The SBAC is a strong proponent of enacting good governance and ethics reforms which will increase the confidence the small business community has in Chicago’s government. Aldermanic prerogative and allowing alderman to control administrative functions has a detrimental impact on the small business community. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has already taken concrete actions to eliminate aldermanic prerogative. This week Mayor Lightfoot announced her intention to introduce a package of ethics reforms to the City Council during the next scheduled meeting on June 12th. These reforms represent the another step in her first 100 days ethics agenda, focused on bringing more transparency and oversight to the city’s policymaking process and ending the culture of corruption in Chicago.
“As public servants, each and every one of us has a duty to operate within the highest of ethical standards as we represent the people of this City,” said Mayor Lightfoot in a press release published by her office. “This latest ethics reform package is designed to ensure that the City Council, just like every other function of our city government, operates under appropriate oversight, and that all decision-making is done with the highest level of transparency and in the best interest of taxpayers.”
The proposed reforms are based on input from the City Council, the Lightfoot transition team and the Board of Ethics. Key reforms include:
- Restricted outside employment: Aldermen will be banned from certain outside employment that poses a potential liability or a conflict of interest with City of Chicago business.
- Expanded Inspector General oversight: To ensure consistency across city government, Aldermen would be subject to same oversight as city employees. The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) would also have the authority to audit council administrative procedures.
- Increased fines for ethics violations: The reforms would raise fines for Ethics Ordinance violations from $500 to $1,000 for low-level violations, and $2,000 to $5,000 for high-level violations.
- Broadened definition of lobbyists: This proposal expands the definition of lobbyists to include non-profits that lobby the city. Non-profit lobbyists would be required to register and provide quarterly reports, but their registration fees would be waived.