Is Chicago ready for reform? Depends on what you mean.
Chair of the Chicago Zoning Committee, Danny Solis.
The way zoning works in Chicago is that the alderman has always had the last say.
That’s always the way it’s been.
Once in a while you get an alderman who puts on a show of having community input. But in the end, he or she decides and then the Council Zoning Committee rubber stamps it.
This has sometimes led to somebody being sent. Slip the alderman a few bucks to get a zoning change. Frequently it has led to an alderman getting sent to a club fed, one of those minimum security federal prisons. Under Mayor Daley, we had more alderman appointed by the Mayor to replace jailed ones than we had elected alderman.
In my ward the old alderman okayed a condo too big for code. The old alderman got booted out of office and the new alderman had the entire condo building torn down. Now it’s a trashy empty lot.
But the latest zoning battle gives new meaning to reform. As everything connected to Mayor Emanuel does.
The present alderman of the 39th ward, Nick Sposato, responding to community pressure, opposed a zoning change.
Normally that would be that. No zoning change. End of story.
But the head of the Council Zoning Committee is about to overrule Sposato. The head of the Zoning Committee is alderman Danny Solis. Solis is close as he can get to the mayor and still have his clothes on.
The zoning issue concerns a charter school that would be built by the United Neighborhood Organization, which used to be headed by the same Danny Solis.
The UNO has become one of the largest charter groups in the city. And the Mayor wants more charters.
No longer can an alderman make a decision like he is some local king.
No that’s bad.
Now there is only one king and his name is Rahm. Even on local ward zoning changes.
The most recent update to this Chicago story is that Alderman Sposato has had a change of heart and no longer opposes the charter school. Did I mention that Rahm got 50 out of 50 aldermanic votes on his budget two weeks ago. Chicago: The city that works.