A new Chicago City Council resolution by Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd ward) has been introduced that would require all committee hearings to be broadcast and recorded. If passed, residents could watch debates about police lawsuit settlements, the city’s spending and budgeting, and much more, from the comfort of their own homes or workplaces.
The BGA policy team previously reported that the Chicago City Council would be in good company if it broadcast and recorded its committee hearings. Committee hearings are the place where the substantive policy debates and changes occur. Hearings are where extensive debates occur about which taxes or fees might be increasing next year, or what new building will go up in your neighborhood.
Major cities, such as New York, Houston, and San Francisco broadcast and record their committee meetings, but Chicago does not. Ald. Reilly sought to change that with an initial resolution he introduced in May that would have allowed committee chairs to decide whether to broadcast their meetings. That meant, however that a committee chair could decide never to allow their meetings to be broadcast — even if they had the power to do so.
Ald. Reilly’s new resolution does not leave it up to the chairs, but rather makes it mandatory that every committee hearing be broadcast and recorded, just as full council meetings are now. His new resolution already has the backing of 44 out of 50 aldermen. If passed, the resolution would bring Chicago in line with major cities like New York, Houston, and San Francisco.
The resolution awaits a vote in the committee on Committees, Rules, and Ethics before it can be voted on by the full City Council.