April 27, 2020
26 Chicago City Councilmembers Voted AGAINST Having Public Debate on Whether to Meet Sooner During a Crisis —
The Public Should Ask Why.
Chicago is facing an unprecedented crisis. People are unable to work; those who can work do not have the necessary protection to feel safe. Our friends and neighbors are struggling to feed their families and make their rent and mortgage payments. People are scared, and the response from the federal government has been inconsistent at best. In this time of uncertainty, Chicagoans are looking to their leaders for solutions.
That is why I proposed that the City Council double its efforts and meet every two weeks, instead of once per month, to speed the consideration and passage of legislation responding to the COVID-19 crisis.
Unfortunately, we could not even have a debate on the matter. In a vote on the ordinance establishing the time and place of the next City Council meeting, 26 members of City Council voted to refuse to even hold debate on the meeting schedule, preferring to continue to meet monthly even in times of crisis.
If my colleagues disagree that the work of City Council should be accelerated to meet the needs of the moment, let us have that debate, on the record. If there are legitimate concerns about this proposal, I welcome the opportunity to hear those concerns. Since the City Council, by a slim majority, chose not to have that discussion today, I instead urge individual residents to contact their alderpeople and ask how they voted, and why.
Better still, ask them why they believe — why anyone should believe — that the legislative body of our city can wait an entire month before convening again to even debate solutions in the middle of a pandemic.
At a time when members can convene with the click of a button, we owe it to the people we represent to work whatever long hours are needed to thoroughly prepare, debate, and pass meaningful legislation responding to the current crisis. Anything less is an abrogation of our duty — and a cession of our co-equal governance to an executive branch that on Friday claimed even more power for itself over the City’s budget and finances.
Our City deserves better. I will continue to do my utmost to provide it, and I humbly thank my colleagues who voted to continue debate on the scheduling of City Council today: Alds. La Spata, Hopkins, King, Hairston, Sawyer, Beale, Burke, Lopez, Coleman, Taylor, Rodriguez, Sigcho-Lopez, Maldonado, Ervin, Cardona, Rodriguez-Sanchez, Ramirez-Rosa, Smith, Martin, Hadden, and Silverstein.
When my constituents ask me what I’m doing to help in this time of crisis, I want to be able to look them in the eye and say that I spend every day of the pandemic doing my best to ease their pain and better their lives. I will use every instrument at my disposal, including the City’s legislative process, to support our communities. I would hope my colleagues feel the same.
Yours in Solidarity,
Alderman Andre Vasquez, 40th Ward Chicago