Quantcast

Scale Back Honorary Street Sign Program, Ald. Beale Urges Colleagues

By Heather Cherone | December 7, 2016 1:22pm | Updated on December 9, 2016 11:29am
 The sign honoring President-elect Donald Trump  outside Trump Plaza at Wabash Avenue and Hubbard Street has been removed.
The sign honoring President-elect Donald Trump outside Trump Plaza at Wabash Avenue and Hubbard Street has been removed.
View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Heather Cherone

CITY HALL — Living Chicagoans would no longer be eligible to be honored with a brown and white street sign under a measure proposed  Wednesday by 9th Ward Ald. Anthony Beale.

One day after city crews took down two street signs honoring President-elect Donald Trump outside Trump Tower, Beale said the program is long overdue for reform to prevent some of his "colleagues from making mistakes."

The new rules would prohibit living Chicagoans from being honored with a street sign, and would require that the person honored have "distinguished themselves by significant contributions to the city, state, nation, world," according to the measure.

"We need reform," Beale said, adding that he is "overburdened" by the dozens of requests made by his colleagues for the signs — including many made on an "emergency" basis.

In addition, the regulations would put a five-year limit on the honor, with the brown signs with white lettering coming down — unless the Council agrees to renew the honor.

In addition, aldermen would be limited to two honorary street sign requests — which cost $1,000 — per year.

If adopted, the new rules would mean city crews would hit Chicago's streets in 2022 to remove all of the street signs not re-blessed by aldermen.

But Beale's colleagues may not be ready for reform. He agreed to delay a vote on the ordinance for a month to allow a "dialogue" to take place.

While members of the Committee on Transportation and Public Way acknowledged the need for changes to the program — a perennial source of controversy — they seemed reluctant to scale back their ability to honor well-known — or politically powerful — residents of their wards.

Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) said the measure would have prevented her from honoring Chicago historian, civil rights leader and educator Timuel Black in 2013.

"We needed to do that before he died," Dowell said.

Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th) said he would have a "tough" time informing residents of his ward honored with a street sign that it would be removed because they no longer met the criteria.

"What am I supposed to tell them? 'Hurry up and please die soon,'" Tailaferro said, prompting laughter and a mild rebuke from Beale, who is the chairman of the committee.

Other aldermen, including Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) and Ald. Marty Quinn (13th), said they had no problem justifying their picks for street signs by providing biographical information or some demonstration of public support for the honor.

For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here.