CHICAGO — Chicago’s City Council rolled out electronic voting Wednesday after 185 years of tallying votes with pen and paper.
It’s a win for transparency, as the technology makes it easier for Chicagoans to track how your alderperson voted on certain issues. The board of council votes is visible from council chambers at City Hall and online via a livestream feed. Previously, the lengthy roll call votes recorded by hand made it difficult for Chicago residents to track how their alderperson was voting.
Still, we know you likely don’t have hours to watch City Council meetings to catch the electronic vote totals. That’s why we’re rounding up the votes here, so you can see how your alderperson is voting on the city’s most pressing issues.
Here’s how your alderperson voted on a $1.67 million settlement for a woman who was attacked by police at Brickyard Mall, the creation of a controversial committee to pick Chicago’s casino winner, and other items on Wednesday’s agenda:
Settlement for woman attacked by police at Brickyard Mall
After a vote was blocked last month, City Council voted 34-13 to pay $1.67 million to Mia Wright, who was violently dragged from her car by Chicago police officers and left blind in one eye in a chaotic attack caught on video.
Wright filed the lawsuit after being attacked by officers May 31, 2020, outside Brickyard Mall, 2600 n. Narragansett Ave.
After narrowly clearing the City Council’s Finance Committee in February, Alds. Ray Lopez (15th), Silvana Tabares (23rd), Felix Cardona (31st) and Nick Sposato (38th) used a stall tactic to block a vote on the ordinance until this month.
Wright said she had gone to Brickyard Mall to shop for a birthday celebration the same day peaceful protests over George Floyd’s murder gave way to looting and property destruction around the city in 2020.
Wright saw the mall was closed and started to head home when at least 10 officers swarmed her car, screaming profanities and beating their batons on the windows, video shows.
Several bystanders filmed the encounter, which showed officers breaking the windows of the car and dragging Wright out by her hair. Officers also pulled a male family friend from the car. Wright said she struggled to breathe and feared for her life while an officer forced her to the ground and knelt on the back of her neck.
Here’s how your alderperson voted on the $1.67 million settlement:
Committee to pick casino winner
A City Council committee will be created to oversee the complicated process to launch the city’s first casino, but alderpeople accused Mayor Lori Lightfoot of excluding critics from the board and pushing through a vote with less than one day’s notice.
The committee, made up of Lightfoot’s committee chairs and vice chairs, will have jurisdiction over all matters related to the establishment of the Chicago casino. It will be dissolved once the committee approves a casino proposal and sends it to the full City Council.
Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) will chair the group, and Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) will be co-chair.
The committee was introduced to many alderpeople Tuesday, when Lightfoot announced she had narrowed the casino finalists from five to three. Lightfoot’s team emailed alderpeople late Tuesday to inform them the creation of the committee would be up for a vote on Wednesday.
But several alderpeople who won’t serve on the committee, including Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th), whose ward includes one of the three casino finalists, argued the committee should include the entire City Council.
“The 25th Ward will be directly affected,” Sigcho-Lopez said, arguing it was “problematic and undemocratic” to leave his community out of the deliberations. Hundreds of residents in the 25th ward have pushed back against a casino location in their neighborhood.
But City Council voted 35-12 Wednesday to create the board after knocking back an attempt from Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) to expand who would be on it.
Beale said the City Council has “all the committees necessary” to consider the casino proposal without creating another one.
“We all know we want to create a committee with the chairs and the vice chairs because we know that’s the path of least resistance, we understand that,” he said. “This body is still the checks and balances of this city.”
Ald. Carlos Ramirez Rosa (35th) argued “this is not bringing in the light,” a reference to Lightfoot’s 2019 campaign slogan promising to bring transparency to City Hall.
Tunney said creating the committee was appropriate because the casino deal will touch on “seven or eight” facets of city government, including zoning changes, building permits, financing requests and intrusions on the public way.
“This is to make it more efficient. It is not to stifle anybody,” Tunney said.
Here’s how your alderperson voted on the creation of the controversial casino committee:
Other items approved Wednesday did not lead to contested roll call votes using the new electronic voting system. They were either approved unanimously, or included a small number of alderpeople asking to be considered a “no” vote, most notably Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th), who opposed a two-year extension of a program to slow gentrification in Pilsen and along The 606 by charging developers a $15,000 fee to demolish single-family buildings.
- a land deal with the Illinois Tollway Authority, making way for a “back-door” tollway to O’Hare Airport
- an ordinance that bars people charged with or convicted of treason and people convicted of hate crimes from doing business with the city
- an ordinance forbidding $6.7 billion in city financial assets from being invested with major fossil fuel companies
- a $2.54 million loan for infrastructure updates near the Morton Salt music venue
- a zoning change for a Wicker Park weed dispensary owned by Black women
- Mercy Housing’s plan renovate its Belray Apartments building in Lakeview and add more apartments nearby
You can view the full agenda here.
Here’s how alderpeople voted on the uncontested agenda items:
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”: