Coronavirus Chicago: Mayor Lightfoot grows frustrated as City Council delays emergency powers decision; David Brown confirmed as CPD superintendent

CHICAGO (WLS) -- After a clunky, virtual Chicago City Council meeting, Mayor Lori Lightfoot vented Wednesday, frustrated with a small group of aldermen who are critical of the mayor's push to have emergency powers to pay COVID-19 expenses without council approval.

Five aldermen - Ald. Raymond Lopez, Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, Ald. Jeanette Taylor, Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez, and Ald. Rosanna Rodriguez-Sanchez - used City Council rules to push the emergency powers decision to a later date. The council voted to reconvene on Friday, April 24th at 1 p.m.

"The reality is the ploy of these grandstanders changes nothing. It only needlessly delayed the business of the city for two days and underscores exactly why we need an emergency order in the first place," Mayor Lightfoot said at a news conference after the Wednesday meeting.

The council voted unanimously to approve David Brown as Chicago's next superintendent. He was sworn in during a news conference after the meeting.

"Thank you mayor and thank you so much council for your vote today," Brown said. "I am honored, I am humbled and I feel extremely privileged to serve the citizens of Chicago, the residents of Chicago and I look forward to meeting each and every of one you."

Mayor Lightfoot has pushed for emergency powers for her and her administration to make COVID-19-related spending at their discretion without council approval. She said urgency is critical when trying to make these purchases during a pandemic.

"If we wait, we lose. We can't afford to lose. Our residents' lives are on the line, and we've got to move quickly in this pandemic," Mayor Lightfoot explained.

However, the dissenting aldermen said the public should not be "bamboozled by the impulse-purchasing mindset driving Lightfoot's ordinance."

"The City Council must resist the urge to act on fear by giving one individual, Lori Lightfoot, total control over the city and its finances," Alderman Lopez wrote in a statement following the meeting.

The virtual council meeting, clunky and often confusing at moments, included cussing as well. During one vote, Alderman Lopez yelled, "hell no" to respond nay.

That action prompted a quick reply by Mayor Lightfoot: "It's highly inappropriate for members of this City Council to be using profanity. Yes, during this body, so I admonish you to refrain from using profanity," she said.

The tensions boiled over because of the ongoing debate that never happened during the meeting.

"I think it's important we work in collaboration, and we need to make sure every voice is heard," said Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez said afterwards. "This is not the time for power grabs. This is a time for collaboration and start governing in good faith."

The council floor leader - Alderman Gilbert Villegas - tried to smooth out the differences, tweaking the mayor's proposal.

"A new ordinance was put forward that watered down, took out some of the powers. Put forward a sunset that expires June 30th, and sets some limits of appropriations that could take place," Ald. Villegas said.

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot called out a small number of aldermen for 'grandstanding' during a virtual City Council meeting Wednesday.



Another hot topic is paying rent, and whether renters need more time to pay because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Those issues weren't addressed Wednesday, and the mayor was visibly frustrated with dissenters during a news conference after the meeting.

"Dear Lord... in the middle of a pandemic, when everyday life and death are hanging in the balance," she said, "enough with the selfish political stunts, our residents deserve better."
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