Four Hispanic aldermen demanded Wednesday that Ald. Danny Solis (25th) make a choice: come “out of the shadows,” apologize for his transgressions and start servicing his constituents or resign from the City Council seat he has held since 1996.
Aldermen George Cardenas (12th), Ray Lopez (15th), Milly Santiago (31st) and Hispanic Caucus Chairman Gilbert Villegas (36th) said Solis has disgraced and abandoned his community and it’s not enough for him simply to resign as Zoning Committee chairman.
The aldermen were referring to a Chicago Sun-Times report this week detailing the corruption allegations that prompted Solis to spend more than two years secretly recording more than a dozen conversations with former Finance Committee Chairman Edward Burke as movers and shakers sought city actions.
Those charges include receiving sex acts, Viagra, free weekend use of an Indiana farm once owned by Oprah Winfrey and a steady stream of campaign contributions in exchange for shepherding official City Council actions, according to allegations in a federal court affidavit obtained by the Sun-Times.
“He owes his voters an explanation and should address the charges. If there’s more to it and he’s innocent and going to fight for his reputation and his legacy, no good comes out of hiding,” Lopez said.
“He needs to do right by his people and either come out of the shadows or step aside.”
Lopez made a sarcastic reference to Solis’ hope to someday be hailed as a hero for the role he played in bringing down the Chicago power structure.
“He feels history will view him differently? If he would like to start writing that initial chapter, he should do that immediately. Either explain himself or remove himself,” Lopez said.
Santiago said she was downright disgusted by the sordid charges against Solis that provoked his decision to wear a wire against Burke.
For the first time in Chicago history, the City Council’s second-most-powerful alderman helped the feds build a corruption case against the first most powerful.
“Those are aldermen that have been in office a long time. We look up to them. When something like this happens, it makes us look like crap. … That’s why people do not believe in politicians,” Santiago said.
“He should have his own press conference, be man enough to apologize to the people he has let down, give his constituents an explanation about this whole thing and try to do the best he can until his term is up. If he cannot, he should resign and let somebody … clean up all of this bad reputation he’s leaving behind.”
Villegas noted that the four months between now and the inauguration of the next mayor could be some of the most intensive in terms of demand for city services, given the record cold snap and parade of snowstorms in-between.
“He should go to work and handle the responsibilities he was elected to do. If he feels that he can’t do that, he needs to make a decision to step down. … You should not be taking a paycheck for work you’re not doing,” Villegas said.
“You either step up and face the constituents or you have to make a decision as to whether or not this is how you’re gonna end your political career.”
Cardenas, for one, doesn’t need or want an explanation from Solis.
“He’s resigned as chairman. He ought to resign as alderman. How do you resign one and not the other?” Cardenas said.
“It’s the best for his community. After all of this, they’re owed that from him. It’s a disgrace in every aspect. He has to resign. That’s the right thing to do at this point.”
Solis was one of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s closest council allies.
When the mayor announced Solis’ resignation as Zoning Committee chairman, he commended the alderman for “making the right decision for the City Council and the city of Chicago.”
The mayor made a similar statement after forcing Burke to relinquish the Finance Committee chairmanship that has been his primary power base for decades. It happened one day after Burke was charged with attempted extortion for shaking down a Burger King franchise owner for legal business.
Solis initially told associates he also was prepared to resign his City Council seat after his role as an FBI mole has been exposed. He has since decided to try and hang on until his term expires May 20.
Cardenas warned his colleague not to return to City Hall, where aldermen viewed his decision to cooperate against Burke as a betrayal.
“The rules allow him to come back. But for the sanctity of our rules and the institution, I recommend that he doesn’t,” Cardenas said.