CHICAGO — Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot presided over her first City Council meeting Monday.
She said she thinks it went fine. It was a meeting that saw Lightfoot clash with long time 14th Ward Ald. Ed Burke over what he called a “serious flaw” when it came to gender specific language in proposed changes to the rules of order.
Burke rose from his seat and said: “It's not gender neutral and clearly the presiding officer of this body is a her — “
Lightfoot interrupted and asked, “Is your general concern that the roles have a gender designation and not his or her, is that the gist it? Is there any other thing that you want to bring to the chair’s attention? No? Then we’ll take it under advisement. We’re going to move forward.”
Afterward, Lightfoot attributed Burke's objection to showmanship.
“Ald. Burke is somebody who likes to test people,” she said. “He likes to see if there are weaknesses. … I’m not going to start off my term as mayor with the City Council and put up with somebody who is just playing games for the sport of it.”
Lightfoot's reform agenda passed by a voice vote, instead of a roll call vote. It created two new committees and installs new committee chairs, including Ald. Scott Waguespack as the head of the finance committee, Ald. Tom Tunney as the head of the zoning committee and Ald. Pat Dowell as the leader of the budget committee. Lightfoot also downsized many of those committees budgets.
“We’ve sent the message pretty clearly that I expect a level of accountability and I expect people to live within their budgets,” Lightfoot said.
Ald. Emma Mitts, who remains on the licensing committee, welcomed the change.
“Everybody needs something new and a challenge to put us on our toes,” she said.
Ald. Raymond Lopez objected to the way Lightfoot went about re-organizing the council.
“Change is good and I’m happy to help her with change,” he said. “There are a number of things that I would have liked to change about City Council. … My opinion wasn’t asked for, wasn’t solicited and wasn't even wanted and that is bad for governance.”
Lightfoot ended the busy day with an appearance at the Jewish United Fund of Chicago where she was greeted with a warm welcome.