The City Council Committee on Health and Human Relations approved a substitute ordinance strengthening the prohibition on pet stores selling commercially bred dogs at its meeting. The ordinance closes a 2014 loophole that allowed stores to sell dogs raised in “puppy mills” as rescues. “Man’s best friends shouldn’t be treated without any basic regards to their welfare,” said one of at least ten public commenters. Concerns that “hobby breeders” would be unfairly targeted were allayed by revisions in the substitute ordinance, according to one of its sponsors, Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd). The Committee also approved nine Board of Health appointees, who emphasized healthcare equity in their testimony, and condemned U.S. Representative Mary Miller for “glorification” of Hitler on January 5.
Employers in Chicago are now prohibited from retaliating against workers who take time off to be vaccinated against COVID-19. At a meeting of the City Council Committee on Workforce Development, council members reviewed an ordinance that would set standards for the treatment of workers who are getting vaccinated. It would also provide that employers that require COVID-19 vaccinations must allow employees to be vaccinated during work hours and pay them for that time. A version of the ordinance passed the City Council the following week.
Chicago expects to receive $1.9 billion from the federal government as part of the American Rescue Plan, the COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress in March. At the City Council Committee on Budget and Government Operations meeting, top budget and finance officials said Mayor Lori Lightfoot wants to allocate approximately half of those funds to pay off city debt used to balance the budget for the last two years. Council members argued that money would be better spent on supporting those hit hardest by the pandemic.
According to a survey presented at the Regional Transportation Authority Board of Directors meeting, many transit riders have stopped using CTA, Metra, and Pace during the pandemic, and current riders are disproportionately essential workers, Black, Latinx, and low-income people. Forty-six percent of current CTA riders and more than half of current Pace riders have a household income of less than $25,000 a year, according to the survey. The RTA hopes to use this data to inform planning for recovery from the pandemic.
At the City Council Committee on Housing and Real Estate meeting, Council members considered the $5 million Saint Anthony Hospital development on 31st & Kedzie. Committee members decided to end the meeting early when the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) released the video of Chicago police killing thirteen-year-old Adam Toledo, but the Focal Point Campus was approved in the City Council meeting the following week.
Hours after COPA released videos of police killing Adam Toledo, the Chicago Police Board convened its monthly meeting. CPD Superintendent David Brown noted the officer who killed Toledo has been placed on administrative duty for thirty days. Public commenters were not satisfied, with one calling for more dialogue with community members and another saying, “You know what will keep us calm? Stop killing us!”
The City Council Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards approved a proposed amendment to an ordinance regarding the City’s Building Code Scofflaw List at its meeting. The list currently identifies owners of residential buildings with three or more uncorrected code violations. The proposed amendment prioritizes buildings with chronic code violations and designates owners as scofflaws based on updated criteria, including: buildings that are occupied, residential and non-residential, and subject to active enforcement proceedings for more than eighteen months or being monitored under the Troubled Building Initiative. Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) expressed serious concerns about the availability of a user-friendly database and whether scofflaw buildings are a priority for the City’s Law Department. The needs and expectations for the Building Department’s aging information technology systems were also discussed.
The City Council Committee on Housing and Real Estate approved changes to Chicago’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO) when it reconvened for a second meeting. The ARO compels developers who need certain City approvals to rent ten percent of units in residential buildings at affordable prices. The update expands that to twenty percent in neighborhoods that are losing low-income residents or have little affordable housing, among other changes. The changes later passed the City Council, though some argued the changes didn’t go far enough.
Chicago Board of Health members learned at their meeting that COVID-19 cases are down overall but increasing in the 18-to-39 age group on the far South and West Sides, where vaccination rates are lowest. Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady also reported that over fifty percent of adults in Chicago have received one shot, a third are fully vaccinated, and fifty-two percent of residents sixty-five and older are vaccinated. Hospitalizations have decreased. Also, Board of Health member Juan M. Calderon asked how federal CARES Act COVID-19 relief funds will be allocated. Federal government rules guide spending, Arwady said; Chicago is receiving a new grant set to focus on health disparities and inequities. Calderon also asked why the health department hasn’t commented on the Adam Toledo case and police violence as a public health issue or supported the Latinx community more. CDPH took no action in response to the killing of Adam Toledo.
At its first partly-in-person meeting since March 2020, the City Council approved major changes to Chicago’s affordable housing requirements ordinance (see above). Ald. Mike Rodriguez (22nd) introduced a resolution to honor the life of Adam Toledo that called for a transparent and speedy investigation. Outside, protesters called for the passage of the Empowering Communities for Public Safety ordinance, a unified police oversight plan from the two coalitions that previously sought to pass the CPAC and GAPA plans. Lightfoot, who failed to fulfill a campaign promise to pass police oversight in her first one hundred days in office, cut off Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) when he mentioned the ordinance and urged “more than prayers or platitudes, but action, Mayor Lightfoot.”
This information was collected, in part, using reporting from City Bureau’s Documenters at documenters.org