CITY HALL — The City Council passed a watered-down ethics ordinance Wednesday in the face of more reform-minded critics who said it creates a double standard and reinforces public cynicism.
The ordinance set standards for complaints made against aldermen and the process to be followed by the legislative inspector general. But in disallowing the complaints to be filed anonymously, it drew criticism from more reform-minded aldermen and from Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
"We are creating a double standard, one for us and one for the rest of city government," said Ald. Joe Moore (49th). "We willingly chose this job," he added. "We owe it to the public to let them know we're no different from anyone else."
He pointed out that other city employees are subject to anonymous complaints to spur investigations and told his colleagues to "suck it up" and trust the LIG to determine "which complaints are totally bogus and which complaints might have merit."
Emanuel, who put forth the original ordinance with an allowance for anonymous complaints to be filed, called the final version "a good effort," but told aldermen, "It reinforces the cynicism about you."
Emanuel declared, "This is not the end of the process," echoing remarks made by Ald. William Burns (4th), who sat on the Ethics Task Force that first proposed the reforms, and Ald. Timothy Cullerton (38th), who said, "I urge my colleagues to keep an open mind on this going forward."
Moore also attacked the stiffened fines for filing false complaints, saying they instilled a general "chilling effect."
"Obviously, it's not a perfect document," said Ald. Richard Mell (33rd), chairman of the Rules Committee, who oversaw the passage process.