Aldermen offer new Trust ordinance

This morning, a group of aldermen including Alderman Waguespack and Alderman Arena filed a substitute to the Ordinance Establishing the Infrastructure Trust to be considered at tomorrow’s City Council meeting. The new version of the ordinance is a sign that some aldermen have learned from the mistakes of the parking meter deal.

This morning, a group of aldermen including Alderman Waguespack and Alderman Arena filed a substitute to the Ordinance Establishing the Infrastructure Trust, which will hopefully be considered at tomorrow’s City Council meeting.

The new version of the Infrastructure Trust ordinance is a sign that some aldermen have learned from the mistakes of the parking meter deal. With more time and more public discourse, it is possible to develop a better public policy that, while still ambitious and innovative, adequately protects the public.

Over the past few weeks, Illinois PIRG, other citizen advocacy groups, aldermen and members of the public have expressed many substantial concerns with the oversight, transparency and accountability provisions that are part of the Ordinance Establishing the Infrastructure Trust. Although Mayor Emanuel has made some small improvements to the ordinance, the changes have not gone nearly far enough to protect taxpayers.

The amended ordinance that was introduced today adequately addresses our major concerns and ensures that this new, ambitious project will have the necessary oversight, transparency and accountability provisions.

Among the new provisions, the revised ordinance will:

  • Allow the Board of Directors to appoint a financial advisor to assess the projects of the Trust, and will give the City Council the authority to appoint an independent, third-party to issue a report to the City Council based on the findings of the financial advisor;
  • Give the City Council the authority to appoint an independent, third-party to provide quarterly assessments of the Trust and its projects;
  • Make the Trust subject to the Freedom of Information Act, the Open Meetings Act, and place the Trust under the jurisdiction of the Inspector General;
  • Require City Council approval of all projects involving assets of the City or the City’s Sister Agencies.

For the sake of taxpayers and the public interest, let’s hope this ordinance becomes law. Illinois PIRG fully supports this amended ordinance and we urge Mayor Emanuel and aldermen to substitute the original version with this new language to ensure that Chicago taxpayers are adequately protected.

Authors

Celeste Meiffren-Swango

State Director, Environment Oregon

As director of Environment Oregon, Celeste develops and runs campaigns to win real results for Oregon's environment. She has worked on issues ranging from preventing plastic pollution, stopping global warming, defending clean water, and protecting our beautiful places. Celeste's organizing has helped to reduce kids' exposure to lead in drinking water at childcare facilities in Oregon, encourage transportation electrification, ban single-use plastic grocery bags, defend our bedrock environmental laws and more. She is also the author of the children's book, Myrtle the Turtle, empowering kids to prevent plastic pollution. Celeste lives in Portland, Ore., with her husband and two daughters, where they frequently enjoy the bounty of Oregon's natural beauty.

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