The vote on Mayor
The move represents an about-face for Emanuel, who on Tuesday said the time for debate on the measure was over.
Several aldermen were prepared to invoke a parliamentary maneuver to delay the vote, said Ald.
Alds. Burke and Patrick O'Connor "did it before the other four or five could defer and publish," Waguespack said, adding that he was encouraged allies of the mayor on the issue took that step.
"It gives us more time, they are listening — perhaps," he added. "It will give us time to try to get the pieces in that we would like with strict council oversight and IG oversight. Hopefully we'll see some changes on that."
"It's proof we've turned a page and we have a new mayor with a new approach to governing. I commend the mayor for taking a step back so he can work with the council and we can get this right," Reilly said.
Opponents had called for a delay so more oversight provisions could be added to the ordinance creating the Chicago Infrastructure Trust, as aldermen, activists and some open-government experts had requested. Most said they supported the concept but wanted more protections.
The trust ordinance would give the mayor authority to appoint a board that will be controlled by private financiers and one alderman. The trust will find ways, other than traditional city borrowing that typically paid off with property or sales taxes, to raise money to rebuild Chicago.
But aldermen who wanted to delay approval said they wanted specific examples of what the city had in mind.
Aldermen also were worried that state sunshine laws that mandate open meetings and the public release of documents did not directly apply to the trust. Although the city is calling for it to operate “in accordance with” those laws, the city itself will enforce that.
And although the city inspector general will be able to investigate projects that involve city property, money or operations, the office will not be able to probe the trust itself or its members.
Another concern was that the ordinance calls for council approval of all project involving city property or money, but not projects undertaken solely by city sister agencies, like the
. The boards of all those agencies also are appointed by the mayor.
"Checks and balances? Sounds like the mayor is checking and balancing himself," said critic Amisha Patel, executive director of the Grassroots Collaborative.
Emanuel has said he is taking the private investment route because he doesn't want to hike property or sales taxes to pay for public works. The "novel" financing method will allow the city to jump-start projects that it otherwise couldn't tackle, while loading construction and maintenance risks onto the shoulders of private partners, he said.
The handful of projects undertaken in other parts of the country serve as cautionary tales, according to experts on public-private financing, who note that taxpayers likely will pay significantly more for them in the long run.