The organizations and individuals that make up the #NoCopAcademy coalition filed suit today to stop tomorrow afternoon’s expected Chicago City Council vote to fund a new police facility. “The City, through its elected leaders, have engaged in a series of acts designed to tamp down dissent, eliminate debate and avoid discussion on funding issues related to this particular police facility,” said Attorney Brendan Shiller, one of the attorneys representing the coalition. “In so doing, the City has violated both the Open Meetings Act and its own ordinances.”
On Tuesday, when the funding ordinance was to be debated at the City Council’s Budget Committee hearing, Committee Chairman Carrie Austin (34th) moved the issue to first on the agenda and held a quick vote without debate or comment of any type. This conduct violated the Open Meetings Act as detailed in the attached civil complaint that was filed this morning.
Then on Wednesday at the regular City Council Meeting, the City engaged in its tradition of stacking the city council gallery to block dissenters from entering the gallery—a tradition that Rahm Emanuel has continued as a way to avoid debate. Also on Wednesday, when two aldermen used the routine procedure of deferring and publishing (currently called “deferred and postpone”), the Mayor and other members of the City Council violated the City of
Chicago Municipal Code and City Council Rules, by suspending the meeting and continuing it for 48 hours for hearing on the funding issue. Pursuant to Rule 27 of the City Council rules, a motion to Defer, continues the ordinance until “the next succeeding regular meeting.” The spirit of the tradition of allowing two aldermen to defer and publish is so that the public has more opportunity for input. The letter of the rule is that there is to be sufficient time in between meetings to allow this input. If the Mayor and the City Council votes on the funding
issue on Friday, they will be violating their own rules.
“This week we have seen the worst of Chicago politics,” Said Shiller. “We have seen this administration and City Council leaders display the most Trumpian of government thuggery to tamp down debate and avoid true discussion and deliberation.”
“These are more than mere technical violations” explained Shiller Preyar civil rights attorney Abby Bakos. “this goes to the heart of democracy and ensuring that our legislators are fully informed when they vote. Rahm and Alderman Mitts may believe that pouring money into a gym for police is economic development (and not a sop to government workers with little benefit to the community), that will actually lead to better training outcomes, and is a wise expenditure of limited city resources (instead of funding jobs and education). If they believe
that, they should be able to defend those positions in open debate and with true scrutiny. But they ran from that debate, and violated the law to avoid that debate.”