DOWNTOWN — A Zoom City Council meeting broke down into what one person called a “total sh–show” Friday, with aldermen talking over each other and swearing into unmuted microphones.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot asked aldermen for more professionalism during the video conference, and reminded them “our children are watching.”
The meeting devolved as Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th) tried to introduce a measure that would have the full City Council meet by Zoom twice a month instead of once a month during the coronavirus pandemic.
Lightfoot shot down Vasquez’s attempt to introduce his measure, which led to a series of chaotic parliamentary procedures and profanities from council members.
“I don’t even know what the f— we’re voting on,” said one unidentified city council member during the chaos. As people tried to talk over one another on the call another council member called the exchange a “total sh–show.”
The Sun-Times attributed the “sh–show” declaration to Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th).
Alds. Carrie Austin (34th) and Nicholas Sposato (38th) cut through the noise to say they agreed with that description.
“This is out of control,” Sposato said. “This has to stop. …Please, please stop the nonsense.”
Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) asked Lightfoot to “admonish” aldermen for their behavior. In response, she said she wanted to see more “professionalism” from council members.
In a press conference after the meeting, Lightfoot also discussed the chaotic end of Friday’s council meeting.
“Obviously, having virtual City Council meetings has its moments. I think, for the most part, the meetings have gone fine,” Lightfoot said. “Some aldermen get excited and want to speak before either their colleagues or the chair are finished, but that’s to be expected.”
Vasquez’s measure would have also required the council’s various committees meet digitally ahead of a full City Council meeting.
“What I’m asking for is already in the city’s municipal code, it’s nothing new,” Vasquez told Block Club. Vasquez’s Zoom background during Friday’s meeting also had a message asking Chicagoans to join him in demanding the City Council meet more often.
City Council doesn’t have to go down to the Loop anymore for meetings thanks to digital technology, Vasquez said.
“Now we can come to a meeting at the click of a button, so I really don’t get the argument that we can’t convene as a council more often,” he said.
Before they adjourned, Vasquez tried pass a measure to have everyone meet within the next two weeks. That was also shot down. The City Council won’t meet again until May 20.
“The people of Chicago should ask why their mayor and their City Council members who voted for this would not want to meet sooner and more often during a pandemic where people are dying, businesses are closing and people are struggling to pay their rent,” Vasquez said.
“We got elected to City Council to solve problems,” Vasquez said. “I can’t believe some people are okay just sitting on the sidelines and not act in a moment of crisis.”
Friday’s meeting granted Lightfoot emergency powers she says will help Chicago combat the coronavirus.
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