In This Issue
WELCOME ALDERMAN KING
The 4th Ward has a new Alderman to replace former Alderman Will Burns who resigned after taking a job in the private sector. Alderman Sophia King is the founder of a non-profit group based on the south side that focuses on job creation and economic opportunity in African American communities. She was recommended to the Council for approval after first being chosen from a pool of applicants submitted to a committee formed by Mayor Emanuel. The 4th Ward is located in the Kenwood-Hyde Park area and is the home of President Barack Obama.
Due to the timing of the appointment in relation to the next general city election, Alderman King must run in a special election for the seat. She has formed a political committee to do just that and will most likely be challenged by a number of other community members interested in the position. The special election will take place in February 2017 to determine who will serve the last two years of the general term. Alderman King will have a running start and one budget season under her belt before that happens. Of interest to CRMA members, Alderman King has been assigned to the Health and Environmental Protection Committee (plastic bags ordinance) as well as the Committee on Workforce Development and Audit (starting wage ordinance).
We would like to congratulate Alderman King on her appointment and we look forward to working with her.
With the resignation of former Alderman Will Burns, who was the Chair of the Committee on Education and Child Development, there was lots of movement in an attempt to fill the vacancy and name new committee chairs.
CRMA would like to congratulate all of the new Chairman and Vice Chairs.
Committees are now chaired by the following:
Chairman: Ald. Michael Zalewski (23rd Ward)
Vice Chair: Ald. Nicholas Sposato (38th Ward)
Budget and Government Operations
Chairman: Ald. Carrie Austin (34th Ward)
Vice Chair: Ald. Jason Ervin (28th Ward)
Committees, Rules and Ethics
Chairman: Ald. Michelle Harris (8th Ward)
Vice Chairs: Ald. Carrie Austin (34th Ward)
Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th Ward)
Ald. Marty Quinn (13th Ward)
Economic, Capital and Technology Development
Chairman: Ald. Proco Joe Moreno (1st Ward)
Vice Chair: Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th Ward)
Education and Child Development
Chairman: Ald. Howard Brookins (21st Ward)
Vice Chair: Ald. Michele Smith (43rd Ward)
Chairman: Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th Ward)
Vice Chair: Ald. Patrick O’Connor (40th Ward)
Health and Environmental Protection
Chairman: Ald. George Cardenas (12th Ward)
Vice Chair: Ald. Harry Osterman (48th Ward)
Housing and Real Estate
Chairman: Ald. Joe Moore (49th Ward)
Vice Chair: Ald. Gregory Mitchell (7th Ward)
Chairman: Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd Ward)
Vice Chair: Ald. Jason Ervin (28th Ward)
License and Consumer Protection
Chairman: Ald. Emma Mitts (37th Ward)
Vice Chair: Ald. Debra Silverstein (50th Ward)
Pedestrian and Traffic Safety
Chairman: Ald. Walter Burnett (27th Ward)
Vice Chair: Ald. Deborah Mell (33rd Ward)
Chairman: Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th Ward)
Vice Chair: Ald. Willie Cochran (20th Ward)
Special Events, Cultural Affairs and Recreation
Chairman: Ald. Thomas Tunney (44th Ward)
Vice Chair: Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th Ward)
Transportation and Public Way
Chairman: Ald. Anthony Beale (9th Ward)
Vice Chair: Ald. Matthew O’Shea (19th Ward)
Workforce Development and Audit
Chairman: Ald. Patrick O’Connor (40th Ward)
Vice Chair: Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th Ward)
Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards
Chairman: Ald. Daniel Solis (25th Ward)
Vice Chair: James Cappleman (46th Ward)
CITY COUNCIL AND COOK COUNTY ORDINANCES AND RESOLUTIONS
Committee: Human Relations
This proposal seeks to amend the city’s Human Rights ordinance to allow people to use the public accommodation in accordance with whatever gender the person identifies with. People will no longer need to use a public accommodation in accordance with their government-issued form of identification. This proposal is similar to the proposal passed in Charlotte, NC and subsequently overturned by the North Carolina legislature, sparking a very heated national debate.
Committee: License and Consumer Protection
The sale of spray paint, broad-tipped markers and etching materials have been banned in the city for many years. Originally passed as a way to decrease the amount of graffiti in the city, the ban has done little to accomplish that goal as spray paint can easily be purchased across the city’s borders and online. This initiative recognizes that there are legitimate uses for spray paint and Chicago residents would like to access this useful product at their local retailer. The proposal continues to limit access to minors by requiring the written consent of a parent or legal guardian before purchase. Retailers would be required to keep the products within eyesight of employees or under video surveillance or in a locked case accessible only by employees. Lastly, retailers would have to display a sign warning of the consequences of vandalism. Minors caught in possession of graffiti implements and others assisting such minors in obtaining the products illegally will be fined and could be ordered to complete community service.
CRMA enthusiastically supports this measure and would like to thank Aldermen Burke and O’Shea for considering this amendment.
Sponsor: Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th Ward)
This proposal requires the mortgagee of any building (residential or commercial) to register the building with the department within 10 days after a default. The mortgagee will be required to annually renew the registration as long as the building remains in default.
Resolutions to Add Public Questions to the November Ballot
In each general election, the City Council poses questions to the voters regarding issues of public importance in order to influence the public discourse in advance of potential legislation. The questions are sent to committees for consideration and voted on by the full Council before appearing on the November ballot. Three questions are usually chosen, and will be of interest to CRMA members.
Sponsor: Ald. Howard Brookins, Jr. (21st Ward)
Committee: Committees, Rules and Ethics
A number of fiscal issues still remain without a resolution in this legislative session, one being pension reform and school funding. Both Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill and Governor Bruce Rauner have put forth proposals to overhaul how schools are funded. Sen. Manar’s plan has been criticized because it would decrease the amount going to many suburban school districts that are well-funded and that have high-performing students, in order to shift taxpayer money to poor downstate districts and the Chicago Public Schools (CPS). Gov. Rauner’s plan has also been questioned because his formula would decrease the allotment for CPS and increase funding to wealthy suburban areas over time. It is clear that legislators want school funding reform, but they are far from agreement on how it should be accomplished. Considering the legislature only has two more weeks before it adjourns, it seems less likely that any further funding for CPS will be approved prior to the November elections. If that happens, it is almost certain that Mayor Emanuel will seek to raise revenue from other sources. This could spell an additional property tax increase along with any number of increases in existing taxes as well as new product-based taxes. This question will be used to coerce lawmakers and the Governor to find a long-term solution to school funding before the legislative session adjourns on May 31st.
Sponsor: Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward)
This question comes in the wake of contract issues with unions at O’Hare and Mayor Emanuel’s decision to award the janitorial contract to a company that does not use union labor. This question also comes after an ordinance passed last year to create a labor peace “agreement” which will give labor unions wider latitude to organize concessions at the airport. Arguing that most major airports are not actually run by the city, but by boards or other independent authorities, the supporters of the proposal wish to take power away from the Mayor and put it in the hands of an elected board. This question will be used to build momentum for a possible ordinance to redirect the power.
Sponsor: Mayor Rahm Emanuel and 43 others
Committee: Committees, Rules and Ethics
The General Assembly is currently considering a bill that would license gun dealers. HB 1016 Amendment #1 and Amendment #2 (Rep. Kathleen Willis, D-Northlake) would require gun dealers to obtain two different licenses and all of their employees that sell guns to obtain an agent card. It would also require an examination, training and continued education credits. No other state that licenses gun dealers requires more than one license, nor do they require agent cards, exams or training. This overly burdensome licensing scheme is currently being negotiated, and it is likely that the bill will be amended before being sent back to committee for consideration.
Committee: Public Safety
The resolution urges the General Assembly to broaden the number of crimes eligible for sealing. Once criminal records are sealed, most employers (including retailers and restaurateurs) are unable to access them. Conversely, state’s attorneys are able to unseal records. CRMA opposes any measure that limits an employer’s ability to see a person’s criminal history unless that history pertains to crimes committed when the person was a minor.
This ordinance will create a fund to encourage commercial development in critical areas on the south and west sides of the city through re-directing funds paid to the city from developers wishing to increase the floor area of buildings in the downtown zone. The hope is that this fund will encourage more retail development in designated neighborhoods. Here is the breakdown of the ordinance:
1. Change and reallocate the FAR bonus system
Currently, developers in downtown who wish to increase the floor area of their building can do so if they contribute to the FAR bonus system fund and make specific design improvements aimed at beautification and allowing for more interaction with the local community. For example, under the current zoning law, a developer submits a plan to build a condo building with 25 stories which is the maximum allowed in that particular area. The city will allow the developer to increase the FAR to 28 stories if the developer pays into a fund and agrees to make improvements such as building a winter garden on the property or providing set-backs and open spaces.
While the FAR bonus system has worked well to create better design that is inclusive of the community at large, the city is no longer convinced that such an incentive is actually needed to encourage developers to make these design improvements. Frankly, the city believes that these design improvements add value to the building and developers would probably do such improvements on their own. The city now wishes to revamp the FAR bonus system to remove design-based improvements as a qualification for increased FAR and instead approve FAR bonuses under the condition that a contribution be made into the Neighborhood Opportunity Bonus fund. This fund would be divided up into three separate funds to encourage commercial development, support the restoration of landmarked properties and fund local improvements within the immediate vicinity of the new commercial developments.
2. Neighborhood Opportunity Bonus Fund
This fund would support commercial development in designated areas of the south and west sides of the city. 80% of the FAR bonus system will now be dedicated specifically to this fund. Developers and business owners could apply for a grant from this fund and can use the money for such things as site preparation, rehabilitation of existing property, local hiring subsidies, building acquisition and other uses that will encourage commercial development in neighborhoods of need. Grants under $250,000 would be approved directly by the Commissioner, and grants above that amount would have to go through city council for approval. Preference for grant funding will go to projects that the city considers “catalytic.” They want developments that will spur further development, for example, grocery stores that attract smaller stores to the immediate area. According to their numbers, they expect that the fund could collect $50 million over the next 3-4 years.
3. Expansion of Downtown Zoning
As a sweetener for developers to build and contribute to the FAR bonus system, the city will expand the current boundaries for “D” zoning on a case by case basis.
Effective Date: June 1, 2016, but will not affect current proposals
Sponsor: Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward)
This ordinance will temporarily extend the hours of operation during the week for the busy downtown outdoor patio season. Patios can close at midnight and open again at the legally established hour of opening until December 1, 2016.
Effective Date: July 21, 2016
Sponsor: Mayor Rahm Emanuel
This ordinance will allow the Commissioner to immediately suspend a business license for failure to timely submit a self-inspection report.
Effective Date: July 21, 2016
Sponsor: Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle
This ordinance is a clean-up ordinance initiated by the Department of Revenue to ensure the Cook County Code reflects current industry practices for certain taxes and revenue items and that compliance and payment efforts are uniform and standardized. All changes are revenue neutral.
The next City Council meeting will take place on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 at 10am in the Council Chambers.
Vice President & General Counsel