City Council Leadership

As one of the youngest aldermen to ever be elected to the City Council, Gene was also one of the most active. During his finale terms, he served as the chair of the Committee on License and Consumer Protection.  He previously chaired the Committee on Beautification and Recreation, the Committee on Cable Television, and the Committee on Historical Landmark Preservation.

Streamlining Business Licensing

As Chairman of Committee on License and Consumer Protection, GeneGene worked to streamline the licensing process, reducing the number of licensing fee categories and adjusting the fees to more accurately reflect the city’s cost of inspection and certification. There were many city departments involved in the licensing process making it burdensome for small businesses to enter the marketplace. Gene developed one department – Department of Business Affairs and Licensing – to nurture and assist businesses through the licensing process.

Keeping Neighborhoods Safe

When Gene became Chairman of the Committee on License and Consumer Protection, he realized that there are times when a business can have a negative impact on the community. Gene sponsored the deleterious impact ordinance, which provides residents with a tool to work with a problem liquor licensed establishment to address community concerns. If, after community meetings, the establishment continues to be a public safety concern, it is possible to have the liquor license revoked. In the 47th Ward, residents recently used the deleterious impact ordinance to have a license revoked from a liquor establishment that was operating with prevalent prostitution. With public safety clearly a concern, Gene worked with the community to apply the regulations of the ordinance and have the license revoked.

In addition, Gene sponsored the liquor moratorium ordinance, which protects neighborhoods by limiting the number of liquor licenses. When a moratorium is in place it prohibits the issuance of additional liquor licenses in certain areas within a ward. Gene also wanted to ensure the community was involved in the licensing processes, so he cosponsored an ordinance requiring that residents within 250 feet of a proposed liquor license applicant be notified when an application is filed.

Protecting our Pets

Gene has been a crusader for the many animal companions in our lives. He established an ad hoc committee to complete a rewrite of the animal ordinance. He worked diligently to revise the ordinance to protect our pets and the many animals that are in between homes. The ordinance established additional licensing categories to encompass all pet care facilities and services. It also set differential licensing fees for dogs that have been spayed/neutered, specifically increasing fees for unaltered animals. It established sanitary standards, proper record keeping to identify a pet’s owner, and increased fees for animals that are repeatedly impounded. The local and national animal communities praise Gene for his persistence and dedication to work towards better protection for the many animal companions in the City of Chicago.

Providing Standards for Safe Children’s Facilities

As more children’s recreational and educational activity centers are being established throughout the City of Chicago, Gene sponsored the Children’s Activity Facility Ordinance. The ordinance requires criminal background checks on owners and employers and reduces the license fee for these activity centers.

Supporting Art and Culture

Gene has long been a friend of the art and cultural institutions in the 47th Ward. He helped establish the Old Town School of Folk Music, which became the first major cultural institution for the ward. He has been a strong supporter of the many artistic and cultural intuitions in the ward including the Black Ensemble Theater, Griffin Theatre Company, Ravenswood Artwalk and the Lill Street Art Center. As artists set up studios they are having difficulty with the licensing process, as a licensing category is not clearly defined for them, many are paying the exorbitant fee of a limited business license although they are not retail establishments.

Proven Leadership and Experience

While Chairman of the Committee on Beautification and Recreation, Gene worked to improve and renovate the many parks and play lots in the City of Chicago. In addition, he was instrumental in achieving greater community control of the parks through the creation of local Park Advisory Councils.

To promote more green space throughout the city, he sponsored the City’s Landscape Ordinance, which requires the incorporation of landscape plans and planting of trees as part of every new residential, commercial and industrial development. Recently, working with the Friends of the Chicago River, Gene sponsored the Clean Chicago River Resolution to promote disinfection and cleaning standards for the Chicago River.

As Chairman of the Committee on Landmarks, he provided leadership for the passage of the first comprehensive landmark ordinance designed to protect and preserve Chicago’s historical buildings, structures and works of art. He helped preserve many historical houses and buildings in the ward including many on Dover Street and on Ravenswood, which is the largest and one of the busiest historic landmark areas in the State of Illinois.

As Chairman of the Committee on Cable Television, he was able to develop a cable system for the entire City of Chicago. He divided the city into five areas that cut across socioeconomic strata and made sure every neighborhood had the service available to them. The process started twenty years ago and has since brought about one billion dollars of investment to the City. He also created the cable access network to provide city residents with public access television.
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