Anti-abortion members of City Council stall approval of quiet zone around West Loop clinic (2024)

A parliamentary maneuver by anti-abortion members of the Chicago City Council on Wednesday stalled efforts to shield women from intimidation on their way inside a West Loop abortion clinic.

At the behest of Planned Parenthood, Ald. Bill Conway (34th) was trying for the second time in six months to establish a “quiet zone” around the abortion clinic operated by Family Planning Associates at 659 W. Washington Blvd.

Conway was furious after Ald. Nick Sposato (38th) and Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) used a parliamentary maneuver to delay the quiet zone vote by one meeting.

Conway said he has “personally observed” protesters putting amplifiers against the wall of the clinic “making it so loud that clinicians can’t hear patients speak, and the building shakes.” He has also seen protesters “running at patients” and using bullhorns to harass them.

“Further delay of this measure will only seek to heighten this harassment,” Conway told his colleagues.

Anti-abortion members of City Council stall approval of quiet zone around West Loop clinic (1)

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Insisting his ordinance is legal, Conway vowed to try again. The third time will be the charm, he said.

Shouting over protesters in the gallery, Conway said, “Do not worry. This delay will not stand. And this will pass. This very constitutional measure.”

Sposato has condemned what he has called an attempt to selectively “silence freedom of speech.” Sposato has questioned how the ordinance would be enforced and why abortion clinics were being “singled out.”

Anti-abortion members of City Council stall approval of quiet zone around West Loop clinic (2)

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

At an action-packed meeting, the Council also:

• Provided sorely needed relief for Chicagoans drowning in water bills tied to leaks in underground service lines.

• Added $3.4 million to the mountain of settlements tied to allegations of police wrongdoing.

• Gave downtown alderpersons more control over cannabis dispensaries.

• Approved six of seven members of the permanent panel responsible for civilian oversight of the Chicago Police Department.

• Voted of 37-10 to pay $750,000 to compensate a man for leg injuries suffered when he was allegedly clubbed by police during the demonstrations after the 2020 murder of George Floyd.

Related

  • Planned Parenthood now offers abortion pills via app across Illinois to expand access

Mayor Brandon Johnson’s appointment of the Rev. Ira Acree to the RTA board had been up for ratification, but was withheld at the mayor’s request.

Acree is the latest in a string of mayoral appointments to the CTA and RTA boards with no mass transit expertise. Acree stunned alderpersons during his confirmation hearing by acknowledging under questioning that he was unaware of the $730 million fiscal cliff facing Chicago-area mass transit agencies.

Johnson also made two appointments to the Chicago Board of Ethics — former Circuit Court Judge Bernetta Bush and attorney Sarah Jin — to fill vacancies that had endangered the board’s ability to do business. And he filled three Police Board openings with Claudia Badillo, Justin Terry and Kathryn Liss.

Ethics Committee Chair Matt Martin (47th) also proposed an ethics change that would prohibit lobbyists from making donations or in-kind contributions to the mayor or the mayor’s political committees.

With 29 supporters, Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th) introduced his nonbinding resolution demanding that embattled CTA President Dorval Carter Jr. either resign his $376,000-a-year job or be fired by Johnson. Vasquez and 17 colleagues also fired off a letter to Johnson and Transportation Commissioner Tom Carney asking the CTA to “take the necessary steps to implement Bus Rapid Transit on Western Ave.”

The resolution, however, was assigned to the Rules Committee, which is typically where bills are sent in attempt to bury them.

Johnson’s two-year, $2.4 million water bill plan will be confined to homeowners and business owners whose water bills skyrocketed after leaks in underground service lines repaired on or after Jan. 1, 2023.

The program also is open only to residential customers who own single-family homes and two- or three-flat units and commercial property owners with water service lines of 1 inch or smaller. Eligible customers must own the property with the leak and apply for the break after the leak is confirmed and repaired by the Department of Water Management.

The two-year pilot program is expected to cost the city $572,000 to administer and nearly $2.4 million in lost revenue.

Eligible property owners will then receive a credit to reduce the amount of the water bill during the leak to the average amount of that customer’s bill without the leak.

It’s open to all customers, regardless of income, with a catch: If the eligible customer has a past-due balance, they must pay it in full or enroll in a payment plan.

Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th) said he’s been hearing from constituents about their “horrific experiences” with water bills in the tens of thousands of dollars “for the last five years.”

Villegas is one of several alderpersons who urged the Johnson administration to consider including underground water leaks prior to Jan. 1, 2023.

“Today is for … every single Chicagoan whose life was harmed and disrupted by price gouging by the Department of Water Management,” Villegas said Wednesday.

“This is the first step, but definitely not the last step.”

Anti-abortion members of City Council stall approval of quiet zone around West Loop clinic (2024)
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