Tensions flare in fiery debate over City Council power change

Amid charges of vote "buying" and "corruption," the lame-duck Chicago City Council on Thursday voted 34-to-10 and 33-to-11 to ratify a plan that will increase the number of City Council committees from 19 to 28 and change the rules to, among other things, limit direct introductions and reduce committee membership.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot urged decorum during the meeting, acknowledging that nerves were on what she called "a razor's edge,"

There was finger-pointing and cursing when the council debated a proposal that is supposed to make aldermen independent of the mayor

It includes changes in the number of committees and who gets to run them, decisions that traditionally were made by the mayor. They are power positions that ensured a rubber-stamp council in the past. 

Supporters said that this move will serve the public with more transparency.

"All of us will be stronger in the work that we want to do for the people of Chicago," said Ald. Marty Quinn (13th). "This is truly historic. It's a major change for the better."


Those who oppose the change said it does not take into account the 14 wards where aldermanic races are going to go to a runoff election on Tuesday.

"This is a corrupt process ran by the same corrupt people who ran the reading the remap process. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves," said Ald. Anthony Beale (9th).

"The question that I have today is not, ‘why are we doing this?’ It is ‘why are we doing this today?’ Has anyone asked that question? Why are we doing this today? Five days before an election," said Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd).

Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th) said that they all look like clowns and this is the circus and some aldermen had to be separated during the meeting – that's how deeply the divisions run in this City Council.

"So let's keep it real. Y'all all [are] gonna make back deals. We are all going to go talk and see what we can get for ourselves, and that is why we are city that's in chaos," said Taylor.

The runoff elections will take place Tuesday.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.