City Council Updates: February 1st, 2023 Session

Ald. Vasquez in his office

This week, the City Council paid tribute to former  IL House of Representatives Majority Leader Greg Harris for his 16 years serving the 13th District. Greg has been a personal mentor to me since I took office, and has been a truly historic champion for LGBTQ+ rights, Marriage Equality, and so much more. I invite our 40th Ward neighbors to thank Greg by contacting his office here!

Members of City Council pose with Rep. Greg Harris

Com Ed Franchise Extension Blocked

On Wednesday, Mayor Lightfoot sought to rush through a 15 Year Franchise Agreement with Com Ed, after two years of negotiation that the City Council was not a part of and a 10 minute briefing about it to our office. Due to a variety of concerns, I moved to send the introduction to the Rules Committee on the following grounds: 

  1. A lack of transparency – The Lightfoot Administration did not properly inform the council as to the details of a 15 year agreement that is 80 pages long, while looking to pass it quickly.
  2. Term of the agreement – Given the concerns about past bad deal the city has engaged in (like the Parking Meter Deal) I am dubious of any long term agreements and believe it should be shorter so that the City has more leverage to negotiate.
  3. The minimal payout to the city – Currently Com Ed would pay about $120M to the city at best for a 15 year agreement. To put it in perspective, currently Com Ed has paid double that in settlements to a Federal bribery case. We see how much Com Ed brings in, even as they message out more rate hikes to Chicagoans. This doesn’t pass the smell test.
  4. It Stifles Municipalization attempts – When I was being briefed, the administration presented a clause in the agreement as a path to municipalization after 5 years. In reality the clause BLOCKS conversations regarding municipalizing the utility for 5 years. 
  5. Timing – The Mayor was looking to do this during election season, and I firmly believe this is a matter that should be discussed in the next term, when we will see a new council and potentially a new Mayor. To keep anyone from having this discussion for three terms by passing it now is not in the best interest of Chicagoans and good government.

Read more: ‘A Bunch Of Damn Fools’: Lightfoot’s Attempt To Advance ComEd Deal With City Council Ends In Chaos

American Blues Theater Funds Appropriated

American Blues Theater entrance mockup.

Finally, on Wednesday a TIF Project in the 40th Ward passed out of City Council that awards $2.5M to the American Blues Theater, which would be developed at 5627 N Lincoln. The location used to be a closed dollar store, and will now serve as one of the ends of the Lincoln Avenue Arts District!

Read more: American Blues Theater Getting $2.5 Million In City Funds For New Lincoln Square Home