Aldermen trace race space in June council meeting

In an interview with Dave Glowacz on the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky Show, Ben and Dave listened to audio from the June 2020 meeting of the full Chicago City Council.

Dave started off with the council's consideration of an ordinance proposed by the administration of Mayor Lori Lightfoot: It enacts a provisional moratorium on tenant eviction notices for failure to pay rent due to COVID-19.

Dave played a clip of the West Side's Ald. Ald Emma Mitts (37) explaining her opposition (in which 11 of her colleagues joined).

"The fact that she is willing to vote against the mayor," said Ben, "is one more indication of how the Chicago City Council is feeling its oats in the age of Lori Lightfoot."

Dave next played audio of Ald. Jason Ervin (28), who pleaded with the only two aldermen intending to vote against a resolution calling for the establishment of reparations commission.

Ben traced the origin of the resolution to generations-old housing discrimination against—and lending exploitation of—Chicago blacks.

"This most essential American dream," Ben observed, "to own your home and to have property, and use that as a form of investment that you can pass on to your children, so your family has wealth . . . was denied to black people in the 20th century—in our lifetimes."

Next, Dave played remarks on the reparations commission ordinance by Ald. Sophia King (4), who admonished her white colleagues: "You can't say 'we had nothing to do with the decisions of our ancestors,' and yet continue to benefit from the atrocities of your ancestors. It doesn't work both ways."

Reflecting on King's comments, Ben said, "This insane legacy we have of racial fear and prejudice has worked against white people" in ways they don't realize.

The next clip Dave played had Ald. Leslie Hairston (5) castigating Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41) for an "insensitive and inappropriate" TV interview he did to promote his proposed Police Reallocation Pilot Program.

This prompted Ben and Dave to examine the Chicago police officers' union, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, with Ben calling union members "out of touch . . . with the people they're policing." Also, Dave and Ben bemoaned the discord between the mayor and the Chicago Teachers Union on the "cops in schools" issue.

Dave next played an exchange between Mayor Lightfoot and rules committee chair Ald. Michelle Harris (8) about voting procedures—which touched on the mayor's testy relationship with Ald. Ray Lopez (15).

Finally, Dave played an excerpt from a "confidential" conference between the mayor and alderman that took place in late May after the first day of intense looting. In the audio, Ald. Sue Sadlowski Garza (10) told of the "wild, wild" disturbances in her ward, and questioned the administration's efforts at control.

Ben said he hopes the administration will "take a look back and seriously analyze . . . the response that the city had to the rioting and looting"—to learn, he said, "What was the goal? What was the strategy?" Dave noted that the federal monitor for the Chicago Police consent decree has said that she will conduct such an assessment.

Music: "Winin' Boy Blues" by Jelly-Roll Morton's New Orleans Jazzmen

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