Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson’s resolution to require a quorum at all City Council committee meetings got a firm thumbs down from his colleagues last week.
We believe the aldermen should rethink that stance.
Important legislation — and even the minor stuff — should not be decided by a handful of aldermen on a committee while everybody else plays hooky.
The City Council’s Rules Committee nixed a Thompson proposal that would have required aldermen to take their own attendance before committee meetings and adjourn if no majority is present. Current law actually requires a quorum, but aldermen skirt the regulation merely by assuming — not verifying — a majority of a committee’s members are in attendance.
It’s an old school, wink-and-a-nod practice, one of many that deserve no place in modern Chicago. In a more open and responsive City Council, everybody would show up for work.
While the quorum requirement would be a winner, the aldermen probably were right to ash-can Thompson’s other suggestion that half of all committee meetings be held after 6 p.m.
Thompson’s argument was that many constituents who have to work during the day finally would be able to attend the meetings. But it’s also true that aldermen, if they’re doing their jobs, regularly host meetings in their ward offices at night. And residents in far-flung neighborhoods such as Roseland and Hegewisch still would have to hike 10 or 20 miles to attend a night meeting at City Hall.
Alderman have always held committee meetings in the evening — occasionally even out in a neighborhood — when deliberating on big-ticket issues. We’re reminded of a particularly well attended special City Council meeting that was held in 2017 in the Clearing neighborhood on the Southwest Side to discuss foul-smelling windows that had been installed in homes near Midway Airport to reduce jet noise.
The bigger the issue — and the more distant from downtown the effected neighborhood — the more a committee meeting at night might be smart, but let’s call them one at a time.
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