While the aldermen get a final say over which laws get passed during the regular Chicago City Council meetings, the laws usually get hammered out in committees before they reach the council floor. With a number of new aldermen sworn in during June, the memberships of most committees have shifted. Austin Weekly News examined which committees West Side Aldermen Michael Scott, Jr. (24th), Jason Ervin (28th), Taliaferro (29th) and Emma Mitts (37th).
The Budgets and Operations Committee is responsible for looking at how City Council funds are spent, as well as any legislation that has to do with organization, reorganization and management of city government. The committee has a total of 35 members, three of whom represent West Side wards. Ervin currently serves as its Vice-Chair, while Mitts and Scott are regular members.
The Committee on Economic, Capital and Technology Development deals with legislature related to economic and technological development of the city. It also helps craft the city’s capital improvement projects, holding public hearings about those projects before they are approved. It has a total of 20 members, including aldermen Mitts, Scott and Ervin.
The Committee on Education and Child Development handles issues related to the Chicago Public Schools Board of Education, the city’s community colleges, the City of Chicago Department of Family and Support Services and general issues related to education and child development. It is made up of 20 members, including aldermen Scott and Ervin.
The Finance Committee is arguably one of the most influential City Council committees. Every single legislation related to how city raises and spends its money falls under its jurisdiction. It has 35 members, including aldermen Mitts and Ervin.
The Human Relations Committee deals with Chicago human rights issues, as well as veterans’ issues. It is made up of 17 members, with Ervin serving as vice-chair and Taliaferro as one of the 15 regular members.
The Committee on Licensing and Consumer Protection deals with all licensing-related issues within the city, as well as product liability, consumer fraud and other consumer protection-related issues. It has a total of 18 members, three of whom are from the West Side wards. It is the only committee where Mitts holds a ranking position, serving as its chair. Aldermen Scott and Taliaferro serve as regular members.
The Pedestrian and Traffic Safety Committee handles issues related to vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic, as well as issues related to parking. It has a total of 17 members, including aldermen Ervin, Taliaferro and Mitts.
The Public Safety Committee handles issues related to Chicago emergency services — including police and fire departments — as well as the Independent Police Review Board. It has 19 members, including Mitts and Taliferro.
The Committee on Transportation and Public Way deals with issues related to city public transit, as well as street names and layouts. It has 15 members, including Aldermen Ervin and Taliaferro.
In total, incumbent aldermen Mitts and Ervin sit on ten and eight committees, respectively. New aldermen Scott and Taliaferro sit on seven and six committees, respectively.
The City Council currently has a total of 15 active committees, one of which — the Committee on Committees, Rules and Ethics — include all aldermen. Twelve of the remaining committees have at least one West Side aldermen.
West Side representation on Zoning Board
The West Side will have some representation on the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals. Austin attorney Blake Sercye was recently appointed to the board by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who backed Sercye during his failed bid for Cook County commissioner last year.
Sercye, an attorney with the law firm Jenner & Block, is one of five members of the board tasked with reviewing “land use issues that pertain to the Chicago Zoning Ordinance, including proposed variations from the zoning code, special uses that require review to determine compatibility with adjacent properties, and appeals of decisions made by the Zoning Administrator,” according to the city’s website.
Correction: This article has been updated to correct for the presence of West Side aldermen on certain committees.