BGA Urges Full City Council to Support Ethics Ordinance

The BGA policy team urged the full City Council to approve ethics reforms that cover lobbying, outside employment for aldermen and full oversight by the inspector general.

BGA Policy Analyst Joann Wong submitted written testimony in support of a package of ethics reforms pushed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Ald. Michele Smith, 43rd, chairman of the Ethics and Good Government Committee. The ordinance passed 50-0.

Here is Wong's testimony:


Committee on Ethics and Good Governance, Chicago City Council

July 24, 2019

Good morning, my name is Joann Wong and I am the policy analyst for the Better Government Association, based here in Chicago.

I’m here this morning to testify in support of the proposed ethics reform package. The BGA supports these reforms, and believes they are a step in the right direction for increased transparency and accountability, good government, and frankly, common sense.

It’s past time that the Office of the Inspector General’s oversight authority is extended to include the legislative branch. City Council has had less oversight than anyone else, and we’ve seen what a toothless watchdog has done for us: a string of indictments, federal probes, office raids, and more and more disaffected and disenchanted Chicagoans. Let the Inspector General do their job.

The measures to limit outside employment and expand lobbyist registration requirements are, again, just common sense. Council members shouldn’t hold positions that run counter to city and taxpayer interests, and voting taxpayers deserve to know exactly who is influencing policy decisions. Taxpayers deserve transparency, and they deserve a city government that works for them.

This City Council has had the opportunity to strengthen ethics laws before, but it has taken the self-serving way out and it has balked time and time again. Last April, Chicago voters gave a loud and clear signal that they want meaningful reform and change in this city. You have an opportunity to start rebuilding voters’ trust and to deliver that change today. We cannot allow “business as usual” to go on. I urge you to support these long overdue reforms.

Thank you.