City Council Cleanup: Aldermen Discuss Mayor’s Plan for Ethics Reforms

Mayor Lori Lightfoot campaigned on a promise to clean up City Council, and it appears to be a goal she’s aiming to reach within her first 100 days in office.

In the wake of a federal indictment filed last week against longtime Ald. Ed Burke, Lightfoot on Wednesday announced a new package of ethics proposals to address corruption at City Hall. Among her proposals: banning alderman from holding certain outside jobs; expanding the powers of the city inspector general to have oversight of committees chaired by aldermen; increasing fines for ethics violations; and requiring those advocating on behalf of a nonprofit seeking business with the city to register as lobbyists.

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“These are very important,” said 43rd Ward Ald. Michele Smith, who chairs the Committee on Ethics and Good Governance. “They’re a good first step, a good place to go right now.”

The proposal on “restricted outside employment” aims to prevent aldermen from representing a client whose interest could be adverse to the city, Smith said, including anything that “seeks something from the city that results in the alderman making money,” she said.

Ald. Nick Sposato, 38th Ward, said he takes issue with the proposal.

“You can’t tell someone if they can or cannot have a job,” he said, adding that any job can be twisted to sound problematic with the city of Chicago.

But Sposato said he agrees with an outside employment restriction for tax appeal attorneys. Burke is a partner at Klafter & Burke, a property tax appeals firm.

Smith and Sposato join us in discussion.

Related stories:

Spotlight Politics: Lightfoot Proposes New Ethics Plan in Wake of Burke Plea

Ald. Ed Burke Pleads Not Guilty to Federal Corruption Charges

Mayor Lightfoot: Letter Being Sent to Ask Burke to Resig

Ald. Ed Burke Indicted on 14 Counts of Racketeering, Extortion, Attempted Bribery

Burke Indictment Highlights City Hall Power Shift

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