CHICAGO (June 28, 2017) – Today, despite significant public pushback and proposals from aldermen to improve the ordinance, the Chicago City Council passed a 30-minute restriction on public comment at full City Council meetings.
Only Alderman Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward) and Alderman Ameya Pawar (47th Ward) voted against the restriction.
Last year, a Cook County judge ruled that Chicago was violating the open meetings act and ordered the city to provide an opportunity for members of the public to comment and ask questions during the monthly full City Council meetings. In response to the order, aldermen proposed only 30 minutes of public comment time at each meeting and 3 minutes per person to speak. Meaning that 10 people would have the opportunity to speak during each meeting.
Critics of the proposal, including Project Six, argued that 30 minutes was not enough time to allot for public comment, and that there needs to be a more transparent system for choosing which members of the public will be allowed to speak.
In response to the council passing the 30-minute public comment restriction, Project Six CEO Faisal Khan issued the following statement:
“Once again, Chicago aldermen and the mayor have done everything they can to ignore the voice of Chicagoans.
“The City Council was given an opportunity to introduce more transparency and openness for Chicago government. While it is ridiculous that it took a judge’s order to force the City Council to act, it is even sadder that their response was to do the bare minimum.
“Giving 10 Chicagoans, at 3 minutes apiece, the opportunity to voice their concerns or ask questions during the full City Council meetings is an insult to the taxpayers of the city. The city’s excuse for passing this unacceptable proposal was that there were already ample opportunities for people to comment at committee meetings, and that any more time for comment would be ‘redundant.’ This is not true. The full City Council meeting is one of the best outlets for members of the public to address the city’s leaders on the record and in front of the media.
“This rule will likely lead to more costly lawsuits against the city and more ambiguity for Chicagoans wanting to engage with their city government. Aldermen should re-evaluate this ordinance immediately and come back with one that actually addresses the needs of Chicagoans.”
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Project Six is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group dedicated to investigating and ending government corruption in Chicago and Illinois. Working with residents, Project Six hopes to make Illinois’ elected officials work for taxpayers and voters, not for the politically connected or corrupt. Anyone interested in learning more about Project Six or submitting a tip to Project Six investigators should call (888) 366-2569 or visit thesecretsix.com.