Last Thursday, one of our city council colleagues, Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, acted in a manner unbecoming of his position as both an Alder and as the Mayor’s Floor Leader and Chair of Zoning, by physically impeding another colleague, Alderwoman Emma Mitts, from entering council to be counted for a Special City Council meeting. It has been further alleged by other members of Council that Alderperson Ramirez-Rosa also used his position as Chair of Zoning to intimidate them with the purpose of keeping them from attending the Special Meeting. This behavior by our colleague is unacceptable and not in the spirit of a true democratic process.
Since the incidents occurred last week, Alderperson Ramirez-Rosa has resigned from his positions as Floor Leader and Chair of Zoning. I believe these resignations were appropriate. He has also publicly and privately apologized to the members he mistreated and has submitted himself to enter a process of restorative justice and accountability, where those who have been harmed, if they so choose, can work to find a path forward together with concrete actions of accountability.
In addition to these measures, this past Tuesday, during the City Council meeting, some members of the Council moved to censure Ald. Ramirez-Rosa. This move would have involved him receiving a public reprimand during the meeting. Some members of council argued that per the parliamentary rules, it was not proper to censure him for actions that did not occur during the existing meeting, but ultimately, the council was asked to vote on censure. After much discernment, I chose to vote no.
While I do believe Alderperson Rosa needs to be held accountable for his actions, I do not feel that a censure—which, had it passed, would have been the first in the Council’s history—is the best vehicle for that accountability. I believe that a restorative justice guided and directed by those who have been harmed is the best way to make amends to the rest of the Council, and that Ald. Ramirez-Rosa’s resignation from his leadership titles and the ongoing investigation by the Office of the Inspector General and Board of Ethics are the best way to address the harm that his conduct has had on public trust. An act of censure on top of these measures felt to me to be more retribution than justice.
As someone who himself has said and done things that were toxic and harmful, I do firmly believe in the need for true reflection, apology, and making amends through actions. It is what I have exemplified since before I was first elected and what I will always continue to do. We are all works in progress, we are all incredibly and tragically human, and while we all must take responsibility for the harm we have caused, all of us deserve the opportunity to redeem ourselves.
Yours in Service and Community,