Chicago City Council vote for independence called into question

A former Illinois lawmaker wants the Chicago City Council to erase a new slate of committee chairs it recently approved.

Former state senator Rickey Hendon and others want the council to start all over again next month, after Brandon Johnson has been sworn in a Chicago's new mayor.

"And, if you look at a map, all of Vallas's people getting a committee. None of Brandon's people are getting a committee," Hendon said.

Supporters of the council choosing its own committee chairs note the move toward an independent legislative branch was made before last week's mayoral runoff election and was not a personal sleight aimed at either Johnson or Paul Vallas.


"There needs to be a check on the executive branch, regardless of who's sitting in the mayor's seat. And that's why this body was intentional in declaring its independence," said Ald. Gil Villegas (36th).

A majority of city council members last month approved expanding the number of committees from 19 to 28, and also approved a new roster of committee chairs. One estimate was that the plan would cost taxpayers about $2.5 million a year.

Supporters say the council also needs budget analysts and legal advisors who are truly independent of the mayor's office.

Chicago's council for years has been virtually alone among the nation's largest cities in allowing the mayor to name legislative committee chairs.

"It is wrong. They didn't do it to Mayor [Richard] Daley. They didn't do it to Lori Lightfoot. They didn't do it to Mayor Rahm Emanuel or old man Daley. Why now? Why the rush," Hendon said.

On Monday afternoon, Hendon told Fox 32 that "negotiations are going well" and that an event planned for Tuesday to voice outrage about all this would be canceled.