City Council pays emotional tribute to Ginsburg, Thompson, Finney and Waller

City Council pays emotional tribute to Ginsburg, Thompson, Finney and Waller

Chicago City Hall | Sun-Times file

Wednesday was almost certainly the calm before the budget storm. On Oct. 21, Mayor Lori Lightfoot delivers her 2021 budget address and outlines the tax increases and spending cuts needed to erase a $1.2 billion shortfall without replacement revenue from Washington.

At a meeting certain to be the calm before the budget storm, the City Council paid emotional tribute Wednesday to former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, former Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson, the Rev. Leon Finney Jr. and the Chicago Police Department’s newly-retired chief of operations Fred Waller.

The Council rules were suspended to allow James and Jane Ginsburg to thank the City Council virtually for the heartfelt tribute to their mother.

Jayne Thompson, the former governor’s widow, was afforded the same honor. So were Finney’s daughter, Kristin Finney-Cooke, and Waller, a beloved figure who served as CPD’s No. 3 in command before retiring in mid-August after 34 years on the job.

“My mother always said that if she could have had any other career, and had the talent for it, she would have been a great opera diva. So I am happy to represent the musical side of her, her passions,” James Ginsburg, a Chicago-based music producer, told aldermen.

Jayne Thompson said her late husband, Illinois’ longest serving governor, would have relished the honor.

“Jim enjoyed being governor, and he loved every part of this state, but he was a Chicago boy born and bred, and never lost his deep-seated feelings for the city, and for Garfield Park, where he was born, and he maintained his love affair with the city, and indeed lived in this city — with the exception of the time that he spent in Springfield — all of his life,” she said.

Waller also delivered a heart-felt thanks after a tribute that saw Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) praise him as simply the best police officer she has ever known.

“I feel unworthy and humbled to be recognized on this day with the aforementioned great men and women, who had much more of an impact on humanity than I ever could imagine,” he said.

When aldermen were done honoring the four towering figures who made their mark on Chicago, it was time for yet another resolution, this one recognizing breast cancer awareness month.

The “debate” gave several of the City Council’s most powerful women — Budget Committee chair Dowell, Rules Committee chair Michelle Harris (8th), and Contract Oversight and Equity Committee chair Carrie Austin (34th) a chance to talk about their own personal battles against breast cancer.

And it gave the men in the City Council an opportunity to support their female colleagues and also to talk about the women in their own lives who have been lost to breast cancer.

By the time all of the honorary resolutions were finished, the meeting was two-and-a-half hours old.

Emotions will be out the window at the next City Council meeting on Oct. 21.

That’s when Mayor Lori Lightfoot will deliver her 2021 budget address and outline the tax increases and spending cuts necessary to erase a $1.2 billion shortfall without replacement revenue from Washington.

Lightfoot is expected to have little choice but to propose a massive property tax increase as well as employee layoffs she has called her second-to-last resort. That will put her already strained relationship with the City Council to the test.

The mayor has warned it will be the most difficult budget vote aldermen ever have cast, “given the size of the challenges and our desire not to discard the values we all care about in making investments in people and in communities.”

When the Council did finally get down to business, there was a flurry of action:

• At the behest of Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th), a former rapper known for homophobic and misogynistic lyrics, the Council took a small, but historic step toward transgender equality with an ordinance stating: “No form issued by the city shall ask an individual’s sex unless it is necessary for medical reasons or required by another law.”

When “selection of gender identity from predetermined options” is required, the options “shall include: ‘male,’ ‘female’ and ‘nonbinary,’” the ordinance states.

• With the deaths of George Floyd and Brionna Taylor triggering a racial reckoning, Vasquez and fellow rookie Ald. Stephanie Coleman (16th) were chosen to lead a City Council reparations subcommittee charged with finding a way to make amends to Chicago “descendants of enslaved Africans.”

• Ald. Marty Quinn (13th) convinced the City Council to declare the last seven precincts of his Southwest Side ward off-limits to Airbnb and other vacation rental platforms.

• Lightfoot introduced an ordinance empowering the city to hold administrative hearings remotely.

• Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th) proposed a city licensing crackdown on what he called “dishonest, predatory and potentially dangerous business practices” by tow truck operators.

• Health and Environmental Protection Committee Chairman George Cardenas (12th) introduced an ordinance creating a Climate Control Commission to preside over the “de-carbonization” of Chicago.

• Aviation Committee Chairman Matt O’Shea (19th) proposed a 48-hour window before and after holidays for motorists to park in residential permit parking zones.

Latest Category Posts