Friday, November 16, 2018

Sun-Times: Aldermanic privilege steeped in power, politics — and prejudice, critics contend

Believe it or not the long-term practice here in Chicago of "aldermanic privilege" is being subjected to a federal civil rights complaint:
Aldermanic prerogative, the unwritten rule that gives local aldermen final control over zoning and development issues in their own ward, is the ultimate source of power for Chicago’s 50 City Council members.

It’s what makes them the lords of their 55,000-constituent fiefdoms and brings a steady stream of campaign donors to help them get re-elected.

It’s also the means by which aldermen illegally perpetuate the city’s segregated housing patterns, argues a federal civil rights complaint filed Thursday on behalf of nine affordable housing and neighborhood organizations that want to curb the practice.

The complaint, filed by lawyers for the Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, contends aldermanic prerogative has been used for decades to block affordable housing in the city’s white neighborhoods.

But it was racially-tinged community opposition to a pair of apartment developments proposed in recent years for the Northwest Side that prompted the legal action.

The practice of aldermanic prerogative, also known as aldermanic privilege, gives aldermen veto power over zoning, land use, sale of city land and public financing for projects in their wards.
Read the whole thing

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