CITY HALL — Chicago voters will get to weigh in on whether the city wants more state and federal funding, rather than an independent airport board, thanks to what some have dubbed "political shenanigans" Wednesday in the Rules Committee.
The committee voted Wednesday to fill the November general-election ballot with a third referendum on lobbying for state and federal infrastructure funding. As three citywide referendums are the maximum allowed, that leaves out a proposed question on whether the city should have an independent board overseeing O'Hare and Midway airports — a measure to undermine the power of Mayor Rahm Emanuel sought by union airport workers and backed by opponents of airport noise.
Ald. Michelle Harris (8th), chairman of the Rules Committee, rammed it through after engaging in parliamentary debate with Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), a sponsor of the airport referendum.
Waguespack insisted the deadlocked vote in committee earlier on the matter meant it failed and couldn't be reconsidered.
"No it doesn't," Harris said. "Anybody can call a motion to reconsider."
Jeffrey Levine, of the Law Department, sided with Harris, and it cleared committee by a voice vote as opponents sat stunned.
A subsequent roll-call vote in the City Council failed, 39-8, with Waguespack voting against, joined by Aldermen Sophia King (4th), Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th), David Moore (17th), Ricardo Munoz (22nd), Christopher Taliaferro (29th), Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) and Anthony Napolitano (41st).
Napolitano, who backed the airport referendum as way to give more voice to Northwest Side residents hit hard by O'Hare Airport noise, was philosophical. "I kind of thought that's where it was going," he said. "I thought there would have been a little bit more support there when we all voted, but I kind of thought that's the way the cookie crumbles. I'm not happy about it."
Some aldermen were incredulous the city even needed to bother asking residents: "Should the City of Chicago work with the federal government and the State of Illinois to prioritize significant new investments in important infrastructure?" Yet sponsor Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. insisted it would be a valuable lobbying tool as he seeks funding for new CTA rail stops in his ward.
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