CITY HALL — A Pilsen alderman lashed out at Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as "xenophobic" Monday in debate over a possible municipal identification card.
Ald. Danny Solis (25th) made the remarks as a City Council committee debated whether to put a referendum on the fall ballot on whether to create the municipal ID card.
Solis said the card would benefit those without any other form of state-issued ID, including the poor, the aged and undocumented immigrants.
Solis called the presumptive Republican nominee "xenophobic," and said his referendum was in response to Trump's political stance, without actually mentioning Trump by name. Solis made it clear whom he was talking about by referring to remarks made this weekend — after Trump publicly questioned the fairness of a Hispanic judge weighing a case against his university.
The Council's Rules Committee ended up approving the plan for the municipal ID referendum, even as it drew flak from Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), who argued it could actually hurt the undocumented community if the issue gets embroiled in presidential politics.
"I'm a strong believer in a municipal ID," Ramirez-Rosa said, but he questioned the need for a November referendum, given how Cook County is already considering such an ID for undocumented immigrants.
"We don't want to do something that does harm," Ramirez-Rosa said. "We've gotta do this right."
Ramirez-Rosa said "undocumented activists" are opposed to the referendum and would prefer for Cook County to act independently and immediately to create a municipal ID for those without any other form of identification. Putting the issue on the ballot, he said, could delay it, and could also lead to political opposition from Trump supporters drawn to the polls to vote for him.
"What if it fails?" Ramirez-Rosa said.
While the committee ultimately approved the referendum, Ramirez-Rosa got a pledge from Solis that he and aides for Mayor Rahm Emanuel would meet with county officials to discuss whether the referendum is appropriate and, if so, what the precise language should be.
The committee also approved two other advisory referendums Monday, and if the full City Council approves them and places them on the November ballot that could prevent any others from appearing on the ballot, including a proposed referendum on whether voters would like an independent airport board overseeing O'Hare and Midway.
Chicago is only allowed to place three referendums on a citywide ballot. Two years ago, Ald. John Arena (45th) charged the Rules Committee with "political shenanigans" for placing three dubious referendums on the ballot ahead of his proposal for an elected school board that is opposed by the mayor, who currently appoints the Board of Education, and his Council allies.
The referendum on an independent airport board was assigned to the Aviation Committee, and could still challenge for a spot on the November ballot if passed ahead of the June City Council meeting.
Mayoral spokeswoman Shannon Breymaier denied any attempt to squeeze the independent airport board off the ballot.
"Aldermen on the Rules Committee consider and select the ballot initiatives, two of which were in this instance sponsored by aldermen," she said.
The two other referendums passed Monday by the Rules Committee concerned gun control and state education funding.
Chicago Police Cmdr. Christopher Kennedy, head of the Gang Investigation Division, testified that stronger gun control was a "critically important issue," with police confiscating 3,900 guns so far this year, taken "primarily" from "gang members with illegal guns."
Ald. Howard Brookins Jr. (21st), newly appointed chairman of the Education Committee, said his referendum on state school funding was aimed at Gov. Bruce Rauner after he tried to "inject race" into the issue last week by calling a state funding bill a "Chicago bailout."
"We need a permanent solution. We need an equitable solution," Brookins said. His referendum would ask voters: "Should the State of Illinois provide full and equitable funding for the Chicago Public Schools?"
Brookins said it would "allow the people of the City of Chicago to speak to that."
Rauner and Emanuel exchanged barbs over education Monday in separate appearances at the Merchandise Mart. Rauner criticized Chicago Public Schools as "crumbling prisons," with Emanuel responding that Rauner was not only acting like Trump, but "now it sounds like he's auditioning to be Donald Trump's running mate."
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