Key City Panel OKs 6 of Mayor’s 7 Picks to Serve on Chicago Police Oversight Board

(WTTW News)(WTTW News)

A key city panel advanced six of the seven nominations made by Mayor Brandon Johnson to serve on a permanent commission that will oversee the Chicago Police Department as part of a new era for the beleaguered law enforcement agency.

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The City Council’s Police and Fire Committee unanimously advanced the nominations of Anthony Driver Jr., Remel Terry, Aaron Gottlieb, Abierre Minor, Kelly Presley and Sandra Wortham to serve four-year terms on the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability.

Driver, a South Side resident, serves as president of the interim commission, which is designed to give Chicagoans real control of the police department as part of an effort to build trust in officers and police brass and put an end to repeated allegations of misconduct.

Terry, a West Side resident, serves as vice president on the interim commission. Driver and Terry helped conduct a nationwide search for a replacement for former Chicago Police Supt. David Brown, selecting Chicago Police Supt. Larry Snelling as one of three finalists. After his appointment by Johnson, Snelling was unanimously confirmed by the Chicago City Council.

A final vote by the City Council on those six appointments is set for May 22 after Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th Ward) agreed to expedite the confirmation hearings for the mayor’s picks, unveiled April 30, three weeks after the deadline.

However, Taliaferro exercised his power as the chair of the committee, without objections from the panel’s members, and declined to hold a vote on the nomination of Angel Rubi Navarijo to serve on the commission.

It is rare for the City Council to fail to confirm a mayoral appointment; it is nearly unprecedented for one of the mayor’s hand-picked committee chairs to lead the opposition.

Navarijo is a North Side resident who serves as director of constituent services for Ald. Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth (48th Ward). Navarijo, who graduated from Loyola University in 2023, was picked to serve as one of two commissioners who must be between the ages of 18 and 24.

Navarijo also served as a member of the interim commission’s non-citizen advisory council, and his LinkedIn page identifies him as a DREAMer, someone who came to the U.S. with their parents but without permission. DREAMers are permitted to live and work in the U.S., but are not citizens.

Taliaferro did not question Navarijo about the issues he would have confronted as a member of the commission known as the CCPSA, but appeared angry that Navarijo did not specifically say in his opening statement that he worked for Manaa-Hoppenworth. In his remarks he did say that he had worked for several alderpeople.

In addition to Manaa-Hoppenworth, Navarijo worked for Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th Ward) and U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Chicago.

The public statement from the mayor’s office announcing Navarijo’s selection identified him as an employee in Manaa-Hoppenworth’s office.

Manaa-Hoppenworth, elected in 2023, did not speak during the hearing. Typically, alderpeople treat the staff members who work for their colleagues with a high degree of deference, and it was not clear why Navarijo did not receive that consideration.

Ald. Samantha Nugent, who represents the 39th Ward, where many Chicago police officers lived, also objected to Navarijo’s selection by the mayor, noting that he could be asked to vote against a policy position taken by Manaa-Hoppenworth or to implement a policy as a City Council staffer he opposed as a CCPSA commissioner.

The ordinance creating the CCPSA did not prohibit commissioners from working for the City Council, although it laid out a series of detailed requirements to ensure adequate and equitable representation.

All seven commissioners must have lived in Chicago for at least five years, and the CCPSA must be made up of at least two North Side residents, two South Side residents and two West Side residents, according to the rules.

In addition, at least two commissioners must be attorneys with expertise in civil rights, civil liberties or criminal defense or prosecution. Another commissioner must have experience in community organizing. Two other commissioners must be between the ages of 18 and 24, according to the rules.

However, commissioners cannot have worked for CPD, COPA or the Police Board in the past five years, according to the rules.

Giving a board of Chicagoans a real say in how the department operates is the final change demanded by advocates to be put in place in the wake of the 2014 police murder of 16-year-old Laquan McDonald.

The commission has the final say on policy for the Chicago Police Department, but the mayor can veto the commission’s decisions. In turn, the mayor’s action could be overridden by a two-thirds vote by the City Council.

The commission will have the power to hire the head of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, known as COPA, which is the agency charged with probing police misconduct. In addition to conducting the search for a new police superintendent, when necessary, the commission is also charged with filling empty spots on the Chicago Police Board, which disciplines officers.

The commission will also have the power to pass a resolution of no confidence in the superintendent and any member of the Chicago Police Board with a two-thirds vote. That could trigger City Council action.

The president of the commission will be selected by a vote of the commissioners and be paid $15,000 annually. Commissioners will earn $12,000, according to city law.

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]

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