City Council

  • Where good legislation goes to die

    21 February 2013

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on how aldermen might thwart efforts to bury their legislation in the rules committee, and more.

  • Alderman Reilly's latest on Wolf Point development

    13 December 2012

    The following update on the Wolf Point development appears on the Web site of Alderman Brendan Reilly (42nd).

    Third Community Presentation for Proposed Wolf Point Development
    WhenThu, December 20, 5:30pm – 7:00pm
    WhereThe Conference Center at UBS Tower - One North Wacker Drive, 2nd Floor - Michigan Ballroom (NE corner of Wacker and Madison) (map)
    DescriptionDear Neighbor: I am writing to invite you to join me for a third public presentation for the site located at 350 N. Orleans Street, commonly referred to as "Wolf Point". I directed Hines Development Corporation to design this third public meeting around information related to site programming, the bulk table numbers governing the maximum allowed dwelling units, hotel key counts and office space that could be positioned within the proposed building envelopes. Also at this meeting, Hines will discuss their sixth revision to the traffic study---which I required in conjunction with their proposed programming and in anticipation of our upcoming public discussion. I advised Hines that this next revision must contemplate the maximum numbers, in other words, the most intense combination of uses that could be built with the understanding that economically, such a scenario is somewhat unrealistic. In summary, Hines has submitted a proposal for the development of three towers: Phase I (West Tower) proposed as a residential, 525 foot tall structure containing a maximum of 510 units and 200 parking stalls; Phase II (South Tower) proposed as a 950 foot tall, mixed use structure which may contain office space, retail space, residential units and hotel space with 885 parking stalls; and Phase III (East Tower) proposed as a 750 foot tall mixed use structure which also may contain office space, retail space, residential units and hotel space with 200 parking stalls. A maximum of 900 residential units and a maximum of 450 hotel rooms will be allowed to be distributed between Phases II and III with the combined number of residential units and hotel rooms not to exceed those maximums of 900 residential units and 450 hotel rooms. The final draft bulk table can be downloaded here.
  • To Mayor Emanuel, Some Jobs Are Worth More than Others

    8 November 2012

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on the possible effects of the city council holding hearings on privatization deals, and more.

  • The Public Weighs in While the Mayor Skips Out

    1 November 2012

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on how and why ward remapping disposes of certain aldermen, and more.

  • The Stand-Up Guy

    26 April 2012

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on who voted against the mayor's proposed infrastructure trust and why, and more.

  • The Mayor Has Big Plans for the City's Infrastructure Trust

    12 April 2012

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on whether the proposed infrastructure trust must actually comply with Freedom of Information Act regulations, and more.

  • Your NATO/G8 Primer

    16 February 2012

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on the appropriateness of World Business Chicago controlling a major city event, and more.

  • All I Want for Christmas Is a City Council with a Backbone

    15 December 2011

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on veteran aldermen who might not have voted for the mayor's budget proposal, and more.

  • The Politics of Pot

    1 December 2011

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on comparing Mayor Emanuel's control of the marijuana issue with Mayor Daley's control of a smoking ban, and more.

  • What to Tell an Alderman Who Fibs to You About TIF

    27 October 2011

    imagenameInterview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on the first step for true reform of the city's budget process, and more.

  • Twilight Zoning in the 43rd Ward

    12 May 2011

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on the 43rd-27th ward boundary gerrymandered for racial purity, and more.

  • Racial Migration in the Strangest Locations

    7 April 2011

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on the different dynamics of black and Hispanic migration into wards, and more.

  • Ben Joravsky's Guide to the Aldermanic Runoffs

    31 March 2011

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky about why Ben moderates aldermanic candidate debates, and more.

  • From the Alley to the Council

    3 March 2011

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on what inspires Chicagoans to want to learn about their government, and more.

  • Carving Time Approaches

    24 February 2011

    Interview in which the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky looks into the back rooms where aldermen negotiate the remaps of wards, and more.

  • Aldermania!

    17 February 2011

    Interview in which the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky gives a short history of near-West-Side ward remapping, and more.

  • Sic 'Em

    3 February 2011

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky about which takes more effort: informing candidates about outstanding debts, or contesting their eligibility, and more.

  • And the Award for Achievement in Local Politics Goes to . . .

    29 December 2010

    imagenameInterview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on the awards that didn't make the cut, and more.

  • Revenue Investigator Bernell Hopkins

    7 June 2010

    “If a dog was promoted I would be unable to say anything.”


    Department: Business Affairs & Licensing

    Employed for: Twenty years, now as a revenue investigator (making sure that businesses comply with city licensing rules)

    Cred: Awarded four figures from the federal monitor. Claims that during his career he increased the city’s collection rate on bad checks from 40 to 90 percent. And a former coworker (whom Hopkins trained) says of him, "as an investigator, and as a city worker, he's one of the hardest working." Regularly has to have his regular court appearances rescheduled, because he writes so many citations that they exceed the court's allotted time.

    Background: Decorated Vietnam veteran, graduate of Roosevelt University. Actually likes his job—making sure that businesses comply with city licensing rules—but the stress of his abusive work environment, he says, "gets me so my wife can't deal with me."

    Gripe: Throughout his career the city has turned Hopkins down, in writing, for 25 promotions. In fact, he says, a guy whom a former coworker calls "one of the worst investigators in the department" got promoted over him. ("Everybody was flabbergasted," says the coworker.)

    Why cloutless: In 1996, Hopkins wrote a seven-page letter to the city’s personnel commissioner, detailing his stellar work record and the promotions of less qualified or incompetent persons. In a subsequent meeting with the commissioner's deputies, Hopkins says one of them informed him that "the administration selects and promotes individuals as it sees fit, and I have no right to challenge its authority. She said if a dog was selected or promoted I would be unable to say anything."

    Hopkins' former coworker says that Hopkins' current managers "know whom they can pick on and whom they can't. Burnell wouldn't say something" when harassed.

    Why the city's not compliant: Hopkins believes that the city continues to promote less-qualified workers based on political favoritism. These include the "worst investigator" noted above, and former revenue investigator Abd Ayesh, who received a promotion to supervisor less than two years after reaching Hopkins' rank. Last June, prosecutors charged Ayesh with stealing contraband cigarettes that his department had seized—then giving the cigarettes to convenience stores owned by his family.

    Because he’s pointed out the city's lapses in the past, the past continues to haunt him: Hopkins says that his managers persist in harassment that includes write-ups and attempted suspensions. For example, in 2006, Hopkins was charged with insubordination by a director who, says Hopkins' former coworker, "instantly became abusive with his power" when promoted. The director attempted unsuccessfully to suspend Hopkins. Then, Hopkins' supervisor denied him his last two salary increases, citing a need for "performance improvement." After complaining to his union about the first denial, Hopkins received back pay; his union grievance about the second denial is still pending.

    What now? Hopkins say the aforementioned abusive director told him "I should stop feeling sorry for myself and just quit."


    See "Substantially clouted", the main article for this story.

  • Learning to Say No

    3 June 2010

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on when schools lower property values, and more.