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How’s she doing?

If you’re keeping score (we are), here’s how Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s actions measure up against the BGA agenda published after her election.

The city budget is still front and center. Mayor Lightfoot and her finance team have added a fifth town hall, this one on Oct. 2 on the South Side. Chicagoans can also weigh in on the budget by taking an online [survey.](https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Chicagobudget) September 18, 2019

Click on each heading below to expand a list of Lightfoot's actions.

1. Enforce a citywide standard of proactive, affirmative transparency Link to this section
Updated: 4 days ago

See the BGA Policy team's recommendations for this area at ‘The BGA's Agenda for Lori Lightfoot’

A judge lifted his order preventing the release of documents about an alleged cover-up by Chicago police after the shooting of teenager Laquan McDonald by Officer Jason Van Dyke. The records are from a city inspector general’s 2016 investigation that concluded 11 police officers should be dismissed. The mayor’s office says it still can’t release the records to reporters until the City Council passes an amendment to the municipal code — even though the documents are in the possession of the Chicago Police Department, not the IG. That vote could come Sept. 18.

Paid lobbyists for nonprofits will now have to register (but their fees will be waived) under the just-approved ethics ordinance.

For the first time, Chicago Public Schools Board of Education livestreams its meeting.

Lightfoot’s proposal to expand the definition of "lobbyist" would give the public a better view of who is trying to influence government officials. The amended ordinance would require lobbyists for nonprofits to register if they are paid to do so. The ordinance still needs full City Council approval.

Ald. Tom Tunney, 44th, the mayor’s pick to chair the City Council’s Zoning Committee, has decided that citizens won’t be allowed to speak on individual agenda items after hearing the city staff’s presentation. They’ll be limited instead to four minutes during a designated public comment period covering the entire agenda. It looks like an attempt to contain frequent commenter George Blakemore, who isn’t the only concerned citizen in Chicago. Let the people speak, alderman.

The mayor’s proposed amendments to the ethics ordinance would broaden the definition of lobbyists, requiring those who lobby for non-profits to register and file quarterly reports.

Lightfoot’s proposed rule changes, approved by aldermen, require City Council committee meetings to be livestreamed and the recordings posted online.

2. Eliminate conflicts of interest in city government Link to this section
Updated: 2 months ago

See the BGA Policy team's recommendations for this area at ‘The BGA's Agenda for Lori Lightfoot’

Ald. Ed Burke, 14th, has 90 days to decide whether he wants to be an alderman or a property tax appeals lawyer. Under the ethics ordinance approved July 24, he can’t be both.

The Ethics and Good Governance Committee signed off on limits on outside jobs held by aldermen and city employees. Will the full City Council embrace this check on conflicts on interest?

Lightfoot introduces changes to the ethics ordinance that would prohibit aldermen from holding outside jobs that conflict with taxpayer interests.

The mayor also proposes fines of up to $5,000 for serious ethics violations. (The current ceiling is $2,000; the Chicago Board of Ethics has proposed $20,000.)

Today marks the fourth time Lightfoot has publicly called for indicted Ald. Ed Burke, 14th, to resign.

City Council approves new rule proposed by Lightfoot that requires aldermen who have conflicts of interest to recuse themselves from all discussion of the matter in question, as well as from voting

3. Transform policing for a safer Chicago Link to this section
Updated: a month ago

See the BGA Policy team's recommendations for this area at ‘The BGA's Agenda for Lori Lightfoot’

Lightfoot and Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson announced the launch of two new Area Technology Centers in Area Central and Area North. The centers house technology that will allow detectives to better process digital evidence, including footage from cellphones and private surveillance cameras. Community members will also be able to extract video pertaining to incidents occurring near their homes or businesses.

Lightfoot announces a policing initiative focused on neighborhood businesses. Each of the city’s 22 police districts will designate a “business liaison officer” to address public safety complaints and to work with the city department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection to make sure licensing requirements and other rules are followed.

4. Reset the relationship between the City Council and the mayor Link to this section
Updated: 3 months ago

See the BGA Policy team's recommendations for this area at ‘The BGA's Agenda for Lori Lightfoot’

Still working on it: City departments won't need a letter of support from an alderman to approve demolition permits, land sales, new Divvy stations, Neighborhood Opportunity Fund grants and other tax breaks in their wards. Aldermanic prerogative takes another hit.

Not so fast: The last paragraph of a press release about reforms to the workers’ compensation program boasts that Lightfoot has “eliminated Aldermanic Prerogative through Executive Order.” It’s a little early for a victory lap.

Presiding over her first City Council meeting, Lightfoot won approval of a plan to reorganize the committee structure. She added two new committees, installed new chairs and realigned some responsibilities. She also adjusted funding, including cutting the Finance Committee budget from $2.3 million to about $700,000.

On her first day as mayor, Lightfoot signs an executive order instructing city departments not to defer to aldermanic prerogative when granting licenses and permits. The order doesn’t curb the practice with regard to zoning; that will require amending the municipal code.

5. Strengthen oversight of all government bodies and functions Link to this section
Updated: 2 months ago

See the BGA Policy team's recommendations for this area at ‘The BGA's Agenda for Lori Lightfoot’

After 30 years of ducking full oversight, aldermen agreed to fully empower the city inspector general to investigate and audit the City Council. Fines for the worst ethics violators increase to $5,000 (up from $2,000).

The city’s inspector general would have full authority to audit and investigate the City Council if aldermen approve the mayor’s proposal that survived a committee vote July 17. The measure also would increase the statute of limitations for alleged ethical offenses and give the IG power to enforce subpoenas. Believe it when you see it.

Special carve-outs that spare the City Council from full scrutiny of the Inspector General would be eliminated under Lightfoot’s proposed amendments to the ethics ordinance.

6. Wrestle the pension monster to the ground Link to this section
Updated: 3 months ago

See the BGA Policy team's recommendations for this area at ‘The BGA's Agenda for Lori Lightfoot’

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is less than lukewarm toward Lightfoot’s request for the state to take over the city’s struggling pension funds. But their meeting opened a dialogue about how Springfield and Chicago might work together, possibly helping to rescue smaller suburban and downstate pension funds, too.

7. Don’t count on new revenues to right the ship Link to this section
Updated: 4 days ago

See the BGA Policy team's recommendations for this area at ‘The BGA's Agenda for Lori Lightfoot’

Chicago will have a more forgiving ticketing and debt collection system under an ordinance passed by the City Council. The city will no longer seek to suspend a driver’s license over unpaid parking tickets, and the late penalty for not buying a city sticker will fall to $50 instead of $200 (along with a 15-day grace period). There’s also a new payment plan, to help those with significant ticket debt avoid bankruptcy, and an amnesty plan is in the works. It’s all part of Lightfoot’s promise to stop relying on punitive fines to balance the budget, but the projected $15 million revenue loss comes at the same time the mayor is struggling to bridge an $838 million budget deficit.

The Illinois Gaming Board says lawmakers should revisit the tax structure they set for a proposed Chicago casino after a consultant’s study found that the terms would discourage investors. It’s on Lightfoot’s wishlist for the legislative veto session.

Citizens who turned out for the mayor’s first budget town hall had some thoughtful suggestions for how the city might close an $838 million deficit. Savings: Fewer tax breaks for corporations, beginning with an anticipated $1.3 billion TIF subsidy for the Lincoln Yards megadevelopment. Dissolve the TIFs and distribute money in those accounts to the city, schools, parks and other local governments. Convert pensions to 401(k) retirement plans. New revenue: Tax Uber and Lyft. Video gambling. Ask taxpayers to donate their spare change. Don’t, don’t, don’t: Raise property taxes. The town hall schedule is here. You can also weigh in online:](https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Chicagobudget)

More belt-tightening before the big budget ask: Lightfoot announces a citywide hiring freeze through the end of the year.

The mayor’s office announces $6 million in planned efficiencies from the Department of Fleet and Facility Management. Like the crackdown on absenteeism announced weeks earlier, it’s an effort to squeeze savings from the city’s operating costs before hitting up taxpayers for more revenue. The larger point: It’s a drop in the bucket compared to the $1 billion budget gap.

Chicago’s hopes for a revenue jackpot were dimmed by a consultant’s review paid for by the city. The study concluded that the tax structure built into the new gaming bill would deter investors from any of the five potential sites identified by the city.

Mindful of her campaign pledge to end the city’s “addiction” to punitive traffic and parking fines, Lightfoot proposes some small changes – an acknowledgment that the city can’t afford to stop cold turkey.

A new chief risk officer will work to reduce the costs to the city from lawsuits related to police misconduct . (Last year they totaled a record $113 million.) Other savings will come from reducing vehicular accidents and workplace injuries and overhauling the workers’ comp program.

Terminating $1.4 billion in short term borrowing programs could save the city $22 million in FY 2020. About $16 million will go to the corporate fund and $6 million to improvements at O'Hare International Airport.

The mayor takes steps to professionalize the city’s $100-million-a-year workers’ compensation program, previously administered without oversight by now-indicted Ald. Ed Burke, 14th.

8. Restore public confidence in TIFs Link to this section
Updated: a month ago

See the BGA Policy team's recommendations for this area at ‘The BGA's Agenda for Lori Lightfoot’

TIF credibility takes a big hit thanks to this Chicago Tribune report on the hurry-up approval of a $1.3 billion subsidy for the Lincoln Yards mega-development. If the vote had been delayed until the new mayor and City Council were seated, the Tribune says, updated tax assessments would have disqualified the project. Candidate Lightfoot opposed the deal, but backed down after negotiating some concessions when it appeared it would pass anyway.

Lightfoot’s City Council committee reorganization removes matters involving economic development subsidies, including TIFs, from the Finance Committee and assigns them to the Economic Development Committee.

9. Support a robust Census count followed by fair redistricting Link to this section
Updated: 2 months ago

See the BGA Policy team's recommendations for this area at ‘The BGA's Agenda for Lori Lightfoot’

Lightfoot launched a new comprehensive census website that will provide residents with information on how to participate in the census, resources available to aid in ensuring a full count, and why an accurate census is important. The information is available in several different languages, including Spanish, Mandarin, and Polish.

A new City Council committee, chaired by Ald. Ariel Reboyras, 30th, will work for a strong citywide count in the 2020 U.S. Census. Its budget is $110,000.

10. Go slow on that elected school board Link to this section
Updated: 3 months ago

See the BGA Policy team's recommendations for this area at ‘The BGA's Agenda for Lori Lightfoot’

Chicago Board of Education meetings will be more transparent and yes, longer, thanks to changes ordered by Lightfoot’s new school board president, Miguel Del Valle. Board members will conduct more business in public, and translation will be provided. Meetings will be livestreamed and will be held occasionally in neighborhood sites, at hours designed to encourage public attendance.

Lightfoot replaces the entire Chicago Board of Education, appointing a new president and six members, along with naming a deputy mayor for education and human services.

A bill calling for a 21-member elected school board by 2023 stalled in the General Assembly after Lightfoot said it was a recipe for “chaos.” But she maintains her support for an elected board.


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