When it comes to racial justice, Chicago’s City Council gets a failing grade.
That’s the view of the Center for Racial and Gender Equity, or CRGE, which has released its Racial Justice Scorecard ahead of the February municipal elections. The organization’s work includes engaging black voters and building black women’s leadership.
The scorecard graded individual aldermen and the council as a whole. Analysis for the grading of the overall council focused on legislative action since May 2015 on key issues: police accountability, economic investment, schools, workers rights, and housing.
“Power has not held equity across the council, but rather it’s concentrated within a minority of city lawmakers, and those are the lawmakers most committed to protecting systems that oppress,” said Louisa Manske, CRGE communications and policy coordinator.
She said the council failed to pass legislation in most of the key areas, like negotiating what CRGE considers a just Chicago police union contract to end the so-called code of silence.
However, the report credits the council’s work in jobs and workers rights, like requiring employers to offer paid sick leave.
On the individual aldermanic level, members were graded based on the ordinances they introduced and sponsored. Of the 50 aldermen, only nine received an A grade. Many of those council members were part of the progressive and black caucuses.
“They have introduced legislation that would create real independent accountability for Chicagoans. Particularly, the ordinance to install a democratically elected police accountability council,” Manske said.
Another nine aldermen received F’s when it comes to supporting racial justice policies. Manske said the grade wasn’t tied to voting records. Instead, the evaluation was based on the aldermen’s lack of sponsoring certain ordinances.
“Being silent and refusing to proactively advocate for racial progress in the form of introducing or sponsoring progressive legislation is a breach of duty,” Manske said.
One of the aldermen who scored an F was Nicholas Sposato of the 38th Ward on the city’s Northwest Side. He said his area is doing well, and he’s running unopposed in the Feb. 26 election for a reason.