The Chicago City Council met Wednesday for its final session of the year, honoring the world champion Chicago Cubs and approving an ordinance that allows flavored tobacco sales near elementary schools.
During the meeting, aldermen praised the Cubs’ World Series championship as co-owners Tom and Laura Ricketts sat in attendance.
“'Wait ’til next year' has been replaced by ‘can’t wait ’til next year,'” Ald. John Arena said.
As Wednesday's meeting was getting underway, news broke that Ald. Willie Cochran had been indicted on 15 federal charges, including wire fraud, extortion, and federal program bribery. Cochran left the meeting following the Cubs resolution, ducking reporters on the way out.
The embattled aldermen issued a statement later Wednesday.
“My Attorney and I will work with the US Atty to provide the clearity (sic) that is needed to get this matter resolved,” Cochran said in a statement obtained by the Chicago Tribune. “I can say my colleagues and the people of the 20th ward are strong supporters for my family and I and am confident this will be resolved.”
Aldermen also approved a measure Wednesday that weakens a 2013 ordinance prohibiting the sale of tobacco products, like menthol cigarettes, within a 500-foot radius of city elementary schools.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has championed a nationwide ban on menthol cigarettes, softened on the ordinance after a group of convenience store owners argued that it was affecting business.
The group argued that the 500-foot radius was unnecessary since the city already raised the minimum smoking age from 18 to 21 earlier this year.
Emanuel ultimately agreed to lift the ban around grade schools, but kept it in tact around high schools. Additionally, the mayor added a provision that prevents anyone under 21 from selling or dispensing tobacco.
The City Council also approved roughly $9 million for a series of settlements. Two of the settlements were related to police-involved shootings, while the third was related to claims that the Chicago Fire Department discriminated against women.
Additionally, aldermen approved an amendment to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2017 budget that redirects $1.3 million in support of the Chicago Legal Protection Fund, a move that looks to help undocumented immigrants fight possible deportation. The move follows Emanuel's continued claims that Chicago will remain a sanctuary city.