WBBM Newsradio: Aldermen form caucus to push for reform agenda

CHICAGO (CBS) – Several members of the Chicago City Council said Tuesday they’ll be speaking out and pushing hard to reform City Hall, which could put them at odds with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and some of their colleagues.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports nine aldermen have formed the so-called Progressive Reform Coalition.

(A day later, 10 aldermen with close ties to Mayor Emanuel announced they had formed another caucus. Aldermen from both caucuses were interviewed on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight.)

The members of the Progressive Reform Coalition include Alds. Robert Fioretti (2nd), Leslie Hairston (5th), Roderick Sawyer (6th), Toni Foulkes (15th) Ricardo Munoz (22nd), Scott Waguespack (32nd), Nick Sposato (36th), John Arena (45th) and Ameya Pawar (47th).

They insisted their intent is to work with the mayor, not against him.

Fioretti acknowledged the concerns of the residents of their wards brought them together.

“Our people, what we hear that they are troubled from the lack of transparency from our elected leaders. They are angry about the closings of schools and mental health centers. They want to see their leaders push us in a direction that is more supportive and accountable to communities,” Fioretti said.

He said there’s no one issue that unites the coalition. Homelessness and open government are two.

Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) cited other issues.

“This caucus is working to develop some proposals to make sure that we have enough police officers on the street. On school closings, this caucus has been attending the Board of Education hearings, and listening to the parents, and making sure that any policies that the Board of Ed decides to adopt do not have an adverse impact on our Chicago neighborhoods.”

The nine aldermen have been united informally before, but in forming a collection have established a set of bylaws, a statement of principles and a political action committee.

They said as many as 15 aldermen support some of their agenda, although that’s still short of the 26 votes needed to pass ordinances in the City Council.

According to a statement from the caucus, their shared principles include:

• Work towards a budget that ensures that city finances and contracting, especially public private partnerships, are managed with taxpayers as a priority and supports strong city services and quality of life for all.

• Establish an economic policy focused creation and preservation of living-wage and prevailing-wage jobs with adequate benefits, leave and security to support a family. A policy designed to nurture a diverse economy and provide equitable opportunities to those who have been left out.

• Promoting safe, decent, and affordable housing for all Chicagoans.

• Supporting high-quality public education that focuses on providing fair and equal resources for neighborhood schools with wrap-around services, funding for early childhood development and strong youth programs.

• Support policies for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly city that focuses on the health of Chicagoans, and an improved public transportation system.

• Supporting Chicago’s diverse communities with resources necessary to create strong neighborhoods across the city.

• Advancing public safety policies that support a well-trained, fully staffed public safety departments that work in strong cooperation with the diverse civic communities they serve.

• Working for reforms that build confidence and informed participation in Chicago government and public process.