Mayor Lightfoot Exerts Control Over Burke, City Council

Ald. Ed Burke on Wednesday tried to throw new Mayor Lori Lightfoot a curveball and badly missed the strike zone, in advance of Lightfoot’s first major legislative test. Burke, the 50-year veteran of City Hall, stood to voice his concerns over the fact that Lightfoot’s new Council Rules of Order contained non-gender-neutral language.

“If you are making an objection, make it so we can move forward,” Lightfoot said.

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Burke continued with his concerns about the use of “he” in city code instead of “he/she.”

Lightfoot cut him off again, noting that he’s been alderman for 50 years and is a lawyer, so he should know the law doesn’t discriminate against women despite the language.

“Sir, we’ll take your issue under advisement, we’re going to move forward,” Lightfoot said.

Burke promptly sat down, silenced and rebuked. Later, when he tried to interject again, Lightfoot cut him off before he could even stand up.

“Alderman, please,” she said. “Alderman, I’ll call you when I’m ready to hear from you.”

Council then quickly approved the committee chairmanships, including Ald. Scott Waguespack for Finance Committee, in a voice vote instead of a roll call vote. Ald. Ray Lopez was the only one to publicly state his opposition to the move.

“She wants a City Council where there’s no dissent, and I think that’s the wrong foot to get off on,” Lopez said. “She’s going to have to work with us whether she likes it or not.”

“He’s clearly carrying the water for Burke,” Lightfoot retorted at her post-meeting press conference.

Lightfoot referred to Burke’s move as a “stunt.”

“Alderman Burke is someone who likes to test people. He’s tried this in the past with me, and he’s failed spectacularly every time. And every time he tries it, he will again fail spectacularly,” she said. “The notion that Burke all of a sudden is a champion for gender equity is laughable.”

Follow Paris Schutz on Twitter: @paschutz

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