A City Council hearing two years in the making on the most extreme of four rival proposals for civilian police review was abruptly canceled Tuesday after a mayoral ally promised to air the proposal at a series of public hearings.
Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th), the mayoral ally who chairs the Committee on Public Safety, reiterated that the plan to abolish the Police Board, get rid of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability and replace both with an elected, 22-member council is “too egregious” and doesn’t have the 26 votes needed for passage.
But he agreed to put it on equal footing with three other more moderate proposals after rookie Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) withdrew his parliamentary maneuver known as a Rule 41 to force a City Council floor fight that could have embarrassed Mayor Rahm Emanuel and put aldermen on the spot.
“He’s my colleague. The last thing we want is any silliness discussions on the floor. It’s only fair that I allow his ordinance to be heard citywide, including the other three [proposals] that are moving forward. And we’ll see what the outcome is,” Reboyras said Tuesday.
Ramirez-Rosa said he pulled back the Rule 41 because he got what he wanted all along: Equal footing for the so-called “Civilian Police Accountability Council.”
“It was the first community-initiated ordinance on civilian police oversight and it should be included…in a real conversation and deliberation around what civilian police oversight should look like in the city of Chicago,” he said.
“It’s what’s owed to the 50,000-plus Chicagoans [who] have written to their aldermen in support of CPAC.”
Last Friday, Reboyras was singing a different tune.
After three days of failed attempts to persuade Ramirez-Rosa to back off the Rule 41, Reboyras scheduled a City Council hearing and vote on the plan championed by the Chicago Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression.
After Ramirez-Rosa read the Sun-Times story, he approached Reboyras seeking a face-saving compromise that would avoid an embarrassing defeat in a lopsided committee vote.
Reboyras was more than happy to oblige.
The plan championed by the Chicago Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression has been languishing in the City Council’s Committee on Public Safety for nearly two years.
It calls for the election of one representative from each of the city’s 22 police districts to a four-year term with a dedicated staff and an annual salary that would match what aldermen are paid.
The elected panel would be responsible for hiring and firing Chicago’s police superintendent and establishing police policy. It also would investigate police shootings and other allegations of excessive force and police abuse and pass judgment on police discipline.
The Police Board and COPA would be abolished.
Reboyras reiterated Tuesday that the plan is going nowhere.
“They get aldermanic salaries. They get to increase their budget as needed. They flat-out fire COPA. They flat-out fire the entire Police Board. It’s just too egregious,” the chairman said.
Reboyras said he’s now planning to hold public hearings along with three more moderate proposals for civilian police oversight.
One was crafted by the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability. The other two were introduced by Reboyras and neuter GAPA’s proposal in favor of a civilian review structure that’s more advisory in nature.
Police Board President Lori Lightfoot has accused Emanuel of blindsiding GAPA and betraying the promise he made to deliver meaningful civilian oversight.
Walter Katz, Emanuel’s deputy chief of staff for public safety, said if you look across the country, there is “no one right model” for civilian police review.
“Getting civilian oversight right is really, really hard to do. So, I can’t commit to living with or not living with any particular facet right now,” Katz said.
Reboyras said his goal is to hold three community hearings and a fourth at City Hall, then craft a compromise “before the end of May.”
Asked Tuesday what he expects the final compromise to look like, he said, “An advisory board with some powers. But not to fire and hire the superintendent. That’s definitely out of the question.”