TOWN HALL -- The people of Alder on Wednesday approved Mayor Brandon Johnson's decision to chair the city council's Legislative Committee for the next four years, officially ending an independent race that had emerged just days before the April 4 runoff .
After a tepid debate, councilors voted 41 to 9 to approve Johnson's new committee chair and mandate.
The new structure increases the number of Council committees from 19 to 20 and brings close Johnson allies into key positions.
Alder. Pat Dowell (#3) will chair the Ald Finance Committee. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (No. 35) will lead the Zoning Committee and Ald. Jason Ervin (No. 28) will chair the Budgets Committee. Dowell and Ramirez-Rosa backed Johnson ahead of the Feb. 28 mayoral election, while Ervin backed him in the April 4 runoff.
The council also approved the ALD. Walter Burnett (No. 27) was the city's first black Deputy Mayor. Mainly symbolic role in history,Crane reports WednesdayUnlike recent deputy mayors, Burnett's new position will likely be staffed and budgeted.
During the restructuring process, Burnett was stripped of his role as Chair of the Council's Pedestrian and Road Safety Committee.
Wednesday's vote follows months of political intrigue between city councilors and the recently inaugurated Johnson administration over the balance of power in the city's legislature.
The city council has historically been a hallmark of the mayor, who usually appoints a political ally to chair the committee. Committee chairs have tremendous power over whether a regulation gets a hearing and a vote in the Council.
March,City councilors approve controversial planIncrease the number of city council committees from 19 to 28 and elect leaders from within their own ranks to declare independence from the mayor's office.
But Johnson this month put forward his own plan to entrust many of his allies to chair parliamentary committees and keep the number of committees at 20.
Notably, it was Ald who was ousted from the new leadership structure. Scott Waguespack (32nd), chairman of the powerful Treasury Committee and one of the organizers of this spring's independence struggle.
Waguespack made a speech in Parliament on Wednesday that amounted to a resignation speech for the finance committee he took over from the sued -- now retired -- Ald four years ago. Ed Burke (No. 14).
"Working with the city's finance and budget team, I am proud that we have achieved a level of budget stability that the city has not seen in years," Vargspark said in a prepared statement. "As always, I will continue to stand for integrity, independence and reform on this Council and I look forward to working productively with the new government."
Eventually, Waguespack was one of nine councilors who voted against Johnson's leadership election.
Alder was also against it. David Moore (17th) condemned the reshuffle as undemocratic and said he and others were barred from discussing parliamentary powers.
He urged councilors and Johnson to "rip up" the committee's plans and start over.
“You have to involve everyone, we can't do this behind closed doors. You can't make a deal with some people to give you certain jobs just to say yes," Moore said.
"The basis is wrong and I hope we can go back and destroy it... and have a fair process, a clear process in choosing our presidency, with the input of this great mayor."
Alder. Marty Quinn (No. 13) also voted against on Wednesday.
In rare public comments on March 30, Quinn said he supports the committee electing its own chair.
Under the plan, Southwest MPs would chair a new executive appointments committee that would not be established under Johnson's committee structure.
Quinn said in a statement on Wednesday that Johnson's backed commission mandate was inconsistent with his support for a "strong and independent city council."
"I am proud of our joint effort and historic attempt to establish ourselves as an equal branch of the city government," the statement said. "I think when we elect a new mayor, maybe we're going to see a competing proposal that I can't support. A proposal that doesn't represent a standalone effort."
After the committee structure was adopted, Ald. Anthony Beale (No.9), who voted against the measure, suddenly announced his resignation from the city council's zoning committee - an apparent reaction to Ramirez-Rosa's assumption of the presidency.
But many of the city council members who supported an independent bid in March also voted Wednesday for Johnson's council chair, including Ramirez-Rosa, who will become Johnson's council chair instead of zone chair.
In March, Ramirez-Rosa advocated giving council members the power to appoint their own committee chairs, saying it would result in an unprecedented level of diversity in council leadership.
In a text message following Wednesday's vote, Ramirez-Rosa praised Johnson's "Unity Plan" as "the most diverse and progressive leadership structure in our city's history."
On Wednesday, he cast one of 41 votes for Johnson's plan. Alder. Michelle Harris (No. 8), one of the proponents of the independent commission structure, also voted in favour. Harris will continue to serve as chair of the city council's regulatory committee.
As part of the leadership program, Ald. Matt O'Shea (No. 19) will nonetheless continue to chair the city's aviation commissionThe agency has rarely met in the past four years.
Alder. Andre Vasquez (40th) will chair the commission on immigration and refugee rights. Arrival of thousands of migrants sparks humanitarian crisis, Committeewe haven't seen each other in over a yearUnder the previous chairman Ald. Ariel Rebolas (30 years old).
Vasquez said Wednesday that in the previous term, there were "some committees that had a budget and didn't meet at all." He acknowledged that some new committee chairs have less Council experience than veterans barred from senior positions. He urged the chairmen to work hard and show more urgency in dealing with pressing issues.
"I believe in seniority, but I also believe in work," Vasquez said.
Both O'Shea and Vasquez voted in favor of the new committee mandate.
The full list of committees and their newly appointed leaders:
Aviation Committee – Ald. Matt O'Shea (#19)
Budget and Government Operations Committee – Ald. Jason Owen (No. 28)
Committee on Committees and Rules – Ald. Michelle Harris (#8)
Contract Monitoring and Fairness Committee – Ald. Emma Gloves (#37)
Economic, Capital and Technological Development Committee – Ald. Gilbert Villegas (No. 36)
Council on Education and Child Development – Ald. Janet Taylor (20th)
Committee on Environment and Energy – Ald. Maria Harden (No. 49)
Ethics and Government Oversight Committee – Ald. Matt Martin (No. 47)
Finance Committee – Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd)
Committee on Health and Human Relations – Ald. Rosana Rodriguez-Sanchez (No. 33)
Housing and Real Estate Council – Ald. Byron Cicho-Lopez (#25)
Committee on Immigrant and Refugee Rights – Ald. Andre Vazquez (No. 40)
Licensing and Consumer Protection Commission – Ald. Debra Silverstein (#50)
Pedestrian and Traffic Safety Committee – Ald. Daniel Rasparta (1st)
Police and Fire Commission – Ald. Chris Tagliaferro (#29)
Public Safety Committee – Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd)
Special Events, Cultural Affairs and Entertainment Committee – Ald. Nicolas Sposato (No. 38)
Transport and Public Roads Commission – Ald. Greg Mitchell (No.7)
Human Resource Development Council – Ald. Mike Rodriguez (No. 22)
Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards Council – Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (Nr. 35)
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