Coronavirus Chicago: Mayor Lori Lightfoot's COVID-19 emergency spending powers request approved by City Council

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago City Council approved Mayor Lori Lightfoot's request for emergency powers 29-21 during a virtual meeting Friday.

Mayor Lightfoot asked for emergency powers to make decisions about COVID-19-related spending at their discretion without council approval.

Since the beginning, Mayor Lightfoot has said that her request was about urgency, but more than 20 aldermen did not agree with her.

RELATED: Lightfoot grows frustrated during heated virtual council meeting
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The Chicago City Council held a virtual session Wednesday as part of Mayor Lightfoot's efforts to ensure the continuity of government during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"What the 29 voted for was to make sure we continue doing everything we can to keep our residents safe in this time of pandemic and to continue to have a sense of urgency around the measures that are needed to do just that," Mayor Lightfoot said.

The mayor hoped to get it done Wednesday, but there was pushback. Some aldermen wanted full council oversight of the spending, which didn't happen.

"As a council, I believe that we should have the ability to appropriate those dollars and that not be strictly an executive decision," 28th Ward Ald. Jason Ervin said.

"The people of Chicago did not vote for unilateral decisions, no matter who they were," 25th Ward Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez said. "If it was a local alderman or the mayor. They voted for accountability and transparency."

The ordinance means the mayor's administration can spend on COVID-19-related costs and the budget director must provide weekly reports on what's spent.

Aldermen pushed back on the mayor, so there is a $1 million limit per contract and the special powers end June 30.

"I ultimately have faith in Mayor Lightfoot to be judicious with these special powers that we give to her," 42nd Ward Ald. Brendan Reilly said.

There was a historical reference as one of the aldermen said we cannot go back to the days when there was a mayor with all the power and a "rubber stamp" council. That certainly wasn't the case Friday.
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