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Who Showed Up To Work Today? Who Knows. Aldermen Reject Taking Attendance, Night Meetings With Neighbors

Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson's effort to require City Council committees to determine whether a majority of aldermen are present before starting meetings ran into a buzzsaw of opposition.

Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson (11th) makes his case for his proposal.
Heather Cherone/The Daily Line
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CHICAGO — An effort to require City Council committees to take a vote to determine whether a majority of aldermen are present before getting underway ran into a buzzsaw of opposition Monday.

Aldermen were nearly united in their opposition to the proposal (R2019-599) from 11th Ward Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson that would have reversed decades of tradition at City Hall, where committees are assumed to have a quorum present, despite the lack of a formal vote, even if only two aldermen are present.

“A lot of times, there are three people sitting there voting on a matter that effects the whole city,” Daley Thompson said.

Ald. Michele Smith (43th) — who is the chair of the Ethics and Government Oversight Committee — said at Rules Committee Monday there was no need to change the City Council’s rules of procedure, saying it was an “efficient way to operate” to assume there are enough aldermen present to take action.

After it became clear that a majority of aldermen would not support his plan, Daley Thompson withdrew his proposal. The meeting drew a much larger number of aldermen than usual.

Much of the debate focused on the second part of Daley Thompson’s measure, which would have required half of all committee meetings to take place after 6 p.m. — another significant change since committee chairs almost never schedule meetings later than 1 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays.

Daley Thompson said it would encourage public participation to hold meetings at City Hall or in the neighborhoods after people are off work.

Rookie Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th) was the only alderman to wholeheartedly back Daley Thompson’s proposal to require night meetings. 

“City Hall belongs to the people,” Taylor said. “We are doing the people’s business.”

However, fellow rookie Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th) set the tone for much of the debate, declaring the proposal to be a solution in search of a problem.

Other aldermen noted that committee chairs already have the power to set the time and location of their committee meetings, and that they did not want to infringe on that power.

In other action, aldermen advanced a proposal (O2019-9252) from Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) that would allow aldermen to use their expense accounts — which will grow by $25,000 in 2020 — to publish “an annual calendar regarding citywide and ward specific information, events and holidays.”

Aldermen were admonished to keep those calendars free of political messages.

Smith and Daley Thompson joined Alds. Marty Quinn (13th), Samantha Nugent (39th) and Brendan Reilly (42nd) in voting against the measure.

The Rules Committee took no action on a measure (R2019-846) from Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th) calling for Clerk Anna Valencia’s office to develop a system to allow aldermen to co-sponsor ordinances and resolutions electronically, rather than filing a paper copy with the clerk’s office.