LITTLE VILLAGE — A resolution asking the city to release the full watchdog report on the botched Little Village implosion is up for City Council approval Wednesday.
The proposed measure — which Little Village Ald. Mike Rodriguez (22nd) introduced in January — unanimously passed the City Council’s Committee on Health and Human Relations Friday. It’s non-binding, meaning the resolution can’t force Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration to release the report; that’s up to the discretion of Corporation Counsel Celia Meza, Rodriguez said.
But Rodriguez said the resolution moving forward is “a step in the right direction” as he expects it to put pressure on the Lightfoot administration to make the report public. He said he expects the resolution to pass City Council Wednesday.
In January, the Office of the Inspector General released a report summarizing the investigation into the botched implosion.
Former Inspector General Joseph Ferguson pointed the finger at three unnamed city officials, including one senior public health department employee. The watchdog said that official should be disciplined or fired for failing to act on knowledge the implosion would be disastrous. Health department leaders instead gave that person a written reprimand.
Two officials from the Department of Buildings also won’t receive any punishment, though the report had recommended it.
Rodriguez, Little Village residents and environmental advocates slammed the city for not punishing the official. They demanded better pollution controls, publication of the full report and an apology from Lightfoot.
Lightfoot has said city law bars City Hall from releasing the full report, but Rodriguez and supporters dispute that.
“Good government should be about transparency and accountability,” Rodriguez said in January. “We need to restore justice to Little Village residents and neighbors.”
The implosion at the Crawford site has been a flashpoint in the fight over environmental racism in Little Village.
The April 2020 explosion of the former Crawford Coal Plant coincided with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving neighbors concerned over how the dust might exacerbate the respiratory illness.
Activists begged the city to halt the demolition, but it went on, blanketing Little Village homes in dust. Hilco Redevelopment Partners was slapped with $68,000 in fines for the mishap and was forced to pay an additional $370,000 in a settlement with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.
Hilco’s warehouse opened as a Target distribution center in July 2021, despite protests by community members.
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