Today, the Chicago Committee on Committees, Rules and Ethics adjourned without voting on the controversial proposal that would limit members of the public to 30 minutes of public comments during full City Council meetings.
This rule would give only 10 members of the public the opportunity to speak before the full City Council for 3 minutes apiece in any given month. The public comment system would operate on a first-come, first-serve basis. Critics of the proposal—including Andy Thayer, the plaintiff in the successful lawsuit that forced the city to allow public comment in the first place—have said that it is far too restrictive and would open the city up to further costly lawsuits.
The Committee on Committees, Rules and Ethics adjourned without voting, due to a lack of quorum—only 15 aldermen were present at the meeting. The committee is scheduled to meet again at 9 a.m. on June 28 (an hour before the full City Council meeting).
Project Six CEO Faisal Khan issued the following statement in response to today’s committee meeting and the lack of a vote:
“Limiting public comment to only 10 people at 3 minutes apiece each month is an insult to Chicagoans who are constantly having their lives shaped by what is coming out of City Hall. If aldermen didn’t know this before today, they certainly do now.
“Multiple people spoke at City Hall today about the absurdity of this proposal, and the committee adjourned until next week without voting. Aldermen and Mayor Rahm Emanuel should take that time to go back to the drawing board and craft a proposal that actually allows the public a fair and adequate role in their government. There are many ways to accomplish this: Creating a separate meeting for all ceremonial speeches and legislation is the easiest way to open up time for the public’s voice to be heard.
“The mayor, the Law Department and aldermen should not move forward on this very bad proposal.
“The troubling part of this debate—and the reason why the committee was forced to adjourn—is that only 15 aldermen took the time to show up for such an important piece of legislation in the history of Chicago government.
“The mayor and aldermen have already cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars defending a losing lawsuit to give the public more of a role in their government. That has to change; Chicagoans have a legal right to have their voices heard by our elected officials. And today’s committee meeting showed that Chicagoans are standing up for their right not to be silenced.
“Aldermen should take this week and come up with a proposal that truly serves taxpayers—the people these officials were elected to serve.”
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Project Six is a 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.