Chicago City Council to take up marijuana zoning, FOP contract during meeting

Mayor Lori Lightfoot will preside over the in-person meeting

Jessica D'Onofrio Image
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
City Council to take up marijuana dispensary zoning, FOP contract
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The Chicago City Council with Mayor Lori Lightfoot presiding is expected to take up the FOP contract and marijuana zoning during its meeting.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago's City Council meets Tuesday and is expected to take up a number of key issues, including the Fraternal Order of Police contract and zoning for marijuana dispensaries.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot will preside over the meeting, which will be in person.

Most notably, the council is expected to vote the city's eight-year contract with the Chicago FOP. It would raise the base salary of 11,000 "rank-and-file" officers 20% by 2025.

If approved, the package will cost the city $377 million in retroactive pay dating back to when the last deal expired in 2017.

It also reportedly allows the city to investigate officers based on anonymous complaints and other disciplinary changes.

Some aldermen are very supportive of the contract, saying that compensating police is long overdue. Others are dead set against it.

"The police deserve every dime every penny every nickel that they're getting, four years back and then some," said 30th Ward Alderman Ariel Reboyras.

The Fraternal Order of Police says they see very few people wanting to become police officers and this pay raise makes the Chicago Police Department more competitive to draw candidates in.

"The police are not the problem in this city," said John Catanzara, Fraternal Order of Police president. "It's the criminal mindset of 'I can do whatever I want and there's no repercussions or accountability' that is the problem in this city. They have waited long enough for a fair contract. We negotiated a fair contract and they need to ratify this and get it off the table today."

But it doesn't come without criticism. Civil Rights groups like the Illinois ACLU disappointed with the contract saying it fails to make any police accountability and reform measures.

"There's essentially another part of the contract that has allowed officers essentially escape accountability, to escape responsibility, and to escape being held accountable for the way in which they act on the streets," said Ed Yohnka, director of communications for the ACLU. "And this negotiation was an opportunity to address many of those things and frankly it was just a swing and miss where that part was concerned."

The council is also expected to take up a proposal to ease Chicago zoning rules to open marijuana dispensaries, which the mayor says would make it easier for minority applicants to get into the business.

Lightfoot's plan would open up much more of the downtown area to allow marijuana businesses.

Under the proposal, only a small area of the city's center would continue to exclude dispensaries, including Michigan Avenue downtown and in the South Loop, plus a stretch approaching Navy Pier from Michigan.

Some aldermen have expressed concern the mayor's plan would not go far enough to protect the interests of minority entrepreneurs.

The council is also expected to take up a proposal to limit the use of plastic utensils by Chicago restaurants.

The new rules would prohibit restaurants from automatically giving out plastic utensils with carry-out and delivery meals unless customers request them.

Wednesday is also the deadline for when each alderman has to decide whether to accept the 5.5% pay raise for themselves or decline it.

If they simply don't say or do anything, the bump takes effect automatically on January 1. Many aldermen already make over $123,000 a year.