Chicago’s iconic road along Lake Michigan will now be called Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive.
The Chicago City Council on Friday approved the new name, which emerged as a compromise after a struggle of several months on whether or not to name the iconic thoroughfare after the black man credited with founding the city.
Opponents of the Lake Shore Drive renaming, including Mayor Lori Lightfoot, feared it would lead to a post office nightmare, with some buildings requiring address changes.
But Ald. David Moore, 17th Ward sponsored the original ordinance and repeatedly noted that his proposal would only rename the outer portion of Lake Shore Drive, not the inner promenade where people live. Aldus. 2nd Ward Brian Hopkins, who voted against the compromise, said there were at least six buildings that would require a name change.
The name change vote ends one of the last power struggles between Council members and Mayor Lori Lightfoot. But tensions had already spilled over into other issues before Council, including the approval of a package of deals presented by the mayor last month.
Lightfoot had proposed changing who gives final approval on certain signage and sidewalk café permits as part of a extensive package of reforms municipal laws regulating businesses and workers.
But many aldermen saw it as an attempt to curb the unwritten practice of aldermen’s prerogative, which Lightfoot vowed to end during the election campaign. When the so-called ChiBizStrong order was passed on Friday, Ald. Brendan Reilly, 42nd District, used a rare parliamentary gesture to separate the section from the ordinance process sign permits.
“We want these businesses to get their signs and outdoor cafes as soon as possible,” Reilly said. “But to suggest that eliminating the legislative role in that approval will somehow speed up the process? There’s another way to skin this cat.
The move sparked another bizarre confrontation at City Council with testimony from aldermen on both sides of the argument. In a sprawling nearly 10-minute speech, Ald. Michele Smith, 43rd district, implored her colleagues to question their motives.
“The idea that we have absolute power to refuse a sign for any reason — or no reason at all — is wrong,” Smith said. “I think you have to question the fear that’s being shaken here against the reality of the situation.”
“There isn’t a commissioner today, or ever, who won’t listen to you,” Smith said. “If you come to them with real concern, because you know, they want your vote at budget time.”
In a close vote of 25 to 24, the aldermen succeeded in splitting the part of the commercial package which deals with sign authorizations.
They unanimously approved sweeping package then postponed the signal permit section to next month.
The regulations they passed include a midnight curfew on liquor store sales, a version of which was temporarily implemented during the pandemic. Other changes that have been approved as part of the package include capping the fees that third-party food delivery apps can charge customers and restaurants, permanently allowing restaurants to offer takeout cocktails and protections for domestic workers who will now be included in the $15 minimum wage. .
On Friday, aldermen also approved Celia Meza as the first Hispanic woman to lead the city’s legal department. His confirmation was stalled wednesday, when two aldermen asked for the vote to be postponed. This led to parliamentary disorder and the abrupt end of the monthly Council meeting.
Claudia Morell of WBEZ contributed.
Becky Vevea covers Chicago politics for WBEZ. Am here @beckyvea.