, and villages throughout the U.S. Alderman Smith- As many of you as seen, Alderman Michele Smith, one of our neighboring aldermen, has decided to retire this summer. Alderman Smith and I have collaborated on many issues over her 11 years in the Council. Some of our work includes advocacy for the development of the North Branch Park and Preserve, and passage of the most recent ethics improvements for the city and City Council. We have worked on many Council ethics packages going back from the beginning of our terms, strengthening the Inspector General office, including lobbying limits, and more. I appreciate all the work she did to advance these changes through the Council. Chicago City Council Unanimously Passes Ethics Overhaul, Boosts Fines to $20K Water Ordinance- City Council Passes Ordinance Promoting Water Access, Affordability, And Data Reporting Transparency - Enhanced laws prevent the future privatization of Chicago’s water system, prohibits shut-offs for non-payment, and implements transparency reporting requirements for annual information on water affordability measures. As stated last week, this new ordinance on all things water will help people with fines and fees and create a system of transparency around water usage. ETOD Ordinance- City Council Passes the Connected Communities Ordinance to Grow Economy, Make Streets Safer, and Promote Affordability- this plan will create jobs, support local businesses, and foster healthy, vibrant neighborhoods by creating predictable standards for equitable development near transit. After lengthy review and amendments, and input from local organizations, we supported and passed the new version of the ETOD ordinance. Committee on Finance This past Monday was a marathon agenda for the Committee on Finance in preparation for the City Council meeting on Wednesday. The Committee approved $119,920,000 in tax increment financing assistance to 20 Chicago Public Schools, including our own Darwin Elementary. Darwin will receive $6,952,000 in financial assistance from the City to provide a full roof replacement and masonry repairs, as well as replacement of plumbing, mechanical and fire alarm systems. I am very excited to see long awaited construction get underway and will keep you updated on progress. The Committee also approved bond issuances and assistance for four affordable housing projects in the 11th, 17th 25th, and 37th wards. These projects will bring affordable housing, retail, and other amenities to areas that have been waiting years to see construction and development. In addition, the Committee on Finance approved just over $8,000,000 in city funding assistance to businesses in disenfranchised neighborhoods who have been seeking ways to reinvigorate their commercial corridors and bring new and expanded business to their neighborhoods. There were also four settlements approved by the Council, several related to police. All items went on to be approved by the full City Council on Wednesday, July 20, when we also had the vote on speed cameras. I would point out that there while there were some delays in hearing the speed cameras, it was due to the sponsor's request to hold the item in committee. The Committee is also gearing up for budget season, which is a busy, but very interesting and engaging few months. I will keep everyone up to speed about investments, initiatives, and action.