The run-up to a new city franchise agreement with Commonwealth Edison was an obscure but important negotiation, and then along came Mayor Lori Lighfoot. With just a few words about ComEd’s suspicious lobbying activity, she cranked up the heat. 

Lightfoot told WLS-AM 890 radio host Bill Cameron on Tuesday that she intends to hold a hearing about ComEd’s role in the growing federal public corruption investigation, with the fate of the utility’s franchise agreement hanging in the balance.

“We’re going to call them for some kind of hearing and make them answer some questions in the public about the broader framing of what they were doing, how they were using their shareholders’ dollars, and give us assurances that we can be comfortable doing business with them,” Lightfoot said, according to reports.

ComEd has billions on the line with that city contract, so Lightfoot’s comments surely got the utility’s attention. And a must-see hearing could educate the city government and Chicago residents and possibly do some good. But it also could turn into a meaningless and even counterproductive circus.

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David Greising

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...