Any question about Mayor Lori Lighftoot’s ability to exert control over the Chicago City Council evaporated the moment Ald. Ed Burke, 14th, objected to the first procedural motion of the Lightfoot administration.
“Alderman, please,” the new mayor said. “Alderman, I will call you when I’m ready to hear from you.”
Burke wasn’t heard from again. Not by Lightfoot, not by anyone else in the council chambers. A politician who has dominated council proceedings for at least a generation — and got reelected in February despite facing a federal public corruption charge — was forced to sit down and shut up.
And with that verbal flick of the wrist, the Lightfoot administration was underway. This is what it looks like when a mayor who won 75 percent of the vote seizes the gavel and starts hammering away at reform.
It’s also just the beginning of the grueling work ahead — on equity, on violence, on a host of other issues. And above all that looms pensions, the most vexing and inflexible problem facing the city.
David Greising is the president and chief executive of the Better Government Association, joining the BGA in 2018. For nearly a century, the BGA has fought for honest and effective government through investigative journalism and policy advocacy.
Greising’s career started at the City News Bureau of Chicago, with stops at the Chicago Sun-Times, Business Week magazine, the Chicago Tribune and Reuters. He was a co-founder of the Chicago News Cooperative and worked briefly as a consultant to World Business Chicago. Today, Greising writes on government issues in regular columns for the Tribune and Crain’s Chicago Business.
Under Greising’s leadership, the BGA has played a key role in uncovering public corruption amidst the wide-ranging federal probe, starting with an in-depth report about Ald. Ed Burke’s conflicts of interest before the federal charges against Burke. The BGA also has exposed waste and fraud at O’Hare and the proliferation of corruption and poverty into Dolton, Lyons and other Chicago suburbs. The BGA’s policy team has led calls for ethics reform in Chicago’s City Council and in state government.