Mayor Lightfoot: ‘We want the highest level of transparency’

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Business

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Business

By: Ashmar Mandou

During Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot announced her commitment to introduce various new ethics reforms to City Council that are intended to increase ethics requirements for members of the City Council and create better transparency to the city’s legislative and policymaking processes. The proposed changes include restrictions to outside Aldermanic employment, expanded City Council oversight by the Office of the Inspector General and increased fines for ethics violations.

“As public servants, each and every one of us has a duty to operate within the highest of ethical standards as we represent the people of this City,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “This latest ethics reform package is designed to ensure that the City Council, just like every other function of our city government, operates under appropriate oversight, and that all decision-making is done with the highest level of transparency and in the best interest of taxpayers.” If passed by City Council, the ethics reforms proposed will amend the City’s Ethics Code to ensure elected officials and employees of the City Council operates under the same oversight as all city government employees and elected officials. These changes include:

• Restricted outside employment: Aldermen will be banned from certain outside employment that poses a potential liability or a conflict of interest with City of Chicago business.

• Expanded Inspector General oversight: To ensure consistency across city government, Aldermen would be subject to same oversight as city employees. The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) would also have the authority to audit council administrative procedures.

• Increased fines for ethics violations: The reforms would raise fines for Ethics Ordinance violations from $500 to $1,000 for low-level violations, and $2,000 to $5,000 for high-level violations.

• Broadened definition of lobbyists: This proposal expands the definition of lobbyists to include non-profits that lobby the city. Non-profit lobbyists would be required to register and provide quarterly reports, but their registration fees would be waived.

This week’s proposed reforms reflect a broad range of input and ideas by the City Council, the transition team and the Board of Ethics. This includes proposals that have been made in recent years but that have not been implemented, including expanded OIG oversight for the City Council. “The Ethics Reforms amendment proposed today will increase transparency and oversight of all programs, committees, and members of the City Council in order to hold our elected officials to the same high standards we hold city employees,” said Chair of the Ethics Committee and 43rd Ward Alderman Michele Smith. “I am proud to join Mayor Lightfoot in championing these reforms that will make our government more open and accessible for the residents of Chicago.”

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