In the last week of June, Mayor Lori Lightfoot suffered her first loss of a City Council vote. By a one-vote margin, the council rejected Lightfoot’s effort to further diminish aldermanic privilege — a council tradition that grants virtually unchecked power to aldermen in their wards.

In the first week of July, Ald. Carrie Austin, 34th, was charged with public corruption. At the root of her alleged illegal acts — you guessed it — was Austin’s exercise of aldermanic privilege.

It was an accident of timing, perhaps, that Austin was indicted the week after Lightfoot’s failed bid to curtail aldermanic privilege. It also was a telling reminder that the roots of corruption in Chicago still run deep and that Lightfoot’s work to unearth and destroy them is far from done.

As a candidate for mayor, Lightfoot singled out aldermanic privilege as a scourge after FBI agents raided the offices of Ald. Edward Burke, 14th. The federal charge against Burke detailed how the long-serving alderman allegedly used his power to extort bribes from people who needed permits or other city approvals. Burke says he did nothing illegal.

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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.