Chicago Progressive Caucus calls for collaboration
CHICAGO (April 28, 2020) – On Friday, April 24th, 13 members of Chicago’s City Council Progressive Caucus were joined by 8 others in voting against Mayor Lightfoot’s Executive Powers Ordinance which gave her administration expanded spending and procurement powers during the COVID-19 fight. A cross section of City Council members from the Progressive, Latino, and Black caucuses opposed the measure.
With the City of Chicago facing a crisis like never before – a global pandemic that has devastated vulnerable communities and locked down the city on top of a looming budget shortfall, members of the Chicago City Council Progressive Reform Caucus spoke out about the contentious vote on the Executive Power Ordinance:
We have two very clear responsibilities as members of the Chicago City Council: fiduciary and legislative. On Friday, the City Council unnecessarily relinquished both of those duties to the executive branch. The Progressive Reform Caucus stands for the right to public participation, democratic process, accountability, and equity. All of these concerns were in question as we voted on the Emergency Powers Ordinance. The Mayor ran on these values – we expect her to live up to them.
Friday’s vote on executive power was not simply about making sure we as a City can quickly respond in a crisis. The notion that giving up our fiduciary and legislative powers would help to that end is false and insulting. All of our members support and understand the need to respond quickly at this time without question. And we’ve proven that we can operate expeditiously especially given our access to technology.
The Progressive Caucus urges Mayor Lightfoot to adopt a collaborative approach. It has been illustrated that including our voices, during the unilateral decision-making during this crisis, could have changed the narrative for the better. Decisions have not been made with adequate participation by the City Council. Nor is there a plan to address the very communities that have been disproportionately impacted – predominantly the African-American community.
Simply put, we need more voices in the process that impact the entire city but especially the marginalized. Decisions must be inclusive and that means understanding, in real time, exactly what is occurring and what we are doing in black and brown communities while major economic shifts are underway.
How much has been spent and how much has gone to the communities that have been hurt the most? What are the plans for uplifting these communities? These questions went unanswered by leadership before this vote.
We are elected to represent our communities and to do that effectively, we need to be a part of the conversation. Stifling City Council’s ability to speak is the antithesis of collaboration. Any legislation must be thoughtful and collaborative for it to truly reflect the voice of our city. This legislation most certainly lacked a progressive voice as a super majority of the progressive caucus and a majority of Black and Latino caucuses did not support it.
It was also disconcerting that there was a deliberate effort to stop public discourse. This not only goes against progressive ideals but democratic ideals. Why stop public debate about having our next meeting sooner? There are so many urgent matters we wish to address and we have time like never before to dedicate ourselves to solving them together.
The COVID-19 task force is an important step in restoring balance during this pandemic especially since the emergency powers ordinance has passed. In order to restore trust in government, the democratic process, accountability, and equity, the Chicago Progressive Caucus calls for Mayor Lightfoot to:
- Include council member representatives in any task force that has been or is created around COVID-19;
- Create a Special Committee on COVID-19 Equity made up of a cross section of council members from communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19;
- Convene an urgent meeting of the Committee on Committees and Rules to urgently to address COVID-19 legislation introduced thus far; and
- Commit to having more City Council meetings during this crisis to restore trust, democratic process, accountability, and equity