Which city depts. deferred to aldermen, and how they stopped

Stop kowtowing to aldermen, said Chicago's mayor to her minions. OK, they said.

That's according to a recent report from the office of Mayor Lori Lightfoot and obtained by Inside Chicago Government.

The report follows up on a controversial executive order on City Council deference that Lightfoot issued on May 20, her first day in office.

The order directed city departments to identify the ways in which they defer to "aldermanic prerogative" and, where it wasn't mandated by municipal law, "cease each and every such practice." The order also gave the departments 60 days to detail, in writing, all areas of aldermanic deference.

The 46-page document—titled "Sixty-Day Report on Implementation of Executive Order No. 2019-2"—has a disclosure from each department under direct control of the mayor. So-called sister agencies, such as the Chicago Transit Authority and Chicago Park District, aren't covered by the executive order.

The department that said it had depended most heavily on a yay or nay by aldermen was the Dept. of Planning and Development (DPD). DPD identified almost two-dozen areas in which it required an aldermanic OK—including the designation of tax-increment financing (TIF) districts.

DPD said that, in the past, it had "required a letter of support from the local alderman" before DPD would advance a TIF district through the various approvals by city commissions, council committees, and the full council.

Now, DPD will merely "notify the local alderman of plans to seek a TIF designation"—and the alderman "may provide an optional input letter."

One alderman, Daniel La Spata (1st), is concerned about freeing DPD of an aldermanic OK for TIF district designations and the related developer contracts.

"It could have problematic side effects," La Spata said, "for aldermen who are working to use their power to combat gentrification."

La Spata questioned whether DPD would use its new, alderman-free authority "to encourage or compel developers to do more [housing] affordability" in real estate developments that receive TIF subsidy.

In the report, 18 city departments claimed that they never defer to aldermen in their decision-making. These are Administrative Hearings, Animal Care and Control, Aviation, Board of Ethics, Civilian Office of Police Accountability, Commission on Human Relations, Emergency Management and Communications, Family & Support Services, Human Resources, Innovation and Technology, Inspector General, Law, Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, Police, Procurement Services, Public Health, Public Library, and Water Management.

Document: "Sixty-Day Report on Implementation of Executive Order No. 2019-2"