Aldermen at odds with Lori Lightfoot over extent of power executive order

It was a promise that helped Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot win by 47 percentage points in last month's election -- a promise to reduce the power that individual aldermen now have over city services in their own communities.

But now she's getting big, if predictable, pushback.

After a briefing Tuesday by the mayor-elect's staff on an executive order she plans to issue next week, Southwest Side Ald. Raymond Lopez was offended.

“If you're gonna say that what our job description is, is not what you want anymore, then she should just say, ‘we don't want aldermen, period,’” said Alderman Lopez.

When Lopez was told that Lightfoot does not want corrupt aldermen in power, Lopez had an immediate response.

“Well, and what do you do for the ones who aren't corrupt, who are doing the right thing?” Lopez said.

Southwest Side Alderman Lopez denounced the mayor-elect's plan to issue a groundbreaking executive order next Monday. Lightfoot told voters that, right after taking the oath of office, she'd sign an order reducing the veto power aldermen now have over many city services and licenses in their own wards. 

Alderman Ed Burke is just the most recent council member to be accused by federal prosecutors of abusing that power to shake down a business owner in his ward. Dozens of former aldermen have been convicted of similar extortion schemes.

Aldermen streamed in and out of Lightfoot's transition office Tuesday where the mayor-elect's deputies, but not her, briefed council members on plans for next week. Some wanted more detail.

“They wouldn't give us the plan. They didn't show us the plan. We went over some of the talking points. And that was it. I don't think anybody walked out of there very happy. I think more people walked out of there confused and puzzled, exactly what we're doing and why we're doing this,” said Alderman Nick Sposato.

A few aldermen spoke in support of Lightfoot.

“These are very necessary reforms that really are very simple,” said Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa.

Mayor-elect Lightfoot's supporters and critics agree on one thing. As of now, she's far short of the City Council majority she will need to deliver fully on her reform promises.